Swan & Goose Count Jan.23 2019

Peregrine falcon

Great blue heron


Owl and junco

Northern shrike

Female wood duck

Trumpeter swans

Cooper’s Hawk

Short-eared owl

Seven eager counters met at the dog park with one newbie, Elodie who had heard all about our escapades and was ready to join in the fun, welcome Elodie. We piled into two vehicles and were off flying.
I really don’t know how I do it with the weather, must have something to do with my ancestry being related to Merlin the magician. It was a wonderful day with temperatures reaching up around 13c by mid afternoon. We saw some wonderful birds and did well with our count with high numbers all around. Trumpeter Swans at #582 of which there were #62 immature, Canada Geese #1439 a Redhead, 3 Northern Shrikes, a Short-eared Owl and the raptors were especially obliging this week with #11 Red-tailed Hawks, #40 Bald Eagles, 2 Peregrine Falcons, 2 Cooper’s Hawks one of which was tentatively identified as a Red-tailed Hawk until we got alongside it. We had a chat with Barry’s cousin who we thought was coming with a gun to get us off his property, that was a close one, Barry gave him a nice book to keep him happy and we swiftly retreated after counting the swans. At this same spot I was sure I had found a Tundra Swan, but couldn’t find it to show the others, so Zan and I took loads of pictures and what do you think, we found 2 adults and a immature when seen up on the computer. We give thanks to the inventor of digital photography.
I got up nice and personal with a big old pig who I disturbed from it’s lovely muddy bed, I did apologize for rousing it from a lovely dream of buckets of swill, I patted it on it’s nose which was just caked in mud and old pigsley gave a few encouraging snorts as we parted company.
A Long-eared type Owl was trying to catch a Dark-eyed Junco on Richard’s Trail and there are now several Wood Owls sitting in the trees along this birdy road.
We did run into a adult Bald Eagle that was sitting in a field just looking around, I was personally worried as it is not the sort of place you would see one just sat sitting, so I gave a couple of shouts to make sure it was alright and eventually it took of to chase a goose or two. Good job it did as the fence was one of those tall Elk fences along Hwy18 and I’m not sure we could of encouraged newbie Elodie to climb it.
We did find just one Redhead on the Herd Road flooded fields, I am sure with a good scope and plenty of time all three from last week are still around.
Finishing our wonderful count with a little sunburn, we were treated to super views of a Great Blue Heron sitting at a nest site and a way off in the distance Short-eared Owl, now you can’t get better than that.


Photo Credits
Northern Shrike by Barry Hestchko
Flying female Wood Duck, by Barry Hestchko
Trumpeter’s flying out of the morning mist, by Barry Hestchko
Piggy by Barry Hestchko
Great Blue Heron at nest site, by Zan Stenhouse
Peregrine Falcon by Zan Stenhouse
Long-eared type Owl attacking Junco by Derrick Marven
Short-eared Owl by Derrick Marven
Cooper’s Hawk by Derrick Marven

Swan and Goose count Dec.19th 2018

Swans & Geese on Richard’s Trail


Not so scary scarecrow


Paddling gull


Snow Geese seen on Tuesday


Swans & Geese


Ring-necked Ducks

The Swan and Goose counters can not be put off by some inclement weather, so 8 counters in two cars left the dog park. It was nice to have our good friends Bob and Helen along this week who needed a break from moving and also to freshen up their skills for the upcoming Christmas Bird count. You could tell from the wind that winter was only a couple of days away as in some locations it bit at the joints whenever one got out the car.

Our Trumpeter Swan numbers dropped by about 100 birds this week mostly adults, I guess they heard about the storm coming in and left for better weather. Most swans being up on Bench Road. Canada Geese numbers remained pretty much the same and a nice Greater White-fronted Goose was off Herd Road. Gone were the 14 Snow Geese seen the day before along Willmot Road, but I have added in the picture for your enjoyment.

As I type this today a massive storm has just gone through the valley with trees down and no power. Sirens are going off all over. Oh well we got our count done yesterday just in time.

Eagle numbers dropped way down this week and so did other raptor species, we did add the American Kestrel from Richards Trail and a Merlin flew over A & W as we broke for lunch. Also at our break a flock of 200 Canada Geese passed over and landed in Somenos Marsh so as we had already counted the area they were added to out total.

It appears that my bird identification skills were down this week as a possible Golden Eagle along Herd Road turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk and a Red-tailed Hawk along Boy’s Road turned out to be a immature Bald Eagle, well what can I say I was in with the ladies this week and my mind was very taxed. It is hard to concentrate when you keep getting asked what’s that and what’s this especially when we have gone passed it and I can’t bend my neck around like an owl.

