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Monday, August 24, 2015

Lush......

Back from our most recent short break and now, getting close to the end of August the only way I can describe the estuary area right now......


is lush!  As the water recedes and the growing season continues, the grasses are thicker and higher than I've ever seen.  The path to the park almost completely filled in, and those white flowers (Pacific Water Parsley) are everywhere.


here at the first bay you can see the 'flats' are emerging and they too are 'green'.  Walking through this area involves a lot of 'bush whacking'


the 'lushness' continues in the park, in fact I find it shocking how much most of the native shrubs and trees have grown.....seems this never ending extra sunny, extra warm summer, coupled with lots of moisture has been akin to growing in a greenhouse.  On the other side of the coin, a number of the older established evergreens are showing serious signs of stress.  Some are OK, others not. 

Bird wise it has been pretty quiet being the time of year when our summer visitors have left or are in process of leaving....still there are always some birds around...


it is the time of year when large flocks of ducks can be seen way out on the flats...


today, over at the log bay which has collapsed even further....spotted this...


Hairy Woodpecker working away on the rotting log.


it is also the time of year when there are many scruffy looking birds, like this Spotted Towhee, changing out of it's juvenile plumage into it's adult.


the other evening there was a large flock of these Bushtits....lucky to get this shot of these active little guys, or in this case, girl.  Have heard Evening Grosbeaks and actually saw a few fly over this morning but haven't seen any close up.  There is a lot of fruit out there right now that birds are feasting on, and not just birds as there have been a number of bear sightings in the area.  Also the coyotes are howling and carrying on in the evenings.

Friday, August 7, 2015

August catch up

Here we are, a week into August already and it has been nothing if not interesting...probably the biggest item is the wildfire burning in our area,


The above photo, showing smoke was taken on the evening of the 4th, just a day after it started. 


This photo, taken at about noon today shows the haze of smoke we are now experiencing.  Fortunate for us, but not for fire fighters, there had been, until today, a stiff breeze blowing the smoke away from us.  Last we heard the fire has grown to at least 6 sq. kilometers and is zero percent contained.

You will have noticed, no doubt that water levels have really dropped....soon we will be able to walk right across the grasslands to the park again...not quite yet though...


That young Great Blue Heron is standing right in the 'path'....


Here is a better look at the heron....it had actually almost landed in front of me while I was taking pictures of this.....


which I have learned is a young Bullfrog.  NOT a welcome addition to the estuary so I'm glad the heron had it's eye on it and hopefully when we left it nabbed it.

I'm saying 'young' a lot aren't I...but it is that time of the year.  The number of young birds around right now is astonishing....here are just a few...


American Goldfinch...this youngster was part of a family of four at the feeder this morning with one frazzled daddy trying to feed them all.  There have been masses of goldfinch for several weeks now.


Have never seen as many  young Black-headed Grosbeak as there are this year!


This must be a second hatch as Spotted Towhee normally nest early in the season.  This one showed up with two youngsters in tow this morning.


Yesterday was a rare (this summer) showery cool day so we took advantage to go for a walk on the dike at Harrison Bay.  There were all kinds of Barn Swallows swooping around barely skimming the ground.  Impossible to get photos of them, but did spot this young Cedar Waxwing....


and this young male Downy Woodpecker.  You can tell it is young as the red patch is migrating from the back of the head to the front.


I'm not sure how many batches of local Dark-eyed Junco raised this year.  This one is a bit older, molting into adult plumage while there are still quite a few really young ones showing up.


Mustn't forget the humming birds!  The male Rufous are long gone and numbers of females and young have dropped dramatically as they are probably up in the alpine meadows about now.  Like last year, as the Rufous disappeared the Anna's started showing up again...this young male was harassing some young White-crowned Sparrows yesterday.

This is just a brief selection of what is around right now.  Shorebirds should be migrating through now but I haven't seen any.  Did have a Band Tail Pigeon show up yesterday.  Perhaps driven out of the mountains by the fire. 

This will be the only report for a while....may squeeze in another one the end of the month before taking off again until about mid-October....when, of course, it will be time to start the Bald Eagle watch!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Rain!

It's raining!  Well at least showering....a moisture falling from the sky is cause for celebration this year as there has been virtually none for the last 4 months.


You can't see them, but that corn field was full of swallows of all sorts flying down low right between the corn stalks.  The hedge row was full of birds too....


including lots of White-crowned Sparrows....including young fledglings like this one.  Probably a second hatch....


There were Black-capped Chickadee's all over the place. 

I'm always pointing out how important our native plants are...but it wasn't until today that I learned that....


Downy Woodpeckers are yet another species that feed on the berries of this shrub.


