Maplewood: January 16th 2010

It’s been raining in Vancouver for about the last week but today there was a break between weather systems; conveniently occurring on the weekend. I arrived shortly after 10:30 to a chorus of birdsong. It seemed as though the birds were just as happy about the sunshine as I was.

The tide was receding when I checked out the mudflats but water still covered the majority of the area. Most of the activity was at the McCartney Creek outflow; gulls were preening, bathing, and resting while a Great Blue Heron slept on one of the pylons. There were surprisingly few ducks about; only a handful of American Widgeon were near the creek outflow.

Looking south from the Old Barge Channel I spotted a Common Loon as well as a Pelagic, and juvenile Double-crested Cormorant. After a few minutes of observation a Black Oystercatcher flew past; it was just a couple of inches above the water and it was heading in a north easterly direction. I checked my notes on this species when I returned home and it seems that this is only the third time I’ve seen one in flight.

At Otter Point a pair of Hooded Mergansers were swimming close to the viewing area and several Common Goldeneye were diving further out. As I looked north over, what is usually, a grassy area I realized where all of the ducks had gone. It seems that all of the rain we’ve had lately has created some shallow ponds/very large puddles and the ducks decided to take advantage of this. Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, and American Widgeon were all there.

Upon arriving at the westernmost West Pond viewing area I noticed a lone Ring-necked Duck diving and dabbling for food. This species feeds on tubers, aquatic invertebrates, and aquatic and moist-soil seeds (1). At one point it surfaced with a plant in its mouth; it quickly ate part of it, tossed the rest back into the water, and made another dive.

Mallard, American Widgeon, Northern Pintail, and American Coot were also present at the pond.

Further up the path in the forested section of Maplewood I came across a tree with some House Finches and a fair number of Pine Siskins in it. They blended in so well with the dried leaves still on the tree that one might think the leaves themselves were moving if it weren’t for their calls.

I’m so happy that the weather cooperated this weekend; after being stuck behind a desk doing homework for a week I need to get outside.

Reference:

  1. Hohman, William L. and Robert T. Eberhardt. 1998. Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/329doi:10.2173/bna.329
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