A poor old Scarecrow along Richards Trail was failing in it’s duty as the geese had him surrounded.

Duck numbers are still low but all this rain might help to boost their numbers as the fields are getting really flooded.

Again this week dickie bird numbers were very low with a few Golden-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Junco’s. One of the counters did see a Northern Shrike on the Dock Road but sadly when we all turned around the bird had flown.

There is not much more I

can say about the day, just thanks to all my friends for their help on the count and we will now take a two week break for Christmas and the New Year, so from all of us to all of you have a great winter break and we will be back at it in on January 8th 2019.


Photo Credits

Not so scary Scarecrow, by Derrick Marven

Canada Geese on Richards Trail by Derrick Marven

Paddling gull by Derrick Marven

Snow Geese from Tuesday by Zan Stenhouse

Ring-necked Ducks by Zan Stenhouse

Swans and Geese by Zan Stenhouse

Coastal Waterbird Surveys, 9th December 2018.

Cowichan Bay, South Side.
Rain, cold (5 C) and poor visibility did not deter six hardy counters this morning.
Donna Zipse; Ken Bendle; Barry Hetchsko, Willie Harvie, Steve Mitchell and Gail Mitchell

The highlight was much Bald eagle activity.
Gunshots coming from the end of the estuary were heard throughout the time.

1 Belted Kingfisher, 2 Northwestern Crow, 7 Gull sp., 5 Glaucous winged Gulls,10 Double-crested Cormorant, 8 Bald eagle, 3 Common Goldeneye, 90 Bufflehead, 5 Duck sp., 1 Hooded Merganser, 3 Mute Swan.

Cowichan Bay, North Side – no survey this month.

The birds didn’t mind the rain today, so neither did Jim and Lyn Wisnia.

In the Verdier Point area:
134 American Wigeon, 1 Surf Scoter, 42 Bufflehead, 45 Common Goldeneye, 1 Barrow’s Goldeneye, 12 Hooded Merganser, 7 Horned Grebe, 2 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Pigeon Guillemot, 17 Mew Gull, 8 Glaucous-winged Gull, 1 Gull sp., 3 Common Loon, 1 Brandt’s Cormorant, 1 Pelagic Cormorant, 1 Cormorant sp., 1 Great Blue Heron, 1 Bald Eagle.

In the Mill Bay area:
4 Canada Goose, 11 Mute Swan, 64 Bufflehead, 7 Common Goldeneye, 1 Hooded Merganser, 2 Common Merganser, 13 Red-breasted Merganser, 300+ Western Grebe (probably more beyond 500 m.), 46 Mew Gull, 6, Glaucous-winged Gull, 2 Gull sp., 6 Pacific Loon, 2 Brandt’s Cormorant, 2 Belted Kingfisher.

Swan & Goose count Dec.5th 2018

Bottoms up


Two resting trumpeter swans


Song sparrow


Red-tailed hawk


Male tree


Trumpeter swans in front of Mount Tzouhalem


Trumpeter swan family group


red-tailed hawk eyeing Barry


Northern shrike

Some parts (no pun) of this report are of a mature nature, viewer discretion is advised, no giggling.

Today we were 8 counters and we had a new participant today, Jan who came to the valley from the sunshine coast and what wonderful weather she brought us, brilliant sunshine all the way. Yes it was a tad nippy to start and it was time to discard the thongs and sandals and get out the woolly knickers and big boots.
We had ups and downs today with Swans going up and Eagles going down, we even had a nice dark Peregrine Falcon today which made me get out the scope for a better look as it was a long way off. This was possibly of the “Peales” variety and a dark immature. We even found a Peregrine with no head sitting in a tree. Sadly the Bald Eagles are departing us as the salmon run has ended and their food source is depleted.
I have to say that our Trumpeter Swan numbers may not be correct as we think that maybe the farmer chased a large group off the fields up on Bench just after we had counted them, many of which descended into Cowichan Bay We can never be sure with the birds getting disturbed and flying into a new locations, let’s just say that the numbers are in keeping from previous years and next week will hopefully set the numbers straight. I say we had we had 327 Trumpeters today, so if it’s wrong you can blame me, but that’s what I counted. Once again immature birds were in low numbers with just 29 but we are heading in the right direction.
Several Deer were seen today and even a herd of Goats, a Muscovy Duck for those who want to pad their lifelists was up on Richards Trail and several other sundry farm animals were observed.
One of the best sightings of the day was as we sped along Herd Road and Barry saw a nice Red-tailed Hawk sitting on the corner of Norcross Road, with the ease of a racing car driver Barry took the turn and we were faced with a lovely pale Red-tail Hawk, we don’t get that many opportunities to see one as pale as this. We did get a nice male American Kestrel this week, overall our numbers for Raptors was down.
A lot of still water was frozen and fields were white which made the ducks huddle into small groups, with Richards Trail an exception. Out in Cowichan Bay the numbers of diving ducks remain low. We did encounter 3 Killdeer at Quist’s Farm
We saw Trumpeter Swans in 13 different locations today which was a nice surprise and another good sighting was 3 Greater White-fronted Geese up on Bench Road and 5 Cackling Geese were added to our totals today from two different locations.
Many strange things are seen on our journey around the valley and there are many things to be learned, we all know that in most cases their has to be a male and female species for the said species to survive and I was lucky to see for the first time a male tree, it was a very mature tree, I had never noticed this before even though we have stopped at this location on every count, just amazing what you can catch on camera.
We all had a great day and I for one had a bit of a red face when I got home from the sun, such a wonderful day with my good friends the Swan and Goose counters.
Big thanks to Kurlene and Barry for driving us around and our sponsors the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society
Sorry but there are lot’s of pictures this week.


