Monday, April 30, 2012

Very wet end to the month of April

Water is definitely the topic of discussion for the end of April!  It is falling from the sky in torrents, which is why we didn’t venture over to the park for a month end wrap up….

Wet end of the month

We did make it down to the boat launch…where water levels have crept half way up the little hill to the higher part of the path, which means the leading edge of the water is almost to the base of the white marker post.  Historically, we reach peak water about the 2nd week in June so it will be very interesting to see what happens this year.  Last year high water peaked in early July but last year was a relatively low water year.  Still no flood advisory for the area.

Little fishes

I actually took this picture yesterday, but if you look closely you’ll see all sorts of little fishes swimming over the path we were walking on a couple of days before.

So a month end wrap up for birds – let’s see, there are lots of Steller’s Jay around, more than usual, most of the Robins appear to be nesting now, still a lot of White-crowned Sparrows but seems to be less of the Gold-crowned the last few days.  There are Rufous Hummingbirds, but sure not in the numbers we’ve seen in previous years (excluding last year when the numbers were low also), the Brown-headed Cowbirds are back, still lot’s of Purple Finch and some House Finch, Gold Finch too.  Towhee’s, Song Sparrows and Dark Eyed Junco not seen as frequently as they are most likely nesting now too.  Chickadee’s, both Black-capped and Chestnut backed seen and heard infrequently – they seem to still be searching for nesting sites.  The Osprey are back – yesterday I say a Bald Eagle chasing an Osprey and there is a pair nesting on a piling within view of the Harrison River bridge on highway 7.  A couple of times recently I’ve seen a Peregrine Falcon flying about, I don’t know if that means there is a pair nesting near by or not.  The Raven have been very vocal lately and I’ve seen a few more crows as well.  All the Swallow species are back with the exception of the Barn Swallows, they should show up soon, as should the Black-headed Grosbeak and the Bullock’s Oriole.  I think I’ve been hearing a Western Tanager, but I haven’t seen one yet. Some Warblers have been seen but not in any great numbers yet.  No shore now for shorebirds, but that won’t deter the Spotted Sandpipers – they should be back soon too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mourning Dove

OK, before I get into today, I have to point out that the little ‘frog’ that was in yesterday’s posting has been identified not as a ‘frog’ but a Toad.  It is a juvenile Western Toad.

rain up the valley

Today wasn’t a bad day but there were lots of big black clouds around that every once and a while decided to ‘drop their load’ – so we didn’t venture over to the park…just to the boat launch that is getting fuller and fuller – saw a couple of those Goldeneye ducks but that was about it.

Robin in the grass 

This American Robin was down in the grass – since I haven’t posted a robin picture for a while, thought I’d toss it in…

White-crowned Sparrow

most of the activity has been closer to home where the White-crowned Sparrows continue in large numbers (10 or 12 at a time – hard to tell as they tend to dive into the cedar hedges)

Gold Crowned Sparrow

The Gold-crowned Sparrows continue as well ….I’m hoping we might see their rarer cousin – at least on this side of the Rockies – the White-throated Sparrow – usually one manages to show up during migration, but not so far.

Dark-eyed Junco

There are Dark-eyed Junco still here as well, although not in the numbers there were.  Some will stay and nest in the area…most likely those are the ones we are seeing now.

Mourning Dove

Most exciting find of the day was this Mourning Dove!  Went to walk out the back and a dove suddenly flew up from the other side of my gate…knew it wasn’t one of the Band-tail Pigeons as they ‘explode’ more than fly…

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove aren’t all that common here, although it seems they are showing up more regularly the past few years – maybe, with luck one of those Eurasian Collared Doves will show up as well – one was over at Eagle Point last year but I don’t know of one in our complex yet – I know I am still waiting to get my first picture of one.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Odd’s ‘n sod’s ‘n frogs……

Well we made it over to the park today between showers….

Full log Bay

Look at the log bay!!! 

looking across the bay

and again from this angle…

and that way

and looking south – I expect where I am standing will be under water by tomorrow.

a bunch of Goldeneyes

a flock of Goldeneyes came out from the edge of the water – I think there were some of both kinds, Common and Barrow’s…

Not far from the bench

Might as well show the bench in relation to the water because it isn’t going to be high and dry for much longer – not at the rate the water is rising!

