Swan, Goose & Raptor count Jan. 29, 2020

What a day we had 8 counters were subjected to early wet conditions to heat and sun by lunch, no real surprises although 7  Snow Geese on Dinsdale’s Farm were nice, these birds had been around for a few days. This year we have been having trouble finding swans in the north end of our route and today was no exception, not sure why the birds have left these areas.The majority of swans were on Bench Road where in excess of 200 were  seen. Immature birds are in low numbers this year which could mean a bad breeding season for them. With the birds being so far off in the fields it makes it hard for me to locate any Tundra Swans.

Surprise this week was when Eric at lunchtime produced a nice big box of cookies, we were not aware that he had hidden talents like cooky making, I have to say that they were on par with what our absent friend Dorothy makes, maybe a competition is in the making.
A group of Dunlin was spied by me a I scanned across the Cowichan Bay, never did relocate them to show the group. Duck numbers were once again low in the bay, this is of some concern, maybe all this rain is the cause.
As we headed down Cowichan  Bay Road a couple of Mute Swans were seen and we added a few more out in the bay. While scanning across to see if I could find a perched owl I spotted a funny looking lump close to the ground on a small stork, this I thought was the Short-eared Owl, but it turned out to be a female Northern Harrier. Eagle numbers were up with more immature this week, we also had a fly by Coopers Hawk, a American Kestrel and a Merlin.
As you are aware a lot of flooding has taken place with many fields under water, some very deep fields keeping many duck species away, so it was a surprise at the Herd Road flooded fields to see a  good gathering of Green-winged Teal, one of  the largest groups I have seen in a long time.
Photographs were in short supply this week as we found it hard to get close to most birds,one Red-tailed Hawk which sat very close to Westholme Road was a good example of our luck this week as Barry inched closer so I could rattle off some good shots a big box van roared passed us just as my camera got the lovely in focus, I managed a few tatty tail feathers on the right hand side of the frame as the bird vacated it’s close perch.
With the flooding on Tzouhalem Road we had to do a bit of juggling to get to some of the spots near the Cowichan River and when we got there all we could find was a Downy Woodpecker and a few duckies.
Our day was done and we were thankful for the afternoon sun, lot’s of people were out walking and we even saw one of our past counters Christina working the Dock Road, a very rare sight these days on our count.
Photo Credits
Mew Gulls and Thayers by Derrick Marven
Hooded Mergansers by Denny Wagg
Downy Woodpecker by Denny Wagg

More gulls
More gulls
Hooded mergansers
Hooded mergansers
Downy woodpecker