Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Reserve 1st?

Rufous on Red Current (Library Image)
When I arrived at this mornings chosen venue, once again not wanting to go too far afield due the weather, I got the distinct feeling that I'd probably ended up making the wrong decision.

As I arrived at Maplewood Flats on the North Shore of Vancouver the rain had just begun to set in and I had a distinct feeling it was here to stay. As I looked out across the bay to the south it seemed a lot brighter and clearer and I wondered why I hadn't headed off in the direction of Boundary Bay to the south. When in fact I did arrive back in Downtown Vancouver, soaked to the bone once more some two hours later, the sun was indeed shinning. But hey, that's just the way things are here with the climate and you just have to get used to it!

I did in fact have an excellent 90-minutes at Maplewood despite what was now a mixture of rain and snow. As I walked up to the bird feeding station, which is located just after you enter the reserve, and is enclosed in a lovely wild garden, I was instantly staring point blank at a Rufous Hummingbird, which was hovering and taking in the newly flowering Red Currant blossom. I still can't get used to seeing these stunning little guys in this current cold, rainy, unfriendly environment.

The Rufous is an amazing bird, they winter in Mexico and south Texas. In the spring, they migrate up the Pacific Coast, passing through British Columbia and reaching as far north as south-central Alaska, and they are thus the northernmost breeding Hummingbird. They arrive in BC around late March and early April, their arrival typically coincides with the bloom of Red Currant and Salmonberry.

Beaver (Library Image)
My next surprise came about while crossing the Old Barge Channel Bridge when I noticed a large mammal swimming across to the bank. At first I thought River Otter as I'd seen one on my previous visit. However, as soon as the animal reached the bank it was unmistakably a Beaver, Canada's largest rodent and instantly recognised by it's broad scaly tail. Not only a surprise to see one during the day, as these rodents are primarily nocturnal, but when I reported it to Patricia in the reserve office, she believes it may in fact be the first sighting on this site, we shall see.

Other highlights of the visit before I aborted were 3 Black Oystercatcher and 2 Greater Yellowlegs on the mudflats, plus Purple Finch, House Finch, American Goldfinch and a pair of Hooded Merganser.