Sunday, March 27, 2011

Poking around on a lazy Sunday

Brant at Parksville Park
Today I headed up to Little Mountain to start my morning. It was pretty windy so not much happening up there with only Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Common Raven making an appearance. Next I headed to the beach access across from the Englishman River Estuary where there was a huge amount on gulls picking at the herring roe, these included Thayer's Gull, California Gull, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull and one American Herring Gull. I made another stop at the Englishman on the Shelly Road side where the birding was pretty good with a nice variety to keep me on my toes including; Anna's Hummingbird, Hutton's Vireo, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Cooper's Hawk and Barred Owl.

American Robin
 My final stop was at Parksville Park where the Brant numbers were still high. There was also a good assortment of gulls and sea ducks to sort through and a massive Greater Scaup raft. Eagle disturbance was about one every 20 minutes or so. These were mainly juvenile birds but I did have a gorgeous adult come through, scattering birds in all directions. En-route back to my van I took advantage of a very cooperative American Robin and got some nice photos.

Bald Eagle

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brant, brant, brant, brant....EAGLE!

Though I didn't get the best sleep last night (designated driver for Lori's wedding home at about 01:30am and after a few prank calls from Cher, I did finally fall asleep), I did manage to get up and go birding mid-morning. I headed down to Parksville Park and spent a pleasant hour watching the drama at sea. There were hundreds of Brant, gulls and sea-ducks to keep me captivated during my vigil. 

Fortunately the disturbances were only caused by eagle harassment and not by the public, though a few people walked the shoreline putting the gulls up. There were dogs present while I was there but all were leashed and none on the beach. There was a huge raft of sea-ducks made up of Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup and Harlequin Duck. Shorebirds present included Black-bellied Plover, Dunlin and Black Turnstone. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brant in the Bay

Pacific Black Brant
This morning I headed down to Parksville Park to help out for the opening day of the Brant Festival. Though it was a little chilly, the sun kept our spirits high, well, that and hot chocolate and few brant to look at! There was a good trickle of people coming up to us throughout the day and learning about the movements of these wonderful birds.

Noland and Cedar Lynch

There still maybe hope that one of our kids gets hooked!
Other species seen while looking at brant included: White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Barrow's Goldeneye, Common Goldeneye, American Wigeon, Mallard, Long-tailed Duck, Northern Pintail, Horned Grebe, Western Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Loon, Pacific Loon, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, Mew Gull, California Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black Oystercather, Black-bellied Plover and American Pipit.

Opening day - Brant in the Bay
This was the 21st year of the Brant Festival and it was a real privalige to be involved again. Neil K. Dawe, the founder of the festival was present, John M. Cooper, a co-author with Neil on the four volume set The Birds of British Columbia was also there, with his wife and children. As always, Guy Monty was there to share his expertise. Guy has been monitoring brant for twelve now and has an amazing amount of knowledge, based on first hand experience, which he always shares with such enthusiasm. Lastly, but most importantly , Donna Monty was there. Donna, in my opinion, is the driving force, glue and rock that has kept this festival alive for the last five years. Donna never does anything with thought of reward, her focus is real and dedicated. A lady who always puts everyone and especially the birds: FIRST. Sorry Grandma Lynn, but you deserve the kudos. Thank you for all that you do.

The kids are alright!
Brant Festival Colouring Contest
This is what it is all about!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Buttertubs Marsh - Nanaimo

Marsh Wren
After getting our van fixed at Justin and Amanda's house I headed down to Buttertubs Marsh before going home. Though it was spitting with rain it didn't take away from an enjoyable stroll around the trails. On the water was a good mixture of ducks including Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Bufflehead, Ring-billed Duck, Mallard and American Wigeon. On the water fringes there were two Great Blue Heron, calling Red-winged Blackbird, Bewick's Wren and Marsh Wren. There was a nice nice variety of birds to pick through as I made my way along the trail with such species as; Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Bushtit, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Anna's Hummingbird, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, House Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow and Steller's Jay.