Journal 233 - Nov. 29, 2007
A BOBOLINK DAY
It was a gorgeous fall day, and I didn't try to make any excuses to justify a trip down to Central Saanich Road to visit the Bobolink. "What was the Bobolink thinking?" It should have been down in central South America enjoying the warmth around some freshwater marsh or grassland. Instead, it's done a little reverse migration similar to the recent Tropical Kingbird. Like the Dickcissel a few years ago, the Bobolink has been hanging out in the bulb fields with the Skylarks, Western meadowlarks, Savannah Sparrows, Californian Quail, Wilson's Snipes, a few bunny rabbits, and a few curious birders like Agnes, Cheryl, Rick, Jeff, Mary, Chris, and a couple of others.
Birding Destination? - It is amazing that the Vantreight Bulbfields have become a well-known destination for birders all across North America. Where else are you guaranteed to see European Sky Larks on our continent? As well, the bulb fields has also been a magnet for a number of rare grassland birds such as the Bobolink and Dickcissel that sometimes use the fields as a staging area for their migration. Meanwhile, resident birds like Mourning Doves, Wilson's Snipes, and a variety of sparrows are regular visitors to the fields.
Just before leaving the fields I thought to myself that we were fortunate the owners were concerned about the fields not just for agriculture but also as a bird habitat. To that end they were also cooperative in allowing birders to access the property to enjoy the birds. As I left, I lamented the day when the fields would be sprouting condos instead of daffodils and gladiolas.
It was a pleasant surprise to receive an email from Ian Vantreight the next day regarding his development plans for the property. (Ian knew I was there because I had emailed one of his workers photos of the Bobolink.) The first thing I noted was that ALL THE AGRICULTURAL LAND WOULD BE PRESERVED! RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT WOULD BE RELEGATED TO A ROCKY CORNER OF THE PROPERTY WHICH COULDN'T BE USED FOR AGRICULTURE. This is a move that birders and environmentalists should applaud and support. The Vantreigt proposal contains a number of initiatives aimed at maintaining the highest standards of "green" development possible. Details of the plans are available at http://daffodil.com. Failure of this development proposal could easily see the land sold to less environmentally sensitive owners and subdivided into small parcels of hobby farms that would have little benefit to nature or the environment.
Although I have never been known for political activism, I will be witing a letter to the editor and doing whatever I can to support the development plan. It is too easy to sit back and feel hopeless, while our environment is ravaged and nature destroyed. Although the natural habitat has already been destroyed, large chunks of agricultural land like the Vantreight bulbfields still offer viable habitat and support to many avaian species. It is worth preserving.
The Bobolink proved to be a difficult subject as it tended to skulk around in the deep vegetation, but occasionally it would flush close to one of the roads.
The good news was that it was much more approachable than the Skylarks which aren't approachable at all.
It was most approachable when it was busy munching on seeds.
The best opportunity came when one of the workers came out with a tractor and started to mow some of the rows. Obviously, the Bobolink flushed and landed within sight for a few pictures.
It did occasionally land on some tall grass and weeds, but most of the time I was too far away.
As usual, there were many Mourning Doves in the fields.
A QUICK STOP AT ESQUIMALT LAGOON
Common Goldeneye at the duck feeding station.
Common Goldeneye leaving the duck feeding station.
Northern Pintail at the feeding station.
Northern Pintail leaving too - the rowing crew was passing by.
A QUICKER STOP AT CLOVER POINT
Black Turnstone on a log.
The Harlequin Duck is one of the regulars at Clover Point
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