Swan, Goose & Raptor count Dec.11th 2019

River otter
River otter
Swans in the mist

Bull elk

It is hard to imagine a Wednesday without sun but today 6 birders endured a day without our sunglasses, not only that, we got some well needed rain to go with it. Barry is not much of a “no rain dancer” and so I guess we payed the price for his two left feet and all those good days we had.
We left the dog park in two vehicles in high hopes of seeing some big numbers this week, sadly the only species that increased was Canada Geese at #1597 this is our highest count this season added to this was over 60 Cackling Geese with one major flock of birds off Sahilton Road, they saw all the binoculars looking at them and moved further out in the fields. It was so strange to see all these geese without any swans with them.
A newcomer joined our ranks this week Genevva fresh from the snowy Okanagan, she was unaware that all newbies had to bring treats for the leader. I will have to put a reminder in the newsletter. We showed her Merlin, Eurasian Wigeon and a bull Elk so I think she will be back for more. She’s good at spotting lumps in trees, not all were birds I might add.
Trumpeter Swan numbers went down a bit #231 and I have to admit that the count up on Bench Road was very hard with the rain and mist and such that I could not tell the difference between adults and immature so they all went down as mummies and daddies. This location held 95% of all Trumpeters seen today. I am sure there were few more laying down that I could not see.
A 3 American Kestrel day doesn’t happen too often with all birds being within a few kms of each other, must be a good rodent area around the Herd Road corridor. A Merlin flew over at A&W and a single Peregrine was still stuck in a tree on Herd Road, i wonder if this bird ever leaves this perch as it always seems to be there. Must have something to do with all the ducks in the fields below the tree.
This morning I forgot my camera and hurried back home before we all met, there must have been a reason for this as both  I and Barry failed to get one picture between us, so the attached pics are all down to the lovely Zan.
Bald Eagle numbers were steady with more birds perched at different locations around our route, I am not sure they are doing so well, we need more rain so that the gulls and duckies take to the fields thus making for a more varied diet. I might add that in the corresponding count last year we had almost double the number of eagles.
I passed a box of Smarties to the girls, then got a complaint that they were all green; little did they know that I took all the good ones out. Well I never packaged them and also they don’t look like the Smarties I had when i was a kid, they appear to be a different color and they have shrunk like so much you buy in the store these days; girls, if you don’t like them give to the crows at A&W, they will eat anything.Smarties are made without hormones!
I would like to write that we had seen some more bird species but other than a few Junco’s and Starlings. but that was it.
Our day was winding down and the rain was getting wetter has we headed through Cowichan Bay village where, lucky for us, a River Otter was having a good scratch and tidy up right in front of the viewing platform. The Dock Road was a dead loss with hardly anything out on the water, it was one of those days. We had done our duty and the birds had been counted. We live to count another day, let’s hope it’s sunny next time.
Photo Credits
All by Zan Stenhouse