Thursday, February 19, 2009

Birds of the midwinter

Black Turnstones

Even though it is technically midwinter, the spring migrations have started. Yesterday down on Mannion Bay I came across this flock of black turnstones hanging out with the mew gulls stopping off here to feast on crabs and sand fleas. They overwinter here on the south coast. preparing to make their way slowly to their breeding grounds on the Alaskan coast. These ones are all done up in their breeding plumage, ready to return to the breeding grounds, but they have a few more months before things thaw up there.

Also on this little walk, a great blue heron and our resident ornery but beautiful swan. Oh and for good measure, our resident fawn, who hangs out with the feral chicken we look after. We had two chickens, but one succumbed to the red tailed hawk that was hanging around here a few weeks ago. All that is left of poor Huckleberry is a pile of feathers and some well picked over shoulder bones.

It's funny weather right now. Along the beaches and exposed roads down low the smells of summer are wafting around - dry fir needles and dust - while in the forest and the low lying meadow in Crippen Park, there is still several inches of snow. There has been snow on that meadow since December 16, and we have had so little rain - less than 30mm this month - that it shows no signs of washing away anytime soon. Usually snow like that, even in great quantities is gone in a few days, but the extended snow falls of Christmas combined with a thaw/freeze cycle and the generally dry and sunny and cold weather has prolonged winter for an extended spell.