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Marsh Warblings - January 18th

Posted by Elizabeth on January 24, 2017

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Red-breasted Sapsucker by Zan Stenshouse 

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

The Good
Today we found the rarest bird ever seen on the Swan & Goose count when a Gyrfalcon zoomed across the fields at the Hwy 18 park and ride, the bird did finally land about a mile away on top of a fir and Barry managed some terrible record shots, now don't get me wrong we all know how good Barry's pictures are, but from that distance in pouring rain and dull conditions, what you see is what you get. Even the looks through the scope were nothing special.
Gyrfalcons are very rare on Vancouver Island and this one is only the 5th confirmed record for the Cowichan Valley.
Also this week we had a very good number of Trumpeter Swans with 540 being tallied which is a second highest count of the season.
This was also our 140th count since starting back in 2009. We are now in our eighth year of counting.
 
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Trumpeters in Flight by Barry Hatschko
 
With the water flowing freely down the creeks the Eagles returned to some of their favorite trees and a respectable count of  90 birds were seen with many back out of view along the Cowichan River, Most raptor numbers were a little low, but we did get Peregrine Falcon and Merlin and one lucky participant that went back to look for the Gyr  after the count photographed a female American Kestrel. Seeing 4 species of falcon in one day in the valley is a major achievement and not bad for BC either.

The Bad
There were six of us that started out from the dog park and i unwisely said i would go along with the girls just to save Barry from their torment, while he looked after Eric and Dorothy.  Well talk about going into the giggle factory, these two women are terrors, it is no wonder that men are turned into whimpering dogs whilst in their surroundings, they were so bad i was nearly ready to throw in the towel until i spotted the Falcon. I won't make that mistake again, from now on i am going to ride along with those that i can trust.

The Ugly
This had to be the weather, I don't think it has ever been so bad, at times we wished the cold and snow would come back, the rain hit us from all directions and it was a miracle that the count went as well as it did, the fields had started to loose that white look all except out to the west of town and i am sure the swans and geese were glad that some food was becoming available.
Also there was the point when i thought that the seat i was sitting on in the girls car  had sprung a leak or that all the giggling had brought tears to my underwear, i was relieved to realize that it was just the bottom of my coat that was soaking wet and each time my rear end sat on it the water squelched out of the bottom and onto the seat of my trousers.

Well that is enough of this weeks antics.
Until we ride again
Derrick