Friday, March 11, 2011

Herring Spawn Tour

For the past two days I have hosted a group of birders as part of a British Columbia Field Ornithologist's field trip, focused on birds attracted by spawning Pacific Herring within the Parksville-Qualicum Wildlife Management Area. It was a great group of people, and I really enjoyed myself. It was a difficult couple of days though, because the weather, the fish, and the birds, all made things difficult. We experienced heavy rain for much of the first day, cold wind and rain for part of the second day, an oddly low count of birds for this time of year, and worst of all, the herring did not spawn much at all! Agh!!!
However, the last 4 hours of Friday made it all worthwhile. The sky cleared, we found a nice amount of fish at Columbia Beach, and there were about six thousand gulls, along with over 40 Bald Eagles and great flocks of Brant and sea-ducks. I was also able to give everyone on the tour excellent scope views of a second cycle Iceland Gull, which brought smiles to many faces.
Thanks to all of the participants, for showing patience and grace in the face of what could have been a disastrous tour. And please come back to Parksville-Qualicum in the future, when hopefully, the spawns get back to normal!
We ended up seeing 68 species of birds, which is pretty good for the time of year, and considering that we really only birded along the shoreline.
Birds seen between Parksville and Deep Bay on March 10 and 11, 2011:
Canada Goose
Mute Swan x Trumpeter Swan hybrid
Trumpeter Swan
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Harlequin Duck
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Brandt's Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-bellied Plover
Black Oystercatcher
Black Turnstone
Bonaparte's Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Thayer's Gull
Iceland Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Rock Pigeon
Northern Flicker
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Pacific Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Varied Thrush
European Starling
Spotted Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
House Sparrow

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