A group of twelve enthusiastic birders gathered on April 24th, 2010, to conduct the Cortes Museum’s Spring Migration Birding Event. As the rainy weather cleared, the group enjoyed a morning of exploring forests, orchard and seashore habitats. A picnic lunch under the gazebo at the Gorge Harbour Marina protected the group as afternoon showers returned. But despite the rain, spirits continued high as the group finished the day surveying farm, lake and pond habitats of the South end.
More than usual, the birders this year enjoyed spotting and watching the spring activities of a number of birds. A Chestnut-backed Chickadee was busy flinging sawdust flakes out of a tiny crescent shaped hole in a Seavista hydro pole. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was observed moving into another bird’s hole, probably made by a Red-breasted Sapsucker, at the top of a dead Alder near Huck Road. In a clay bank near where the Whaletown Road passes close to the Gorge Harbour a Kingfisher was observed entering one of a few holes carved into the bank. Harlequin Ducks were feeling very amorous, and a Canada Goose was spotted nesting behind a tuft of grass in Gunflint Lake. The most unexpected encounter happened as the group stood in the rain looking at what appeared to be an almost deserted Kw’as Pond. A movement was noticed on the top of a fairly large dead snag at the very back of the pond. When the scope and binoculars were trained onto the snag, the beautiful eye of a female Wood Duck came into focus. As Wood ducks nest in rather large holes in trees near ponds, the group speculated that this female duck was getting ready to pick her nesting spot. After careful observation a male Wood Duck was also spotted in the branches of another nearby dead tree.
A few other bird sightings worth noting include the single Greater Yellowlegs at low tide in the Whaletown Lagoon, a Black-throated Gray Warbler whose call gave his presence away, and the “wichity-wichity-wichity” call of the Common Yellowthroat. A Barred Owl’s “who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all” identified one of the Island’s night inhabitants. In all, the group spotted 67 species, just below the five year average of 68.
If you were not able to participate in this event the Museum also sponsors the Christmas Bird Count sometime between December 15th and January 5th. Check out the Bird Watching Section of the Museum's web-page www.cortesmuseum.ca
where islanders add pictures and information regarding birds they have spotted.