Monday, February 28, 2011

Unsettled end to an unsettled month

The last day of February and what a crazy day it has been…the only thing we haven’t seen yet is the thunder and lightning that is in the forecast.

I often mix the order of pictures up but today I’m going to post them in the exact order I took them because even in the short half hour time span of our walk the weather changed numerous times…

Snowing - again

Despite the fact that before I sat down for lunch it was so warm and sunny I’d dug out sunglasses and changed into a lighter top….by the time we set out for our walk…it was snowing…


by the time we’d walked the short distance down to the ‘flats’ – we had a rainbow…

Pussy Willows

Got to the park and noticed these pussy willows against the now, clear blue sky (despite the cold weather of the past week or so, more and more pussy willows are appearing)

log bay

Got to the log bay in the sunshine….

Red Wing Blackbirds

There were a number of Red-wing Blackbirds here, also a Northern Flicker, one of the Belted Kingfisher, I heard a Robin and several Song Sparrows, and saw a Fox Sparrow

Gold Crowned Kinglet

There was a lot of activity in the bushes in the area by the viewing platform…Gold Crowned Kinglets, Black Cap Chickadee, Spotted Towhee, Varied Thrush and Dark Eyed Junco to name a few…

Gold Crowned Kinglet

Here is another look at the Gold Crowned Kinglets…just because it is so hard to get even half wise decent shots of them..

first bay

looking down now in the first bay, where the sun is shining..

Great Blue Heron

there is a Great Blue Heron…it had been no where in sight when we’d walked over…

Male Green Wing Teal

a bit further along, still in the sunshine…is a male Green Wing Teal…there were Mallard, Gadwall and a couple of Common Merganser in this area as well…within seconds of taking this picture…it was snowing again!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Well they warned us!

Sometimes snowfall warnings just sort of fizzle out and don’t amount to anything…not so this time.

Snowy February 27th

The snow arrived right on schedule and in the predicted amounts..


I actually got out for a walk a littler earlier than normal…which is a good thing because the temperature has now warmed up to 0 and we are getting a mix of rain and snow.  Right where we are looking there were a number of Dark Eyed Junco and Song Sparrows…

Dark Eyed Junco

Didn’t manage to capture the Song Sparrows, but here is a Dark Eyed Junco….

More Dark Eyed Junco

In fact Dark Eyed Junco were sort of the theme for the day as there were  quite a few of them over in the area of the log bay….

Junco's bathing

look very closely and you will see they are bathing!

The log bay

That pair of Belted Kingfisher were flying around and there were the usual assortment of ducks out in the water.

Red-wing calling

a number of Red-wing Blackbirds were spread about, undeterred by the winter weather, they were doing their territorial calling…

Snowy expanse

Back in the first bay,

Trio of Hoodies

there was this trio of Hooded Merganser…the male to the left with two females in the water.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snow Warnings and Sapsuckers…

With the temperature still down below freezing, we now have a snow warning in effect…


and as you can see…it has started…just how much we’ll end up with, time will tell!


Despite, or perhaps because of the snow there was more bird activity than we’ve seen for a few days…

Assorted ducks

among the assorted ducks were Green Wing Teal, an American Wigeon (right at the bottom), some Mallard and a couple of female Common Merganser that didn’t make it into the picture.  Also in this area, a couple of Northern Flicker, that Belted Kingfisher and the flock of Red-wing Blackbirds.

Eagle Pair

as we started our walk, we had noticed one adult Bald Eagle in the tree by the viewing platform….it was being very vocal for no apparent reason, until it was joined by a second bird…

Eagle pair

From their vocalization and the fact that they perched in such close proximity, I’m guessing that they are a breeding pair….wouldn’t it be wonderful if they would consider building a nest in this tree!  an unlikely scenario I guess, but we can always hope.

The most exciting find of the day was the spotting of a Red-breasted Sapsucker!!

another look

I didn’t have a camera with me when I spotted it, so am using this file photo which also shows the feeding holes that I mentioned a few posts ago.  The Sapsucker drills these ‘well’s’ which fill with sap, then feeds, not only on the sap, but on the insects that are attracted to the sap.  These wells and the sap and the insects they collect, are also a crucial source of food for the Rufous Hummingbirds when they return – which as hard as it is to believe on a day like today, they will be doing in about 3 weeks time!


Sometimes these birds are mistakenly called ‘Red headed Woodpecker’ – there is such a species, but they are only found in the eastern part of the U.S.A. while the Red-breasted Sapsucker is only found here on the extreme western edge of the continent.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Colder….but warmer

The reading on the thermometer is even lower today than yesterday, climbing to minus 5 after a low of minus 9 over night….but the intensity of the wind has decreased, so it actually feels warmer than it did yesterday.

first bay

there were no birds in this area, or anywhere along the trail…

log bay

but over here there were a number of Green Wing Teal, a few Mallard, a Belted Kingfisher and even a few Red-wing Blackbirds although most of them remain up in the residential areas.  The pair of Raven were active as well, in fact spent most of their time chasing a juvenile Bald Eagle – the only eagle seen today.

