Saturday, November 8, 2014

First Class (and first record) Birding

After last week's Blackburnian Warbler (lifer for me, Victoria first record), I have been wondering if anything else mind-numbing would show up.  In light of the fantastic birds just across the water, coupled with the intense wind we have had this week, I figured Jordan River would be a great bet for one or more rarities.

I got to my usual parking spot just before 7:30am, and started with a scan of the water and ever present gull flock.  Among the 60 or so California Gulls were a late Heermann's Gull and a single Mew Gull.  Out on the water were good numbers of White-winged Scoters and Pacific Loons.

Turning my attention inland and working my way gradually from one end of the Jordan River stretch to the other and back, I failed to find anything in the realm of rare, but did get nice looks at Evening Grosbeaks, 95 Red Crossbills, 180 Pine Siskins, and many others.  While unsuccessfully attempting to photograph 4 Red-throated Loons and a Western Grebe that had made their way into the river I heard a familiar call, and up popped this little guy:

Out on the water off the far end of the beach were 7 very close Ancient Murrelets, another Western Grebe, several more Red-throated Loons, 50+ Pacific Loons, and a few other species.

With Jordan turning up nothing stellar, I headed back toward town with plans to check a few likely Cattle Egret/Emperor Goose spots.

At Journey Middle School in Sooke, a flock of 98 Greater White-fronted Geese and 10 Cackling Geese were hanging out on the field, sans Emperor.  Swanwick Rd in Metchosin, a spot I have been just waiting to turn up a Cattle Egret, were another 27 Greater White-fronts and 18 Cackling Geese.

Due to company and a quick work meeting, Swanwick marked the end of my days birding.  Or so I thought.

Just before 3pm I saw a message pop up on BCVIBirds about an Acorn Woodpecker at Cedar Hill Golf Course.  I was chomping at the bit to get out and get this bird, but when our company left I figured I wouldn't have enough light left to get any kind of look.

A last minute decision to go sent me scrambling through traffic, and I reached the parking area at King's Pond around 4:15pm, light fading fast.  I was encouraged by a followup report on BCVI, as well as a text from Jeremy G saying "showing well",  My legs were burning a bit by the time I reached a group of casual looking birders, and was greeted by Hawaii's newest celebrity birder, the Naturalest Naturalist, with "You just missed it!"

Several cuss words may have passed through my mind before G nodded at his scope, which was pointed up into an oak at one hunkered down Acorn Woodpecker.

I managed to rattle off a couple of grainy Victoria Birder style record shots in the near dark of this Victoria 1st record (number 298 for my Victoria list), and number 9 (my second) for BC, before it flew off about 4 minutes later.  Sweet timing on my part, as we only got a very brief glimpse of it flying overhead after that.

Not the worst record shots I have ever taken......

It's always a treat to be part of a Victoria first record, let alone 2 of them in 8 days.  Neither bird was on my radar on my march to 300, so it will sure be interesting to see what the next two will be!

I will be heading out in just under three months to take on some new (for me) birding ground with John Puschock from Zugunruhe Birding Tours on his Lower Rio Grande Tour from Feb 2-8, 2015.  John has put together an incredible deal on this tour, and I am definitely looking forward to beefing up my Life and ABA lists with this one.  Click here for details about this trip, he is also running a second from Feb 8-14.

Good birding!

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