You know that when things are going well there always comes a time when they don’t, we have been blessed with incredible weather on Wednesdays for as long as I can remember and today it came and bit us in the bum. The rain was trying even before the left the dog park and the wind had this nasty little bite to it. This did not stop 7 hardy counters setting out on what turned out to be a good day bird wise that’s if you leave out Red-tailed Hawks who I guess hide when the weather goes topsy-turvy. The Trumpeter Swans put on a good show down only slightly from our highs of the past two weeks, this was countered with the finding of 3 immature Tundra Swans. Eagle numbers were steady and as mentioned only 2 Red-tailed Hawks. I think the girls in the second vehicle carry around falcons in their car as us leaders never get to see them as was the case this week as we drove Hwy 1 north, we go by the Exhibition grounds and get a Red-tailed Hawk they come by and get a Kestrel. Me thinks I will have to check out their vehicle before we set off next week.
Somenos Lake had a pair of Ruddy Ducks much to the delight of Kurlene who needed them for her year list. I had checked Quamichan Lake on the way out for Bald Eagles and saw a Hooded Merganser with a dew drip on it’s bill I knew then this was a day for the weak and aged to stay in the vehicles. great I thought I fit that criteria, well no, someone has to count, something the others tend to pass off on me. Poor Barry suffered from finger shutter freeze and could only get a few duckies on his camera, don’t worry my buddy it happens to us all.
The going was tough and birds were spread out all over the place, many flocks of swans being way off across the fields trying to find a good hedge to get behind. One exception to this was Quist’s farm where along Westholme Road our first Tundra was found and close enough for some half decent shots through the rain. We pushed on along Richards Trail where a nice piece of property has come up for sale if you like ducks to watch and count this has to be the ideal spot for you. No hunting allowed.
We were well ahead of time as we reached our lunch break and what a surprise as Jane came out into the rain to bring us some lovely cup cakes which went down well with A&W fries and sour gummy worms; what a mixture a bit like the birds that we see, all-sorts. Many people came and went as we huddled under the tailgate giving us that strange look and commenting to each other, they must be birders.
Boys and Sahilton Roads gave us a few birds to add and the much anticipated crowd on Corfield Road had flown the coop, so we headed west with Koksilah Road not adding a thing except a couple of eagles. It was left up to Bench Road to give Dorothy something to get her pencil going and 185 Trumpeter Swans and 100 Canada Geese did the trick. Then Dougan’s Flats had a large flock of Canada’s numbering in excess of 450. St. Catherine’s Road once again came through with swans spread out all over, some even taking a bath in a puddled part of the field; we left with slightly over 145 trumpeters counted, sadly not many dickie birds here which is usually our number one spot for sparrows and such. Koksilah Road east was our next good spot and it was here we had two very different looking immature Tundra Swans, one almost white and the other showing a much delayed molt with a bright part to its bill. These two we just far enough away and on the crest of the field to make it hard to get good shots.
We headed on the home stretch and found a couple of Mute Swans on the Koksilah River beside Dinsdale’s Farm and two more on the Dock Road. It was here that we had what I think was a nice surprise as we found a Northern Harrier sitting on an old fence post, they have been hard to come by of late, the bird sometimes trying to hide it’s face from the rain and sometimes giving us a filthy look.
It was a great way to end our day as no one wanted to venture out along the Dock Road as rollers with whitecaps were coming in from Skinner Point.
Thanks to my buddies for staying the course on what was the worst weather day of the season.
Mallards and Gadwall by Barry Hetschko
Tundra Swan by Eric Marshall
Hooded Merganser by Derrick Marven
Ruby-crowned Kinglet by Zan Stenhouse
Tundra with Trumpeter by Zan Stenhouse
Northern Harrier by Zan Stenhouse