Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taking a peep at Clover Point

The recent report of a possible Common Eider at Clover Point in Victoria couldn't have come at a better time. I needed to exchange a Christmas present at Mountain Equipment co-op anyway, and this was the perfect excuse for a combined trip. Jon Carter was visiting Victoria with his wife Jenny on the 27th December 2010 when he spotted this possible rarity and alerted BCVIBIRDS.
After 'finally' finding a parking spot and exchanging my fleece, Lori and I headed for Clover Point. We scanned each side of point but were unable to relocate the bird. No matter, we had fun anyway, and I spent some time watching Sanderling, Dunlin and Harlequin Duck in the sunshine.


Harlequin Duck

We then travleld from Clover Point to Oak Bay where we added a few more shorebirds including; Greater Yellowlegs, Black-bellied Plover, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Surfbird (12) and Killdeer. At Oak Bay Marina Lori relaxed and read her book while I watched a Hooded Merganser preening and feeding close to some rocks.

Hooded Merganser
With our tummy's rumbling we headed for the Penny Farthing  for some wonderful and filling pub food. With time ticking we made our way back to Parksville, making a quick stop at Swan Lake. Here we found the feeders full of Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird and Spotted Towhee. The lake held Ring-necked Duck, Canada Goose, Pied-billed Grebe, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Double-crested Cormorant and Great Blue Heron. Just before leaving I snapped a shot of a Song Sparrow which looked really cool on top of some cattails. It was only when I got home that I noticed that this individual had been coloured banded on the left leg: orange above and pink bellow. I will report this bird and hopefully find out a little more. 

Song Sparrow (colour banded)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting
Today's excursion was completely random. I had no particular itinerary, other than the fact that I was going birding. My day started at Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville as Lori wanted to go jogging. I scanned the ocean and though the elements were perfect, there was a serious lack of birds. A few Barrow's Goldeneye and Harlequin Duck kept me content while I waited for Lori to finish her workout. After dropping Lori home, I headed north to Deep Bay. I checked the first beach access where I scanned through all the sea-ducks. Nothing unusual, but, as always, I am impressed with the close-up views you get at this location: Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead,  Harlequin Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe, Common Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant. 

Next I headed down to the point where I bumped into John Purves. Our paths have crossed over the years, mainly at Christmas Bird Counts, but I had never spent any time with John. We decided to join forces and made our way through the long grass to the sandy shore; while Golden-crowned, White-crowned and Song Sparrow watched us with a suspicious eye from the sanctuary of their small bushes. While we chatted, John informed me that a Snow Bunting had been recently reported from this spot. This species has been avoiding me ever since coming to Vancouver Island, so I was very happy to hear that news. We got ourselves comfortable and scanned the shore and rocks for any sign of this northern beauty. After about half an hour we decided to walk along the shoreline and found the bird! It was feeding in some short grass and quite hidden but soon made its way onto the sandy shore, feeding on small seeds in the seaweed and debris. We were both thrilled to get great views of a bird that was a first for us both on Vancouver Island: Snow Bunting! We stood around for some time enjoying this specialty from the tundra and managed to get a few photos. After about twenty minutes the bird made its way around to the rocks until it finally disappeared behind some boulders.

Rich and John at Deep Bay

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Englsihman Estuary

Englishman River Estuary
After the Christmas festivities I was ready to sneak out for an hour to see what was around. And yes, I was very exited to try out my new Christmas presents:) I got a little spoiled this year, getting a new pair of Columbia hiking pants from my son Conor and a pair of Keen hiking boots from Lori. The estuary was fairly quiet with a sprinkling of the usual subjects such as Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Norhtern Flicker, Red-winged Blackbird, Dark-eyed Junco and Pacific Wren. The river channel had Common Merganser, Mallard, Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal and Great Blue Heron.

