Saturday, April 23, 2011

Spring-like Weather and More Spring Migrants

Today the sun finally shone hot, and we took advantage of it with a 55 kilometre bike ride, and a solid 8 hours of birding between Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Our first bird of the day was a calling Eurasian Collared-Dove. They seem to be getting more and more numerous around here, and we ended up seeing at least 12 of them today. Hearing one calling from the back door of our place was new though. The next thing we noticed was that Myrtle type Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere, as we rode north through Parksville. This race of the Yellow-rump generally passes through about a month later than the first wave of Audubon's types, probably owing to the fact that they will be heading much further north.

We rode to Columbia Beach, hoping to relocate the Whimbrel that I had been seeing all week while doing Brant surveys. Unfortunately, we could not find it. We did though, come across a few Least Sandpipers amongst much larger flocks of Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers, all starting to look smart in their breeding colors. There were good numbers of Savannah Sparrows, American Pipits, and Barn Swallows moving up the coast along the beaches this morning, with some surprisingly large flocks of Savannahs coming in off the open water of the strait as late as 8:00. This was a bit surprising, as nocturnal migrants generally land by day break.

While cycling back through the large Sand Dollar development, we found three Townsend's Solitaires in a yard, and eventually saw two more a few blocks away. Nice to see them at all, but seeing more than one at a time around here is a real treat.

At the Morningstar Ponds we were thrilled to see a brood of just hatched Mallard ducklings, a few Wood Ducks, and good numbers of tree and Violet-green Swallows. Myrtle type Yellow-rumped Warblers were especially numerous here, with dozens fly catching from the newly leafed out willows surrounding the pond. A red-eared Slider turtle sunning itself along the edge of the pond left no doubt that it finally must be spring. We even saw a butterfly, our first of 2011. Too bad it was a Cabbage White, but after the weather we have had the past two months, we won't complain too much!

I finished the day with 129 species for my 2011 Non-motorized Transportation list today.

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