Hairy Woodpecker

a Male Hairy Woodpecker was busy on one of the rotting pilings – there were Swallows all over, in fact this morning, returning from a trip to Chilliwack, there were literally clouds of Swallows flying near the bridge over the Harrison River.

Goldfinches were singing and I spotted a very yellow little bird – probably, given the time of year and size, a Wilson’s Warbler but didn’t get a good enough look for a positive ID.

Pine Sisken gathering nesting material

This Pine Sisken was gathering nesting material – looks like it could be my dogs fur – she is distributing enough of it right now!

looking back in my direction

Here we are looking back over where the path we used to walk is – somewhere under all that water…

The first bay

and here is the first bay….won’t be able to stand on this side of it much longer either…today while we stood there my dog spotted something at the edge of the water…

Tiny Frog

a tiny little Frog!  It was only an inch or so long (sorry, that is about 3-4 cm)  I’ve sent pictures to a couple of fellow nature lovers to see if they can ID it.


there is another look at the tiny little guy…

White-crowned Sparrow in Rhodo

Back home the White-crowned Sparrows remain….this one posed prettily on my Rhododendron bush…

Two Gold-crowned

and the Golden Crowned Sparrows….here two of them at a feeder…

Gold-crowned Sparrow eating dandelion leaves

and this one was buy munching on the leaves of a dandelion – didn’t know they ate the leaves….I knew dandelions were a very important food source for birds and that the black bears rely on the leaves and flowers, but I didn’t know that birds ate the leaves as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gold-crowns galore!

Another wet day, so again, no trek over to the park….

Boat launch

water levels continue their advancing up the boat launch…

wet walk

the lower path is filling in – no more looking over to the area of the park…

that way

and you can’t really even make out Morris Valley Road anymore…

Yesterday, my daughter who lives near Parksville on Vancouver Island, had said they were over run with White-crowned and Gold-crowned Sparrows…

Gold-crowned Sparrow

Well this afternoon the same thing could be said of around here…in fact I’ve never seen so many Gold-crowned Sparrows at one time as I did today…

Gold Crowned

Hopefully they will stick around for a few days and the rain will let up so I can try for some decent pictures – these were taken through my double paned windows.  Noticed a real increase in the number of Brown Headed Cowbirds today, and there have been large numbers of Purple Finches at the feeders the last few days….also seems to be a lot of Steller’s Jay – I counted over 40 of them flying overhead this morning as I walked a very short distance.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Water, water everywhere!

I had hoped to trek over to the park today, but the weather had other ideas, it has been pouring since the wee hours of the morning…

Boat launch

We did venture out for a short, wet walk….here is our boat launch area – if you’ve followed this blog for a few years you’ll know that the white pole there is a high water marker.  The last real ‘flood’ year was 1997 when the water came to almost the top of that pole…in both 2007 and 2009 it came very close to that mark….we’ll see what this year brings.

wet day

Definitely creeping up…

That way

this might be the last time that we’ll be able to see back across the grasslands towards the park – unless, of course, we are in the canoe!

looking at Morris Valley Road

and there is looking towards Morris Valley Road.  The spot where I stood to take the picture posted yesterday is now under 4 or 5 inches of water!  Not a lot in the way of birds around today, I think they are all hiding from the rain.  There was a pair of Geese that flew by and some Red-wing Blackbirds in the bushes and the Robins were singing what my late mother used to call their ‘rain song’ – but that was about it.  I should mention that the Brown Headed Cowbirds have been back the last few days…keep forgetting about them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Band Tail Pigeons

Finding things to post on this blog is becoming more of a challenge…

April 23, 2012

now that our path to the park is blocked by the steadily rising water.  We will still venture over there on occasion, but it isn’t nearly as easy, or as enjoyable to access now.

Morris Valley Road over there

One wonders just how long we’ll even be able to stand at this point – that is Morris Valley Road over there at the edge of the water…

White-crowned Sparrow

but we will continue to photograph and post what we can – here a White-crowned Sparrow down at our boat launch – that in a day or so will definitely be capable of being a ‘boat launch’ again!

Female Red Wing gathering nesting material

Saw a female Red-wing Blackbird gathering nesting material – they always worry me – they are busy building nests down in the Hardhack bushes…I always worry that the water will rise to the point of flooding their nests – but I guess the birds know what they are doing.  It isn’t like Red-wings are an endangered species or anything!