New Gear
The beach access initially seemed very un-birdy but I decided to find a nice spot and just hang around for a while which produced two new year birds and a nice group of geese. Viewing the sand-spit opposite Parksville park I counted 33 Pacific Black Brant with another 9 individuals arriving, making 42 Brant in all. The straight was a little choppy which made things slightly challenging but there was a good selection of grebes, loons and sea-ducks to go through. Common Goldeneye were numerous with Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe,  Bufflehead and Surf Scoter filling in the gaps. Two small rafts of gulls were made up of Mew and Glaucous-winged. While scanning I spotted 8 Pacific Loon offshore and two Double-crested Cormorant. My first surprise was a pair of Western Grebe and my second was an Eared Grebe! Both species were year birds for me, though this is only the second time I have seen Eared Grebe on Vancouver Island. My first sighting was at Deep Bay about three years ago.Just before I headed home I got a nice fly-by group of shorebirds including: 14 Black-bellied Plover, 12 Dunlin and 3 Black Turnstone.

Common Goldeneye

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Parksville Christmas Bird Count 2010

Lori Lynch, Mike Ashbee, Rich Mooney and Jon Carter CBC 2010 - 86 species

Today was my 16th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) since living in British Columbia. My first count was in 2002 when I joined Chris Charlesworth and Chris Siddle on the Vernon CBC. On that day (28th December 2002) we tallied 58 species and this introduction got me hooked on this fun and important annual event.
            Our team today was the same as last year, (Lori Lynch, Mike Ashbee, Jon Carter and myself) though our area had changed. We covered the Parksville area from French Creek Marina to The Englishman River, including suburbia, the town of Parksville and Little Mountain. The weather was more than acceptable, as it was cold but did not rain. It also did not snow, like 2008, where I spent 5 ½ hours stuck in a snow bank, alone, with no toilet paper! Not a pretty sight.
            I digress. Today we started our count at 06:00am, though a calling Killdeer at 05:30am from behind our house was the first bird of the day. We made a few stops around Parksville to listen for owls, which, unfortunately, proved unproductive; traffic and wind definitely affected our chances. Our target bird was Great Horned Owl and despite being in good areas, we failed to hear any. In fact, today, none of the eight teams participating recorded this species.
            The next stop in search of these nocturnal hunters was Little Mountain. Here we got lucky and got our second bird of the day: Northern Pygmy-Owl. Any owl is a good owl but this species always warrants special accolade. 
Northern Pygmy-Owl (Rich Mooney 2007)
Rich, Lori, Jon and Mike - Englishman woods
            In the following hours we ducked and dived our way through the streets of Parksville as well as covering key areas such as The Englishman River Estuary, French Creek, Parksville Park and RV Park. As with any CBC or big day challenge for that matter, there are always highlights, lowlights, stringy what ifs and out and out misses! Last year our big miss was House Sparrow! This year that was not going to happen, no matter what the cost. House Sparrow was bagged as the fifth bird of the day following Belted Kingfisher. What a weird start! A kingfisher before a Song Sparrow? A kingfisher before a towee? It doesn’t seem right but I am not complaining, a kingfisher got me the award for ‘Biggest Miss’ on a Brant Festival Big Day Challenge one year.
Lori, Mike and Jon after bagging a few more birds
            Despite missing a few key birds such as Black Oystercatcher, Long-tailed Duck, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and Ring-necked Pheasant, we did get some nice birds. The highlights were Pacific Black Brant, Eurasian Wigeon, Peregrine Falcon, Virginia Rail, 4 Wilson’s Snipe, Ring-billed Gull, Ancient Murrelet, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Barred Owl, Anna’s Hummingbird, Northern Shrike, Hutton’s Vireo, Hermit Thrush, American Goldfinch and Evening Grosbeak. We tallied up a total of 86 species (2791 individuals) for the day, covering 104 kilometres from 06:00am to 4:40pm. If I had to pick a bird of the day, it would be White-crowned Sparrow. It took all day to snag one of these lbj’s and the relief was appreciated. I didn’t want to go to the potluck with an empty check mark next to that species!

