HP- August Bird Report
The next time you are on your hands and knees searching for your ball in the woods to the left of Pacific 4 or 5, look up! You might be met by a pair of large black eyes set in the middle of a round, feathered face. You would be looking at Species Number 96 on our Highland Pacific bird list, the Barred Owl (see photo). Although breeding across much of south central Canada, this large bird (about 19 inches long) was not known to occur on Vancouver Island until one was recorded in greater Victoria in 1969. Its westward expansion has continued; it is now one of our most common owls. Recall the recent cases of Barred Owls getting into living rooms in Oak Bay, presumably entering via the chimney, in search of a nesting site. Most surprising is that it took almost 3 years since I began this inventory for someone to see or hear a Barred Owl on this golf course. Credit goes to Sean Valikoski of the maintenance staff. He has shown a growing interest in identifying and photographing the birds, mammals and other vertebrates inhabiting the course. Sean is also credited with hearing the plaintive, descending “Peeeerrr” call of a Western Wood-Pewee, then later photographing it. It becomes Species Number 97 on the list.
Total Species Identified on August 10: 22
Total Birds Tallied on August 10: 262
New Species Added since last report: 2 (Barred Owl and Western Wood-Pewee)
It is clear that the autumn migration has begun, with large groups of mixed birds seen on the course today. Look for high numbers of swallows around the driving range pond and roosting on the power lines above. Groups of American Robins are here…both young and adults…scruffy looking as they moult into “basic” winter plumage. They have probably come from our north coast or SE Alaska.
Another breeding season has gone by with no Purple Martins accepting our martin nest tower on Highland 4-5. However, an estimated 40 martins were on the course this day, calling loudly as they work their way to South America. And watch and listen for pairs of Red-tailed Hawks soaring and screeching high overhead, wings stiff and legs hanging down. Puzzling but interesting behaviour!
And who will find our 100th species? It could happen any day now.