Swan & Goose count Feb.20th 2019

Trumpeter swans in snow




Eurasian wigeon


Wilson’s snipe


Trumpeter swans resting


Snow geese and mates


Virginia rail


Bald eagle


Short-eared owl

“Swings and Roundabouts”
That is what it was like today,swans,geese and eagles were down again this week and the unexpected also happened. 8 people left the dog park under sunny Wednesday skies and at the site of the soon to be built new retirement home for swan and goose counters on York Road we had a couple of Killdeer hunkered down in the field. We seemed to have found many birds sleeping this week, I believe it is their way of seeing out this snowy bad weather, just taking it easy and saving energy.
Trumpeter Swan numbers were at a all time low with just #108 adults and #19 immature seen this week, the Canada Goose number went up a bit at # 447. Sadly our raptor numbers dropped way down but we did get a nice American Kestrel on Richards Trail and we finished off our day with a Northern Harrier and a Short-eared Owl on the Dock Road.
In between these ups and downs we found a new species for our count, a species of bird unaccustomed to these freezing temperatures. Along Boy’s Road while admiring a Wilson’s Snipe another funny looking little chicken type bird was running around in the ditch and then suddenly there were two Virginia Rails right beside us. They scampered in and out of the bramble thicket eking out some food of some sort. I failed miserably getting any pictures and I was the closest to the birds, the camera not liking all the brambles to focus on, my best shot being a butt of one of the birds. Our photo’s this week will show how hard it was getting a good picture. Seeing this species in winter is a rare occasion on Vancouver Island and here we were blessed with two.
On Richard’s Trail a small Sheltie running on the road tried to befriend us as we watched all the new lambs, we managed to leave him behind for the girls who succumbed to it’s charms and let it in their car. It belonged to a house near by and was dispatched to it’s owner who was worried about a Bald Eagle that was up in the tree, it appears that the eagle was intently looking at lamb rather than dog for supper.
It was hard going for our task today with many of our so called good spots missing any birds at all. We were not to be put off by all the snow and a group of Snow Geese that the leaders failed to see were found by our lovely ladies who as usual were dragging their feet far behind, thank you girls.
Stark contrast to last week when we saw upwards of 50 Varied Thrush, this week 1 with Richards Trail failing to show us one.
We pushed on not knowing what was just around the corner, sadly there was not much and even the Red-tailed Hawks let us down with just #3 found
How could such a lovely day not show us more, well that’s birding for you. Our day was nearly done as we hit the Dock Road and we were surprised to see so many Trumpeter’s out in the bay, just goes to show they know were they are well off. A flyby Northern Harrier caught us all unawares and Barry who has become the owl spotter found the Short-eared Owl and once again it was well off over the other side of the estuary. I spotted a Eurasian Wigeon and gingerly headed along the old railroad track to get a few pictures getting caught up on the brambles a few times, those devils bite even harder when your legs are cold.
We were done for the day, we did our best that’s all we could ask. I have cheated a little this week and added two pictures from our team that were seen the previous day.


Photo Credits

Short-eared Owl by Barry Hetschko
Bald Eagle by Kurlene Wenberg
Virginia Rail by Kurlene Wenberg
Snow Geese and mates by Zan Stenhouse
Resting up by Zan Stenhouse
Swans making snowman by Zan Stenhouse
Wilson’s Snipe by Derrick Marven
Eurasian Wigeon by Derrick Marven
Killdeer by Derrick Marven