Monday, 2 April 2012

Spring Hopes, Eternal...

Another week has gone by, and barely a decent bird has passed my bins.
Selected highlights from my lunchtime walks around Langford Lake included my first rufous hummingbird of the spring, to the apparent consternation of one of the local Anna's hummingbirds.
A merlin was chased through by a trio of the latter species midweek, while turkey vultures, red-tailed hawk and bald eagles are seen just about daily.
Siskins are paired up and highly vocal, along with purple finches and the cacophonous red-winged blackbirds. Obvious migrants at the lake include increasing numbers of yellow-rumped warbler and a couple of violet-green swallows.
My visits to the Government House grounds in Victoria have been pretty unproductive over the past few days with no sign of any passage migrants. The local birds are getting on with the job of singing and nesting, etc. and keeping out of the way of the Cooper's hawks. A pair of presumed off-passage varied thrush were among a band of American robins on Saturday, but as many other Vancouver Island and BC birders are commenting, spring seems a little late this year. 
On Saturday night we had a barred owl hunting around the apartment and it gave us cool looks as it flew from the apple tree into the conifer by our back door.

Sunday, it was reasonably bright and dry and given the fact that I'll be away for a couple of weekends (heading back to dear old Blighty for my brother Dave's wedding) I thought I'd better get out and have what will probably be my last crack at locating a rock sandpiper this spring.
Needless to say, I didn't find one. Highlights of my coastal trawl included good numbers of black turnstone and surfbirds at many places (signs of northerly movement?). Other shorebirds included 2 each of killdeer, greater yellowlegs and dunlin (pic) at Oak Bay. A pair of hooded mergansers were close by so I took advantage and got a pic of the rather ridiculous looking drake.

Offshore, black guillemots and rhinoceros auklets were seen in their fine spring garb, a single long-tailed duck joined the multitude of surf scoters, common mergansers and buffleheads, while at Cattle Point a horned grebe almost in breeding plumage showed well (pic).
Singles of savannah sparrow and white-crowned sparrow were the only passerines of note seen here.

This time next week, I'll be tripping over northern wheatears, sand martins (bank swallows), sandwich terns, chiffchaffs, and other common stuff like that. I'll keep you posted!

* Stop Press - I forgot to mention that I saw my first butterflies of the year yesterday (Monday 2) - there were 3 Sara's orange tips flitting around down by Langford Lake in the early afternoon sunshine.

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