Reading the results at the 2010 CBC round up
 My sincere thanks again to Lori, Jon and Mike.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yellow-billed Loon

Pacific Black Brant

This morning I headed out on foot from our home in Parksville. Lori and Nolan were visiting our friend in Victoria which left me without transport. No matter, I managed to go birding on my bicycle all last year, so a stroll to the park shouldn't be a big deal. The gray clouds seemed ominous but the rain didn't hinder my plans, though it did begin to drizzle after about four hours. My first good bird of the day was a Cackling Goose which was hanging out with a few resident Canada Geese in the fields behind our home. Five minutes later I was entering Parksville Community Park where I was welcomed by a foraging Varied Thrush. In the bay was a good close group of Surf Scoter including a few Black and White-winged Scoter. Further out were Horned Grebe, Barrow's Goldeneye, Common Goldeneye and Common Loon. I followed the shoreline to the end of the park, hoping for a Snow Bunting, though all I got was Song and White-crowned Sparrow. The sand spit just offshore was loaded with shorebirds: Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover and Black Turnstone, which is fairly common, though big a group of Pacific Black Brant was a surprise! I approximated that there were about 48 individuals though the ocean and distance were not on my side. I phoned Guy Monty to inform of this group. Guy is a local biologist and has been monitoring Pacific Black Brant for many years. Guy had seen a group of 18 recently but was very happy to hear there were more birds. He made his way down to the park but the geese flew way offshore by the time he arrived. We chatted for a while until we spotted a small group of brant on another sand spit. There were 10 individuals with another 6 arriving ten minutes later. After scrutinizing the birds for a while Guy managed to read two leg bands; a great December record.

Guy Monty reading Pacific Black Brant leg bands at Parksville Park
As we both had some spare time we headed down to Schooner Cover to check out a Yellow-billed Loon that been hanging out at the marina. On arrival there was two Bufflehead, a Red-breasted Merganser, Common loon and a very cold Mike Ashbee. Mike had been there for the last two hours with no sign of the bird. We stood around chatting and catching up for about twenty minutes until the bird materialized in front of us. In between dives, we probably got to see the bird for about ten minutes, until it disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. We waited around for about another hour with just one re-sighting out in the straight.

Yellow-billed Loon

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rathrevor Beach

Varied Thrush

This afternoon Lori and I took Nolan and his friend Finlay down to Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville. We all needed to get out of the house and drag the boys away from their video games. We dropped the boys off at the entrance to the provincial park, so they could ride their bikes down the big hill. Lori and I parked the van and while Lori went for a run, I walked the beach. As I walked along the shoreline, Varied Thrush flew up in front of me from the debris, seaweed and logs, finding sanctuary in the forest. A few paused long enough for me to snap a few shots.
Further along the beach I spotted a group of shorebirds and to my delight there were Surfbird among them. My luck with this species on the island has been sketchy at best. I have had a few fly-by encounters and the odd single bird, but today, I had 22 all in one place. They were mixed in with a large group of Black Turnstone and Dunlin. Other shorebirds included Black Oystercatcher and Black-bellied Plover.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Short-eared Owls

The weather was perfect for a mooch around the Nanaimo River Estuary today; crisp, no breeze and blue skies. On arrival at the parking lot I was greeted by a Belted Kingfisher, perched along the river. It was only a matter of minutes after leaving the van before I spotted the first of four Short-eared Owls. Admittedly this first encounter was a little nerve wracking as the owl was perched about 30ft in front of a duck hunter! Unfortunately this site has a bad reputation for some callus characters shooting raptors and owls. Fortunately, all the hunters today were focused on legal game and seemed as enthralled as I was with these gentle, buoyant specialties. 

At one point there were four owls quartering the estuary at the same time. That was spectacular! There was also much bickering between them. While I was standing and observing, two owls battled over the top of my head, both vocalizing, until one finally got the message. Short-eared Owls were not the only ones enjoying a snow free estuary; two Northern Harriers were also busy searching for a rodent snack. En-route back to the viewing tower I spotted a Northern Shrike; a regular but welcomed winter estuary bird. The bushes were thick with sparrows, including Golden-crowned, Song and Fox. Another bird that is expected, but always appreciated, is the Western Meadowlark. In fact, today, there were ten Western Meadowlarks! I am always happy to see these stunning chunky birds, especially when one allowed me to get my first photo.
Western Meadowlark

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tofino Pelagic - October 2010

