Sunday, 15 January 2012

Anas Penelope Pitstop

It's been a pretty quiet week on the bird front, for me at least.
My regular lunchtime sorties around the southwestern edge of Langford Lake have been reasonably interesting, if hardly spectacular. The highlight this week was the appearance, on two days, of a smart Townsend's warbler in the small park (it's called Kitty La Quesne Family Park, or something along those lines). Small groups of red crossbill pass over the area frequently, but the large pine siskin flock seems to have moved on - pity, as I was hoping they might attract a passing redpoll.

The Tanager Tree with Sunday morning snow.
The western tanager keeps appearing in the apple tree outside the kitchen window, though its movements are unpredictable to say the least. Some days it arrives with foraging bushtits and chestnut-backed chickadees, other days it's just there on its own. Mostly however, it's nowhere to be seen. This popular tree also hosted its first varied thrush midweek and the resident Anna's hummingbird, now resplendent in full breeding garb appears to have lured a potential mate... watch this space!

A rare thing happened this weekend. Jenny had both days off, so while it was great to be able to spend the time together, it rather curtailed my birding.

Me, battling the elements.
That said, we took a stroll out on Saturday and headed down to Clover Point, battling the stiff onshore breeze and very wintry temperatures.
It was fairly unremarkable bird-wise, though we did see 5 sanderling, along with the usual dunlins, black turnstones and what have you. It was business as usual offshore, with the expected seaducks, grebes, loons and gulls all present and correct.
We then walked on to Beacon Hill Park. We passed the ponds and made a quick pitstop to check through the American wigeon in search of scarcer interlopers. We found just 5 males and 1 female Eurasian wigeon. Other quackers included small numbers of ring-necked duck and lesser scaup plus 15 northern shoveler.
We then headed into downtown, where the ornithological highlight was a yellow-rumped warbler feeding on a store awning along Douglas Street! An excellent lunch at Pagliacci's was another considerable highlight.

Adult cedar waxwing
Today's (Sunday) trundle took us along Oak Bay Avenue and down to the waterfront near the Marina. Shorebirds seen included the usual turnstone, dunlin, black-bellied plover and killdeer plus a lone greater yellowlegs. A trio of river otters entertained us as they fished off the end of Turkey Head (they were in the water, not stood around with rods. Obviously). A red-tailed hawk sailed over, keenly pursued by a pair of garrulous ravens.
We walked back along the coast via the golf course and Chinese Cemetery, seeing little of note along the way. Heading back up into Rockland along St Charles Street we spotted a hermit thrush feeding on some ornamental berry tree in the company of several American robins.

Cedar waxwings
After a well-earned mug of tea and a few biccies at Chez Carter, I went to see if anything interesting was lurking in the Government House grounds. It was pretty quiet, with the exception of a flock of 56 cedar waxwings, some of which are pictured here. It was interesting to note that the majority of the waxwings were 1st year birds.

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