Band-tail Pigeon

speaking of endangered species….the first Band Tail Pigeons of the season have shown up – had two at the feeders today.  These pigeons are the western cousin of the extinct Passenger Pigeon and came close to meeting the same fate….fortunately their population has bounced back.  They will be with us for the next 4 to 6 weeks before moving up into the mountains for the breeding season.

Pacific Bleeding Heart

a couple of flower pictures – this is Pacific Bleeding Heart – a wild flower native to the pacific coast.  I actually had to buy this plant at a garden center because every time these and other wildflowers try to take hold around here, some one whacks them off with a weed whacker!!!

What is it?

and this has me completely stumped!  Two patches of this flower have appeared in areas of lawn in the complex where I live.  I have never seen this plant/flower before.  I have checked wildflower books and I can’t find it and having been in the nursery trade prior to retiring I am quite familiar with most cultivated garden plants…and I don’t ever recall seeing this plant.  If anyone knows what it is, please let me know. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Oh my!

Today we went for what is most likely our last walk across the grasslands for a long, long time!

rising water

yesterday I was standing on the nice dry path to take this picture…

Path under water

Today, that path is under water.  Water levels must have risen by almost a foot in the last 24 hours.  If you consider the vast expanse now covered, that is a LOT of water!  No wonder they were warning, on the news last night, of the potential for this to be a major flood year.

Log bay, second log half submerged

Over at the log bay the bottom log is completely submerged and the second one is at least half way….I couldn’t really recall the water being this high this time of the year before, but when I checked back it was this high on April 20th in 2007 and again in 2009, both of which were high water years, and if I recall in 2007 there was some flooding.  Of course what happens all depends on how much snow there is in the Fraser River water shed (150% of normal this year), and how fast it all melts.

Male Brewer's Blackbird

Bird wise, the Brewer’s Blackbirds are firmly entrenched at the log bay now…above a male…

Female Brewers Blackbird

and today a female calling from in the bushes.

Pair of Canada Geese

there are a few Canada Goose pairs around, like this pair that I took a picture of yesterday, and for interest sake, that log was completely submerged today.  There have also been some Common Merganser and Mallards


and yesterday, that Swan was still out there.  I think it was there today too, but even further out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Showers!

More like April down pours!!!  Our walk was cut short today, or at least came to an abrupt end as the skies opened!

Geese in the log bay

there were 3 Canada Geese in the log bay – and see how the lowest log is now almost completely submerged – the water is still rising!I’ve been expecting Brewer’s Blackbirds to show up here as they have been here the last couple of years, and sure enough, today, just as the skies opened – I spotted a pair at the edge of the water but by then the camera was put away to keep it dry. A Northern Flicker was busy working on one of the pilings…..and there was a large flock of Black Cap Chickadees busy in the area of the cedar grove where we’d taken shelter for a bit in hopes the rain would stop.


I could see something white way out there on the water so just took one of those ‘hope for the best’ shots – it is obviously a swan but can’t see enough of it to see what kind….I’m thinking from the back shape possibly a Tundra and I’m wondering if it might be that lone one that was around a few months ago….most of the swans headed north several weeks ago, in fact the Swan Festival at Marsh Lake in Yukon is in full swing now.


This is just a test to see if it uploads as I’m having trouble posting to the blog tonight.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Today started out quite lovely….

rising water at this end

had the opportunity to head out for a morning ‘dog less’ walk – the water levels are now creeping up in our boat launch area…

Mergansers and Goldeneye

Most notable this morning was a large flock of mainly Common Mergansers, but with some Common Goldeneye mixed in

Flying Common Mergansers

there had to be at least 50 birds in the group…

bottom log in the water

at the log bay, that lower log is now partially submerged…and just for interest’s sake…

log bay

here is the same area at the same time of the year, last year – so it is obvious the water is rising a lot earlier than it did last year!

Female Red-wing

back to today, still lots of female Red-wing Blackbirds

Male Rufous

a number of Rufous Hummingbirds along the trail today.

Male Goldfinch

American Goldfinch too…

Turkey Vulture

not a great picture – but one of the first Turkey Vultures seen this season..

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs

most notable for the day though were these shorebirds that flew in and landed just across from us during our afternoon walk….

Greater and Lessers

They were being very vocal and very busy…in fact it was almost a feeding frenzy.  I’ve studied and studied these pictures and as far as I can tell there are 3 Greater Yellowlegs (the 3 bigger birds) and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. 

Feeding Yellowlegs

I find it strange to see the two species together, but I guess during migration, anything can happen!