Tofino Pelagic 2010
As an early birthday present Lori sent me out to sea! No complaints. Today I traveled back down to Tofino for another west coast pelagic with Just Birding and The Whale Centre tour companies. The seas were a 'little' rougher than the August trip. That said, we did get out and got to see a few tubenoses. The birds were thin on the ground for sure but most of us kept our spirits high. Tufted Puffin, Black-footed Albatross, Sooty Shearwater and Northern Fulmar were all seen and a nice Buller's Shearwater was a good bonus bird and a BC bird for me. One of the participants was Russ Cannings. Russ needed just one bird to break the BC Big Year record; but alas, it was not on this trip. Check out his site to see if the record has been broken:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mount Washington

Sooty Grouse
As our kids were looking a little bored and Emily had never seen a Gray Jay we decided to head up to Mount Washington and do a little hike around the boardwalk trail that surrounds Paradise Meadows. The weather was a little drizzly but cleared enough for us to enjoy our walk. On the side road just before the parking lot we spotted three Sooty Grouse on the grass verge next to the road. We watched them for a while before moving on. The route around the meadows was quiet and at times we had the place to ourselves. The Gray Jays made an appearance within a short time and both Emily and Nolan were captivated as a family group fed from their hands. Further along we got a nice view of a Northern Harrier floating across the fields and at about the halfway point we heard Sandhill Cranes though we didn't see them. When I got home I checked the bird alert to see that someone had seen 3 cranes the day before.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tofino Pelagic - August 2010

Gourmet cooks preparing a tubenose delight-sardines and popcorn
At the end of July 2010, my friend Jon Carter was booked on a pelagic trip out of Tofino             (west coast on Vancouver Island) and asked if I wanted to join him. Luckily, I had just racked up a few hours overtime and so could scrape together the $250.00 needed for this trip. Just Birding and The Whale Centre organized this excursion; two Tofino based companies.
Rich and Jon - Just Birding Pelagic
            Jon and I decided to leave early Saturday 14th from Parksville as accommodation in Tofino was full. We departed our house at 3:30 a.m. and arrived in Tofino just after 6:00 a.m. We met with the organizers and other participants at 6:30 a.m. at the Whale Centre and boarded the 30 ft open Boston Whaler at 7:00 a.m. The weather was perfect and the seas were calm as we headed out. Passing some rocky islands we began picking up some cool birds including Surfbird, Black Oystercatcher, Harlequin Duck and Heermann’s Gull. As the land disappeared behind us, we began seeing Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Cassin’s Auklet, Red-necked Phalarope, Northern Fulmar and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel.
            Our first big surprise was a cracking adult Tufted Puffin in breeding plumage. This member of the auk family has black plumage, white facial patch, huge red/yellow bill and distinctive yellow tufts. Everyone one on the boat got wonderful views of this individual and after about five minutes of ogling we carried on. About 20 minutes after seeing the puffin we had another great treat in the form of a Humpback Whale. In fact, there were at least three in one area and we were all thrilled to see them breeching close to the boat. It was an amazing site and everyone on the boat felt privileged to witness these gentle giants at such close quarters. We continued on our westerly route, bumping into small rafts of; Sooty Shearwater, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel and Pink-footed Shearwater, at the same time seeing more Humpback Whales.
Tufted Puffin
Humpback Whale
            When we reached the continental shelf, approximately 35 miles off shore, we stopped for lunch. The water here was very calm with no upwelling and thus practically devoid of birds. I pulled out my little bag of tricks, namely; a mixed cocktail of popcorn and sardines, and chummed the water. This unfortunately didn’t make much difference, though we did get to see our first and last Black-footed Albatross of the day. We spent some time after lunch, cruising along the drop-off, picking up a few rafts of shearwaters and two groups of Red Phalaropes, but the birding was fairly slow. Time by now was not on our side, so we began our slow ride back to the mainland. En-route back we skirted Cleland Island where we got more puffins, big groups of Pigeon Guillemots, two Wandering Tattlers and my first Sea Otter, that was hanging out in one of the kelp beds.
Northern Fulmar
            All in all it was a very successful day with a nice variety of tubenoses to sort through and wonderful mixture of marine life to keep us all entertained.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mount Albert Edward

