Swan & Goose count, Jan.30th 2019

Swans and geese

Cooper’s Hawk

Trumpeter swans

Female California Quail

Lincoln’s sparrow

Great blue heron

When we arrive at the dog park on Wednesday mornings we really have no idea what the valley will show us, we know that there will be a Trumpeter Swan or two, may be a handful of Canada Geese, a few Bald Eagles and if we are lucky a small number of Red-tailed Hawks, other than that who knows. We do welcome all other bits and bobs and sometimes the birds throw us a tasty morsel to make us keep coming around. Today was one of those days we all wish for, I knew it was going to be good when I met Barry at the meeting point and he said look what I just got, not sure if it is rare or not. The camera lit up and there was a stunning picture of a Lincoln’s Sparrow, a species that has been sorely lacking this winter in the valley. I knew then this was the day, so 8 eager birders were off and running, we saw Canada Geese and some Red-winged Blackbirds on territory around Somenos Marsh and by the time we had reached the lake we had put together a tidy number of species. It was at the Lake that we got a nice start with 10 Ruddy Ducks way out, keeping out of harms way. Our first Red-tailed Hawk was up on top of a big fir in the forestry center.
The weather could not have been better as we sped up the highway to Quist’s farm picking up a Bald Eagle or two and another Red-tailed Hawk, at Quist’s we added our first Trumpeter Swans and more Canada Geese, a large flock of American Wigeon took flight and landed in the flooded fields beside us. This week we detoured up Westholme to the Crofton Road and a nice adult Bald Eagle sat up high in a fir, then a small bird landed behind it, I thought robin or Starling and so did Barry but when we positioned ourselves properly this small bird was a Merlin and i can just imagine what it was saying to the eagle “heh baldy get off my spot”
On we went counting all the way down to the Herd Road fields and here where a Bald Eagle sat was a Peregrine Falcon admiring all it’s little finger bites that were swimming below him. Through the scope I did find a Redhead duck although it was way out in among a group of American Wigeon
Good numbers of Trumpeter Swans were found up on Hwy.18 along with many more Canada Geese. We then hit Drinkwater and Auchenachie Roads where a nice Pileated Woodpecker sat up high in a tree. By this time we were a bit behind so I urged Barry to give it a bit of welly sadly we should have waited before we flew off because the slowpokes in the following vehicle scored a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
We had reached halfway and a nice rest at A&W which by this time was full of rugrats who had found a new found wealth and were buying up all that the fast food store had to offer.
As always on our day some juicy little tit-bit comes along, now you know I am hard of hearing and not one to spread gossip so I hope this is right. One of our counters had been having trouble with a pilot who was not lighting her fire anymore, she was so fed up that she had invited a gas mechanic around to see if he was any better at it, he was too slow and wanted paying for it, luckily another friendly man in her life with a fully charged battery had managed to fight off the others and was going to keep her warm. I tell you the things that you hear counting birds. I can’t imagine what she would have got up to if she hadn’t come with us.
Back to birds Corefield Road was our next major birdy spot, here a large group of Trumpeter Swans were very close, I did not want to disturb them so told everyone to stay in the cars. Here I was lucky to find our first of three immature Tundra Swans. See if you can spot it in the picture.
On we went over to the west side which was slow until we hit Bench Road and Trumpeters were spread out in three big groups and in the crowd were two more immature Tundra Swans. A nice Cooper’s Hawk sat on a hydro wire had us screeching to a halt on Wilson Road.
At Dougan’s Flats we got a female American Kestrel the first female we have had for a while. Back over to the east and more swans at St.Catherine’s Road along with several assorted sparrows.
We headed down along Cowichan Bay Road and got our first Peregrine Falcon of the day, the fields at Dinsdale’s just had a few Canada Geese and ducks. The Dock Road was next and up and over the new bridge found us staring at a nice female Northern Harrier and then Barry spotted a goody in the trees out on one of the dikes, me looking the other way thought he had got a Short-eared Owl, but this was better a bold strikingly beautiful Peregrine Falcon of the anatum species. Just too far away for a picture to share with you. Here we also had a Great Blue Heron trying to set up shop in a swallow box, I can see we will have to make the holes bigger for these guys/
At the end of our count we had #554 Trumpeter Swans, #3 Tundra Swans, #1443 Canada Goose and a large smack of hawks and eagles, it don’t get better than that, or could it? Stay tuned for next weeks thrilling episode of the swan and goose count.
That was it we had a wonderful day full of birds and nice weather to go with it.


Photo Credits
Lincoln’s Sparrow by Barry Hetschko
female California Quail by Barry Hetschko
Trumpeter Swans by Zan Stenhouse
Great Blue Heron by Zan Stnehouse
Cooper’s Hawk by Derrick Marven
Swans and Geese by Derrick Marven