Christmas bird count (continued)

  • Jan. 3, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Masset Submitted by Margo Hearne–There was a hazy half-moon in the dawn-pink sky, the same moon eclipsed by the earth’s shadow on solstice night. It’s waning, but the Masset count is not. Twenty-one people participated and it was a good day to be active; the sun shone and many walkers enjoyed the bright day after the Christmas rush. It was a low tide day mostly and Carey’s two Peregrine Falcons were an early morning find. The handsome Canvasback seen in Masset Harbour in the late afternoon sun stole the show. Out at Entry Point, Carey’s party found an interesting number of black and white alcids diving and feeding in the eddies, including six winter plumaged Pigeon Guillemots, 11 Ancient and nine Marbled Murrelets. Martin’s forest walk produced the only Brown Creeper for the day and two Golden-crowned Sparrows. He also found the Goshawk near New Town, its white eyebrow clear in the afternoon light. John and Natanis found the three missing White-fronted Geese and out on the boat Peter and Tommy found all the loons, including the Yellow-billed, and all the cormorants, especially Brandt’s. The 73 Varied Thrushes continued the amazing thrush rush this year. They flew up from Cemetery Road in the early dawn, colourful and alert. We were pushed to find one Robin, then it snowed and Russell phoned to say he had 15 “which is typical when it snows; there’s a whole whack of them here!” Faith counted birds from the hospital and racked up six eagles and 150 starlings. A blizzard struck late in the day, but the Western, Herring and California Gulls could be seen through the white, and snow fell on sparrows along Masset Inlet beach. Total species for Greater Massett: 82TlellWe had a rough start, I forgot my binoculars and almost had to turn back, but fortunately we found a spare set in the vehicle. The sea was mighty rough and we couldn’t see a thing until it calmed down on the ebb. But the coffee was hot at Sitka and three swans strolled around in the calm meadow. Over at the Ranch, wedges of White-fronted Geese flew over and along the roadside pockets of Varied Thrushes flew into the forest. Some, sadly, fly into cars in their haste to escape the monster roaring towards them. It was a bonanza year for Varied Thrushes on Haida Gwaii, we’ve never seen so many and counted 607 for the day. There is some speculation that the thrushes move out to the coast when it gets cold inland.Red-throated Loons appeared offshore and all three species of scoter flew around with Common Goldeneye, Red-necked Grebe and a single Western Grebe. Some places were dark and gloomy where there was very little around, then we’d hit another pocket of birds and the day would brighten. We walked all over the place, loved the open fields and meadows and searched forever for a Brown Creeper but didn’t see any. The beach was chilly, a cold northeaster swept along it and it wasn’t until late in the day that Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin and Sanderling appeared, rushing busily around at the edge of things. The Tlell River flowed dark and deep with stunning sunset reflections and in the garden at the end, more bright thrushes, a Merlin flashing from the forest, chickadees and kinglets and a most spectacular moonrise over a pastel sky, serene and otherworldly. Total species count later.

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