Photo Credits,
Northern Shrike by Barry Hetschko
Red-tailed Hawk eyeing up Barry Hetschko
Male tree by Derrick Marven
Trumpeter Swans in front of Mt Tzouhalem by Derrick Marven
family group of 3 by Derrick Marven
Pale Red-tailed Hawk by Derrick Marven
Song Sparrow by Zan Stenhouse
Resting Swans by Zan Stenhouse
Bottom up by Zan Stenhouse

Swan & Goose count Nov.21st 2018

Trumpeter Swans – as seen with scope


Trumpeter Swans


Bald Eagle tree


Glaucous Gull


Sea Lion


Somenos Lake


Short-eared Owl


It was one of those days when the weather forecasters did not know it was a Wednesday as the rain hardly left us alone for the whole count and at times it was down right miserable. The Trumpeter Swan numbers went up a little this week, sadly the immature numbers did not do well.
As team leader I am called upon when there to go out in the rain to count all birds, even though I order the other counters to do it, they just give me this funny look and wave. I even donned a pair of Dorothy’s sunglasses in the hope that they would take the hint but nothing doing. You just can’t get good help these days when I’m there.
Trumpeter Swans made a good showing with the vast majority being up on Bench Road where 149 were had of our 188 total. Only 15 immature birds were counted all day and we hope this trend will change soon. The total numbers are up from the past couple of seasons and we would have to go back 3 years to see similar numbers, but it is early days and weather is still warm up north. Canada Goose numbers at 1422 were down a bit from last week and then you would have to go back 3 years to see these high numbers. Most migrants small geese had left with just 9 Cacklers being the only other species counted.
Eagle number were good with the bulk of our numbers being in the Cowichan River corridor where salmon carcasses abound for the picking. A couple of Coopers Hawks and 5 Red-tailed Hawks were added along with a single Peregrine Falcon.
The rain really put the dampers on small birds and it was until the end of the day did we get any excitement to rave about when a immature Glaucous Gull was found on the Cowichan River feeding on dead salmon bit what were floating down the river. A sea lion was also up the river picking as well, it appeared to have a nasty scar on it’s head.
One of the team headed back down the bay after the count and found a nice Short-eared Owl.
There are two pictures of the swans, what you see when you arrive and what you see through the camera when the picture is cropped a bit, what you don’t see is the rain and the poor devil out there counting.
There is not much more I can say about the count except that I think everyone had had enough of the rain and were glad to head home.


Photo Credits

Swans by Derrick Marven
Eagle tree by Derrick Marven
Glaucous Gull by Zan Stenhouse
Sea lion by Zan Stenhouse
Somenos Lake by Barry Hetschko
Short-eared Owl by Kurlene Wenberg

