Thursday, 29 September 2011

Them Crooked Vultures

Turkey vultures
After celebrating yesterday's news that I had secured very welcome full-time employment, I decided to shake off the remnants of my hangover with a stroll around the Government House grounds late morning.
There was plenty going on, and among the first bushtit flock I located 2 orange-crowned warblers and a yellow warbler. Down near the woodland trail entrance there were several yellow-rumped warbler feeding in the garry oaks. Sifting through them, I came across a single black-throated gray warbler.
Along the trails, I encountered yet more YR warblers, plus a hermit thrush and my first ruby-crowned kinglet of the autumn.

From the more elevated areas of the grounds I could see kettles of turkey vultures thermaling over the straits. As I scanned the skies along the coast, it was apparent that there was a major movement of vultures taking place.
It reminded me of being in Gibraltar during honey buzzard migration!   
I counted at least 280 turkey vultures visible at one time, but I cannot even begin to guess at the true number of birds involved.
Amazingly, not a single raptor species was spotted among these spiralling flocks.

Quite a few vultures...
The pics here do no justice to the actual spectacle itself, of course, but may at least give an idea of the scale of movement involved.
I continued to check the oaks and found another cluster of YR warblers, where among them I found a dazzling Townsend's warbler - the first I have seen in the grounds.

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