Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Little Spring Bonanza

Prodded by milder temperatures and a touch of cabin fever, I grabbed the binoculars and headed out for a walk along a pretty familiar route I take. It takes me to a number of good birding areas....urban, boreal forest and some marsh lands....a good mix to see a variety of birds.  I wasn't disappointed.  It was a bit wet underfoot and the weather couldn't decide if it wanted to be sunny or rainy but I managed to set a new personal record for number of species spotted in a single outing, including 3 I hadn't see in some time and a first sighting.

Funny enough I did leave the house thinking to myself "Wouldn't it be great if I saw a Yellow-headed blackbird this afternoon?"  They are a pretty common bird here but oddly I had never seen one until today.  Initially, I even ignored it.  I assumed it was a Brewer's blackbird simply because I've seen quite a few of them so far this season.  They just seem to be everywhere.  Anyhow, I saw one perched atop a small tree but because it was so dark and overcast I only saw a dark shape until it left the tree and flew over an open area to land in a storm pond.  The yellow head stood out prominently against the muted colours of the reeds and surrounding brush.  I couldn't believe my good fortune.

A little further on, I took a rather mucky path behind some houses to get to a marsh that's always good for non-passerines.  Along the way I passed by a house that backed onto the trail and was treated to a nice mix of birds I hadn't seen in quite some time: Yellow-rumped Warbler, which I hadn't seen since the first year I moved here, a few Purple Finches and a White-Crowned sparrow, both of which I had last seen around the house here a couple years ago.  I actually passed the owner of the house who was out walking his dog and was returning through his back gate and admitted I was a bit jealous at the nice avian variety he was getting.

My ultimate destination was the two marshes pictured below.  By the time I reached the second one, it started to rain a bit and I wondered if I would see anything else.  The water was pretty calm and there didn't seem to be much around, although after several minutes and a little effort I was overflown by a number of mallards (not sure how I managed not to get a decent photo) and watched a mating pair of Buffleheads take a leisurely afternoon swim.

I was tempted to venture further closer in to the water here but didn't fancy wet feet.

All in all, not a bad day to spend an hour.  Last year's first big May outing netted me about 10 species for the year list.  This year I managed to top that number with 14, half of which were first sightings for the calendar year.   Here is my full list for the day's venture.....

1. Common Raven (shocking)
2.  Black-billed magpie
3.  Brewer's blackbird
4. Red-winged blackbird
5. Yellow-headed blackbird
6. American robin
7. Chipping sparrow
8. White-crowned sparrow
9. Junco
10. Chicadee
11. Yellow-rumped warbler
12. Purple finch
13. Bufflehead
14. Mallard

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