Saturday, 21 April 2012

Let's Twitch Again...

Well, it's been a week now since I got back from the Motherland and it seems like an age ago.

My daily lunchtime strolls down by Langford Lake have yielded a few notable sightings, my first orange-crowned warblers of the year plus yet more yellow-rumped warblers. On Tuesday, a little drizzle dropped around 200 swallows over the lake, mostly violet-green and tree swallows, with a handful of barns thrown in. At least 2 rufous hummingbirds are firmly defending territory, and the red-winged blackbirds continue to make their decidedly tropical racket from within the dense lakeside vegetation. White-crowned sparrows are now all over the place, singing their hearts out and a lone Lincoln's sparrow midweek was presumably off-passage. A couple of brown-headed cowbirds were my first for the year. No sign of osprey yet.

I've also had a couple of looks around the Government House grounds but there's been little going on there, beyond the usual stuff. Neotropical migrants remain distinctly thin on the ground, though this morning I had my first hermit thrushes of the spring - I heard at least 5, before finally seeing a couple. And a common yellowthroat was half-heartedly sub-singing from the shrubbery. A couple of Lincoln's sparrows were also seen, again presumably making their way through.

Today, I'd arranged to meet my pal Lynette at 2pm for a trek out to Island View Beach, so with time on my hands I thought I'd go to Panama Flats to see if I could catch sight of the yellow-headed blackbird found there this morning. These attractive icterids are scarce birds on the island, and with the added charm of a pair of cinnamon teal having been at the same location recently it seemed like I'd be silly not to go for a root about. And besides, I love birding at Panama Flats!

The place was teeming with wildfowl; lots of northern shovelers and green-winged teal, plus smaller numbers of mallard, Canada geese and bufflehead, along with 4 American wigeon and half a dozen gadwall. Oh, and the pair of cinnamon teal, that I first saw in flight, then later relocated having a snooze (pic). A single American coot was picking it way around the vegetated edges.
A single greater yellowlegs was the only wader I saw, with the exception of a couple of killdeer.

I found the yellow-headed blackbird sat in small tree by the grey building off Carey Road and managed to get a couple of crappy digi-snaps. It was hanging out with starlings and at one point was scrabbling around on the side of the road where it used its comparative bulk to steal a piece of nice white sliced bread from one of the starlings.
Common yellowthroats certainly seem to be back in force, I heard 3 or 4 and saw at least one. 

After grabbing a coffee and a snack Lynette and I headed off to Island View Beach to see what, if anything, we could find. We walked up to Saanichton spit and back but it wasn't particularly birdy - hardly surprising given the time of day.
Offshore, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, pelagic cormorants, buffleheads and red-breasted mergansers were busily fishing. A couple of fine long-tailed ducks gave great views. Around 140 black brant were on the shore edge, and we had a low-flying skein of c80 greater white-fronted geese pass over.
Five greater yellowlegs and 2 dunlin were on the lagoon and a pair of Caspian terns (year-tick!) were roosting with the gulls.
Another first for the year, were 4 northern rough-winged swallows - one of which was gathering nesting material.
All in all, with lovely sunny weather and few year birds under the belt, it was a pretty great day. 


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  2. I saw the Hermit Thrushes this evening at Gov't House, also! As well as a regular Varied Thrush, a Hairy Woodpecker, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch, amongst the usual riffraff. Nice evening. Your pal, Lynette. PS - don't forgot the Horned Grebe at Island View...