Swan & Goose Count March 1st 2017

Three happy campers


Swan counters

Two wood owls

Red breasted sapsuckers


Ring necked ducks

It was one of those days when the weather was not sure what it wanted to do, so we got a bit of everything except that white stuff, but there were many little piles left on our trip around today. It sure did feel more like spring as 8 counters headed out from the dog park. It was nice to have our good friend Kurlene back with us this week. Because of the trouble last week we segregated the North Americans from the Brits in two cars, it must have affected the solitary male in the Canuck vehicle as he failed to take a picture with his big lens.
This week we recorded our best numbers for Trumpeter Swans this season with just under 600 birds, we almost had the same number of geese as last week with just 3 birds more at 1056. The raptor numbers put on a good show with 3 Merlins getting top honors along with 8 Red-tailed Hawks. Even the Bald Eagle numbers went up with 32 being seen.
Swans were spread out over many locations this week and we added a new location as there were good numbers seen just down Cherry Point Road, we try not to deviate from our route too much, but it was hard to pass up this good flock.
A Peregrine Falcon and our first Northern Shrike were seen out from the dog park. We started on our way and with just a few birds under our belt we hit Drinkwater Road and who should be boozing it up on the Maple tree but the Red-breasted Sapsucker, we left her in peace and headed down to the lake but sadly we could only find one lonely Trumpeter far off in the distance. Also out on the lake was a handful of Ruddy Ducks. Back off up the road we went and I could see the Sapsucker on the tree so with the window wound down Eric had point blank shots,but hold on what was that hiding around the back of the tree, it was another, a male this time, now we had two at point blank range only now they could not fit in the view finder of the camera, lucky for us Zan was a bit further away in the vehicle behind and captured the occasion.
Quist’s Farm gave us many birds and out in the fields among a flock of Wigeon was a Eurasian cousin. We had a few more Swans along Westholme Road but Richards Trail was a bust until we reached the hydro lines and the American Kestrel was keeping watch over its rodent field.
It was good this week to see that the swans were back feeding again after Mondays big snowfall, this weather has sure not helped their preparations for their journey north, the young birds especially needing to be fully fit.
Hwy 18 had good numbers of swans and geese and it was nice to see the farmer come down the field and go through his gate and leave the birds in peace, a welcome sight in this much publicized assumed problem in the Cowichan Valley
The elk were also in sight again this week but back in the trees this time.
After our break it was over to the Boys and Sahilton areas, not much was found so we headed over to the west side. Both Bench and Wilson Roads had good numbers of Swans but I did not see any sign of a dead swan that reportedly hit the wires.
Dougan’s Flats was devoid of birds and it was not until we hit Telegraph and Cherry Point Roads did we start adding good numbers to our total.
Like many birders we sometimes cause a little problem by stopping on the road to look at birds, this was the case when a lovely Northern Shrike sat up on top of a tree along Willmot Road I put on the hazard lights and opened up the sun roof so that Eric could get a picture, but one irate driver was not happy with what we were doing and pulled right up behind us and then along side, me being a good old boy totally blanked him much to his annoyance as he drove off up the road. Some people have no respect for a swan counter.
We headed down to the bay and as we hit Dinsdale’s Farm a large group of geese was gathered knowing that those peskily hunters were not there to disturb them. Barry exclaimed an Owl and flying over the field was a Short-eared Owl being bothered by a persistent Common Raven but in the end the Raven let the Owl get on with the job at hand.
Our last surprise of the day was the sighting of two immature Mute Swans swimming out near the log booms in the bay, funny we have not seen these birds all season, I just wonder where they have been all this time.

That was it our day was done and a very successful one it was.

Photo Credits
Ring-necked Ducks by Zan Stenhouse
Red-breasted Sapsuckers by Zan Stenhouse
Two Wood Owls by Zan Stenhouse
Swan counters at the lake by Barry Hetschko
Three happy campers by Cristina Cutbill


From Comox Valley: This weeks Trumpeter tally was 942 adults and 201 juveniles for a total of 1143. In comparison, the total tally for the same period in 2016 was 1818 swans.