Swan & Goose count March 15th 2017

Trumpeter Swans


Cooper’s Hawk

Red-breasted Sapsucker


Hooded Merganser

Another wonderful day for the counters with finally some warmer weather. Seven counters left the dog park and two others joined us just down the road, when we finished we had 5 counters when we returned, now where did we mislay those other counters, who knows. If you should see any birders wandering around with clipboards please take them in and feed them generous doses of waterfowl videos.
The numbers of Trumpeters continue on a high this week even though the snow has gone, guess their not ready to leave us yet. One thing I have noticed this season is that there has not been much sign of the swans gesturing to each other with head bobbling displays and other seductive movements, maybe it’s still to come.
The day started well with two early birds at the dog park getting a flyover Turkey Vulture and they were swift to show me the picture for confirmation. A few Geese were recorded before we reached the rest stop beside Somenos Marsh, where to my amazement the ladies vehicle exclaimed that there was a seal in the marsh, now there have been a couple of sightings of seals in the lake, but in the marsh is totally different matter. The lead car could see some ripples out under the willows and then a head and back come up, but sadly it was just one of the local Otters who “sealed” the identification with it’s long tail coming up out of the water.
Somenos Lake was very slow with just some loafing Double-crested Cormorants and a bunch of geese. There were a pair of Bald Eagles attending a nest in the far end of the lake, this was our second nest sighting of the day as the other Derrick and I had seen a pair at a nest on Quamichan Lake. On the way back up Drinkwater one of the Red-breasted Sapsuckers was on the maple tree just waiting for unsuspecting photographers to pas by. After trying to drag the girls away from this obliging woodpecker we were off up the highway to Quist’s Farm where a good number of Trumpeters awaited our counting. Old senior in the backseat said there’s an eagle up on the big dead snag and as soon as I looked at it I thought this is different, as we pulled around to the other side I felt that we might be looking at a Golden Eagle but the light was not good. With the scope set up I was still second guessing this bird, it was very tatty but with what appeared to be a golden mantle. It is good that we have such accomplished photographers in our group because having received their snaps I am now convinced we had a second year Golden Eagle.
On we pressed on down along Westholme and Richards Trail, things were slow and not many numbers were added to our lists, an eagle here and red-tail there and a goosy goosy gander or two and that was it. We did have a few swallows flying around which convinced us that this was finally spring. Not sure what channel senior Derrick was watching but he said snow was in the forecast, think he was watching some eastern channel. He had earlier proclaimed to me that he had a bath just before I picked him up, I have to admit that mid-month baths are not for me, I think there are some old cowboy genes in me as once a month is enough. I can’t believe what measures some take to impress the ladies.
Back to the birds, a few Trumpeters were up on Hwy 18 along with a raptor or two. Back down towards A&W for our rest and a few more Geese were picked up along the baseball fields. It was a good thing school was out as we were a bit late getting our lunch and the queues were small. After a short break we were off again to Boy’s Road and as usual the second car lagged along behind, lucky they did as they got a Coopers Hawk our only one of the day. A few Swans were counted but that was it before we headed off over to the west and some very dark beckoning clouds. Finally we started to get more swans and we left Koksilah Road west with 65 total. Bench Road came next and way down the fields was another 45 birds. At this point Dorothy started to sharpen the pencil in anticipation of more to come. Dougan’s Flats added a few more Trumpeters which tried to hide behind a barn but nothing gets past us. Over to St. Catherine’s we ventured and just two handfuls of Trumpeters and a small group of Canadas. Again the ladies dragged their feet as they found our first Northern Harrier of the day.
Jim’s Pond had Northern Shovellers, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks and just a few Canada Geese. Cherry Point Road added over 60 Swans and this was just the buildup to the big flock coming along Koksilah Road east where after much counting we had nearly 190 Trumpeter’s.
Back down through the bay and the tide was out with not much showing. Dinsdale’s Farm pulled in another 105 Canada Geese before we hit the Dock Road. You must have heard that expression dead as a dodo, well the bay was it until just as we were about to leave and our second Northern Harrier payed us a visit.
One thing I did notice today was the lack of any small birds just a few here and there.
That was it; those big black clouds were getting closer it was time to roll up the blanket and put the glasses in the basket and head for home.
Just two more counts to go and we hope that some birds stay around for us to count.

Photo Credits

Hooded Merganser by Barry Hetschko
Red-breasted Sapsucker by Eric Marshall
Coopers Hawk by Zan Stenhouse
family of Trumpeter’s by Zan Stenhouse

Take Care

From Comox Valley: This weeks Trumpeter tally was 1041 adults and 179 juveniles for a total of 1220. In comparison, the total tally for the same period in 2016 was 801 swans.