Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quiet Weekend

Nolan swatting up on his science project: What do Owls Eat?
A very quiet weekend was had by all. On Saturday prior to meeting up with family in Qualicum, Lori, Nolan, Finlay and I headed down to the beach. While the boys played and Lori collected shells, I scanned the ocean. A good sprinkling of a variety of scoters, loons, grebes and alcids were seen including: White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Marbled Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet and 48 Black Brant.

On Sunday morning I took a walk at the Shelly Road end of the Englishman River Estuary where I found 42 Evening Grosbeak, a flock of Pine Siskin, Anna's Hummingbird and two Eurasian Collared Dove.
Anna's Hummingbird

Eurasian Collared-Dove
Next I headed into Nanaimo where I had a look to see if the Northern Mockingbird was still around. After about 1/2 hour of scanning with no luck I headed back towards Parksville, stopping at Legacy Marsh with hopes of a bittern. 'There never was much hope. Only a fools hope!' The species here included Ring-necked Duck, Great Blue Heron, Marsh Wren, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, Mallard, Bufflehead and Wood Duck.
Wood Duck

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Deep Bay

After twelve days of work I was very happy to sneak out today, even if it was only for a few hours. My first stop was at Fanny Bay. Here there was a good assortment of scoters, diving ducks and grebes to scan through. Along the trail there was a small group of sparrows including Spotted Towhee, Golden-crowned, Song and a single Lincoln's Sparrow. After adding a few more species such as Steller's Jay, Dark-eyed Junco, a few dabblers and a single Greater Yellowlegs, I headed down to Deep Bay. 

Though I always dream of discovering a King Eider here, it has yet to happen. However, I always enjoy my time at Deep Bay and can never get enough of the close up views you get of all three scoters, loons, grebes and of course Harlequin Duck and Long-tailed Duck. I tallied a total of 40 species while I was there.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Golden-crowned Sparrow

View from our backyard
We have been fairly lucky this winter with only limited amounts of snow. Up until now. Last night we had a real good dump of snow. I became aware of its arrival early this morning when I was woken by our neighbor trying to get out of his driveway. Lori was first up and made sure there was a good supply of bird food on our deck as the juncos were already tapping on our window for breakfast. I was a little surprised with the lack of birds taking advantage of this bounty and only recorded nine species: Dark-eyed Junco, Song Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Northern Flicker, European Starling and Northwestern Crow. Still, the day is young and maybe if I am lucky the Evening Grosbeaks will discover the smorgasbord at Cooper Place.

Northern Flicker
Golden-crowned Sparrow

Monday, January 3, 2011

Northern Mockingbird

Yesterday our friends Jon and Jenny Carter came over to Parksville for a visit and while poking around on Little Mountain for Northern Pygmy-Owl, Jon mentioned that he had heard about a Northern Mockingbird. Initially I thought he meant the one that had been seen on the mainland. However, the bird he was referring to was a bird in Nanaimo! This was news to me as I had not seen it posted on the BCVI Bird forum or heard any rumor. It turns out that this bird had been staked out for a month and was posted at a different site.

Anyhow, this morning I met Jon at the Nanaimo River Estuary for some birding before going to check on this rare bird. The estuary was fairly quiet with no sightings of either Northern Harrier or Short-eared Owl. We did get 11 Western Meadowlark which is always a treat. On arrival at the mockingbird site, which is at the junction of Dumont Road and Eylash Road next to Brannen Lake, there was no sign of the bird. We walked this country road looking across into farm fields until two other birders arrived. Within minutes we located the bird which was hunting from some posts. We watched the bird for over an hour, while it made its way around and behind farm buildings, occasionally staying tucked up in some trees and preening. I am not sure how many records there are for BC, but this was a first for me for both Vancouver Island and British Columbia. I didn't manage to get very good photos but acceptable record shots non the less.