Monday, 13 February 2012

Birding on a Wet Weekend

On Saturday I managed to scramble a few hours together and chose to concentrate my efforts on birding along the coast. My intention being to try and locate a rock sandpiper or two... 
I started off at Clover Point, scoping out over the waves and checking the rocky foreshore. I came across the expected black turnstones and surfbirds but there was nothing else wader-wise to be had. Offshore, there was plenty going on - hundreds of mew gulls and good numbers of glaucous-winged gulls wheeling around but nothing more enticing noticeable among them. The regular western-type was present around the parking area.

Red-necked grebe
Also bobbing around on the water were common and Pacific loons, surf scoters, buffleheads, harlequin ducks, red-breasted, common and hooded mergansers, horned and red-necked grebes  (pic) and several smart long-tailed ducks.
Alcids were represented by common murres, pigeon guillemots (many now in breeding garb) and a few rhinoceros auklets. The usual cormorant species were all present and correct.
I headed along the coast, checking out Harling Point and the Chinese Cemetery. Here the birds were much the same, though I did add white-winged scoter and a western grebe to the day-list.
A good scan around the Oak Bay Marina revealed little of note. I couldn't even find any greater yellowlegs; the only shorebirds seen being 6 killdeer roosting on a small islet.
At Cattle Point, a single Thayer's gull provided a little larid relief but my diligent search along the kelp draped rocks failed to turn up my hoped-for rock sandpiper and I had to be content with more surfbirds and turnstones. Oh well, next time eh? 

Another quality self-portrait...
On Sunday, Jenny and I chose to explore a previously undiscovered (by us, that is) spot by the name of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park by the Saanich Inlet. We started our hike at the McKenzie Bight access point and headed up along the Timberman Trail.
We trekked through the ridiculously verdant old growth rain forest as far as the Squally Reach Viewpoint - where on a day when the cloud wasn't at eye level, I am sure there are spectacular views to be had.
The birds were mostly silent, and mostly invisible.

Barrow's goldeneye
We returned via the Cascade Trail, a steep descent alongside an impressive wee waterfall that leads to a pebbly beach.
Here were spied a few Barrow's goldeneyes (pic) and admired the decidedly Scottish-like views. Or am I thinking of Norway..?
We slogged our way back up the muddy McKenzie Bight trail in the drizzle.

The Misty Wee Hills Of Gowlland Tod
We both really loved this placed and can't wait to visit again on a clear spring day when we will follow the high trail over to Jocelyn Hill. Maybe.
On our way home we stopped off at the Red Barn Market, and I slipped round the back to check the flooded field. Six trumpeter swans and 3 American coot were in among the many mallard.     

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