Casual Birding outing #101
We had to gather at Petra’s without Tom to lead us, since he had a medical appointment. However, he promised to meet up with us at Brunswick Point so two car loads (Roger, Kay, Lorna, Terry, Val, Rochelle, Don and me) set off west. We scouted the Barn Owl barns on 28th Ave but no birds were seen. These barns are due to be demolished; I don’t know where the owls will nest next time. A Red-tailed Hawk on the wire, singing Common Yellowthroats, and numerous swallows were along the road. Just before the parking spot at Brunswick Point, Kay spotted an American Kestrel near one of the farms; it was later joined by another one – clearly the pair that has successfully nested in this location as reported by Tall Rick this week. A Bald Eagle surveyed us, unconcerned, from the top of a Douglas-fir; American Goldfinches were flitting around and singing their nice jangly song as we unloaded from the cars at Brunswick Point. The tide was way out so flocks of Canada Geese , Mallard and potentially all sorts of interesting shorebirds were way in the distance. Cedar Waxwings, Black-capped Chickadees, Goldfinches and Common Yellowthroats entertained us for the first few hundred metres past the cottonwoods and bushes. A Red-tailed Hawk was being mobbed by swallows – later we saw a young bird sheltering in a tree close to the path. We saw four species of swallow on the walk – lots of Barn Swallows, one Cliff Swallow (Roger, Kay and I later checked out the small colony at Wellington Park), a couple of Violet-greens and a sprinkling of Tree Swallows. Marsh Wrens and Red-winged Blackbirds called from the tule. There were big flocks of Starlings in the grass, that kept flying up. We saw a Northern Harrier female and two immatures with russet brown plumage. One was learning to hunt. The other one was dodging swallows while sitting on a post. Savannah Sparrows zipped across the pathway and yellowthroats were everywhere. I was surprised we didn’t see one garter snake. They used to be common here in summer.
Roger and I got excited because he discovered Silver Burweed has very spiky burrs at the base of the very boring greenish inflorescence. Then we came across the stands of Giant Hogweed that he had heard about – this giant invasive seems to be taking over one side of the shaded ditch near the farm. A Killdeer flew over, calling. A Northern Harrier on a bit of wood out on the mud caused id problems. A small peep (Least Sandpiper?) flew over, but by that time most of the group were headed back along the dyke. A large Cooper’s Hawk circled overhead, mobbed by a group of swallows just as we met up with Tom who was sorry to have missed all the fun.