A Citrine Wagtail!

A Citrine Wagtail!
By Heather Harbord, 25 November 2012.

A small delegation of Malaspina Naturalists (all 3 of us) boarded the 8:10 ferry and piled into Clyde Burton’s truck on the other side.  We drove straight to where the Citrine Warbler had first been seen by Comox Valley Naturalists on Nov. 14th.

In company with birders from Nanaimo, Vancouver and Iowa we walked along the farm track carefully scanning the shallow frozen ponds on the left hand side.  We had been instructed not to go into the fields on that side.  No wagtail though some of the people we met said it had been seen at 8:00 AM.

We then drove on to Goose Spit where we found a dead marbled murrelet and watched a Glaucous-winged gull repeatedly rising up from the water to jump dive after some juicy morsel.  Although we usually see lots of dabbling ducks close to shore in this area, they were across the water towards Comox. Clyde said the last time he was down he noticed people kite surfing in the area and thought they might have scared the ducks away.

At Holmes Point, we stopped for lunch and Terry Thormin, who we met on our February 27th birding trip to Oyster Bay, drove up and parked behind us.  After the February trip, we recommended to the Speakers Committee that he be asked to speak to the club about dragonflies, which he later did.   Terry’s website is www.terrythormin.smugmug.com

Terry said we might still see the wagtail if we went back as the sun had begun to melt the ice on the ponds.  We went back only to be met by a hoard of ecstatic birders who had spent an hour with it until a Cooper’s Hawk frightened it off with a near-death experience.  Quite concerned, we walked along the track again and just as we were coming up to the brush piles on the left, the bird called and swooped across into the field on the right.  A convenient plank across the ditch led us onto a low dike from which we could see the bird some distance away busily feeding on pond delicacies.  We would have liked to have gone closer but as we were not supposed to be in the field, we stayed put.  Consequently, our pictures are not as perfect as we would have liked them to be but more people were able to see the bird which was still feeding when we left to catch the 3:15 pm ferry.

Both going and coming on the ferry we caught glimpses of murres in the middle of the Strait and lots of Glaucous-winged and Mew gulls with the odd cormorant.  The weather was cold, sunny and bright.  Perfect for bird watching and a good time was had by all.