Swan & Goose count Nov. 28th 2018

Great Blue Heron


Bald Eagles in dead tree


Trumpeter Swans


Cackling goose


Peregrine Falcons


Immature Cooper’s Hawk


Northern Harrier


Mew Gulls in flight

This weeks count was supposed to have sunshine and showers but it turned out to be one long shower from start to finish. Bird numbers was very good considering the rain with the raptors coming through big time. Another 3 Peregrine Falcon day, 2 American Kestrels and several other good species. Sadly this week the Trumpeter Swan numbers took a dive #150, not sure what is happening but it appears that this is also happening up in the Comox Valley going on their numbers recorded this week. Our numbers are some of the lowest fourth week counts ever recorded. Even the Canada Goose numbers took a major decline with nearly a 1000 birds disappearing from last weeks count. We did do well for Snow Geese this week with 20 being counted and a nice flock of 15 to finish off our days count. Large numbers of gulls were seen around the valley as the rains and flooded fields caused the worms to come to the surface and cause a feast for the gulls. Eagle number continued to be high as the salmon feast continues with 150 birds in total counted.
We were 7 counters this week in two cars and at times birds were seen from all angles as we traveled around, we use a pair of walkie- talkies to communicate although some times direction and location can sometimes be lost in communication also when the second car gets to far behind and all we hear of them hear is a load of crackle instead of a voice, not sure of the distance these little gems can get, for the most part they serve us well.
Most of the swans were in their usual haunts with just a few more along Sahilton Road which was new for us this week.
Many people have asked what has happened to their garden birds this year with most people asking where’s all the Chickadees. There is a good cone crop this year and they might be feasting on them rather eating up all your handouts.We have noticed on our count the lack of dickie birds so I don’t think it’s just the feeders that are affected. Duck species are also in low numbers with hardly any Green-winged Teal and Northern Pintail in our wetlands.
As we reached the Dock Road yesterday the numbers of diving ducks were very low, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye and Surf Scoters are down a lot from previous years.
Personally I think we have much to learn about what goes on in nature and most of what we think is conjecture as just when we think we know what’s happening nature throws us a curveball and does the complete opposite.
That was the case yesterday when the weather people said sun and showers, I must admit I did see some bright bits way off in the distance, maybe in the Sooke area.
We did our job and we did see some nice birds. Mission completed.


Photo Credits
Great Blue Heron, by Derrick Marven
Bald Eagles in dead tree, by Derrick Marven
Trumpeter Swans, by Derrick Marven
Cackling Goose, by Derrick Marven
Peregrine Falcons, by Zan Stenhouse
immature Cooper’s Hawk, by Zan Stenhouse
Northern Harrier, by Zan Stenhouse
Mew Gulls in flight, by Zan Stenhouse

Coastal Waterbird Surveys, November 2018

Cowichan Bay South 11th Nov
Donna Zipse. Ken Bendle, Linda Hill, Gail Mitchell, and John Scull met in Hecate Park at 9 am on a clear, crisp, cold morning. The estuary was full of life, with Fox Sparrow and Towhee in the bushes, Mink, Seal, and Otter in the water, and the voices of the Sea Lions. We counted waterbirds, too, seeing:
Mute Swan 2; Trumpeter Swan 7; Bufflehead 159; Common Goldeneye 7; Hooded Merganser 4; Red-necked Grebe 1; Glaucous-winged Gull 2; gull sp.23; Double-crested Cormorant 15; Great Blue Heron 1; Belted Kingfisher 2; Northwestern Crow1.

Cowichan Bay North was calm from 9:10 until 10:15 AM, 11th Nov. when Daryl Johnson, Kurlene Wenberg, and Carol Hartwig found a total of 688 waterbirds of 16 species
on Khenipsen Road North on Cowichan Bay.
Double-crested Cormorants 7; Pelagic Cormorants 10; Great Blue Heron 1; Trumpeter Swan 8; Mute Swan 2; American Wigeon 82; Mallard 15; Surf Scoter 20; Bufflehead 75; Common Goldeneye 240; Bald Eagle 13; Mew Gull 5; Glaucous-winged Gull 36; Gull sp.172;Belted Kingfisher 1; Common Raven 1

On a peaceful and bright Nov. 12 Jim and Lyn Wisnia counted in the Verdier Point area:
American Wigeon 18; Mallard 1; Bufflehead 25; Common Goldeneye 35; Red-breasted Merganser 16; Horned Grebe 8; Western Grebe 385; Mew Gull 7; California Gull 2; Glaucous-winged Gull 9; Gull sp. 2; Common Loon 4; Brandt’s Cormorant 1; Pelagic Cormorant 1; Bald Eagle 2; Northwestern Crow 2.
And in the Mill Bay area:
Canada Goose 1; Mute Swan 8; American Wigeon 20; Surf Scoter 4; Bufflehead 51; Common Goldeneye 17; Red-breasted Merganser 21; Horned Grebe 2; Red-necked Grebe 5; Mew Gull 86; Glaucous-winged Gull 30; Gull sp. 8; Pacific Loon 15; Common Loon 3; Pelagic Cormorant 2; Double-crested Cormorant 3;

The next count is scheduled for 8 am on Sunday, December 9

Swan & Goose count Nov.14th 2018





Canada goose with neckband


Snow goose


Trumpeter swan



This week I was unable to take part due to family commitments, my good friends took up the reins and saw some wonderful sights and good numbers. A 3 Peregrine Falcon day is always a treat.
Some of the photo’s were from just after the count, but who cares, I even have added one for good luck I took while out.
Below is a counters take on the day.


