I would have never guessed that I would be writing about warblers at this time of the year. The "w" in warbler stands for "warm" not "winter." Most self-respecting warblers should be somewhere in the tropics enjoying the balmy tropical sunshine and not on Vancouver Island practicing torpor like the Anna's Hummingbird. But, if you take a stroll around Swan Lake today, you're sure to find Yellow-rumped Warblers chasing about. And, if you take a look at the recent Christmas Bird Count lists, I'm sure you'll find a warbler or two isn't uncommon. Even more amazing is what you'll find on Cross Road in Nanoose Bay - a Black-throated Blue Warbler! That's right. It was reported three days ago to the Backyard Store in Nanaimo, and it was still there just a few hours before Santa started his rounds. I suspect it was there on Christmas day as it appeared to be comfortably at home with it's new-found junco and chickadee friends. It's not entirely out of character as Black-throated Blue Warblers have a history of showing up on the west coast when they should be in the West Indies. Vagrants are reported most fall or winters in California and Oregon. However, they are less common further north. Washington has about 8 records and B.C. has about six. B.C.'s records are all in the south. I have no idea how many have been on Vancouver Island. Like most vagrant reports, no one knows why or how the bird got here, and it seems a fruitless exercise to speculate. My advice is simply to enjoy it as a Christmas Warbler - another wonderful, intriguing gift of nature. If past history has any bearing, a few birders who may be elsewhere like California may take heart in hearing that the Mercer Island Warbler arrived on Nov. 2/94 and stayed around the feeders until Apr. 5/95 - 5 months!. There is hope that our Christmas Warbler will stay around for awhile. Merry Christmas everyone.
Dec. 20 - A late book order from Bolen Books gave me a excuse to stop in at Swan lake to look for American Tree Sparrows. I was surprised to be surrounded by Yellow-rumped warblers as I stepped on the boardwalk.
The sun had just appeared from behind some large black clouds and the warblers were busy hawking insects from the boardwalk, willows, and bullrushes.
The birds must have been accustomed to human traffic as they had no aversion to our presence.
The guardrail on the boardwalk was the perfect perching spot for many of the warblers.
If you kept still, one would land within a few feet of you.
My real purpose was to find the Tree Sparrows. Three had been reported in the past two weeks, and Ted's photo was a tantalizing invitation.
We finally located the sparrows exactly where Ann and Ted had indicated. However, finding and photographing were two entirely different matters. Despite being very close, none of them were very open. I was lucky to catch the previous bird on a branch for a moment, while the second bird was agonizingly close, but totally obscured by the tall grass. The blurry view through my lens told me that grass was in the way. I clicked anyways and was surprised to discover that one of the photos was useable with the soft-focus effect.
It was difficult to ignore the Double-crested Cormorants as they were drying their wings in the sun.
You could tell that we were uncomfortably close to the cormorants - not for us, but for them. They nervously looked sideways at us, but weren't willing to give up the sunshine.
The CHRISTMAS WARBLER
Dec. 24 - The Cross Road residents in Nanoose were surprised to see a vaguely familiar blue bird flitting around their suet feeders three days before Christmas. When it finally settled on one of their lawn ornaments, they recognized the black throat immediately. It was a warbler that they had often seen during their Pt. Pelee days - a Black-throated Blue Warbler.
The warbler was in the company of juncos and chickadees and returned regularly to the feeders. In between it would fly off and forage for insects in the arbutus and other trees. At times it also probed the bark of the fir tree where the suet feeder was hanging and on the ground under the salal.
It was an easy twitch for all of us including Brian (Vancouver), Brent (Victoria), Chris and Dad (Parksville), Ralph (Lantzville), and Sandi and sister (Port Alberni). Brent had to wait all of 30 seconds to see the bird. For me, it was another pleasant time of twitching and meeting fellow birders in the field.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Freeman's for identifying and reporting the warbler and kindly sharing their property and the Warbler with me and my fellow birders. A new bird is always an educational opportunity to learn more about avifauna and nature. *As of Dec. 27, the bird was still present.
While the warbler was elsewhere, there was a regular parade of Downy Woodpeckers and other birds to observe.
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE, TANNER'S BOOKSTORE COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS DEEP BAY - SHIP & SHORE VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS, MUNRO'S, Crown Publications, Ivy's UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS Comments, questions, or book orders? email firstname.lastname@example.org
SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
CAMPBELL RIVER - SAVE-ON FOODS
DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE
CHEMAINUS - Willow's Wild Bird Store
LADYSMITH - SALAMANDER BOOKS
NANOOSE - SCHOONER COVE MARINA
LAKE COWICHAN - GALLOPING MOON GALLERY
TOFINO - BOTANICAL GARDENS
Quadra Island - EXPLORE & BOOK BONANZA
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE, TANNER'S BOOKSTORE
COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS
BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS
DEEP BAY - SHIP & SHORE
VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS, MUNRO'S, Crown Publications, Ivy's
UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS
Comments, questions, or book orders? email email@example.com