Monday, August 22, 2011

Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus)

Weekend Shorebirding:

Least Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover


Western Sandpiper

Summer shorebirding on the east coast of Vancouver Island is a frustrating game. There are rarely large numbers present, the diversity can be somewhat low, and it can be downright impossible to find something other than a Killdeer or Black Oystercatcher outside of the two hours a day either side of the high tide. There is though, just enough chance of a rarity being out there in that flock of Least Sandpipers, to keep a person searching. And if one does not search really hard and put in the hours, you will never find them. Besides, I love shorebiridng more than any other birding I do here, and even if all I end up seeing are a few small flocks of Least and Western Sandpipers, I still have fun. Thus, I find myself continually drawn back to the estuaries along the east coast of Vancouver Island, standing in the blazing sun for hours at a time, squinting into the heat haze at a distant single peep, waiting for the tide to bring in more birds. This weekend was much of the same. I birded the Englishman River Estuary at the high tide on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and enjoyed it immensely, but in terms of startling discoveries or massive numbers of birds, it was a bit thin. It is though, always exciting when the tide seeps slowly forward, and the muddy flats near the end of San Malo Crescent in Parksville become smaller and smaller, and more and more peeps appear out of nowhere. Note to self for next time; Remember sunscreen!

Shorebirds recorded at the Englishman River estuary and adjacent marine areas on 21/22 August 2011:

Black-bellied Plover: 21/19

Semipalmated Plover: 10/7

Killdeer: 26/31

Black Oystercatcher: 8/10

Greater Yellowlegs: 1/3

Spotted Sandpiper: 3/4

Black Turnstone: 59/11

Sanderling: 1/0

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1/1

Western Sandpiper: 52/63

Least Sandpiper: 70/71

Baird's Sandpiper: 1/0

Short-billed Dowitcher: 1/0

Red-necked Phalarope: 18/0

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ruff Still Present At French Creek

At 0615 this morning, I relocated the adult Ruff at the mouth of French Creek. It was on the Marina side of the creek, just below the Pub. At about 07:30, it flew back to the pond at the end of Admiral Tryon Blvd. It was still there when I left at about 08:30.
The peep migration must be peaking now. There were good sized flocks of Western and Least Sandpipers all along the shoreline near French Creek this morning. I did not see any unusual shorebirds with them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


At 14:15 today there was a Ruff in the small pond between the SE end of Admiral Tryon Blvd and the creek mouth, in French Creek. I'm on my way back to get photos.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oyster Bay Birding

Today Donna and I took a long overdue drive up to Oyster Bay, south of Campbell River. This has always been one of my favorite summer birding spots on Vancouver Island, and it didn't disappoint today! Migrant shorebirds were present in good numbers, as were locally breeding birds such as Purple Martins, Merlin, and Marbled Murrelets. The big excitement came when a Merlin blasted into a flock of peeps and came rocketing back up into the air with a limp, dead, Western Sandpiper. Barely seconds into the air again, it reached down with it's bill and in one swift motion, decapitated the sandpiper, letting the head fall into Oyster Bay. All the while a flock of Purple Martins was in hot pursuit, screeching in protest.
Birds seen today at Oyster Bay:
Canada Goose: 5
Harlequin Duck" 18
Surf Scoter: 6
White-winged Scoter: 11
Common Merganser: 3
Common Loon: 4
Red-necked Grebe: 3
Double-crested Cormorant: 5
Pelagic Cormorant: 2
Great Blue Heron: 2
Turkey Vulture: 2
Bald Eagle: 1
Merlin: 2
Black-bellied Plover: 41
Pacific Golden-Plover: 1
Semipalmated Plover: 6
Killdeer: 4
Greater Yellowlegs: 1
Black Turnstone: 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1
Western Sandpiper: 136
Least Sandpiper: 40
Red-necked Phalarope: 23
Bonaparte's Gull: 52
Heermann's Gull: 1
Mew Gull: 11
Ring-billed Gull: 1
California Gull: 28
Glaucous-winged Gull: 13
Caspian Tern: 6
Common Murre: 2
Pigeon Guillemot: 12
Marbled Murrelet: 8
Band-tailed Pigeon: 3
Common Nighthawk: 3
Belted Kingfisher: 1
Purple Martin: 28
Barn Swallow: 6
Cedar Waxwing: 5