To show that this weather isn’t that unusual for the time of year, I went back through some of my file photos…

The log bay March 1, 2007

This is how the log bay appeared on March 1st, 2007…

the log bay

and February 26th, 2009…then, just to give us hope, despite this weather ‘hiccup’…

Sign of Spring - Feb.25'11

I also saw an American Robin today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brutal winds!

If you are indoors today, looking out, it is a beautiful sunny day….check the thermometer though and the temperature hasn’t budged above –4 c

Drifted snow

venture outside, especially anywhere exposed to the strong outflow winds and it is absolutely brutal! 

Feb24'11 004

just since yesterday the areas of open water have frozen over with only a few open spots…notice the snow blowing across the surface of the ice.

windblown path

Weather like this really isn’t that unusual for the estuary, we usually get at least one session of, for this area at least, extreme cold each winter…it is just a little later this time around.

barren wasteland

The area can be a pretty barren looking waste land at such times.  There were a few ducks sheltering in both areas…


I didn’t attempt going anywhere closer for a clearer picture, as the last thing they need right now is to burn up much needed energy because of human interference.

blowing snow

heading home I attempted to get pictures of the blowing snow….didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.

Like yesterday, all the smaller birds, including that big flock of Red-wing Blackbirds, are concentrated up in the residential areas around bird feeders.  I’ve just distributed the 2nd ice cream bucket full of seed for the day! 

And speaking of hunger…if you follow this blog you know I have been mentioning how the Bald Eagles that remain in the area (didn’t see any today) are hungry – well if you have watched the local TV news the last little while, or read today’s Globe and Mail, you will see that this is a wide spread problem.  Wildlife facilities are getting birds in that are so hungry they are literally dropping from the sky.  The problem is particularly intense on the east coast of Vancouver Island.  Bald Eagles gather there this time of the year, in preparation for feeding on the Herring run in early March – let us hope the Herring run is on time and in better shape than the almost non-existent Chum Salmon run was!  Bird’s, of course, require large amounts of energy just to stay warm in these sub-zero temperatures so many, if they can not find anything to eat,  may not make it until then.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Well it took a while to get here, but it appears it is now winter.

Feb.23, 2011

more snow last night and temperatures staying down below the freezing mark, not to mention the fairly strong outflow winds…


it was down right bitter out there today.  A few ducks, 1 Bald Eagle and some Kinglets in the bushes….that was it…   If my yard is any indication all the others are up in the residential areas clustered around bird feeders…

Varied Thrush

These pictures are taken through a not very clean, double pane window…there are Varied Thrush every where you look…


almost as many Spotted Towhee…..

Steller's Jay

Steller’s Jay….Song Sparrows, masses of Red-wing Blackbirds, Starlings, Junco and even an elusive Fox Sparrow… pretty much rounds out the species seen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunshine and snow….

Yesterday’s snowfall resulted in several inches of the white stuff…

Snowy morning

so we woke to a ‘winter wonderland’….

Ducks and Heron

mid-day there were a lot of ducks in this area – Gadwall, Mallard and Green-wing Teal…and look – a Great Blue Heron!  first one I’ve seen down here for quite some time!


worth a second look!  on our way back a pair of Bald Eagles flew over and this heron and all the ducks, took off in every direction!  Eagles are hungry and hunting.

Footprints in the snow

Coyote tracks in the snow….it is always interesting to see what critters are ‘out and about’ during the night. 

Broken branches

Apart from the Red-wing Blackbirds calling from a tree top, there wasn’t a bird in sight at the log bay – well one Bald Eagle – which is probably the reason for nobody else being around.  What is becoming concerning is the number of large branches that have broken out of these willows over the past few months.  It is hoped this is a natural occurrence (that will be something for park staff to investigate)…these willows provide roosting and shelter for all kinds of birds, they are also a source of ‘sap’ for Red-breasted Sapsuckers.  To get at the sap, Sapsuckers make a series of ‘well’s’, over time bacteria get into these holes and rot sets in so that eventually anything like a strong wind or a heavy snow fall can cause the branch to snap at the infected site.

The only other event of note was a flock of Bushtit busy in the bushes….too busy to pose for photographs!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Well one thing I hadn’t figured on for the last day of the Backyard Bird Count – was snow!


but snow we have!


Yesterday, what with one thing and another, I didn’t get for a walk until late in the afternoon…not the most opportune time for seeing birds…I did manage to pick up 5 of the elusive species though…the Herring Gull, a Fox Sparrow, a Northern Harrier, a couple of Killdeer and a Pacific (Winter) Wren.

Snowy log bay

With today’s unexpected snowfall…the species seen were almost non-existent.

Snowy trail

Not a great ending to an eagerly anticipated event!