Friday, 26 October 2012

Totting 'em up: 'spur

Before starting work this morning I managed to find a bit of time to check out the Government House grounds where I found precisely nothing interesting whatsoever. The place was positively aflutter with American robins, but very little else (bar the juvenile Cooper's hawk that was taking advantage of this mass of potential food).
I did locate a bushtit / chickadee flock but it was a total warbler-free zone.

Bonaparte's gull
With a few more minutes to spare I took off to Clover Point. As I walked along the seawall between Ross Bay Cemetery and the Point I noticed several Bonaparte's gulls feeding over the water (1stw pictured). Further out common loons, surf scoters, horned grebes and bufflehead were visible through the drizzle.
As I walked along the wall toward the boathouse I casually dismissed the handful of Lincoln's sparrows that flitted around in the grass and on the beach before flushing a larger bird with obvious white outer tail feathers. 

Lapland longspur
Getting my bins on it, I was delighted to finally add Lapland longspur to my BC list! Despite the persistent rain, I managed one almost acceptable pic.
As any Brit birder knows, folks from the 'old-country' call these enigmatic circumpolar passerines Lapland buntings and UK birdwatchers equally look forward to their arrival every autumn.

Yesterday, my lunchtime meander down to Langford Lake was reasonably rewarding as far as common fall birds was concerned. 

Ruddy duck
The mass of aythya ducks were again present out on the water and among the flotilla of ring-necked ducks and lesser scaups there were a couple of canvasbacks and a female ruddy duck (pictured). American coots, pied-billed grebes and buffleheads added further variety.
Along the trail yellow-rumped warblers were busy gleaning insects from the leaves and occasionally posing to allow for a photo or two. A hermit thrush showed well, but too briefly for a snap.

Yellow-rumped warbler
The feeling that we're moving steadfastly into winter seems to be unavoidable as wildfowl numbers continue to build and those few remaining passage migrants start to thin out.
As many birders in this part of the world have mentioned, it's been a pretty crappy autumn for off-passage stuff this year. The very lovely weather we had through late summer into autumn simply allowed so many southbound birds to just bypass us completely and as a result larger numbers of common migrants simply failed to materialize, and thus rarer congeners were practically absent.

On another note: the mystery bird voting tool (upper right) seems to have had a bit of a fit and is no longer working. So, I shall simply confirm that the vast majority of those taking part ware absolutely correct - it is indeed a black-headed grosbeak. I photographed this adult female in the Okenagan in June.

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