We hadn’t checked the Wildlife Sanctuary for a few days, but the CBC is coming up so it was time to take a look around. It was a sunny afternoon and Canada Geese fed in the meadow. Three Hairy Woodpeckers called in the trees bordering the flats and a Savannah Sparrow jumped from the grass into a small spruce. Four Long-billed Dowitchers had been seen in late November but when we checked the mud-flats there were none to be seen, but a very late Least Sandpiper fed with a small flock of Killdeer. A Merlin sat on top of the snag and a Northern Harrier cruised slowly across the grass. In town a Golden-crowned Sparrow fed on the ground with a flock of Juncos. The Brambling that had been seen here in late November has not reappeared.
Brambling in Port Clements
On Thursday afternoon December 20 2012, during a break in the Christmas preparations, Margo decided to check out the flats again. She noticed a Trumpeter Swan, not unusual in these parts, but unusual in that it was in the middle of the meadow. While watching it through the binoculars, a blue flash landed on a nearby bush. Mountain Bluebird! Not one, but six! She called Peter on her cheap but useful cell phone, called Martin and within ten minutes we all saw the birds flitting from the low bush to the ground and back up again. They were very busy, beautiful and unusual. It was late afternoon and getting darker, but we managed to get a few photos before the sun went down.
Mountain Bluebird Delkatla Dec 20 2012
Skidegate Inlet Count
The moons of Jupiter were visible through the binoculars and we followed a star in the east all the way south. It might well have been the ‘star of wonder, star of light’ seen all those Christmases ago! Equally wonderful were the birds we saw during the Skidegate Inlet Christmas Bird Count on Dec 16. The weather co-operated all day, except for a quick blizzard that hit the boat crew. Other than that squall, they had a great day on the water; clear, sunny and calm. Over two hundred Western Grebes sat on the water near Sandilands Island. Three Hooded Mergansers which we don’t always get on this count also showed up. There were a few Black Turnstones along the bay and many oystercatchers, the 157 last year topped the count for all of Canada so we’ll see how it will go this year.
The shorebirds at Sandspit were a highlight with a huge flock of Dunlin swinging over the beach at high tide. Black-bellied Plovers and Rock Sandpipers were in the mix, and a Snow Bunting flew across the beach like a small white snowball with wings. Four Snowy Owls sat rather forlornly along the margins of the airstrip, their companions have moved on and these ones are getting very weak. Some of the interesting warblers we saw earlier in the fall are still here, especially an Orange-crowned and a Wilson’s. The Wilson’s is the first for any island count ever. A large flock of eagles circled over Skidegate Inlet, a long way away, there must have been something edible out there, and small flocks of Red Crossbills sat sunning themselves in the high spruce around the golf course. All in all, a great day for bird-watching with a total of 76 species for the count.
Next counts are Greater Massett on Dec 27 and Tlell on 29.