10 March 2012

March "Eureka" on Pighin Road

Birding Buddy #1 and I headed out Friday 9 Mar 2012 to find some more ticks for our club's Winter Seeker Challenge - with great success!

We had a report earlier in the week of WESTERN MEADOWLARK singing.

Eureka on Pighin Road!

The song of the meadowlark contains a couple of notes I believe are designed to carry long distances - much of the song is trilly burbles giving it that beautiful liquid quality, but then it throws in a couple of pure, loud tones that really carry in a multitude of conditions - wind, barometric pressure, background noise. It is these notes I first heard off in the distance, (despite having a strange middle ear condition that makes it sound like a jet liner is revving its engines beside my ear - some kind of infection, the docs say but hearing is not damaged) so I got out my brand new squeaker to see if the meadowlark would react to it. After sending out only a half dozen notes which I hoped were a fair imitation of the WEME loud tones, in flies the bird for us to see and hear its full song! Sweet!

A pair of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS graced us with their presence at their bastion of occurrence along Mission Wycliffe Rd, where we also saw a couple of small hordes of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD singing their hearts out in their usual non-breeding jumble of sound and movement.

A warm southerly wind was hitting the bluffs above St. Eugene Resort but just a few meters lower down on the St. Mary's River, it was chilly. (No herons at the heronry there.) Starting the day off at zero degrees Celsius in Lower Kimberley, the thermostat climbed steadily and got up to an amazing 14 degrees C by the time we hit Bull River. It was hot, I say! I even took off my hat, which, to those of you who know me in person, know this to be a reliable indicator of warmth.

Human-enhanced Osprey tree - waiting silently

A strange sight greeted us, along Bulkot Rd, off Ha Ha Creek Rd: about a hundred BOHEMIAN WAXWING were spread out over a kilometer amongst the farm buildings, flitting between trees, utility lines, and fence posts, hawking the explosion of insects, I suppose. I usually only see them in their tight flocks descending to dessimate a Mountain Ash tree in the winter.

My version of a Northern Shrike - Sony Cyber-shot 12.1 max  lens telephoto

A pair of mating RED-TAILED HAWK was a brief treat.

Steeples Road, off Wardner / Fort Steele Rd, proved very productive (relatively). A GREAT-BLUE HERON kindly flushed from a back pond so we could see it, only to return to the same spot after a short flight. If it hadn't moved, I doubt we would have been able discern that long skinny grey shape with a white puff at the top as the head of a heron behind the tall dry marsh grasses.  The pair of KILLDEER sitting quietly at the pond's edge were a little harder to spot - un-moving, with their backs to us.  My brain picked out the anomolous shape against the gray gravel - like a kid's "Hidden Object" activity book.  Weird to see them so quiet.

Scanning for - well, anything - at Kootenay River at Wardner. Yes that is ice.

Birding Buddy spotted the 3 TUNDRA SWAN at Wasa Sloughs. Duh! How do you miss 3 big white birds! All of them had their heads in the water at my first scan, so my brain just registered clumps of snow against the far bank! Lol. (I am so amusing to myself).

Wild Turkey has become our nemesis bird - motivation to get out again ASAP. On the way home, we discussed proposing changes to the rules of the Winter Seeker Challenge to stack the odds more to our favor, being semi-casual winter birders. Nothing too complicated - a formula to give bonus points for irregular species, and to birders whose names start with "D" or "R" - no just kidding. Day-dreaming winning, really.    ^ ~ ^

Day List:
British Columbia bird codes
Kimberley to Wasa Sloughs via Mission Wycliffe Rd, Ha Ha Creek Rd, Wardner / Fort Steele Rd, and main highways between.

NOSH shrike
TUSW Tundra Swan

happy birding!

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