Tundra Swans rest up in the Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary.

Tundra Swans rest up in the Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary.

On the Wing: Swans in the storm and Rufous in the rain

he swans were totally exhausted and needed to rest, and that’s what they did.

The three Tundra Swans were tucked into themselves in the storm. Our neighbour was concerned and wondered if they needed help. It was a valid concern, birds need our help more and more, but this time it was best to leave them be. The swans were totally exhausted and needed to rest and that’s what they did.

It’s what sanctuaries are for; places to rejuvenate before moving on. They are usually temporary reprieves and this time was no exception; the birds were up and moving next afternoon and then they they were gone.

Across Masset Inlet, also in the shelter, eleven others lay like mounds of snow on the high beach north of Maast Island. They were also tucked in and they too have since left, unlike the busy flock of Brant geese that now feed there as the tide falls. It’s April and things are on the move.

In Delkatla’s channels a large flock of Green-winged Teal feed. Were they the same birds we’ve seen all winter? They look the same, all ducks of the same species seem the same to us (I suspect that we all look the same to them too). But tucked among them was an Eurasian Green-winged Teal with a white horizontal line instead of a vertical one on its side. It’s the first we’ve seen all winter and suggests the teal that wintered are filtering away and the ones from the south are dropping in. It’s all go.

Big excitement in our garden just before the big southeaster hit last week. A hummingbird landed on the tip-top of a nearby bush. It was an Anna’s Hummingbird, the first we’ve ever seen in Masset. It sat for some time and we both had a good look at it. A few Anna’s wintered over in Sandspit and are still there, but this one was definitely a surprise. Then friends in Skidegate posted a super photo of a Rufous Hummingbird which had just arrived there (thanks Mary!) and we had a call from our friends on Tow Hill Road who now have a Rufous Hummingbird that’s staying around. Our Anna’s were a one-shot wonder and haven’t been seen since.

As mentioned above Brant geese are feeding on the Maast Island flats. We used to have a wintering flock there around 30 years ago but none since, unlike in Sandspit where there’s still a large flock that feeds in the intertidal all winter. Numbers there increased dramatically this week. There were over 1,600, but numbers in Masset are still low; it’s early days as the Brant move up the coast waiting for the north to warm up. Many Brant, known as the sea-goose of the Pacific, were banded in the early 1990s. We discovered that most of those that feed here in spring are on their way to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta on the Bering Sea after stopping off at Izembek Lagoon, Alaska and then spreading out along the northern reaches, even as far as Wrangel Island, Siberia.

The birds of the world come and go, seasons change and it’s Easter Sunday already. Have a happy one.