This photo shows a few things.....that the Canada Geese are back in numbers (adjacent farm fields were full of them), the water levels are dropping to the point that vegetation is showing up over there in the background, and look at the hillside....can't say I've ever seen it as dry as it is this year...no wonder the fire hazard rating is extreme!


another species seen today was this Cedar Waxwing youngster.

and speaking of youngsters, this evening took the camera with me when did the evening 'dog walk'....


there were all kinds of young Song Sparrows down at the waters edge.  In fact the last few days the bushes down there have been alive with birds, mainly American Goldfinch and Bush Tits.

The reason I'd taken the camera was to show that....


water levels are  so low that it won't be long until we'll be able to walk over to the park again.  Something that we normally can't do until September or even October!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Species number 180!

Tuesday, July 14th was a perfect morning for a canoe trip.....


set out on calm waters and headed over towards the Harrison River.  Some days when you are out there, there are birds everywhere, some days not so much....


that isn't to say there were no birds, but they were keeping their distance.  Water levels have dropped to where the gravel bars are quite visible under the water....at it's current rate conditions should be just about perfect for migrating shore birds which will be happening pretty much anytime now.  There were lots of Canada Geese out there, most of them just finishing up their molt and once again, airborne.


went ashore at this log jam which lies between the estuary and the Harrison River proper.  There had been a couple of Osprey here until we got close.  There were also large numbers of swallows of all descriptions, Tree, Violet-Green, Barn and Northern Rough-wing, but all flying, not perched for pictures....

Also flying here were....


5 or 6 of these.....Caspian Tern!  Didn't have the right camera with me for capturing birds in flight but this is one of those 'proof they were there' photos and this makes species #180 that I've documented for the estuary.  They were only there for a few minutes, obviously just passing through.


not quite as exciting...we did see a number of Red-wing Blackbirds...all down low and being quiet....


Even the Chehalis river wasn't it's usual hot bed of bird activity.  A few Cedar Waxwing flew across, saw one Spotted Sandpiper and caught sight of an adult Catbird with a mouthful of food, so obviously nestlings nearby....only bird that co-operated momentarily was....


this, Eastern Kingbird....a fairly regular 'uncommon' summer visitor to the area.

Any further exploration was called off due to the wind that had come up resulting in white cap waves.  Hopefully we'll get out again before water levels drop too much and maybe next time birds will be a little more co-operative.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Finally, a cool day.....

Took advantage of the first nice cool (well seasonal) day in at least a couple of weeks, to go for a walk over at Harrison Bay.  First surprise was getting out of the car and realizing......

 
These little guys (Barn Swallows) were perched on a rock just a few feet from the car.
 
The birds were obviously enjoying the cooler weather as much as we were.....
 
 
 
Perched here was a young Northwestern Crow.....
 
 
There were some Cedar Waxwings perched on the wires nearby......
 
 
There is a young Bullock's Oriole hidden behind the leaves in this photo....
 
 
a bit further along there were a number of Spotted Sandpipers, right on the dike and obviously not happy with us being there.  There must have been young nearby but obviously well hidden.
 
Also nearby....
 
 
 
the Himalayan Blackberries are ripe already....3 or 4 weeks earlier than normal.
 
Further on was extremely excited to spot this....
 
 
male Common Yellowthroat....catching bugs to feed.....
 
 
this, one of several fledglings.
 
Overseeing the whole scene.....
 
 
this Bald Eagle..... and there were quite a few.....
 
 
White-crowned Sparrows scattered along the walk.
 



Monday, July 6, 2015

Sizzling, smokey July

Well it has been awhile.....took some time away from the estuary and ever since coming back temperatures have been sizzling....yesterday reaching 37 C, in fact there hasn't been a day in probably the last 10 that we haven't reached at least the 30 C mark.

Then this morning we woke to this.....


a very smoky log bay.  My husband actually took this photo as the smoke is a blessing in disguise, suppressing the temperature enough that he could actually take our dogs for a good walk.


He also spotted this young Great Blue Heron in the grasses to the side of the bay.

At lunch time we decided to venture over to Kilby and Harrison Bay.....


also smoky.  Good news is that water levels are staying high.  So many rivers and streams are drying up throughout the province with virtually no rain for almost 3 months now and no snow pack from last winter to replenish supplies.


Driving back we spotted this Wilson's Snipe standing right on the edge of the road.  Of course once we stopped and backed up, it had made it's way through the grass and then into a muddy drainage ditch where attempts for a better photo were futile.


Here is a look up the Harrison River towards the estuary....


and the view from Morris Valley Road.  Wanted to mention .....


that this too is a little unsettling....one doesn't expect to find ripe Himalayan Blackberries until August....not the first week of July!