Sunday, 26 February 2012

I Do Like To Bird Beside The Seaside...

Double-crested & pelagic cormorant
It was blowing a hoolie overnight Friday, and so Saturday I set off to the waterfront with seabirds on my mind. A wonderful theory perhaps, but once I got out I realised that the wind was blowing in the wrong direction to be of much use... oh well, I decided I might as well see what was about anyway.
I kicked off at a very gusty Clover Point. A couple of hundred mew gulls were taking shelter, roosting on the exposed rocks while the more robust glaucous-winged gulls were hunkered down on the main grassy area. They all went up when an adult bald eagle came in to inspect the tideline. A couple of Thayer's gulls graced the point with their presence, but no 'white-wingers' were to be found. Hundreds more mew gulls were feeding distantly offshore.
Shorebirds were thin on the ground; just 2 dunlin and 15 black turnstones were feeding along the kelp strewn rocks while a couple of black oystercatchers peeped noisily around the area. 
On the water, the usual harlequins, buffleheads and surf scoters were present along with smaller numbers of long-tailed duck, red-breasted merganser and a drake white-winged scoter.
Common and Pacific loons were also fishing out on the water, joined by the regular red-necked and horned grebes. Pigeon guillemots, in various stages of moult, peppered the seascape while common murres blasted around in small, tight packs further out.
Next stop, Harling Point for more of the same. I did manage to add a couple of marbled murrelets here, and common merganser to the list of birds seen. The rocks were bereft of shorebirds.
There was a little more going at McMicking Point, but not much. Harlequins, hooded mergansers and buffleheads were taking shelter from the wind in the shallow bays while a few double-crested and pelagic cormorants were roosting on the exposed rocks (pic). Despite the availability of suitable habitat, I didn't find a single turnstone or surfbird. Maybe the low tide just meant that they had lots of places to feed, and were choosing more secluded spots away from the prying eyes of a Brit birder...

Ist year drake white-winged scoter
A quick stop at Oak Bay Marina was notable for adding a pair of greater yellowlegs to the daylist. Scanning through another sizable roost of mew gulls, I couldn't dig anything unusual out. A 1st year drake white-winged scoter was fishing just off the marina mouth (pic).
I wound up at Cattle Point where the story much remained the same. Other than the small cluster of American wigeons dabbling around near the slipway, it was pretty much a repeat of the birds seen thus far along the coast.
Perhaps if I keep trawling this stretch, I WILL find a rock sandpiper eventually. 

1 comment:

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