Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coyote and rising water

The month of March is going out, much like it came in…wild, windy and wet!!

rising water

so the first thing we noticed today was the rising water level! 

log bay

not making a lot of difference here by the shore yet….

wet flats

but definitely making a difference out on the flats!  It was while I was looking in this direction I spotted…


a coyote trotting along.  We know, from footprints, scat left behind and from hearing them howling…that there are a lot of coyote in the area…we just don’t often get to see them, especially during day light hours.


This one must have realized we were there and I lost sight of it soon after taking this picture.  There had not been one single water fowl anywhere, in fact apart from some Steller’s Jay and a few Robins there were no birds.

from the viewing platform

back at the viewing platform I took this picture to compare with the one I took a few days ago…a lot of the ‘flats’ are now under water down there at the far end.  This area of riparian habitat, when you just stood and listened was full of little birds…



Ruby crowned Kinglet

Ruby Crowned Kinglet (and some Gold Crowned – no picture).

Black Capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee….suddenly a Jay flew over crying its alarm cry – and every bird disappeared from sight.

first bay

I could hear Killdeer out there somewhere….and a Wilson’s Snipe flew from this spot.  This rising water is actually good timing for us bird watchers.  April is the month when shorebirds will be migrating through…with less dry space out there, it will force them closer to shorelines where we will stand more of a chance of seeing them.

looking at the bay

one last picture of the rising water in the first bay.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Short and wet

After a couple of weeks of quite pleasant weather it is a bit of a shock to be back to rain!

Wet day

at least it had let up considerably by the time we got out for our walk today, …the area we walk is not private and although I try to go at a time when I am most likely to have it to myself, that is not always the case…today, as we approached the log bay we encountered a leashed dog that lacked a bit in socialization.   Having had more years experience handling dogs than I care to mention, I know I can cope with my own dogs’ ‘bring it on’ attitude, but the young person with this dog didn’t seem to have the same skills, so felt the only prudent thing to do was a quick about face, cutting our usual walk short.

Greening up

Notice how green everything is getting though…this rain will really speed up that process.  Of course the greener it gets the harder it gets to spot (and photograph) the birds ~ all those leaves get in the way!

The one thing I did see today was a Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

This file photo of a Ruby Crowned Kinglet was taken in the area on April 7, 2006…

April 23, 2007

and this one the same year but on the 23rd of April…as you can see, unlike the Gold Crowned Kinglet where the ‘gold crown’ is always visible…the ‘ruby’ crown is only shown when a bird is extremely agitated or defending it’s territory…

showing the 'ruby'

this picture taken in Manning Park a few years ago shows the ‘ruby’ crown.  Another difference is that Gold Crowned Kinglets are always found in flocks, sometimes  mixed with other species.  Ruby Crowned tend to be seen more as individuals. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bath day

Bathing seemed to be the theme for the day! 

Dark Eyed Junco

at the bay by the viewing platform it was the Dark Eyed Juncos and are there ever a lot around right now…typical for the time of year.  Nothing says spring quite like bickering Dark Eyed Juncos!

Bath day

At the log bay it was Robins and Red Wing Blackbirds…

Female Brewer's Blackbird

there was a female Brewer’s Blackbird over to one side.  No sign of the Goose pair today, maybe they were laying down in the grass…there were some Mallards and Green Wing Teal, all very relaxed and going about their business.  Also saw 3 little female Bufflehead today, hadn’t seen any of them for a while.

Bath central

It is getting to the time of year to start paying attention to water levels.  As you can tell they are very, very low.  Last night’s news cast was the first mention of the possibility of this being a flood year.  It all depends, of course on how quickly weather warms up and the snows melt, there is a much higher snow pack than average and the forecast for the next couple of months is cooler than usual  which will mean that not only will the snows not start to melt…they will still be accumulating…  This is a good time to mention that just as things start to get interesting – water level wise – I’ll be deserting the Estuary and this blog for 6 weeks or so as I follow the Trumpeter Swans north!

Back to the here and now…


This was the view from the viewing platform today…I think the smoke is coming from the area of the new, privately owned R.V. park and campground.  I know smoke bothers some people, I’m not one of them…I love the smell of wood smoke.

Song Sparrow

Where birds weren’t bathing, they were calling and singing…lots of Song Sparrows like this guy, Spotted Towhee and numerous Steller’s Jay.

Juvenile Red Tail Hawk

Perched in the ‘eagle tree’ by the viewing platform was this Hawk…I’m not great at identifying raptors but although I had hoped it was something more exciting, I think it is a first year Red Tail Hawk.

Salmon Berry flowers

What makes up the habitat is just as important as the birds – you don’t get the later without the former….so that is why I will be paying particular attention to the various trees and shrubs as the spring progress’s…today the Salmon Berries were really starting to flower….we should see Hummingbirds down here soon!

Black Twin Berry buds

I also noticed that the Black Twin Berries were in bud…this shrub is one of the first to leaf out…Cedar Wax Wings particularly love the berries this shrub produces.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just a pleasant day…

Today was just a pleasant day, not exceptional in any way…

Greening willows

although it looks very dark and gray…we have actually had periods of sunshine as well…notice the ‘green’ tinge to the branches…

Green Wing Teal and Mallard

There were quite a few Green Wing Teal and a few Mallards in this area…the only ducks I saw today.

