The big year group, Phil, Ray, Brian and Mike canadafurandfeathers.blogspot.com were going to Sandspit again on Sunday so we offered to come along. It wasn’t raining when we left Masset, but it was pouring when we got to Skidegate to catch the MV Kwuna to Alliford Bay and Sandspit. We – Peter, Martin and I – were convinced it would clear up, as that’s what the forecast said. It didn’t. It rained most of the morning and into the early afternoon, being especially sopping when the Osprey flew over. It was hard to tell what it actually was in the poor light until it got close enough to see its face markings. Ospreys are rare here, although we have seen a few more than usual in the past few years. It turned out to be a raptor day. Three Short-eared Owls, two Merlins, a Peregrine Falcon, a Goshawk and a Northern Harrier all put on a grand show. Martin had a Red-tailed Hawk and a Saw-whet Owl as well. The Merlins harassed the Harrier and the Peregrine went after a goose. Geese were everywhere, especially the rare Aleutians now recovering in the Aleutian Islands after fox depredation almost wiped them out. A few Snow Geese shone out in the murky light and small flocks of White-fronted Geese were also there. Here’s an earlier shot of a similar mix taken in Masset.
As we rushed for the 4.30 ferry back to Skidegate a large flock of gulls at Haans Creek caught Peter’s eye. We had to either check them out or miss the 4.30 ferry. Margo got a little cranky about staying and was keen to get home, a two hour drive away, after such a wet day, but Peter, to his credit, really wanted to stay and check the gulls out. Martin was ok either way. So we stopped to check them out. We were astounded to find 65 Bonaparte’s Gulls with a mixed flock of California, Mew and Glaucous-winged. Bonaparte’s are so unusual here that we initially weren’t sure what it was we were looking at. But that’s what they were. Here’s a photo.
When Peter mentioned the Bonaparte’s to our friend Rick, only one of the best birders in Canada, he told us he had 100 outside Chilliwack as well which was also unusual. Peter and he talked about the possibility that these and other birds had come down on the Arctic front that started on Thursday and continues.
On Monday October 22, Peter and our birding buddy Martin drove to Port Clements on business and stopped in to see some friends. They have a feeder. Port Clements is often a draw for rarities that land here on the chilly edges, gradually move to more sheltered places. It’s on the “Lake” as that part of Masset Inlet is known, with Stewart Bay and the Yakoun River Estuary right there. When Peter and Martin dropped in our friends were excited to tell them of their most recent arrival. A Brambling! They all saw it and both took photos. Here’s one.
The weather has been lovely over the past few days here in Masset. A cold Northwest wind came up over the dunes where the RUBU was first seen and it’s no longer around. We saw a flock of 45 Lapland Longspurs and two Snow Buntings on October 23.
The sun still shines, two Eurasian Collared Doves have taken to our feeder and a Sharp-shinned Hawk hangs around the edges. A Merlin bothered the town flock of crows yesterday morning and two Least Sandpipers ran across Delkatla flats with a flock of Killdeer as the tide went down. The winter population of ducks are gathering in the flats again and the first Trumpeter Swan of the year flew up Masset Inlet on October 20, all by itself. And…hot off the press…a friend has just phoned in to say there’s a Snowy Owl on North Beach today October 25, 2012, the first of the year.