Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunny does not mean warm!

Since I'm feeling a little lazy today, I am not going to relive Saturday's birding adventure. Jeremy Gatten actually beat me to the punch on Saturday night, posting a report in the same time frame I was occupied with babysitting my 13 month old niece. Instead, I will provide a link to his post regarding the days adventure. Most of the sightings are there, though I don't necessarily agree with his portrayal of the hero of the story. You be the judge!

Sunday dawned, full of promise and not a cloud in the sky. I may have mistaken the sun and blue sky as warmth, and headed out without a pair of gloves. Turns out a cup of coffee in the hand doesn't quite fill the void, but it was close!

The Goldstream Group Campground is one of my favourite places close to home. It is a five minute walk from the parking lot at Icecream Mountain (shuttered this time of year), it is usually quiet (as in, no one else there!) in the off season, and it also provides access to a number of species not seen over much of Victoria, such as Golden Eagle (which nest somewhere nearby) and Northern Pygmy-Owl. I imagine the temperature on Sunday was constant from where I parked to the top group site, at a balmy 2 degrees. This didn't seem to bother the birds, as there were Anna's Hummingbirds at the bottom and at the top, Dark-eyed Juncos everywhere, and a good number of Pacific Wrens warming up the vocal cords. At the campground itself, an adult Cooper's Hawk looked unbothered as I walked directly under it on the trail. Sadly, no eagles or owls today.

After brunch, which I had promised to my wife, I braved the sudden snowstorm and headed out again. Swan Lake had been my plan, but when I found no parking anywhere nearby, I guessed that there must have been an event there, and decided to try somewhere a little quieter. I ended up at Viaduct Flats, which was indeed quieter. Unfortunately, the birding was quiet as well, with no birds present that haven't been there all winter. There were 9 Trumpeter Swans on the water, a low count for this year for me (there are normally 11 or 12).

Hastings Flats was my next stop. This is another one of those gems that I was introduced to last year, courtesy of Jeremy G. and a Northern Mockingbird. The water was quite high, providing refuge to a small number of ducks, including an amazing 4 Eurasian Wigeons! This species has been present in what I can only think of as unprecedented numbers this year. At one point, I had a count of over 30 known individuals, all but one of which were male. Surely a few females squeaked in under the radar as well. Also at Hastings Flats were 1 Green-winged Teal, a few Mallards, Canada Geese, and 65 American Wigeons.

With family coming over for dinner, I wrapped up my afternoon at the pond at Burnside and Charlton. There has been much debate over the name of this seasonal pond, so I have decided to stick with Charlton Pond. The pond was void of birds, save 13 Mallards, but the surrounding fields were covered in American Robins, Brewer's Blackbirds, and European Starlings. A lone Turkey Vulture cruised overhead, and 2 immature Bald Eagles circled as well.

Not much of a day compared to Sunday, but it is always great to be out!

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