Port Clements bird count-trending downward 

On the Wing by Margo Hearne: There is something about a low wet drizzle that saps the spirit when out-of-doors

  • Jan. 21, 2016 1:00 p.m.

There is something about a low wet drizzle that saps the spirit when out-of-doors. Binoculars get wet, water runs up sleeves, the forest drips and birds don’t sing. It was a bit like that in the early morning just after sunrise on the Port Clements bird count until a flock of twenty-six Ring-necked Ducks took off from a pond, two flickers swept from the side of the highway and a Common Loon dove in the lake. Things were looking up! Seven Red-necked Grebes drifted along, heads tucked under and in no hurry to go anywhere. The life of birds is different from ours as we rush to keep up with the next trend. Birds don’t chase trends. Come winter there’s time for them to drift as food gets scarce and the weather chills down, a time to conserve energy and slow it down a bit. There are no young mouths to feed, no springtime urgency to produce the next generation, and, as the saying goes, ‘if you’re lucky enough to live by the water, you’re lucky enough’. Coastal birds are lucky enough. The tide rises and falls and something edible always comes with it.  Even so, Trumpeter Swan numbers in the Yakoun Estuary continue to plummet, this year there were only twenty-four, one quarter of what there used to be. Dabbling duck numbers are shockingly low, there were only 113 American Wigeon; in the past, there were over 3,000 and it took hours to count them. Teal, mallard and pintail numbers are also trending downwards so it was heartening to see a flock of 620 Dunlin, those small shorebirds. Twenty-four Brant floated in the distance and one White-fronted Goose wandered along beside the river with a flock of twenty-eight Canada Geese.

The road to Juskatla had icy patches so we took our time. It was worth it; the sun had begun to shine and the still water mirrored the surrounding forest. Two Canvasback ducks swam off, rare birds in these parts, and a Great Blue Heron sat as still as a stone and was undeterred by our presence. Fourteen Greater Scaup lazed along and over 300 Mallard sat on a sandbar in the distance. A Belted Kingfisher flew high and hovered over the water. It looked like a bright star against the dark trees, an optical illusion for sure, but still appealing. It was a good day for kingfishers; we counted eight so there are small fish in the water which keeps them here. The village of Juskatla looks like a dump site with old houses ripped apart and pieces lying around. The windows in the big office building have been removed and the place is an empty shell. Where the town used to be flocks of Canada Geese wander, one wearing a red neck-band, banded in the Copper River Delta. Animals move closer when people depart.

Back in Port Clements Brian had kept a watch on his feeder all day and turned up four Golden-crowned and three White-crowned Sparrows plus a good flock of around thirty-eight juncos. A Merlin flashed over just before dark, the only raptor for the day. In spite of the early drizzle and the gloomy morning, it was a lovely day in Port Clements and the tea and Christmas goodies at Sue’s place was a very welcome treat. Thanks to Bryan, Brian, Sue and Shellene for their friendly contributions to the Port Clements count. Total species: 49.

 

Just Posted

Subsea internet cable to link up Haida Gwaii

Cable to connect Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast with mainland network

Tlellagraph: Sweet tips for beating the big SAD monster

By Janet Rigg Well, how are we all doing? 2018 appears to… Continue reading

Northwest economy remains uncertain

The Northern Development Initiative Trust releases its State of the North economic report

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Photos: Ts’aahl wins super-close Clan Tournament

Three games finished in overtime. In the semi-final, the defending Clan Tournament… Continue reading

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Double-doubles and demonstrations: Employees rally outside Tim Hortons

Protests held in response to Ontario franchise owners cutting employee benefits and breaks

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Botox, bomb shelters, and the blues: one year into Trump presidency

A look into life in Washington since Trump’s inauguration

Christopher Garnier appealing murder conviction in death of off-duty cop

Jury found Garnier guilty in December, rejecting his claim she died accidentally during rough sex

Most Read