Wednesday, 16 May 2012

That Was The Week That Was

On Tuesday evening I was joined by Lynette Browne for a walk around the Government House grounds, to see if any interesting migrants had dropped in. The wind had picked up considerably during the day, and as a result there were very few birds feeding in the oak canopy, or anywhere else for that matter!
The highlight was my first olive-sided flycatcher of the spring, hunting from a tall snag. We bumped into Steven Roias who similarly reported little of note.

Earlier in the day I had stopped off at Clover Point before heading out to work. 
I was hoping that the snow bunting reported for last couple of days might still be around, and after a bit of searching I located it feeding among some kelp strewn rocks on the water’s edge. 

It appears to be a female, still moulting into breeding plumage. I managed a couple of record shots, as you can see here.
A single ‘Hudsonian’ whimbrel (photographed) was also present feeding on the weedy rocks on the western edge of the point, as were a pair of dunlin and a handful of black oystercatchers, harlequins, etc. Several rhinoceros auklet were close inshore.
A smart summer plumaged spotted sandpiper was picking its way along the tideline by the boat slipway.

At lunchtime I went out for my daily stroll down by Langford Lake. 3 black-headed grosbeaks showed well, including one in full spectacular courtship flight / song.
Rufous hummingbirds continue to show in good numbers (pic below) and I also saw my first monarch butterfly of the year.  

I didn’t get chance to check out the 2 Wilson’s phalaropes at Panama Flats over the weekend, so I made an effort to get there for an hour or so early on Monday morning. Unfortunately the phalaropes had moved on, and shorebirds were generally thin on the ground.  
I could only find 4 greater yellowlegs, 2 spotted sandpiper, 1 dunlin, 6 western sandpiper, 1 least sandpiper and 9 dowitchers (both long-billed and short-billed present, thanks to calls!). 4 American pipits feeding on the muddy grass were joined by a further 19 that dropped in. I met Ian Cruickshank, who I hadn't seen for a while and he was doing a survey of the site, in an effort to provide some meaningful data in the hope that Panama Flats can be managed with birds in mind in the future.

I didn’t get too much birding done over the weekend, although Jenny and I enjoyed a day out on Sunday exploring the Jordan River and Port Renfrew areas. Birds were minimal, other than the expected species. 3 California gulls were a pleasant surprise at Jordan River (they have been pretty scarce this spring) and I did see 3 Steller’s jays, which also seem to be pretty hard to find in the south of the island lately. The scenery was spectacular of course, and we had a great deal of fun exploring the rock pools and watching the crashing waves at Botanical Beach.

I had managed a quick blast around the Government House before we headed out, the highlight of this visit being my first western tanager of the spring (a female) pus a Townsend’s warbler and an apparent overnight arrival of yellow-rumped warblers which were all over the place! A late nesting Anna’s hummingbird (pic) is presumably having a go at a second brood?

On Saturday I had done my Coastal Birds Survey from McMicking Point to Harling Point, but there wasn’t much going on. The highlight of the survey being the 4 whimbrel near the golf course. A check of the Government House revealed a house wren and Townsend’s warbler.

On Friday I spied my first warbling vireo of the year in the Gov. House grounds along with a couple of Townsend’s warblers and several Wilson’s warblers.

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