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Marsh Warblings -March 29th

Posted by Elizabeth on April 3, 2017


Yellow-rumped Warbler by Barry Hetschko

" The Blues Sisters"

9 wonderful naturalists turned up for the last count of the season and I'm sorry to say that the weather got the last laugh on us for all those lovely Wednesdays that went before. It hacked down for the first 2 hours before that massive south wind came blowing in and dried things out.
Trumpeter Swan numbers dropped by half but the immature birds showed good numbers as they are always the last to leave with mum and dad, got to get those babes all fed up for the trip.
The raptors bounced back up from last week which did surprise me, what with the weather and all.
This week saw what were possibly two of the best birds of the season and the best was the very first bird we saw, we had barely gone 400m when on the fence adjacent to the football pitch at the school sat a Say's Phoebe, this was a new record for the Somenos Marsh checklist area and only the 3rd record for the valley that I'm aware of. It was hard to get good looks as the rain pelted through the open windows and the bird thought better of sitting out in the rain and headed for the trees after only a few minutes. It was with luck that i carry a few photographers along with me as Kurlene managed a decent shot through the rain drops. You see that second car does come in handy sometimes, thanks girls.
Say's Phoebe by Kurlene Wenberg
After all the excitement we were off along the highway where an amazing number of Pied-billed Grebes were making hay in the flood waters, don't think I have ever seen so many in such a short distance.
Pied-billed Grebe by Zan Stenhouse
Somenos Lake was a bust and the only thing we got was wet.
Quist's Farm gave us 50 swans and this was the second highest count location of the day after the 52 at Corefield Road. Our total number of swans was 235 which is high for this late in the season, there could be many reasons why so many were still here but only the swans know.
Along Richards Trail i could see the weather breaking and relayed to the others that it could be a dry lunch break, well it sort of was.
Hwy18 had a nice bunch of birds to count and a few eagles some of which had already sensed the thermals building and were up and circling.
Really, that was it for the north end as we headed to A&W for our break. There was much chatter of our luck with the Phoebe and how lucky we have been all season with many good birds spotted, the Elk that gave us much joy. 
The Blues Sisters continued with their eating habits, moving on from drumsticks they have now taken to buddy burgers, wraps and apple turnovers. It really amazes me how they can tuck it away and yet remain slim and petite.
The Blues Sisters by Derrick Marven
Overall this season the numbers of Trumpeter Swans have been consistent with the previous few years, but they have moved around a lot and have taken up in a few new locations. Goose numbers have been the same and this week saw our numbers drop drastically with just under 200 seen, but all was not lost as we did have a Snow Goose way out on Dougans Flats, this was unexpected.
The next bit of excitement was behind the farmers market at Corefield Road where as we turned the corner a plump little House Sparrow was being chased by a raptor, the sparrow diving into the brambles as the hawk veered off and landed in a tree, where we identified it as a Merlin. I am amazed how a fat little House Sparrow can have so much agility when we it has a Falcon about three inches off it's butt end.
Of all our stops to the west and south the only half decent place was Dougans Flats where both swans and Geese were duly noted.
Our day was winding down as we headed back to the bay and along the Dock Road, the wind was now blowing good and the warm air was being pushed up from the south, sometimes it was hard to stand up as the gust buffeted us. Barry spotted a Falcon flying out of the estuary and as it got closer and sailed up after a duckie i could tell this was something totally different, it banked around and this very dark almost black Peregrine Falcon came into view. This was one of the sub-species named Peale's and a species seldom seen in our neck of the woods, my first for here anyways.
That was it another season over and big thanks to all my friends and colleagues who have made this a season to remember, never had so much fun out birding for many a year, thanks guys and gals. Also many thanks to our photographers who have livened up my dull old reports each week. Dorothy what would we have done without your meticulous data entry and Eric for passing it on for all to see. Barry it has been a joy to ride along with you most weeks and you girls who have made my time with you something  to treasure, never will I forget.