|No, this female Ring-necked Duck does not have dandruff. It snowed and snowed this morning!|
I waited for the snow to slow down a little before heading out for a few hours of birding. The first order of business was to check over Maber Flats from the east end because the ducks were all concentrated there a week ago and I wasn't able to scan through them. From the end of Meadowbank Rd., I looked down over a large group of Green-winged Teals in hopes of at least finding a Common Teal. I must have passed over the flock two times before a candidate popped out. I initially thought there was a chance the bird was a hybrid because I saw the slightest trace of a vertical white bar that is typical of a Green-winged Teal. I think this can be shown on Common Teal, so I believe it is likely is a Common Teal. I will, however, try to get back down to the flats in the next couple weeks to give it a better analysis. If you happen to be birding on the Saanich Peninsula, go check it out and let me know what you think!
After checking the flats, I wanted to head over to Hovey Rd. to see if there was a blackbird flock around. Before I made it Hovey, I found myself pulling off to the side of Tomlinson Rd. because three white geese were in a field among the regular flock of Canada Geese. They appear to be the same group of three - one adult and two juveniles - that was at Martindale Flats last weekend. It appears that snow can strike twice in a day - take that lightning!
|The adult Snow Goose with one of the two juveniles, seen along Tomlinson Rd.|
I finished my day off out at Patricia Bay. When I was there last weekend, as you might recall, the tide was high, it was raining, and ducks were just offshore. By the afternoon today, the temperature rose a couple degrees and it was raining again. The difference, however, was the tide, which was quite low when I rolled up at around 3:30 p.m. When the tide is low at Patricia Bay it can be quite productive for gulls near the outflow of Wsikem Creek. I pulled off the road and scanned out over the gulls and immediately noticed a dark-backed individual. The gull had a clean white head, yellow-orange bill, and slate-grey mantle. It was a picture perfect Western Gull! This is the kind of bird that reminds you what a Western should look like. When you only see the ones at Clover Point and Esquimalt Lagoon, you kind of lose track of what a good Western looks like. I'm not saying there is never a proper Western at those spots, but there are a number of convincing hybrids and birds that are not quite as classic as you'd hope. I was eager to get out and try to get some photos of the Western at Patricia Bay, so I trudged my way out across the shore until I got close enough for some shots. The bird turned out to be quite cooperative as it feasted on clams and scrapped for prime shoreline real estate with the other gulls.
|The Western Gull with what appears to be a cracked Manila clam|
|Absolutely perfect specimen|
|Western Gull scrapping with a Glaucous-winged Gull over a morsel|
|Another profile shot showing this is a classic Western Gull|
I also had a handful of Thayer's and Mew Gulls, but only a couple of the Thayer's were close enough for a photo. For me, the amber eyes, straw-coloured base to a somewhat short bill, streaked head, medium grey mantle, and bubblegum pink legs are the key features of a Thayer's Gull.
|Two adult Thayer's Gulls on the shore at Patricia Bay|
Even with the poor weather, the birds put on a good show today. I think photos of bona fide Western Gulls are worth their weight in gold in the Pacific Northwest where "Olympic" Gulls - that's one name applied to Glaucous-winged x Westerns - are so prevalent. And let's not forget that double snow action - good day!