Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rock Wren in a Winter Wonderland

Well, a Victoria-style Winter Wonderland anyway....

Yesterday I found myself finished up with work and everything with a couple of hours of light to spare, so I headed up to Christmas Hill to see if I could locate the Rock Wren.  A couple of very cold hours later, no go on the wren.

I decided to head back up this morning to make another attempt for this long sought after and oft missed critter, and was a little dismayed by the typical Victoria winter weather - cold, fog, and rain.  I found myself doing something out of my norm in that instead of leaving the morning Tims in the car, I hauled it up the hill with me.  I know a lot of birders tote coffee in the field, but I usually don't want to juggle binos with an extra large java, and then have to carry the cup back from wherever I am.  Today seemed like a good time for an exception, so up came the coffee.

At the top of the higher summit of Christmas Hill, which seems to be the most reliable location for the bird, the weather wasn't looking any less like a West Coast Christmas.

I had half expected to be greeted by the wren busily foraging out in the open, but there was no sign of it anywhere.  I decided to head down to the lower summit where it had originally been discovered, in hopes that it had returned.  Yesterday I made the summit to summit trek no less than 8 times back and forth, in vain each time.

It was no more wreny at the lower summit than it had been up top, so I turned to head back up the hill, grumbling something along the lines of "stupid wren", which had been my mantra the previous day as well.

Back up top, a familiar face was scanning the rocks, and I saw him freeze.  As the story goes, Marlon had spotted me and turned to walk over when the wren flushed right in front of him, and ducked down the slope.  He relocated the bird and eventually I was on it, a great new Victoria area bird (#291).

As usual, no award winning photography courtesy of the Victoria Birder, but a long distance phone shot:

Marlon and I enjoyed nearly continuous views of the bird for almost an hour as it worked the summit, foraging very cooperatively out in the open, the looks I had originally dreamed of having.

One of these days I'll have to go for a big boy camera, but there are already more than enough great birders around who are great photographers, the Naturalest Naturalist for example.  Now if only he was in town for half of the great birds that show up....

Thanks Courtney for a great find!

Good winter birding, see you all on the Christmas Bird Count circuit!

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