Immature Bald Eagle
10 counters set out in 3 cars and with gas now sitting just below the $1.40 mark, talk of using bikes next year could be heard although some baulked at this suggestion.
What a day we had, the weather was tremendous although it made it hard to tell immature swans when they were way off.
We had two new counters today, Beverly and Katherine, It was nice to see new faces out with us, I think they had a good time.
To defy all notions we had of a departure by the waterfowl we got high numbers of swans and geese, where did they go last week that is the question. I am sure I saw a couple of Canada Geese with sunglasses out in Dougan’s Flats.
I have a question for you all, what bird would put the fear into four Bald Eagles and chase them off with no problem. The answer later in the report. We got 26 Bald Eagles, 2 Turkey Vultures, 1 very handsome Merlin that sat still on top of a snag on Westholme Road for all but one of us to see, sorry Zan. 7 Red-tailed Hawks and 3 Peregrine Falcons. We got great looks at many birds this week and I hope that the new counters were won over with what we get up to on a Wednesday. Just a few deer this week and sundry farm animals spread out around our route, the piggies on Wilson Road were having a nice sunbath in their mud holes. Smoked side bacon came to mind.
Trumpeter Swans were at #399 adults and # 72 immature, 1 Mute Swan, 1 adult Tundra and 1 immature. Something I picked up on this week was the immature Trumpeters molt from the backside up, see attached picture and how do you tell a sleeping Tundra from a Trumpeter, also see attached picture. There was a lot more vocalizing with the swans and a lot’s of head bobbing and a bit of dancing, it can’t be long before the big flocks test those mighty wings and head north.
It appeared that some sort of plague had gone through the ranks of the counters as many of us where a little horse and the sounds of cough sweets being opened were heard along the route. We do know who started this as she was sick last week, but you know us counters and birders we love to share everything.
Many Tree and Violet-green Swallows were seen with the boxes at Somenos were near to capacity when we went by. A Northern Shrike was seen by a couple, but most missed it.
This week we were treated to one of those wonders of nature, as we came along Herd Road a Peregrine Falcon was spotted circling around near Osbourne Bay Road and then quick as a flash it was off towards the wet fields further east, when we got there there was no sign of it but a massive bunch of ducks were out on the water, lot’s of Northern Shoveller and Ring-necked Duck, then they all started to fidget and some were taking flight as several Bald Eagles were flying out over the water, the photographers attention was drawn to one impressive immature bird. Then all of a sudden this screaming banshee comes across the flooded fields in hot pursuit of a adult Eagle, yes it was the Peregrine with claws and bill at the ready to run up the back of the quickly retreating Bald Eagles, the noise that the Peregrine was making would scare the feathers off even the strongest of birds. It appeared that one of the Eagles had got a duck and the Peregrine was not amused. The Eagle dropped the duck on the road and Barry was lucky to capture another eagle retrieving this poor duckie. One can only imagine how all those ducks must feel when those eagles take it upon themselves to go a hunting.
What a wonderful treat for us all and something I don’t think we will ever encounter again. The things you see when you’re out counting swans and geese, I tell you.
Well here we are nearly at the end of March and just one more count to go for the season, will we return next year, who knows, we have been at it now for 187 counts and 10 seasons. we have collected a great bit of data on our big white and brown birds. We have seen some wonderful things over the years. I personally have been counting swans for more that 25 years now, I guess that’s why I am always trumpeting in my English accent.
Sleeping Tundra Swan by Derrick Marven
moulting Trumpeter Swan by Derrick Marven
Tree Swallows by Barry Hetschko
Bald Eagle and Ducks by Barry Hetschko
Bald Eagle with dinner by Barry Hetschko
Peregrine Falcon by Barry Hetschko
immature Bald Eagle in flight by Zan Stenhouse
immature Bald Eagle hiding by Zan Stenhouse
Red-tailed Hawk by Zan Stenhouse
Trumpeter Swans by Zan Stenhouse