Mount Albert Edward is situated in Strathcona Provincial Park, east of Buttle Lake and west of Courtenay, on Vancouver Island. Since moving to the island in 2006, I had heard many stories about Mount Albert Edward, especially stories about ptarmigan. Though Justin Lynch and I got 12 of these elusive birds on Mount Cain, it didn’t dissuade me from wanting to travel to the hallowed breeding grounds on Albert Edward.
Having dipped my toes on some easier alpine excursions on Mount Coakley, Mount Arrowsmith, Victoria Peaks and Mount Cain, I felt ready for a much more challenging hike. I was wrong. I was, absolutely, not ready!
After a restless sleep, I crawled out of bed and cancelled the snooze button. It was 4:45 a.m. Before my morning fix of caffeine, I guzzled my second big glass of water of the day. Hydrating the night before and in the morning was another good tip I had learned from Justin. With all of my ablutions taken care of, I sat outside our house and waited. Being a smoker, a fact I have omitted throughout this blog, I enjoyed my second cup of coffee and a cigarette. Un-judged, I stared into space, running scenarios through my mind on how the day would play out. My thoughts were interrupted with the sight and sound of a Toyota 4 x 4 coming down our road; its headlights catching me stubbing out another cigarette butt in the dirt. I grabbed my backpack, pushed it through the open back window of the truck and jumped in the front.
We arrived at our start point, Raven Lodge, at 6:50 a.m. Raven Lodge is a cross-country facility located below the Mount Washington Alpine Resort. Ten-minutes later we were ready, though we pondered for a while on whether we should pack snowshoes. The notice in the parking lot clearly stated that there was a lot of snow. If it was hard-packed, we could easily walk across it in hiking boots, but we didn’t know. We erred on the side of caution and strapped a little more weight to our packs.
The first two hours flew by.  The initial easy boardwalk trail past Paradise Meadows, linked up with a wooded trail, which skirted Lake Helen Mackenzie, then to our first stop; the rangers cabin. Here we relaxed for a while and had our first snack of the day, boiled eggs and a protein bar. Within minutes, four Gray Jays arrived and kept us company until they’d had their fill of trail mix.
Rangers Cabin
We continued our westerly route past Whiskey Meadows and began the long slog to Circlet Lake. Snowshoes came in handy on one part of this trek, though they were used more out of interest than necessity. En-route, we made frequent stops and an hour-long respite just before Circlet Lake. Here we shared our shady nook with a family group of Gray Jays, including two juvenile birds. It was at this point; we made our decision to hide the snowshoes in a small wooded area, as they were more of a hindrance than help now. Re-hydrated and fed we continued on.
Gray Jay
The following hours were slow going and a real grind. Added to the gradual climb in elevation, my ankles began to give me some problems; initially an aggravation but soon turning into a very uncomfortable situation. I tried both loosening and tightening my boots and this seemed to work for a while. Once into the alpine, I began to focus more on looking for ptarmigan than staring at the ground and repeating the words to myself; one foot in front of the other Rich!
feeling my years
We reached the plateau below the main ridge at about 5:00 p.m. Here we rested for half an hour, replenishing our water from a run-off and eating some more protein foods before attempting the final ascent. Even before we set-off on the last push a little voice inside my head began whispering, give up, this is madness. This voice had been my travel companion on many excursions over the years. With a deep breath I soldiered on. To countermeasure this murmur of doubt and surrender, I forced myself to think of other challenges that I had experienced and conquered. While doing this I kept my head down, not looking up, not wanting to know how much further we had to go. Placing one foot in front of the other, neatly and precisely, I followed the footprints of the man in front of me. My old mantra returned: I love the army and the food is great. I love the army and the food is great.
Justin Lynch - the last push
At the end of the ridge and at the beginning of the main slope we stopped again. Exhausted and in pain I dropped my pack to the ground, sat on a rock and looked up the slope. The mountain was physically and emotionally breaking my spirit. I felt overwhelmed. All day long the mountain had played tricks on me. Seemingly, getting closer, only to be further away at every milestone. As I stared at this impossible slope I silently cursed the mountain. Justin’s voice brought me back to planet earth. I looked up at him and he looked as fresh as when we had started, eleven hours earlier. The bottom-line for me was I ready to quit, and I voiced this to Justin. He just smiled. “This is it. This is the final leg. You will never be back here to do it again and there is no way your not going to the summit.”
We stashed our backpacks on the slope; Justin pulled a small bundle out of his bag, smaller than a fist. This transformed into a mini daypack in which he carried some snacks and our drinks. I adjusted my boots again and began the final ascent. Approximately half way up the slope Justin pointed out a bird sitting on a rock. I raised my bins to see an American Pipit. It was preening on one of the alpine islands not covered in snow. Perfect breeding habitat for this bird, though we didn’t get any evidence to back this up, only that this individual was there.
            It probably took about twenty minutes from the pipit to reach the top. Once there, Justin ushered me to the highest point before handing out the high-fives. I was too knackered to be euphoric, I was just glad to stop. However, euphoria was on the cards! Not only had we made it to the summit, we also found a family group of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch! There were two juveniles and two adults.
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
            After resting and enjoying these alpine specialties and the magnificent views, we began, for the first time in a while, to head down hill. I was relieved, proud and for the first time in a few hours, happy. At the bottom of the slope we followed the ridge back down towards where we had hidden our packs. We chatted about how cool it would be to finish our quest with a ptarmigan, but not really believing it could happen. I stopped for a washroom break, as did Justin, though his needed somewhat more privacy than mine. Justin disappeared over some boulders near the edge of the ridge, only to reappear seconds later. I quizzically watched him as he made frantic hand gestures, pointing below his position. I frowned and called, “Rosy-Finch?” He shook his head. This could only mean one thing! I hobbled at a good pace to where he was crouched. I followed the line of his pointed finger. On a rock, 18 ft in front of us was a White-tailed Ptarmigan with five young! We watched this family group for about twenty minutes, both female and young, pecking at the heather shoots, until finally all five young took refuge under her breast feathers. It was absolutely wonderful to witness this unique discovery and what better way to finish our day’s journey.
Summit of Albert Edward