Overnight it had been very wet and even shortly before we were due to meet it was raining; however, much to our surprise the day turned out to be a nice sunny one. Usually Derrick, our worthy leader, sees that the weather is good on Wednesdays and today he was not able to join us but sent an email saying he had made his usual arrangement with the weather gods. Just five of us met at the usual place and we set off in two cars – one was detailed to record the swans and geese and the ladies in the other the raptors.

There were many geese around the marsh area and again at Quist’s Farm. It was not until we reached Dougan’s flats that we found many more geese. At this point one car had stopped and was trying to count a small flock in a large clump of reeds and the other car, which had stopped a few yards further up the road, called to look behind the barn where there was a huge flock. Jim’s Pond was the only other place with geese.

As for finding any swans before lunch we only saw eight in the Westholme area. After our lunch break we found a dozen on Bench Road trying to hide in a dip in the field. So we were thinking our count was going to be a very low one. However, we really hit the jackpot near Blackey’s Farm where there were over 100 in a field – this raised out total of Trumpeters to nearly 140. There were eleven mute swans down on the Bay.

Bald eagles were abundant along the lower reaches of the river along Boys and Sahilton Roads – presumably feeding on the dead salmon in the river where we expect to see them for the next few weeks. A dozen red-tails were seen on our route. From Tom Windsor Drive we could see a bird on one of the distant hydro poles but it was not until one of the photographers managed to get a good shot of it that we could see it was a Peregrine.

All pictures by Zan Stenhouse except the Elk is Derrick’s

Swan & Goose count Nov.7th 2018

Cackling geese


Red-tailed Hawk


Thayer’s Gull


Fox Sparrow


Glaucous-winged Gull




Cackling Goose

Hi to all you Swan enthusiasts
Today saw the start of the 12th annual Swan and Goose count and what a day it was with wonderful sunny skies and warm temperatures. Who would of thought that we would keep going for 12 years, just shows how powerful and loyal citizen science can be.8 counters turned up at the dog park some new and some old faces, but all young at heart. This year we have a sponsor in the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society who have kindly donated some gas money in these times of gouging at the pumps and we thank them with all our heart.
Today’s numbers were surprising with 22 Trumpeter Swans found, 15 Mute Swans many Canada Geese and Cackling Geese and 17 Snow Geese, this is one of the better starting day counts we had for a while. We also had a good number of Raptors with a nice male American Kestrel. Another big surprise was a Dragonfly sp. seen on Koksilah Road west, I think that just shows how warm it was at this late date in the fall. At this same location the bushes and trees have grown up blocking our view of the fields add to this lingering leaves and we could not identify a couple of white blobs in the far off field.
With this first count, photos were at a premium but I’m sure things will improve as time goes on. Barry was off testing water, which is no consolation for a good coffee.
Somenos Lake was very slow with hardly anything out on the water, we worked our way along, many Canada Geese at our first two or three stops and one immature Snow Goose at Quist’s farm. We next got Richard’s Trail where the fields were still dry, but it does look good for the winter counts. Our American Kestrel was sitting on the hydro wires and as we admired this lovely male it took off in a a fast dive across the fields and traveled about 100m and then hit the pasture and came up with what appeared to be a little vole which it took back to the wire for a quick snack. I was amazed that the bird traveled so far and could see this tiny rodent out in the grass, great eyesight indeed.Tom Windsor Drive was next and some white blobs in the distance quickly gout our attention these turned out to be our first 2 Trumpeter Swans and 16 Snow Geese. We left here knowing that we were just getting started for this years count now that we had the first swans under our belt. Things then went slow for our next few stops and we found ourselves having a break at A&W. I guess we got a bit cocky with those first swans as things down in Boy’s and Sahilton Roads we just downright dead, just a couple of Bald Eagles for Dorothy to note and stop the wrist cramp from setting in. Back over to the west-side and something out in the fields on Koksilah Road west avoided our detection because of all the leaves and trees that have grown up over the last two years. Around to Bench and we found our first flock of Trumpeter Swans with 10 adults and 1 immature. Then once again it was all downhill to Cowichan Bay so to speak. Along Cowichan Bay Road we had a group of Mute Swans and added a few more to the flock when viewed from the Dock Road. Another small flock of Trumpeter’s were over beside the mill.
We had done our best and it was time to head home, well maybe not as one of the cars would not start, panic was setting in as the key was wiggled and pulled in and out with nothing firing up. One member suggested we rock the car back and forth which we tried while sitting in it, again nothing, so the big guy got out and got his back up against the open door and gave it a few good rocks and wallah that did the trick. So remember if your car don’t start get out and give it the bear up against the tree treatment.
Home we went with much relief.
Added to the swan count were 10 Bald Eagles and 5 Red-tailed Hawks.
Just remember I am a year older so any mistakes are due to old age.


