Thursday, April 30, 2009

NMT - April 2009

April 2009
Species list: 32 / Distance travelled: 154 kilometres

            April started with another challenge all of its own-The Brant Festival Big Day Challenge! I joined Guy Monty on his Green team. As both of us were partaking in the NMT year, we both wanted to make sure that any birds counted today would also count for our NMT year. So, with a little imaginative thinking, we arranged for an RV camper, thanks to Kori, Mary & Grandma Lynn, to be parked at the top of Little Mountain in Parksville, our start point.
            We had to cycle, from home, to the top of the mountain, the night before. Well, to be honest, we had to push our bikes to the top of Little Mountain. Here we were joined by Pete Boon another team member who had decided to stay the night. A restless sleep was had, due to some people who decided to party until the early hours right outside our camper. Nevertheless, we were up and ready for the 05:00 a.m. start time, when our other two team members; Bernard Schroeder and Neil Hughes arrived by car. We scooped three owls in about 20 minutes: Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl and Northern Saw-Whet Owl and then we rode.
            Our team clocked up 47 kilometres from 05:20 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; finishing at the Rocking Horse Pub in Nanoose. Our team was called the Numties, a play on the word NMT. We tallied 93 species in all, six of which were, also, new NMT birds for me. After our meal we headed home. En-route I spotted a Mourning Dove, which could not be counted, as we were now in the car.
Rich Mooney, Guy Monty, Bernard Schroeder, Pete Boon, Neil Hughes
            The following morning, I checked The Vancouver Island Bird Alert and discovered that, after we had left, Guy had spotted a Mountain Bluebird behind the beer gardens. "Aggghhh!" I had to go for this bird! Back in the saddle, I headed to the pub. Though my legs were a little shaky, I was glad of the ride and a fly-over American Pipit got me back into the swing of things. It took about thirty minutes to ride there and only five minutes to locate a beautiful male Mountain Bluebird. As well, the Mourning Dove decided to show itself again, much to my delight.
            I did lots of local birding in the following weeks, and another trip up Little Mountain to improve any chance at Sooty Grouse, which boomed right on time! More migrants had found their way back and an exciting spring buzz was in the air.
            One of the biggest surprises was a Rough-legged Hawk on the 19th. I was out cutting the lawn when Guy Monty called and told me he'd seen one in Nanoose and it was coming my way! As fellow NMTers, we developed a comradery and let each other know when a good bird was around that the other needed. I watched the skies in vain, then carried on with my chores. It was four hours later, that I heard a group of crows going ballistic and looked up to see what the commotion was about. They obviously didn’t like the Rough-legged Hawk: number 148.
            More birds were added daily, including Brown-headed Cowbird, MacGillivray’s Warbler and Pacific-slope Flycatcher. The final gem for the month was a Barn Owl!  It flew directly over our house calling three times before it finally disappeared into the night. My first Barn Owl in Parksville.