As sure as the days are growing shorter and colder, our birds of summer have gradually disappeared to their balmy winter retreats. All that remains are a few stragglers like the Orange-crowned Warbler I encountered last week at Madrona on the way to Parksville. The exception are flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers which are still abundant like the groups I saw today at Bowen Park in Nanaimo. It is the right time to watch for migrating songbirds that stop briefly on their way south. White-throated Sparrows have been reported by Chris at Swan Lake in Victoria for the past two weeks; Derrick has had one at his feeder in Duncan for the past 8 days; and I was surprised to catch a glimpse of one today at Craig Bay. Lapland Longspurs have also been reported regularly down Victoria way, but I haven't seen or heard of any north of Victoria yet. The first Tropical Kingbird of the fall was reported by Adrian in Tofino. Adrian also had a Western Kingbird for a few days.
Meanwhile, there has been a steady influx of winter residents. Kinglets seem to be everywhere, and I was again frustrated by both the Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned as they eluded my camera today. My best shot was a blurry effort at 1/20th of a second at dusk today. The haunting chimes of the elusive Varied Thrush have been emanating from my surrounding forest for the past 3 weeks, and Steller Jays are appearing regularly. Golden-crowned Sparrows are plentiful and today I saw my first 2 Fox Sparrows of the fall.
On the water, the winter complement of ducks is steadily increasing. Scoters, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Pintails have been prominent for weeks. The occasional Long-tailed has been reported, and I saw my first local Greater Scaup and Red-breasted Merganser today. For the past week at Fairwinds I have been enjoying Northern Shovelers, which is a new species for the golf course.
Other recent interesting sightings include a Cattle Egret around Cowichan, a flock of Whimbrels at the Englishman estuary, and a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese at Springford's farm. So far there hasn't been anything as exciting as Ralph Hocken's Northern Wheatear in Oct. 2005, but Oct. isn't over yet. As well, it was last Oct. when I saw the Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Clay-coloured Sparrow, and Blue Jay and just missed on the Northern Parula.
Oct. 10 - A Shoveler Surprise - As usual I was paying more attention to the birds than my golf at Fairwinds when a large-billed duck in the 18th pond caught my attention. I knew immediately that it was a Northern Shoveler, the first I've ever seen at Fairwinds since I started golfing there in 1988. Mind you, it wasn't until 2003 before I started paying attention to the ducks, but I think I would have noticed it because of its uniqueness. However, it's a moot point. Of course, as soon as the round was over I grabbed my camera and got a few pictures.
Smile! Isn't it cute? The dark eyes indicated that it was a juvenile.
The Shoveler was in the company of several Mallards.
At first I thought there was only one Shoveler, but on further investigation, I discovered 2 more adults.
The adults have orange eyes.
Oct. 12 - It was sunny today and a good time to look for some kinglets. I had no problems finding kinglets, but they were too fast. My consolation surprise was an Orange-crowned Warbler on Madrona Drive.
The Orange-crowned was busy foraging in the spirea bush. I had to wait half an hour before it popped out to the front of the bush.
Oct. 16 - We are indeed in the monsoon season on Vancouver Islanad. In between rain showers I tried to get a few more Shoveler pictures, but all I got was an American Wigeon. (Another new duck for Fairwinds was a pair of Green-winged Teal.)
Oct. 20 - With the promise of sunny breaks, I decided to take my camera while doing a few chores. My first stop was Bowen Park where I encountered a large mixed flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers, kinglets, juncos, and chickadees.
The only photo I managed was the Yellow-rumped Warbler. None of the other "chicklets" wouls stop for me.
It was fitting to have a background of fall leaves for the fall scene.
At Legacy Marsh I was setting up to photograph a Fox Sparrow. By the time I was ready, the sparrow had disappeared. As luck would have it, a Downy Woodpecker landed close by. It was a fine consolation bird.
It was late afternoon when I stopped at Craig Bay. In amonst the many juncos and Song Sparrows I spotted a white throat. I was lucky to get a distant picture of a White-throated Sparrow before it disappeared.
It was too dark for pictures, but I couldn't pass up a nearby Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Shooting at 800 ISO and 1/20th second, I got a couple of almost-in-focus pictures.
I almost forgot, there was a female Greater Scaup in the pond with some Canada geese and one American Coot.
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