Photo Credits
Cackling Geese, Derrick Marven & Zan Stenhouse
Red-tailed Hawk, Derrick Marven
Dunlin, by Zan Stenhouse
Fox Sparrow by Zan Stenhouse
Glacous-winged Gull, by Zan Stenhouse
Thayer’s Gull, by Derrick Marven

Coastal Waterbird Survey, September 9, 2018

South Side Cowichan Bay ; In very light rain and some beautiful rainbows, Manon Lafleur, Carol Smithson, Kathy Smithson, Laurie Vasey, Gail Mitchell, Linda Hill and John Scull saw the following birds:
Common merganser, 17; Glaucous-winged gull, 2; Gull sp., 56; Double-crested cormorant, 7; Osprey, 1.

On a rainy day at high tide, Kurlene Wenberg, Daryl Johnson and Carol Hartwig found the following beautiful winged creatures on the North Side of Cowichan Estuary:
Mute swan, 11; Common merganser, 130; Bonaparte’s gull, 35; Glaucous-winged gull, 17; Gull sp., 305; Double-crested cormorant, 1; Great blue heron, 3; Osprey, 2; common raven 2.

Coastal Waterbird Survey –October 14th, 2018

Cowichan Bay South
On a glorious sunny day, Laurie Vasey, Bruce Coates, Linda Hill, Carol Blackburn, Bryan Thompson, and John Scull were joined by a wonderful young family, Olene, Kaya, Kalyna, and Kazka Russell (and a baby) for the count. With the help of the children we saw harbour seals, salmon and the following birds:
32 Surf Scoter, 8 Iceland Gull (Thayer’s), 19 Glaucous-winged Gull, 24 gull sp., 15 Double-crested Cormorant,1 Great Blue Heron,2 Bald Eagle, 1 Belted Kingfisher,2 Northwestern Crow

Cowichan Bay north
On a flawless October 14th the following birds were seen from Khenipsen Road:
160 Canada Goose, 10 Mute Swan, 58 American Wigeon, 11 Mallard, 5 Surf Scoter, 2 Horned Grebe, 44 Mew Gull, 33 Glaucous-winged Gull, 62 Gull sp., 5 Double .Crested. Cormorant, 2 Great Blue Heron, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 1 Northwestern Crow, 2 Common Raven.

Jim & Lyn Wisnia observed in the Verdier Point area:
2 Surf scoter, 3, horned grebe, 419 western grebe, 24 Mew gull, 6 Glaucous-winged gull, 6 gull sp., 3 Pacific loon, 3, common loon, 1 Brandt’s cormorant, 1 pelagic cormorant, 1 double-crested cormorant, 1 belted kingfisher.

And in the Mill Bay area:
4 Canada goose, 15 Mew gull, 58 Glaucous-winged gull, 11 gull sp., 1 common loon, 4, Northwestern crow.

The next count is scheduled for 9 am on Sunday, November 11.

Coastal Waterbird Survey, Sunday April 8th, 2018

Coastal Waterbird Survey: Sunday, April 8th, 2018.

Cowichan Bay South.
A light rain fell as Kathy Coster, Linda Hill, Gail Mitchell, and John Scull saw the birds listed below. It was wonderful to watch the two osprey carrying construction materials to their nest site.
74 Bufflehead; 2 Hooded Merganser; 12 Double-crested Cormorant; 7 Great Blue Heron;
2 Osprey; 2 Bald Eagle; 3 Glaucous-winged Gull; 6 gull sp.; 6 Northwestern Crow

Cowichan Bay North.
On an overcast, dull day there were 15 species of waterbirds spotted by the bright and excited group of Richard Campbell, Daryl Johnson, Bob Nation, Kurlene Wenberg and Carol Hartwig.
14 Canada Goose; 15 Mute Swan; 4 American Wigeon; 16 Bufflehead; 2 Hooded Merganser; 6 Common Merganser; 1 Common Loon; 1 Double-crested Cormorant; 2 Great Blue Heron; 1 Bald Eagle; 28 Mew Gull; 11 Glaucous-winged Gull; 3 gull sp.; 1 Belted Kingfisher; 1 Common Rave

Lyn and Jim Wisnia counted:

Verdier Point area:
2 Mallard; 22 Surf scoter; 22 Bufflehead; 26 Common goldeneye; 1 Barrow’s goldeneye; 1 Common merganser; 5 Red breasted merganser; 12 Horned grebe; 1 Red necked grebe; 330 Western grebe; 1 Brandt’s cormorant; 6 Mew gull; 3 Glaucous winged gull; 2 Gull sp.

