Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just Ducky

Today we birded from Nile Creek north to the Comox Marina, with a long stop at the Deep Bay Spit.

Nile Creek had the following gulls;
Mew Gull: 31
California Gull: 18 (all albertensis subspecies)
Herring Gull: 3
Thayer's Gull: 461 (18 showed pale eyes)
Glaucous-winged Gull: 21
Glaucous-winged mutts: 11
Harlequin Duck numbers at this site seemed oddly low. It's normal to see 25-30 here most visits and we only saw 6 today.

After Nile Creek we headed for Deep Bay. Driving towards the tip of the Maplegaurd Spit, we saw three adult Brant. A good sign, as the past few years have produced few to none at this site. Sadly, this area hosted thousands only two decades ago. In the harbor, one of the hybrid Trumpeter X Mute Swans continues to persist. I believe this bird was hatched in 2001. At the spit pugetensis subspecies White-crowned Sparrows were starting to tune up, while Song and Golden-crowned Sparrows were in full song. At the tip we were delighted to find 41 Long-tailed Ducks yakking up a storm. The spit has to be the best place in British Columbia to observe Long-tailed Ducks up close. And today was no exception. We planted ourselves on the cold gravel beach and waited. It took them about 20 minutes before they came in close to dive and feed mere meters from us. They were also actively courting today, and extremely vocal, which was a special treat. Mixed in with them were Bufflehead, Surf Scoters, and the odd Common Loon.

At the Comox Marina, we had great looks at Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers. Off in the bay were thousands of Surf, White-winged, and Black Scoters, along with Long-tailed Ducks and Greater and Lesser Scaup.

A great day with sunshine, gulls and waterfowl. It doesn't get much better than that!

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