Sunday, 25 March 2012

Slow Spring Starts to Warm Up

My weekday lunchtime meanderings have been fairly uneventful these past few days, with little evidence of spring migrants moving through.
A trio of turkey vultures were cruising around on thermals beyond Langford Lake on Thursday, but otherwise it's been slow. Local breeders have been letting their presence be known with purple finches and red-winged blackbirds being especially vocal. A few pine siskins have been equally melodious, twittering away all over the place.
Wildfowl numbers are starting to drop, with just a few ring-necked ducks, lesser scaup, bufflehead and common mergansers keeping the omnipresent mallards company. A pair of northern shoveler dropped by on Friday, as did a single American coot
The majority of the pied-billed grebes are now sporting their breeding finery, subtle though it may be. The grebes are at least down by one bird which I saw being dragged off by a mink midweek. I missed the kill, and can only assume that the mink did indeed dispatch the grebe, rather than find it already dead.
The local covey of California quails have been very active in the past few days with the males singing from the blackberry patch near my office.  

I made a brief post-work visit to Clover Point on Friday but it was pretty quiet. The usual harlequins and surf scoters etc were on the water, while a small gang of busy black turnstones worked the tideline. Gulls were few in number, and all glaucous-winged or variants thereof. A California sealion came by close offshore, giving great views as it checked me out.

Things continue to get lively in the Government House grounds. Pine siskins, house finches, ruby-crowned kinglets, Bewick's wrens, chestnut-backed chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches (pictured), northern flickers and other common species have responded well to the improvement in the weather with many well in the throes of claiming territories, singing, nest building and generally showing off.
A yellow-shafted type flicker was showing well today (Sunday) and an acccipiter shot through briefly - probably a male Cooper's given the size and structure, but I couldn't rule out a large sharpie on the views I got.
The great-horned owl seems to have vacated. The same number of pellets remain below the tree as were present during its visit last weekend, and there are no signs of it having taken up a new roost anywhere else, though it's quite possible that it's somewhere I just can't get to.
My only 'proper' migrant was a tree swallow (my first of the year) which flew around the bluffs constantly twittering away.      

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