Slipping and a sliding, swans were a hiding
Rain was a long time ago.
Little Richard new we were going to get it all those years ago.
This week we had a unexpected guest when my wonderful son Gary decided he wanted to see what I got up to on a Wednesday and he even volunteered to take us around in the safety of his big Dodge 4×4. We sat up high waving at all those people still digging out their driveways, even stopped for a chat a few times. There was just 4 of us today with our other friends unable to get out of their driveways. This heavy snow over the past few days had a major impact on our swan and goose numbers with just #190 Trumpeter Swans, 4 Mute Swans and 2 Tundra’s, the biggest drop was with the Canada Geese who knew better than to hang around in this weather and we only recorded #124.
Raptors fared well with #48 Bald Eagles both Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks and the Red-tailed Hawks bounced back up this week to #9, we also had a single Peregrine Falcon and an elusive to some a female Northern Harrier.
Many photo’s were taken this week of not so often seen species, Gary and I started our count at Art Mann Park and the poor old duckies were sat around in a huddle and they were not amused, a nice pair of Common Mergansers were seen but the old man kept his head down while the female beckoned him out into the water telling him that it felt good on the legs and feet.
Several places we could not visit because of piled up snow and Quist’s farm got a big drive past as it was too dangerous to pull over on the highway. Richard’s Trail was as it’s name says a trail with just enough space for a single vehicle to pass. I saw a new born lamb and those who know me know I have a thing for all animals. It stayed close to it’s mom’s woolly side, it was obviously not a spring lamb as it had nowhere to jump for joy.There were an amazing number of Varied Thrush all along the trail with between 40 and 50 seen in 5 km, all trying to get either salt or grit off the road. I think if we were to have added up all the Varied Thrush we had around our route the total would have been greater than the Canada Geese. As we reached the east end of Richard’s Trail Gary shouted there’s a bird in that bare piece of snowy field and with a quick reverse and a hold up of traffic we had our first Wilson’s Snipe of the day. Many photos were taken as the other travelers waited patiently. This snipe was the first of 3-4 that we uncounted today, with one other being chased off by a crow as it was having it’s picture taken.
We took a little diversion this week up to Tansor crossroads to see if there were any swans around the school and farm fields but we found none. As we passed one big field my son shouted there’s a hawk down on the snow with his wings spread, after going a few houses and turning around in a cleared driveway we slowly made our way back with cameras at the ready and there it was a Sprinkler Hawk sticking up out the snow, this was a first for the swan and goose count and my son Gary can have all the glory for this one, sorry son know-one’s exempt on the swan and goose count.
The best of the day was on Sahilton Road where one Wilson’s Snipe sat motionless right beside the truck while the shutters of both Nikon and Canon played a little tune. I had to hold my camera up in the air while struggling to get a picture from the passenger side and hold and push the shutter all at the same time not knowing what I was photographing. Many shorebirds like Snipe, Killdeer and Dunlin home in on any unfrozen water in these conditions, you just have to find them and we were lucky to get two out of three with a Dunlin eluding us.
Another species that put on a wonderful display for us was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet who enticed both sides of the vehicle, allowing passengers to take his picture, at times displaying his red top notch for all to see.
We spent a lot of time scanning off into large fields hoping to glance some swans hidden down in the snow to no avail.
Our last stop of the day as always was the Dock Road and what has become the norm, it delighted us with a few goodies. a Raccoon looking for some tasty morsels along the banks of the estuary, a flyby Northern Harrier that caused problems for one photographer and an adult and immature Tundra Swans that gave us time to capture their beauty.
We can only hope that in the few weeks we have left on the count that the weather improves greatly from this past week. That was it we had run the route of the storm of 2019 and didn’t we do well.
Spring Lamb by Derrick Marven
female Common Merganser, by Derrick Marven
flying Northern Harrier, by Derrick Marven
Richard’s Trail Wilson’s Snipe, by Zan Stenhouse
Snowy swans and geese, by Zan Stenhouse
Tundra Swans by Zan Stenhouse
Flying Red-tailed Hawk by Gary Marven
Sahilton Road Wilson’s Snipe x 2 by Gary Marven