Swan & Goose count Dec.6th 2017

Red-tailed hawk

Trumpter swans on Richard’s Trail


Fox sparrow


More swans, etc on Richard’s Trail


Spotted towhee


Elk & little buddy


More elk

Today was one of those wonderful birding days that we dream of, the sun shone brightly all day, the birds put on a great show and so did the beasts. Counting on a day like this was a joy, with the birds all being mostly easy to see.
6 birders left the dog park this morning and all had smiles on their faces from the get go. Some of the usual occupants of the Somenos Marsh were in attendance when Barry took his walk along the dike before meeting up with me, Northern Shrike, Red-tailed Hawk and a far off Peregrine Falcon and as the vehicles left and headed along Beverly Street a Merlin sailed over chasing another raptor which was unidentified. The usual group of Canada Geese were having kick around on the football pitch at the school and a few more were protesting at the golf driving range, wanting it left as grass and not another concrete jungle on floodplain.
Somenos Lake had a good number of Geese and a handful of ducks and a few far off Bald Eagles. As headed up the highway near Norcross Road we could see a few Trumpeter Swans down in the fields to the west and then a few Elk appeared and then a whole herd of the beauties were standing out grazing, it is always the way when your on the wrong side of the highway and no gaps in the concrete barriers. We did discuss about turning around, but we were on a mission to count birds not ungulates although I am sure a few photo’s would have helped holding back the tears. Later our good buddy Zan got some pictures.
This week our numbers of Swans increased with a healthy 233 adults and 42 immature, we were now getting a better ratio of young birds to adults. Bald Eagle numbers also bounced back up with 78 adults and 59 immature birds. Our total raptor count was 7 different species which is always nice to have, although the lack of Red-tailed Hawks was noticeable again this week. Barry managed a wonderful rear end shot of a Red-tail in Somenos, see attachment to see how this bird gets it’s name.
Best spot of the day was Richards Trail where the flooded fields were loaded with swans, geese and ducks, let’s hope no permit is issued to hunt on these lands this season as no crops have been planted now for more than four years and remains a very important area for waterfowl in migration.
We had another look at the Elk from the park and ride on Hwy18 before heading for our break.
Boy’s Road was next and good numbers of eagles were spread out among the trees at the bottom of the road and and it is nice to see heads way out in the field as some eagles were bathing in the flooded parts of the field. For the second week running at this location a accipiter darted over before we could get the glasses on it. Maybe next week will nail down what it is.
Back over to the west resulted in not much being added to our lists, another Merlin here and Bald Eagle there and then on Bench Road a group of swans awaited our counting while a Northern Shrike sat tantalizing on the wrong side of the sun on a hydro wire, oh it would have been such a nice shot.
Back along the highway and down to Dougan’s Flats, now I know how this location got it’s name as there was flat nothing there.
Back across to St.Catherine’s Drive and smiles were back on our faces as a group of swans and Canada Geese had a single Snow Goose among them. The girls went off to check out another raptor but it remained unnamed.
Jim’s pond had some geese and the Red-winged Blackbirds sat up in the willows to welcome us. I pished out a Spotted Towhee and asked it to come nearer which it obliged, it only sat still for a couple of shots in the brambles, that was enough for me to get a closeup of it’s red-eye.
Koksilah Road was next and again it was flat empty, not even a wayward duckie could be seen and gone was the shrike from last week. Down to the bay we went and 5 Mute Swans awaited us along with some Hooded Mergansers and a couple of Great Blue Herons. Just a few more eagles and a group of Canada Geese on Dinsale’s Farm and we were nearly done for the day.
The Dock Road had a Northern Harrier and hoards of Ducks and a pair of hunters scaring everything up from the fields, don’t the hunters understand that if they can see the ducks while walking out in the field, the ducks can also see them. We added a few more Trumpeters and eagles, four big lights in the wood yard were put down as Osprey just to please one of the counters and a e-mail was received from someone who left early and was supposed to be tending to the dog instead of playing on the computer.
That was it we were done, just a wonderful day out with good friends enjoying the wonder of nature.
When the sun shines you get lot’s of pictures, thanks everyone.

Photo Credits
Red-tailed Hawk by Barry Hetschko
Fox Sparrow by Barry Hetschko
Spotted Towhee by Derrick Marven
Richards Trail waterfowl by Derrick Marven
More Richards Trail Zan Stenhouse
Elk and little buddy by Zan Stenhouse
More Elk by Zan Stenhouse