Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Vancouver Island - BIG Tuesday

My introduction to the birds of Vancouver Island also included meeting some of the local birders (just like being back home an SOS field trip!!!) Bill Dancer, the leader of the group had also offered to show me around over the next couple of days. Hopes of good finds were running high....

A couple of stops along the coast to see if there were any waders? This is not a good time of year with just the local overwintering birds present.

Not sure I came all this way to see Dunlin!

The local corvid - Northwestern Crow is another 'wherever you go' bird.

But, Kildeer and Lesser Yellowlegs were certainly not 'everywhere' birds and not guaranteed to find.

A walk near the University of Victoria took in varied habitat, including fields hedgerows and a fantastic wooded ravine - Mystic Vale. Cedar Waxwing was found in one of the nearby gardens with good views of Bald Eagle and Cooper's Hawk as we started the walk. At the entrance to Mystic Vale, Hutton's Vireo was up above 'somewhere'..... Fox Sparrow and Song Sparrow seen in the brambles....

Then, Hairy Woodpecker, a dapper male sporting his red crown. I really wanted to get Pileated Pecker but despite a good search (they were heard) it was 'no show'.

Brown Creeper - now haven't I seen something similar back home....

More Anna's Hummingbird - can't get enough of these and a sort of attempt to get a flight shot.....

After lunch, I set off with Bill to nail several of the target species likely to be in the area.

More sparrows! (Golden-crowned and White-crowned)

The airport was a likely spot for raptors, an American Kestrel failed to show but there was always a Red-tailed Hawk or two! I was hoping for a 'Sibley' tail shot and had to settle for the rear view - apologies for the wires!

A call in at Pat Bay yielded White-winged (too distant) and Surf (pictured) Scoter. There were alos Red-necked Grebe, Common Loon and Bufflehead on the water.

Having seen Common Goldeneye, plentiful around the coast, Bill reckoned we might strike lucky for Barrow's Goldeneye at Cole's Bay. He didn't disapppoint - a couple of fantastic drakes on show. We also had brief but good views of a sharp-shinned Hawk circling overhead.

The best birds of the day for me came amongst the Island bulb fields. It was just like being back at home with several Skylarks singing. A key bird seen here was American Pipit - not a chance of a pic though. A real star bird which did pose briefly however - Western Meadowlark - sporting that gorgeous yellow underside, a real classy bird!!

Why BIG Tuesday? Well the list was the biggest of the trip with 70+ species seen!

More of the same to follow tomorrow (actually - when I get back home and catch up - expect trickled episodes!!)......

Additions to the main list from today and the ferry crossing:

Black Brant
Black Oystercatcher
Black Turnstone
Red-breasted Merganser
Pacific Loon
Pigeon Guillemot
Harlequin Duck
Common Goldeneye
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Bewicks Wren
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Common Redpoll
Pelagic Cormorant
Lesser Yellowlegs
Western Gull
Cedar Waxwing
Purple Finch
Peregrine Falcon
Western Meadowlark
Savannah Sparrow
American Pipit
Red-breasted Grebe

1 comment:

  1. There are three bald eagle nests in Mystic Vale. One of which is located in the northwestern corner on the path on top of the ravine near parking lot number one. In the spring, the pair hovers over UVic cluster student housing almost everyday. Long ago, when Bowker and Hobbs Creek were connected via the water shed, some of the salmon which spawned in the Bowker waters swam through Hobbs Creek through Mystic Vale and all the way to the Cadboro Bay Sea. However, the fish could not swim back against the Hobbs stream due to the amount of water discharge and and slope. Those were the days when the northern end of Mystic Vale was an estuary for bald eagles; when the Coast Salish bands practiced bathing rituals as they encountered the power spirit realm of Stleluqum; and when the Western Screech owls (now exotic and rare) were abundant. Today, there are no more Screech owls on the UVic campus due to the arrival of the Great Horned owl in the early eighties. The arrival of the latter coincided with the introduction of the European Rabbits on Campus (pets abandoned on the UVic grounds by pet owners who stopped dumping them at the Victoria General Hospital grounds after they were shot) About 11 years ago, a ten cm ground slate point was found in Mystic Vale. It was used by one of the residents of the old Songhees village in Cadboro Bay (there are two such villages in that area).
    Yaser Mohammed
    University of Victoria Sustainability Project (UVSP)