Swan & Goose count Nov.1 2017

Peregrine Falcon

Young buck

Northern Harrier

Misty trumpeters

Red-tailed Hawk

Here we go again, it is hard to believe that today was the start of our ninth year doing this count and the fifth year of counting Hawks and Eagles.
The weather was tremendous with sunny skies all the way. 7 participants came out and so two cars left the dog park nearly on time. Think we need to get Bob an alarm clock for Xmas. Barry had already walked the dike chatting up some old dears and as we went up to meet him a nice Lincoln’s Sparrow sat up in the sun. The first two stops on the count produced good flocks of Canada Geese in the Somenos area, all of which were the big brutes. The third stop was down Drinkwater Road at Somenos Lake where way out on the far side of the lake in the morning mist sat our first Trumpeter Swans, three birds, one feeding and the other two asleep. Sadly these were the only swans total that we found all day. As promised to my buddy Paul I said three get well soons and it was appropriate that the swans would be in Somenos. Out on the lake were at least 20 Pied-billed Grebes a nice high count for this area, it appears they delighted in this past summers dry heat. My first Buffleheads of the season floated far out and when we came down through Cowichan Bay we had another nice group so this species is slowly arriving for winter. We added a few adult Bald Eagles as we moved along and a nice Red-tailed Hawk sat out in the open along Richards Trail for the lead car to admire, I think Eric will make sure that the camera is in the front from now on. As we came up out of the valley along the trail what appeared to be a large orangey breasted bird sat high up on top of a cedar tree, my first thoughts was it was a adult Sharp-shinned Hawk, then as we got closer a large woodpecker, maybe a Northern Flicker, it was then that my mouth overtook my brain and I said it could be a Lewis’s Woodpecker. The bird flew out of the tree just as Barry claimed a American Robin, I had egg on my face and to make matters worse a horse in a paddock started whinnying which honestly sounded like it was laughing at me. I did not mention any bird sightings again until the count was over for fear of ridicule. There was not much else of note before our break although Kurlene mentioned two birds that were up circling Mt.Prevost, one a eagle and one a accipiter. She did tell me what she thought they were, sadly I think she had joined my club so I just put them down as species. After our break it was off to Boy’s Road where we did get a nice adult Coopers Hawk and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks in the Modeste-Sahilton Road areas. It seemed strange at this early date not to find a single goose in the area. Today Nov.1st was the earliest we have ever started the count. We headed off to the west side of town, the cupboard was bare with nothing being seen, not even the second vehicle, man the’re slow. One thing of interest as we sat looking out over Dougan’s Flats was a red Meadowhawk dragonfly, which was almost certainly a Yellow-legged Meadowhawk one of the late flyers and by far the latest i have ever seen one. Back across the highway and we descended into Cowichan Bay, as Eric was making wonderful time we went down to visit the Sealions and what a wonderous group there was with well over 40 big beasts out in the bay and on the floating dock, most were Steller’s and just four Californian’s in view. Back down through the bay and along Cowichan Bay Road a nice Peregrine Falcon sat up on a dead snag. Dinsdale’s Farm had a big group of Geese with a Snow Goose trying to look inconspicuous in the middle. The last stop was on the Dock Road where were treated to some nice birds, a Eurasian Wigeon and possibly a hybrid one also, a flyover immature Northern Harrier with it’s distinct white rump who then put up a large flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls with more than 100 birds, the most I have seen in the bay in many a year. That was it our day was done.

Photo credits
Peregrine Falcon, Kurlene Wenberg
Young Buck, Barry Hetschko
Northern Harrier, Zan Stenhouse
Misty Trumpeters, Zan Stenhouse
Red-tailed Hawk, Eric Marshall

Not bad for the first week