The last day of 2013....
dull, cloudy, and unremarkable....sort of like the year has been. Not a bad year, just not a great year.
Old Man Winter missed us with no snow to speak of and very little in the way of 'winter' temperatures....at least here at the estuary. Water levels rose earlier than normal, so that by the end of April it was impossible to do our normal walks. The high water coincided with the normal time for shorebird migration, so with no 'shore' they had to pass us by. Although the water rose early it didn't reach flood levels - which might have caused some excitement - but, despite one of the driest summers on record, just stayed up at a pretty even level until into September. Usually with high water we get high populations of mosquitoes but even that didn't work out this year - good for the humans in the area, not so good for the birds that rely on this food source to raise a family. Even people that don't normally pay attention to such things were remarking on the lack of birds - primarily swallows and other insectivores. The only 'rare' sighting this year was in October when a pair of Mute Swans were spotted way out on the river. October did bring a better run of Chum Salmon than we've seen for a few years, and that of course brought in the Bald Eagles, right on schedule. I haven't heard what the peak number was but there has been a good population that is now spreading out as the salmon run is over.
For the second year in a row we've been disappointed with the lack of Trumpeter Swans here at the estuary, although not in the general area. This can be partly blamed on the extreme low water levels we have had all fall and to the present time with this year ending up as one of the driest.
On the flip side, Anna's Hummingbirds seem to have become well established in the area with numbers of them wintering over. Whether good or not, those Eurasian-Collared Doves that were unheard of just a few years ago, but have now spread north as far as Alaska, have found, maybe not the estuary yet, but are well established at Harrison Bay - all part of this same IBA.
On the conservation and protection side, progress is being made. Finger's crossed the provincial government is very close to making us an official Wildlife Management area and local visitors both on foot and in watercraft seem to be getting the message about staying on designated trails and not approaching too closely, especially during the important months when the eagles are here. Air traffic and a limited number of dog owners, maybe not so much!
So, on-wards and upwards....I wonder what 1914 will bring? Guess we'll find out!