White-tailed Ptarmigan
ptarmigan chick
            After locating our packs we made good headway in two hours, out of the core area. Sometime after 9:00 p.m. we decided to stop and set up camp, which was just as well, as I couldn’t have gone another step. We both had packed light, having a sleeping bag, bivi bag and roll mat each. After a disgusting boil in the bag curry meal and two cups of hot chocolate we both crashed out.
            The following morning we had apple and cinnamon instant oatmeal for breakfast, packed up, made a clean sweep of the area and headed out. It took about 6 ½ hours to make it to the truck. En-route, my ankles, particularly my left, gave me severe grief. We stopped at one point and Justin strapped it with surgical tape and padding, alleviating much of the pain. At Helen Mackenzie Lake we stopped once more, as we had reached the beginning of the boardwalk trail. Here, I exchanged my boots that had held me prisoner for the last 24 hours for a pair of flip-flops. Heaven! We arrived back at the truck at 1:30 p.m. We grabbed some food and drinks in Courtenay and headed home.

Not a bad place to crash out

Friday, June 11, 2010

Victoria Peak

Today I joined Justin Lynch on a day trip to Victoria Peak. This mountain is 2163 metres and the third highest mountain on Vancouver Island. It is accessed via a logging road just outside of Gold River. We didn't make the summit today as Justin wanted to just get a feel of the terrain and figure out a route. We had a nice day and though the cloud cover was thick, we did luck out and got great views of the mountain.

En-route back to the car we spent a little time listening and then finally seeing a Sooty Grouse.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Western Kingbird

A strange call got me all a twitter this afternoon! I ran out into our street to get a view of the culprit and though it was raining I could make out it was a kingbird. I thought initially it might be a tropical as I couldn't make out any white on the outer tail feathers. I phoned Guy Monty who came over on his bike as either bird would be a new species for his NMT list. In the time it took him to cycle over a second kingbird appeared and then the heavens opened. Luckily the rain only stayed for five minutes. Both birds were vocalizing and flycatching from the tops of some Cedar trees, giving us great views. This is a Vancouver Island species for me.