Swan & Goose Count – March 26, 2014

Four eager counters appeared for this our last count of the season and little did we know what wonders were in store for us on this lovely spring day.
We started off with a few Canada Geese here and there and some swans flying off to the north-west, migrating possibly?
Tree Swallows sat and flew around the boxes at Somenos, it appears they have already set up shop and are ready for the upcoming season of laying eggs and making babies.
Along at Quist’s Farm the Golden Eagle put on a nice display while an adult Bald Eagle took a spring bath in the flooded fields, juveniles stood bye and watched wondering what on earth is this adult doing, that’s wet!
As we pulled up at the park and ride along Hwy 18 just to the west of Hwy 1 I noticed some funny looking lumps along side of a fence line out across the fields, low and behold a herd of Elk were laying down taking in the sun rays, 18 of these large lovelies were there being watched over by one large bull looking after his harem of ladies and their offspring.
On our pit stop at A&W a Red-tailed Hawk circled over us, I wondered if this meat lover was drawn to the smell of patty’s cooking or was looking for that now defunked famous pizza place for their large meat lovers.
One of our group had brought along some tasty liqueurs and it did not take long before I was feeling a little happy and was seeing all sorts of strange birds. The last time I saw these liqueurs one of group was on all fours in the car park as we left and she was seen with liqueurs scattered all around her.
As we hit Corfield Road the ladies all starting screaming as some officers of our local constabulary dressed in bullet proofed vests were working their way around the Farmers Market, these female screamers were so intent on seeing what was going on they refused to go down the road and count swans. I had to force them to move along, but as soon as we returned half the street were out trying to see what was going on, I had suggested that someone had made off with a cabbage from the market without paying.
I could only wish to create such excitement in a woman as did 2 Swat team members, one four legged sniffer woofter and a brassicus thief, as was shown in our vehicle. It took the authority of the SWAN team leader to make these ladies leave the area and let the SWAT team carry on with their apprehension.
A few swans were had along Riverside Road before we descended to Bench Road where goodly numbers were added to our slowly rising list.
Dougans Flats came up with a few swans and we had good looks as the ladies forced me down some farmers driveway to get a closer look, I must admit it was a good move and one area we must remember for next year for easy counting. Big numbers of Canada Geese were once again out in the fields and a conservative estimate of 400 birds were added.
It was here that a small dog tried in vain to be rescued, jumping up at the door trying to get into the window, but Christina who had been trying for a rescue dog for weeks was not amused and sped off leaving this poor dog looking forlorn beside the road wondering what it had to do to get a warm home to call its own.
St. Catherines Road had a nice group of swans and then we hit Jim’s Pond where in amongst the Lesser Scaup and Northern Shovellers was the Ruddy Duck that we encountered last week.
Koksilah Road east gave us a good number of swans, but were hidden from view until we went around the back of the field to count them.
Another one of our members admitted this week to raising House Sparrows and throwing snakes out into the road, I have to admit that this conduct can not be acceptable to naturalists like us and if she persists strong measures will be taken against her, I believe a suggestion was to be thrown into a snake pit with just sparrows for protection.
The final big piece of excitement happened as we left the Dock Road and a smallish whitish bird flew up into a tree out across the field, at first I thought it was the local Northern Shrike that had been around for most of the winter, but looking through the distorted glass of the windscreen this bird looked a little fat, so I asked Christina to pull forward so that I could see out of the side window and it was then that the true beauty of what we was looking at came out, it was a lovely female American Kestrel, this bird was more than likely in migration and k

Female American Kestrel

Female American Kestrel

new that this was our last count of the season and wanted to put on a show for us and we thank her dearly for her display of hawking in the field.

Although the adult swan numbers dropped by half the immature birds remained identical to last week. Goose numbers also dropped dramatically with many pairing up for the upcoming nesting season.

As our Swans and Geese head north for the spring we wish them well on their journey and hope that the breeding season is nice to them and that they come back in the fall with their offspring for us to start counting them again.

A really big thank you to all of you that came out this season and for your good humor and your tolerance of such a stickler of a leader and for all your hard work counting the swans, geese and hawks of the Cowichan Valley.

Derrick.