Friends and others,
We started today’s count with 6 people and without a Red-tailed Hawk which Barry has been relied on for finding our first of the day along the dike. It was still a little nippy although the sun was up and starting to gain strength. The fields were all frozen as were most water lying in fields so the going was slow until we hit Somenos Lake which had a nice smattering of ducks with over 50 Ruddy Ducks which was nice although hard to see in the misty bright light. Lots of ducks from the fields off Herd Road had moved over to Quamichan Lake and early on my way to meet my friends I got a nearly close Barrow’s Goldeneye
Our first 4 Trumpeter Swans were seen which started this weeks count off well with #560 seen all day which was right on the average, 4 Tundra Swans, 1 adult and #3 immature were mixed in with cousins and I am sure there could be a few more in the far off crowds. Canada Geese went down at #989 but we did get 1 Greater White-fronted Goose and #14 Cackling Geese which were our first for the year on our count. We found a few Killdeer sunning themselves on a grassy slope up Richard’s Trail and one flyover on Hillbank Road.
Hawk numbers took a tumble this week with the Red-tailed Hawks causing much concern among the ranks, no accipiters or Falcons, we were glad that the Bald Eagle numbers grew a little with more immature this week, some of these birds will soon head off up island for the the Gull and Duck spectacular in Parksville. We were lucky to witness a pair of Bald Eagles chase ducks on the Dock Road and one of the pair got lucky and landed up on an old hydro pole for all to admire and get a few snaps, not so good for the poor old duck, but better this way than with a gun.
We had some nice Ruby-crowned Kinglets working the ditches along Boys Road, amazing what they can find clinging to leaves and branches. Along St. Catherine’s we saw lots of White and Golden-crowned Sparrows at a local feeder and one big black thing which we won’t mention feeding on the seed.
Now about those Red-tailed Hawks who had been so obliging these past weeks, we were long past lunch and gone from the east and well into the last quarter of our count before good old Barry spotted our first on Wilson Road which opened the flood gates slightly and we finished with #5 which was just half our total of last week, maybe they just didn’t like us this week or they were off starting with a bit of nest building, whatever they were doing w wish them well.
The stars of the count this week were the hundreds of American Robins that were on every little bit of unfrozen ground, not sure how many have descended into the valley this week but it could be in the thousands.
I was busy on Richards Trail and Wilson Road getting pictures of some old friends and chatting with one large buddy who gave me a few good snorts of appreciation of what we were doing.
What can i say about the weather, we are some lucky swannies to be out there and having so much fun, we finished off our day along the Dock Road as usual and the Mars bar kid brought out a bag full to offer round to build our strength up for next week.
I am sure there were many other little highlights that I have forgot but my brain is not responding today to my commands, think I might have a virus or something. I am sorry for no real funny stories this week, sadly my buddies are learning to keep their mouths shut in front of me.
With just 7 counts to go for the season if your thinking you’d like to come along best hurry up and make good use of this great citizen science venture that we do.
Bald Eagle with duck, by Eric Marshall
Tundra Swan by Barry Hetschko
Trumpeter Swans in flight, by Barry Hetschko
Canada Geese in flight, by Zan Stenhouse
Canada Geese on ice, by Zan Stenhouse
Chatting Swans by Zan Stenhouse
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, by Zan Stenhouse
Barrow’s Goldeneye, by Derrick Marven
Trumpeter Swan family, by Derrick Marven