Saturday, 26 May 2012

Egrets, I've Had A Few

The Victoria area really is enjoying something of remarkable spring as far as rarities goes, and on Friday news broke of yet another major find.

A snowy egret, only the 5th record for the region, was found at Panama Flats (this site is enjoying one hell of a purple patch!) and had local birders dashing to catch up with the showy heron. Again, it's a species that I have seen literally hundreds of, but by Saturday afternoon I was entertaining thoughts of heading out to add it to my growing Vancouver Island list.
And so, Jenny and I went to Panama Flats to see if we could see the bird. Within a couple of minutes of arriving we could see a distinctive white shimmering blob on the far side of the flats and satisfied that the egret was still present we took our time, checking out other birds as we walked along the southern edge toward the south eastern quadrant.

3 drake blue-winged teal were showing well, as were a few gadwall, shoveler and several mallard with fuzzy broods in tow.
As we stopped to admire a couple of nearby spotted sandpipers, I noticed an odd looking bird on a small isle of vegetation in the near distance. The sun was behind it, but it was clearly a pluvialis plover of some sort. I got my 'scope on it, and could see that it was definitely a golden plover, even in terrible light. We swiftly repositioned ourselves to get a better look at it, and managed to get a couple of record shots of it.

Meanwhile, the egret had flown into another part of the wetland where it was hidden from view. No problem, this plover was far more interesting! I have very little experience of the Nearctic golden plovers, and those few that I have seen have all been in non-breeding plumage so this bird proved to be quite a challenge. I made a note of what few salient ID points I could remember, and convinced that I would miss something critical tried to get more shoddy digi-scoped pics. I was pretty convinced that I was looking at a Pacific golden plover, but I was going to have to wait till I got home to my books to confirm it.

Anyhoo, having now perused what info I have available, I am fairly sure that it is an adult female Pacific. There were a few slightly ambiguous elements to this bird, and so I'd be more than happy if anyone wishes to correct me!
Only present for around 15 minutes (heaven only knows how long it had actually been here), the plover soon took off, calling loudly as it headed over us and away, dropping briefly before deciding to push on, gaining height as it went.

The only other off-passage shorebird was a lone dowitcher (looked like a short-billed, but...) that was limping badly as it fed at the water's edge. On closer inspection it appeared to have some injury, close to its right leg. Something long and thin was visibly dangling from the wound, and it actually looked like intestine. Nice. 

The egret did fly back onto the SW pool, and gave great views - it was still happily fishing when we left around 4.30pm.  

(Apologies for the cliched blog post title, but it was too appropriate not to recycle it...)   

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