Mill Bay area:
12 Mallard; 11 Bufflehead; 9 Common goldeneye; 6 Common merganser; 1 Red breasted merganser; 2 Common loon; 1 Horned grebe; 1 Brandt’s cormorant; 47 Glaucous winged gull; 2 gull sp.; 1 Belted kingfisher; 5 Northwestern crow.

Swan & Goose count 2017- 2018 season

Today (28th March) marked the end of the counting season it also happened to be our 170th count since we started our quest. You will notice the theme of today’s count is all about the swans because that is why we started this back on March 22nd 2009. Many counters have come and gone and there is just a few of us who it seems are gluttons for punishment and have kept this swan count going. Many have driven us around some more than others and i thank them for keeping us safe. We have been blessed with some wonderful sights over the years, which if we had not been out there counting we would have missed all that this wonderful world has to offer. I for one have enjoyed my fellow counters company and the laughs that we have shared. I hope through my weekly reports I have given some insights into what we do and I hope that I have spread a little joy and laughter into your life.

Now for the update on our swans and how they have fared over the years. The first year we had highs of 813 adults and 174 immature birds and over the seasons this has gone up and down with what appears to be a real downturn over the past 3 years. Our highs this year were 674 adults and 94 immature, so you can see that the numbers have gone down, what is most disconcerting is the drop in young birds and this trend has continued over the last few seasons. If you look at our highest counts in February 2011, where we had 924 adults and 224 immature, we have had some drastic drops in numbers since then. A lot of the birds have now started to move further south with many spending time in the Saanich area where once they were scarce. For the last 3 years our numbers have steadied with no major fluctuations and we can only hope that this continues although i would like to see more young birds staying in our area through the winters. At the end of this season we have failed to get into triple figures for immature birds this I worry about.

Now for the update on our geese and how they have fared over the years. The first year we had a high of 1192 and a last week count of 258 and just like the swans this has gone up and down over the years This years high was 1607 and the last week count was 127. What i take from this is that near to breeding season the birds do what most birds do and migrate north. So the next time you read all that nonsense that is printed in our local rags about the goose population growing and the need for more hunting to bring down the numbers and whatever, they are talking out the tops of their heads. Most of the geese like the swans only spend the winter here and the impact on the environment is negligible.

For the past few years more and more Trumpeter Swans are roosting in Cowichan Bay which is good for the swans maybe, there are many problems with the main one being lead shot which is laying in the mud of the bay from years of hunting, also industry is becoming more visible. This is a very important estuary that needs our protection if the swans have decided to call this theirs for the future.
Somenos Lake is one of the main roosting spots and continues to welcome birds most nights. Quamichan Lake is a mystery as not many Trumpeters use this lake for roosting even though it is very large, why this is i don’t have the answer, only that the lake must be missing something. Birds also roost up at Quist’s Farm when the water levels are reasonably high.

We have not seen much mortality of swans just a few deaths here and there mostly it appears from hydro strikes and we must do more to encourage hydro to put up deflectors on their wires in the regularly used areas. As for disturbance this happens every year and I don’t blame the farmers for trying to protect their crops but chasing birds is against the law and should be stopped. We need our government to come through with some compensation money for the hardest hit farms and for land that is owned by government and so called nature friendly groups to start getting their tenant farmers to plant crops for the swans, thus saving the impact on private lands. A prime example of what happened this year was in Cowichan Bay where we failed to find hardly any birds using the Nature Trust land because of the farming practices which were allowed to take place. Why on earth did Nature Trust buy the land if their not going help the birds? They also allow hunting on their lands on Vancouver Island, to me this is not very nature friendly and yet they are always asking naturalists to donate money to their cause?
It is time for us all to pull together as nature in all forms is slowly diminishing and if we are to save something for those that follow we must act with urgency.

Lastly i would like to thank all my friends that have come along over the years, it has been a real pleasure riding along with you and the laughs we have enjoyed and the wonderful sights and sounds we have all had.

Enjoy these last count pictures, lot’s of them, they being all swan types and credit for these should go to, Barry Hetschko, Derrick Marven, Zan Stenhouse and Kurlene Wenberg, these friends have treated you to some wonderful shots of our weekly exploits. For Dorothy Marshall for keeping our numbers during our counts and to Eric, Paul and Elizabeth for making sure that the reports were sent out to you all.

