Well, my first day of birding for the year started off like many other birding days, with Jeremy Gatten and I stopping in at the Goldstream Ave Tim Horton's for a few morning coffees. (Tim Horton's, if you are listening, you are currently the unofficial coffee of the 2012 Victoria Checklist Area Big Year, but I am always open to sponsorships and endorsements - call me!)
From there, we headed up to Cobble Hill to start our area for the Duncan Christmas Bird Count. We started just off of Kingburne Dr, where our first bird of the year was not one, but three Great Horned Owls calling at various distances. Not a bad start!
From there, we carried on down Kingburne, picking up a few birds here and there. At one of our earlier stops, we had pulled over and were walking toward a few of what would turn out to be 440 Pine Siskins for the day, when we heard a distinctive call that stopped us both in our tracks. We immediately looked at each other, and started scanning. Jeremy quickly located the bird, a very obliging Common Redpoll, while five Evening Grosbeaks called overhead. My fifth bird of the year turned out to be one that I missed completely last year, and this was my first Redpoll for the Victoria Checklist Area!
The weather stayed good all day, and we added a few other highlight birds, including four male Eurasian Wigeons mixed in with the 900 or so American Wigeons near Dougan's Lake. We also had great looks at Pileated Woodpecker, Wilson's Snipe, Lesser Scaup, etc.
As always, one of the big highlights was catching up with everyone at the post-count gathering, especially the Cowichan Valley birders that rarely make it south of the Malahat.
The current big year count stands at 51, and tomorrow will be an all-out chase. I hope to catch up with some of the recent Victoria rarities, including a try for the Blue-grey Gnatcatcher that hasn't been seen in a couple of weeks, Vesper Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, Snow Bunting, Snowy Owl, etc.....
See you all in the field!