Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Good Walk Out Workout

Yesterday, having spent the morning with Jenny and walking her to work downtown for midday, I took off for a stroll along the waterfront. I headed along to Ogden Point and made my way from there to Beacon Hill Park. I didn't see too much en route, just the usual bits and pieces. Buffleheads, harlequin ducks, red-breasted mergansers, surf scoters and the like were reasonably plentiful offshore, while the occasional black turnstones and surfbirds were spotted on the exposed rocks.
Anna's hummingbirds seemed to be absolutely everywhere, and singing birds were heard all over the place. In fact I had even heard one right in the heart of Chinatown on Fisgard Street.

As I made my way into the park from Dallas Road, I thought I'd go and see if I could locate any Eurasian wigeon on the park ponds. It didn't take long. I came across 3 males and a female among the first group of grazing American wigeon on the lawns, and soon spotted another couple nearby.
On the pond there were yet more and I counted a minimum of 9 drakes and 2 ducks. It's quite likely that there were more females present, given the variability of duck wigeons. 11 Eurasian wigeon certainly seems a disproportionate amount given the relatively small numbers of American wigeon in the park.
A single Thayer's gull was in among the throng of glaucous-winged gulls hoping for a handout from the families gleefully feeding the duckies.
The other reason for my visit to the park was to see, once again, if I could relocate the blue-gray gnatcatcher seen there recently. Even when it was being pursued by the island's listers it did a very good job of being extremely elusive, but ever the optimist I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. Needless to say, I didn't find it.

Having year-ticked a few common species, I left the park and walked along toward Clover Point. There was nothing much going on on the water, though I did add a lone common murre to the day's birds. 12 dunlin were feeding with black turnstones and a couple of surfbirds off the point and 6 black oystercatchers were hugging the nearby rocks (pictured).
Yet more common seaducks were seen around the point and into Ross Bay. A common loon and small numbers of horned grebes and red-necked grebes were diving offshore.

I made my way up through the cemetery but couldn't locate any bushtit / chickadee flocks. On my trundle back home I stopped for an hour in the Government House grounds. There wasn't much to see, but there were golden-crowned and ruby-crowned kinglets all over the place. Downy woodpecker, northern flicker, good numbers of American robins, fox sparrows and all the other usual suspects kept me entertained on my rounds, but I wasn't able to find anything too diverting. A smart Cooper's hawk kept an eye on me (pictured) as I scrambled around the understory is search of interesting sparrows.
By late afternoon I felt that I'd had enough of walking and staggered back to the house for a well-deserved cup of tea.

This morning (Tuesday), I looked out of the kitchen window and saw that the apple tree was festooned with bushtits. I quickly scanned the branches in search of anything else and was amazed to see a female/first year type western tanager! I grabbed ny bins (they're never far from reach) and double-checked its identity (well, you never know with winter tanagers, could potentially be anything!). It seemed quite happy chowing down on one of the few remaining apples before taking off and disappearing from sight. It's a real pity my landlords won't allow me to put out anything other than hummingbird feeders - fear of attracting vermin apparently. It'll be interesting to see whether it makes a reappearance.

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