Unitil we swan off again

Swan & Goose count Mar.28th 2018

Common merganser


Peregrine falcon

Woolly bear

Great blue heron

Today was the last count of the season and 8 people set out with much munchies to eat thanks to Jane and birthday girl Helen. As expected numbers were low with just 63 Trumpeter Swans, 1 Tundra and 3 Mutes. Weather was just perfect and light was great for pictures if only we could have found something to photograph. We did see a herd of American Wigeon and if you look at the picture maybe you can find the three male Eurasian Wigeon that was with them. We did have a nice Peregrine Falcon and a far off female American Kestrel. The first Woolly Bear of the season and if you don’t know what they turn into and how they predict the weather try here:
We all had a great time today and once again enjoyed wonderful weather.
I am not going into great detail with this report and it is very short as you will receive a full report on the swans within the next couple of days with loads of pictures.
Thank you to all my buddies for all their help on the counts.


Photo credits

Peregrine Falcon by Barry Hetschko
Great Blue Heron by Zan Stenhouse
Woolly Bear by Zan Stenhouse
American Wigeon by Derrick Marven
female Common Merganser by Derrick Marven

Swan & Goose count March 21st 2018


Pig with piglets


Soaring eagle

White-throated sparrow

Cooper’s hawk

Tree swallows

It was literally a real swine of a day, the numbers dwindled, the sun and heat was unbearable and we never really saw any good birds to take pictures of. We knew that the Trumpeters would leave eventually but it is always sad to see them go as they have brightened our lives for the past 19 weeks. I wonder where all the Canada Geese went as i saw plenty leaving Somenos early in the morning, wherever they were we never got them. One of the regular spots had a tractor riding around in it, maybe the were not into old noisy Fordson’s.
7 counters left the dog park a little late as one member was up the road chasing a White-throated Sparrow, this migrant species has been scarce this winter.
Hawk and Eagle numbers were pretty much the same with 9 Red-tailed hawks equaling our season high total. Several pairs of Bald Eagles were seen around nest sites and 3 Turkey Vultures were a sure sign that they are on the move. A couple of Cooper’s Hawks, a Merlin and a far off American Kestrel rounded off the raptor count.
I did hear (yes I heard) both Dark-eyed Junco’s and Yellow-rumped Warblers singing and those Red-winged Blackbirds, well they started a couple of weeks ago. A Red-tailed Hawk made a kamikaze dive from about a 1000′ way down to who knows where, I think he had a girlfriend down there some where and he was just showing off.
The star of the day was Barry’s dear mom who came along just to see what we had corrupted her son into doing, of course she was very impressed that we had taken him under our wings and keeping him out of trouble. I can now see where Barry gets his pleasant personality from. It was a shame that we did not have more birds to show her or one of our weekly stunners.
Trumpeter Swan numbers were as follows, adults 178, immature 22 and 4 Mute Swans, add to this just 278 Canada Geese. I am guessing that by next week most of these birds will be gone.
A nice Cooper’s Hawk sat out in the open for about 5 seconds much to the annoyance of the photographers. It was left up to the four-legged critters for me to get a good picture, along Richard’s Trail the lambs were having a little nap with mum and down on Wilson’s Road Barry spotted a couple of lovely ladies wallowing behind a house, these big beauties were being fed some freshly cut grass by the owner of the property and I asked Barry to stop so that I could take a picture. The owner was a very nice lady who allowed me onto her property, I took several shots and as I was about to leave she beckoned me behind the barn. Unaccustomed of me going with a lady behind a barn I wondered what she had in mind, well to my surprise there was another mum back there with a few little ones, what a lovely little family they were with several different colors. As I left I asked the lady what the first two pregnant sows weighed and she said around 700 lbs a piece, wow that’s a lot of pig.
We moved on adding a few birds here and there and it was not long before we found ourselves along the Dock Road in Cowichan Bay and taking pictures of Mute Swans,. The wind was still a little nippy coming up the channel so we didn’t hang around long. Suddenly I spotted something in one of the roadside trees, put the bins up only to see a bare shaded branch, we inched forward and then there a singing Western Meadowlark, it stayed for a few seconds before it got disturbed by some young rugrats who seem to spend more time out of school than in it.
The doodlers following on behind in the second car missed the Meadowlark but got a Northern Shrike and a Northern Harrier.
We had done our best, sadly this time of year can leave us wanting for something better, give it a couple of weeks and the trees will be full of new and exciting migrants to keep the shutters working.
That was it our day was over and with just one more count for the season we hope that a few Swans remain to give Dorothy something to put on the sheet next week.


Photo Credits
Piggies by Derrick Marven
Cuddly Lambs by Derrick Marven
Soaring Bald Eagle by Zan Stenhouse
White-throated Sparrow by Zan Stenhouse
Tree Swallows by Barry Hetschko
Cooper’s Hawk by Barry Hetschko