While the title of this post isn't nearly as provocative as some of the more recent posts on a number of local birding blogs, it pretty well says it all....
I have been hoping to catch up with a few missing birds before heading off on the "Great Canadian Chicken Hunt" tomorrow, and decided to take advantage of the longer days to start the weekend off properly on Friday with a post-office swing through Metchosin.
The recent weather conditions have been perfect for some wind-blown vagrants to show up and Metchosin, being along the water, is a perfect place for them. Endless fields and shrubbery interspersed with ponds and the like would definitely be my idea of a safe place to land, were I a phoebe or bluebird!
Unfortunately it wasn't to be, and I checked several areas without turning up much of anything. There were still good numbers of Golden-crowned Sparrows along Swanwick Rd along with the other expected species, but nary a rare Zonotrichia to be seen. Off Taylor Beach, there was a raft of 178 Western Grebes, heads tucked in for the most part. I scanned the flock back and forth half a dozen times in hopes of finding a Clark's but couldn't find anything even resembling a hybrid between the two.
Tower Point, part of the Witty's Lagoon complex, provided me with my one new bird for the year. A scan of the shore to the east of the point turned up a small brown and white bird bobbing along the rocks, which a turn of both the zoom and focus knobs revealed to be a Spotted Sandpiper. This bird has been regular in the area of Albert Head Lagoon for the past couple of winters, but it hasn't turned up there yet this year. Maybe it has decided that this area has something lacking in the lagoon!
With light fading fast, I managed to make out 8 Brant at Esquimalt Lagoon, feeding on the ocean side near the bridge. Numbers so far this year in this spot have ranged from 2 to 38, and everything in between. This is a spot I will be watching closely in hopes that when Sequim's 2 Emperor Geese depart for parts north, they decide to simply cross the water and stay for a few days.
Saturday morning I headed up to the Goldstream Group Campground after another, usually reliable, species. A group of youngsters were camped out in the top group site so I stayed low, scanning the skies and keeping an ear to the bushes. My first Orange-crowned Warbler of the year was calling from the top site, and I never did get a look at it. I also almost missed my target de jour as I had glanced down to check the time at the 30 minute mark, and looked up just in time to see a certain dark raptor with a brilliant golden sheen to its head and nape pass very low overhead, wings folded for descent. The Golden Eagle circled back, and provided crippling views before finally disappearing behind the trees. As they nest nearby, this is a travelling lane for them and as good a spot as any for Golden Eagle in the Victoria area.
Some random birding in the afternoon turned up four male Eurasian Wigeons still at Hastings Flats (in the same scope view, no less!), and a few other interesting sightings, including my first Band-tailed Pigeon of the year near Otter Point Rd and Laronde Rd in Sooke, but nothing I would classify as spectacular.
Here is where I will end my post, halfway through the weekend, and instead of continuing, direct viewers to Jeremy Gatten's account of Sunday's adventure:
Before clicking his link, please be advised that this post may not be suitable for small children, or for those easily offended by gratuitous gull photos.
The iPod is all loaded up for tomorrows overnight, 12 hour bus trip to Penticton. I may be able to post some progress reports from the road, courtesy of my blackberry, but more likely you will be in for a long, coffee-fueled post when I get back next week!
Oh, and if those Emperor Geese show up while I am away, could someone please slip them a little seed to make sure they stay?