First bay

at the bay by the viewing platform…

Great Blue Heron

there was a Great Blue Heron perched on the piling…the first heron I’ve seen down here for a while.  There were also six Tree Swallows flying around this piling.

female Red- wing blackbird

and Red Wing Blackbirds in the bushes…this one being a female although there was a male close by.  Red Wing Blackbirds nest in this riparian habitat…not so low down as to be under water when the water levels rise but not so high as to be visible to predators either.  Again, see how the branches are leafing out.  There was a fairly stiff breeze blowing, hence the ‘hair do’.

log bay

over at the log bay it was very quiet…there were a few Steller’s Jay and

American Robin

American Robins in the area…

Goose pair

and the Canada Goose pair were back in their favorite spot.

I noticed on my way back that….

Salmon Berry flowers

the flowers on the Salmon Berry bushes were almost out.  Another day or so should do it.  This native shrub plays an important role…the flowers will provide a source of feed for the newly arrived Hummingbirds as well as bees…then, since they flower so early, they also fruit early and feed the fruit eaters, Robins, but also species like Cedar Waxwings and Western Tanagers…..and of course, Black Bears.

I haven’t yet seen or heard a Hummingbird on my walks, but I have had a female Rufous Hummingbird coming to my feeder for the past 4 days so they are in the area…numbers will no doubt increase shortly.

What I did see yesterday was…


a Band Tailed Pigeon!  The above file photo was taken on April 10, 2007, in fact the earliest previous record I could find of a first sighting was on April 1st…  Band Tailed Pigeon are the western cousin of the now extinct Carrier Pigeon and almost met the same fate.  Fortunately their numbers have rebounded and they are regular seasonal visitors to this area.  They will most likely be with us for the next 4 to 6 weeks, until the snow melts sufficiently for them to move up into the mountains where they nest.  If you live in the area and want to take on the task of feeding them…they will come to feeders as long as it is a flat ‘platform’ type feeder – just be warned…they are the size of a small chicken and can really go through the bird seed!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Depressing day

If it was April, we’d say we were having ‘April Showers’…since it is still March, I guess they are just showers…

The day started off dry…and first I noticed..

Swans heading north

these Trumpeter Swans….heading north…

Geese heading north

next came a flock of Canada Geese in the typical ‘V’ formation…also headed north…


by mid day the showers had begun…the Canada Goose pair were hanging about down at this end as were a large number of ducks…

Mallards on the shore

there are 3 Mallard pairs here, but there were also quite a few Green wing Teal and a pair of Hooded Merganser


walking along the trail was quite enjoyable as there were a number of Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrows, Junco, Robins and Bush Tits all going about their business….

showery day

at the log bay….

Red-wing Blackbird

this Red-wing Blackbird was putting on quite the territorial display….unfortunately it all came to a very depressing conclusion when someone with what looked like a pair of dogs came into sight, walking along the foreshore with the dog or dogs running loose all over the place.  That explained why the Goose pair and all the ducks were way up the far end!   This is a protected area!  You are not supposed to be walking along the foreshore and you most certainly are not supposed to be letting your dogs run loose in the riparian habitat!

Before ending a couple of items….yesterday I showed a picture of the Chipmunks that are around again…

Douglas Squirrel

Today I managed to capture a native Douglas Squirrel…not the clearest picture as the lighting was rather dark…


and then I wanted to share this with you.  This is a Dark-eyed Junco that was in my yard today, there are quite a few Junco around right now and will be more for the next month or so.  Notice the ‘white’ on the top of this birds head.  Markings like this are called ‘leucistic’. The term ‘leucistic’ means lack of pigment and takes two forms…a completely leucistic bird will lack pigment or be paler than normal over the entire body.  They aren’t ‘albino’ as they will have some pigment and their eyes will be normal colored…an albino is pure white with a pink eye.  This guy is a ‘piebald’ leucisitic because he just has spots of white in other wise normal colored plumage. Leucistism in birds is rare, but if there is a species where it could be classified as being more common – it is the Dark eyed Junco.  Every year when they are migrating through a few of these what I like to call ‘oddballs’ show up.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hummingbird!!! dandelions and bees

Ok, so I’m cheating just the tiniest bit – I haven’t actually seen or heard a Hummingbird yet, but a neighbour came running out to tell me that he’d just had one at his feeder…this while we were returning from our walk – so I figure close enough!

Another nice day…again quite breezy…

log bay

It look’s deserted here but there were actually 8 or 10 Tree Swallows flying about, close to 50 Green Wing Teal all paddling around at the edge of the far shore…and

Mallard in log bay

right in the log bay…

Pair of Mallard

this pair of Mallard, who, as long as we were calm and quiet, were perfectly content paddling about in the shallows.

cloud moving in

looking towards the south you can see a change in the weather moving in…


and that pair of Canada Geese were back in the same spot…obviously thinking about nesting here.

I spotted the first Purple Finch of the season today as well…but didn’t manage a picture…

Dandelion flower

another ‘first’ for the day was this Dandelion flower…now I know to most people Dandelions are weeds and thought of as an annoyance at best, but they actually play a very important role in a healthy habitat…being an early source of food for the seed eaters like sparrows and finches.


We mustn’t forget our furry residents either….Chipmunks, like this guy have been showing up for the past couple of weeks, although I must admit I have never seen a chipmunk in the park area – they seem to prefer the residential areas…as do the Gray (Black) Squirrels that now seem firmly entrenched, and the smaller, native, Douglas Squirrels.

Bumblebees and Honey bees

One final note is that yesterday was the first day when I’d really seen any number of bees…both the wild ‘Bumble’ bees (1 on left) and the very important to our food supply,  ‘Honey’ Bees (3 in picture).  Of course they are on flowering heather which is not a native plant and not growing in the estuary…but they will move to include native plants as they start to flower.