Swan & Goose Count, Jan. 31st 2018



Mute swan


Tundra swan




Trumpeter swans


Cooper’s Hawk


Northern shovellers


Oh! what a day as 6 counters headed out into the floods. Swans turned into Geese, Sealions headed inland, naturalists headed for higher ground and at North Cowichan headquarters councilors were seen doing the stop the rain dance. and the counters kept going, what a wonderful group they are. Unperturbed by all the goings on, we had a great day, cold and wet, no problem for us.
Adult Trumpeter Swan numbers dropped by 130 and the immature birds stayed just the same as the past few weeks, did these adults leave, i wonder. Canada Geese on the other hand went up by 300, did these two species swap feathers? We had a nice group of Cackling Geese and even a immature Tundra Swan. Bald Eagles numbers went down after that little influx last week and a two Peregrine Falcon day is always welcome.
We headed off from the dog park counting geese along the way, we missed the Sealion that was frolicking in the car park at Somenos as good birders that we are we are always looking up. Once again our best stop on the outward half was Quist’s Farm where we had over 60 Trumpeter’s and a gaggle of geese. I had a quick glimpse at a snipe while Killdeer played around in the mud. Westholme Road gave us a few more swans and a large flock of gulls which always gets my attention, most of these were Mew Gulls which had come down to feast on water logged worms. Along Richards Trail a lovely adult Coopers Hawk was seen displaying it’s tail up in a tree, trying it’s hardest to get dry. The water had really risen in the fields and not much was had. Our next major find was a large group of Canada geese along Herd Road totaling over 300. Hwy 18 gave a few more Trumpeters and Canada Geese. By now we were seeing a few spits of rain so we headed for A&W for our break.
Boy’s Road came next and only a single Red-tailed Hawk was was spotted, gone were all the eagles and even the dickie birds were hiding and the same went for Modeste Road with another Red-tail seen. Sahilton Road again had the swans digging deep in the fields and just under 100 were counted. There must be a lot of roots and new shoots in these fields as the swans have been hold up in these fields for several weeks now.
We then headed west and nothing was seen until we hit Bench Road where the fields contained just under 150 Trumpeters and a few Canada Geese. As we headed down Phipps Road i spotted a very white immature bird which turned out to be a Tundra Swan, this got the photographers excited and many shots were taken. As we headed south on the highway a certain Mary Street naturalist was seen fleeing for higher ground, this species was identified by certain stickers adorning the back bumper, but she was gone in seconds at break neck speed as we went off to count down in Dougans Flats. Here we found the mother load of Canada Geese with them was at least 25 Cacklers what a sight I got out to take a picture of the little ones. There is a old saying ” there is safety in numbers” I am not so sure this is true because a Peregrine Falcon flew over which got the goosies attention and it was quickly followed by a Bald Eagle, well this caused a mass panic as over 3/4’s of the 700 geese took to the air, what a tremendous sight as they headed off down the fields, so much for counting them one at a time and as for pictures none were taken. Back over the other side of the highway and St.Catherines Road gave us some big white birds to count and just under 90 were added to our slowly growing list. Cherry Point Road gave us a few more and Koksilah Road east added another 50+ Trumpeters. We were now on the homeward stretch, down through Cowichan Bay the water was this dirty brown color and the Double-crested Cormorants sat up on the pilings not wanting to get down in that water. The Dock Road let us have 6 Mute Swans and a pair of Northern Harriers were seen, this species does not do well in flooded fields and have been hard to find of late. A few more geese were added along Tzouhalem Road and our day was done.
At one secret location we saw a wonderful herd of Elk, this spot will remain with us just in case.
Until we ride again stay dry and warm.

Photo Credits
Northern Shoveller’s by Zan Stenhouse
Tundra Swan by Eric Marshall
Cooper’s Hawk by Barry Hetschko
Trumpeter Swans by Barry Hetschko
Killdeer by Eric Marshall
Elk by Derrick Marven
Mute Swan by Derrick Marven