Sunday, September 30, 2012

Autumn Birding At Paradise Meadows

Today we headed up to Strathcona Park near Courtenay, BC, and walked around the loop trail at Paradise Meadows. Although the hideously developed nearby ski resort at Mt. Washington has badly degraded the overall character of this area, and put serious strain on the local wildlife by directing thousands of urbanites into the back country, this is still a wonderful hike. The broken, sub-alpine forest, meadows, and wetlands along the trail, backed by the spectacular peaks of Strathcona Park, offer some of the most beautiful scenery on this coast.   

Birding here is always interesting, even though the number of birds can be low, and the diversity is far less than what one would find at lower elevations in this region. Not only are there a few species here not often fond at lower elevations on Vancouver Island, but during Autumn migration, it is possible to get some species here which one only rarely encounters at sea level. This was the case today, with some great migrants noted flying over this area. Unfortunately, we were not able to locate the Three-toed Woodpecker, a local specialty of this site. We did though, observe a somewhat late Baird's Sandpiper feeding along the edge of a small pond, and had both Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches and Horned Larks flying over. All great birds for anywhere in this area. If nothing else, it's always fun dealing with the Gray Jays and Steller's Jays following you, hoping for a hand-out.

Birds noted on the Paradise Meadows Loop Trail today;

Sharp-shinned Hawk: 1
Baird's Sandpiper: 1
Belted Kingfisher: 1
Red-breasted Sapsucker: 1
Hairy Woodpecker: 2
Northern Flicker: 1
Gray Jay: 22
Steller's Jay: 6
Common Raven: 7
Horned Lark: 3
Chestnut-backed Chickadee: 22
Red-breasted Nuthatch: 10
Golden-crowned Kinglet: 26
Ruby-crowned Kinglet: 4
Hermit Thrush: 2
American Robin: 72
Varied Thrush: 6
American Pipit: 25
Fox Sparrow: 2
Dark-eyed Junco: 18
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch: 5
Red Crossbill: 50+-
Pine Siskin: 250+-


Jeremy Gatten said...

I know Baird's end up in the alpine during migration in the interior, but I was wondering what your experience is with them at higher elevations on the Island. I wish I could find a Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch in Victoria. That will have to wait until I'm back from Fort McMurray - the best birds I get to see right now are American Tree Sparrows and Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Abu Anka said...

Sounds like Fort McMurray is birdier than Moorecroft Regional Park is.....

I have heard of quite a few sightings of Baird's Sandpiper in higher elevation areas of VI over the years. Hiking friends have sent me photos, not only from snowfields, but also from wet meadows, and even rocky outcrops in heather fields. I've seen them in wet meadow situations at high altitudes on VI only once before (Elkhorn Mt.) but I have seen them in alpine in the interior a half-dozen times? Of all the sandpipers, this is the one I have seen in the widest variety of habitats on VI.