Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Gives Birding The Bird

All this Christmas stuff has really impacted on my birding... in fact I can't remember ever having so much time off work and yet finding so little time to get out in search of ornithological diversions. Oh well, the excessive gluttony just about compensated.
It wasn't all gout-inducing revelry though, I did manage to squeeze a few local walks in; binoculars at the ready. 
I checked out life in the Government House grounds a couple of times. There wasn't too much going on. The regular common birds were much in evidence, both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, brown creepers, downy woodpeckers, chestnut-backed chickadees, northern flickers, dark-eyed juncos, Pacific wrens, etc, etc.

Ross Bay
I managed to fit in quick visits to Ross Bay and Clover Point too. Offshore the usual species were seen in varying numbers including red-necked and horned grebes, common goldeneye, surf scoters, a single greater scaup, all three mergansers, pigeon guillemot, common loon, harlequins and buffleheads, pelagic and double-crested cormorants. Shorebirds were thin on the ground, thanks to the very high tides. I only noted a couple of dunlin along with a handful each of black turnstone and surfbird.

On Saturday morning I had a good stroll around Beacon Hill Park, primarily looking for bushtit/chickadee flocks. Maybe I would find a wintering warbler of some kind - or even the elusive blue-gray gnatcatcher seen there a few weeks ago? No reason why it shouldn't still be around. As it happens, I struggled to locate any decent sized flocks and those few birds I did encounter weren't harbouring any exciting waifs or strays.
Nice to see varied thrushes (always a favourite) mingled in with the many American robins and a few small sparrow flocks gave me something to scrutinize, albeit briefly. 
I spotted at least 4 Eurasian wigeon (3 drakes, 1 duck) among the many American wigeon present on the park pools. A couple of northern shoveler and a small number of ring-necked duck were also on the ponds, along with a billion mallard.

A short and soggy trundle to Harling Point today (Tuesday) revealed a pair of smart long-tailed duck close offshore and a gang of some 15 black-bellied plover but little else of note.

So, it's back to work tomorrow and my near-daily lunchtime dashes to Langford Lake will resume in earnest. I haven't yet seen anything too thrilling there, but it seems to attract a reasonably diverse range of birds from time to time. There have been good numbers of pine siskins there in recent weeks and red crossbills are tolerably frequent. On the water there are usually a few species of wildfowl to be seen and both mew and glaucous-winged gulls come in regularly to bathe. And I have never seen quite as many pied-billed grebes in any one location.

I hope everyone reading this had a jolly old Christmas, and here's to a bird-filled New Year ahead!


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