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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Fall is coming

 Well my goodness, I knew it had been awhile, but hadn't realized I hadn't posted anything since the end of April, and now here it is, the end of August!

It was quite the summer with heat waves, and heat domes and wildfires (although thankfully none here at the estuary) and I think we are all looking forward to fall.


So let's set the scene with this photo taken this morning and the first thing to be noticed is just how lush and green the estuary is. Water level dropped earlier than normal which has allowed the grasses to really flourish, along with the Pacific Water Parsley that has never been quite this showy before. 

Off in the distance there, are the martin boxes that were put there in the spring and pleased to say....



the Purple Martins were a great success story once again with pretty much every nesting box occupied.  Even at this late date there is one family still here although every time I see them, I expect it to be the last.

One thing that seems different this year is a sort of 'all of nothing' approach.....for example, Barn Swallows.....definitely an 'all' don't ever recall seeing so many Barn Swallows, especially young ones, as we've had this month...


like this little selection....



or these little guys.  There has also been large numbers of American Goldfinch.  Not so many Red-wing Blackbirds, but for a few days we had a large flock of Brewer's Blackbirds, which is most unusual, and even some Rusty Blackbirds....



As for the water.....well the Pied Bill Grebes had a successful year, 


also the Common Mergansers...   

and it isn't just birds.....the other day we watched a family of....


River Otters cruising along the shoreline, and then yesterday evening....


there were a pair of male Elk out on the estuary.  If you recall, it was this time last year when, for the first time ever, we had a small herd of Elk show up at the estuary....so it appears they are back.

Migration is now underway, we've seen a few shorebirds, and there are mixed flocks of Warblers moving through.  Time to get 'back in gear!'.




Friday, April 30, 2021

April wrap up

 Last day of April.....so lets wrap up the month....


Cooler, more seasonal temperatures has slowed the rise of the water, in fact it has even receded slightly.


We have an exciting new addition to the estuary!  New nesting boxes for the Purple Martins.  One of the 3 sets that have been in place for a number of years was lost last winter, these two sets have been erected to replace those lost and to increase the number of nesting sites available. Purple Martin should be showing up anytime now.


We are still waiting for a lot of our summer visitors to arrive....the American Goldfinch are increasing in numbers, you'll notice this guy isn't quite molted into his summer, breeding plumage yet.


this Common Loon, seen on the river the other day, is still in it's winter plumage as well.


Numbers of White-crowned Sparrows are increasing so they are seen pretty much daily now...


and Savannah Sparrow are set up and seen regularly in one particular spot as well.


Some Robin's are already feeding their first brood of the season!

Brown-headed Cowbirds, perhaps are least welcome summer visitors, showed up yesterday.  Also, Sandhill Cranes were heard in the area yesterday, perhaps just flying over although they have been known to stop at the estuary if conditions are right. Haven't had any luck spotting them, nor have I heard them again.

Meanwhile it is getting very pretty as 

the native flowering trees, are coming into full flower.


the Black Hawthorne which will produce black fruits to feed birds later in the season,


and Pacific Crab Apple, whose fruit will hang on well into the winter, that is if migrating birds don't clean it all up in early fall.



Saturday, April 24, 2021

The water is back

 Here we are, the 24th of April, and after a stretch of sunny and unseasonably warm weather, we are into our 'summertime' mode here at the estuary.  Lets back up a bit, because no matter how many times you watch this happen, it is always amazing at just how quickly things change!


So here we are on the 18th of April (just 6 days ago), the water had risen slightly at the log bay but still lots of dry areas....


this Greater Yellowlegs Sandpiper was down there in the bay that morning.


and 'out there' gravel bars were still visible, almost as far as the eye can see.


back up our way, the first bay was filling in a little bit


and by evening someone had erected, in preparation, a 10 foot pole on a level area of the Wildlife Management property at the base of our boat launch.


by evening on the 19th....the water was spilling across the grasslands, covering up the lower path to the park....


and check out the log bay....this is the morning of the 19th...24 hours later than the photo that starts this post.


Evening of the 19th....note the foreground log, still well above the water and two logs still showing of the other section....


by the morning of the 20th, the path was well and truly underwater


Compare this, to the evening of the 19th...


and here is the log bay again...


that particular morning, one of the Tree Swallows actually perched long enough for a photo1

and what is happening over at Harrison Bay?


well, much the same.  Everything is leafed out and very green....


the beach is rapidly disappearing...


Osprey are back and busy nest building...


White-crowned Sparrows are back....have also heard Common Yellowthroat but haven't spotted one yet.


back at home, by the morning of the 21st (2 days ago) the base of the marker post was in water...


the water was even deeper at the log bay....


and by evening, on what would be our last walk across to the park, the log in the foreground was now sitting in the water and only part of the top log was still visible in the other section.


this was the boat launch yesterday morning.  I haven't taken a picture yet today, but it is even higher, although, with the cooler temperatures does appear to have slowed somewhat.  Mind you we have a week of on and off rain in the forecast so that will off set the cooler temperature.

In all this we have had a few more interesting sightings....


Savannah Sparrow over at Harrison Bay....


and Lincoln's Sparrow...this in my yard.

The most exciting sighting, and I missed it, but have seen pictures, was a group of 5 American White Pelican settling down briefly out in the estuary area, while enroute to their nesting site in the Chilcotin.

What we aren't seeing much of are Rufous Hummingbirds, in fact there are so few it is alarming!


Sunday, April 11, 2021

A couple of 'Firsts of the Season'

 Despite the fact that the weather has been much colder than normal for the time of year (we even had some light snow flurries again yesterday) spring is progressing....


this was yesterday morning over at the log bay.  You can see how low the water levels are.  I think this time last year people were kayaking already!

there were 3 Goldfinch, 2 males like this guy, and a female.  The first ones we've seen this spring.

Mid-day, wandered over again and was treated by seeing,


this, a Townsend's Solitaire.  We only see these grey, robin sized birds during migration in spring and sometimes again in the fall.

This morning we we headed out for our walk, either the same, or another one was at the first bay.....


and was able to get a better picture.

On the one dry day last week, we went to East Sector Park near Harrison to see how the plants were progressing....


the Trillium were in full flower......


while the Bleeding Hearts were just starting to flower.


and the False lily of the Valley are beginning to carpet the forest floor.

We haven't made it to Kilby for a few days, but with a week of sunshine and warmer temperatures promised, hopefully we will make it soon.


Monday, April 5, 2021

Beautiful Day

 Today, the 5th day of April, was a beautiful day.  Not only was the sun shining, but the wind, which has been cold and persistent, was down to just a mild breeze.


and as you can see, things are turning green rapidly!


Flowers are starting to show up too....this plum tree, in a different section of the dike is almost finished (photo taken a few days ago)

While...


some, like the Mountain Ash are in early stages and others barely begun.

The bird species are slowly increasing....


yesterday  evening there were 3 Greater Yellowlegs at the log bay and today had a brief glimpse of a White-crowned Sparrow, but we are still waiting for a positive sighting of a Rufous Hummingbird or a Yellow-rump Warbler.


there are quite a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets around though, which would be considered normal for the time of year.


this morning we spotted a Northern Harrier....hadn't seen one in the area for a while, unfortunately, it was eating a robin.....with the water levels about as low as they ever get, you'd think that it could find a mouse or something!

By the way....speaking of the flats and low water levels....

we finally have our official Wildlife Management Area signs!