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Marsh Warblings - February 1st

Posted by Elizabeth on February 2, 2017

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Irish Courage (Derrick Marven) by Zan Stenhouse

"Irish Courage"

I arrived at the dog park to find that already two counters were out taking pictures up on the dike, i was proud of their early arrival and enthusiasm on this day.

Another wonderful day for a swan count with brilliant sunshine and some good birds to boot. 11 counters headed out and although we all left together, it didn't take long for us to get all strung out along the route, we did run in to each other at certain points A&W being one of them, food always brings good friends together.
 
Once again this week both swans and geese were spread out all over the place and the numbers recorded were right on target for the past couple of weeks. Raptor numbers took a big tumble this week with more eagles being seen on TV than on our count. Just 4 Red-tailed hawks which is one less than we had on one road last week, no accipiters were seen and all bar one Falcon's were missed. We did manage a American Kestrel on Richards Trail which made a couple of dives down into the fields before returning to it's hydro line perch.
 
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Greater yellow-legged swans by Zan Stenhouse
 
Another sighting that we had encountered before a few years back was a group of immature swans with bright yellow legs, not sure what causes this abnormality but they sure stand out. The immature swan numbers this week were spot on at 20% of total numbers which is a very good sign although at times some groups lacked any immature birds at all. Early this week some of the adults had been seen doing their little dances, wing flapping and calling at each other, a sign that spring is coming, obviously that hadn't seen the weather report.
 
At times it was hard to get the counters out of the vehicles in this wonderful sunny weather, some concern was shown about wind burn. Our driver, senoir Derrick did a wonderful job although along with a few in our vehicle animal identification was sometimes limited, with a flock of geese turning into Mallards in front of our eyes, also much discussion was had about the demise of a hybrid horse/cow in a field although we all agreed it was brown. Some thought it was sunbathing?
 
Along Richard's Trail we were lucky to see 3 cock pheasants, me thinks that someone is releasing these birds around the valley as they seem to be popping up everywhere. For the past 20 years they had gradually reduced in numbers down to just a handful and now here we are hearing about them from many locations, it was only this last spring when we saw a whole family with many little uns.
 
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Me old cock Pheasants by Christina Cutbill
 
There are times when i am driven to drink by some members of our group who it seems are just along for a good giggle and leave all the work up to just a few of us. It was along Cowichan Bay Road while being told to move forward in our vehicle  for the third time while i was counting swans that i  broke down and turned to some Irish courage.
We all had a great day and although some species were thin on the ground we persevered and got the job done. Thanks to Dorothy for keeping meticulous numbers although we must find her a good rubber for her next count.
 
I do find it amazing that i can remember all this stuff as time and time again people ask me how many swans were at a location, but sadly once i pass my count onto Dorothy the totals go right out of my head.
 
We ended the day with 528 Trumpeter Swans, 19 Mute Swans, 1 Cackling Goose, 849 Canada Geese, 37 Bald Eagles, 4 Red-tailed Hawks and 1 American Kestrel.
 
Until the snow comes
-Derrick