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Some rare species observed in October

Good birding

October is typically an interesting month for birds on the Sunshine Coast as there is much transitioning from summer to winter species and other species may appear here in the course of migratory movements.

From Oct. 14 to 23, many flocks of geese flew overhead, either over land or out over the strait. Migrating flocks of snow geese and Canada geese are noisy as they keep up a constant chatter as they fly overhead at considerable altitude.

A few greater white-fronted geese also appeared at various locations, and a flock of mainly cackling geese was present at the turf farm on Mason Road in West Sechelt. Cackling geese were only created as a separate species a few years ago and they are a miniature version of a Canada goose, barely larger than a duck.

Brant geese have always been a Sunshine Coast enigma as they are rarely reported here, yet they must pass over/along our Coast twice a year in huge numbers. Some clues as to why the birds might pass by unnoticed emerged from a whole series of sightings from Oct. 17 to 21.

Penny Hall was the first to see a flock of birds flying low over the water off Bonniebrook. Then Kai Bosch observed numerous small flocks flying in the vicinity of White Islet while he was out kayaking. Finally John Hodges saw up to 1,000 birds in many small flocks from the Roberts Creek pier. All these sightings of brant involved generally small flocks flying low over the water, often far offshore, and almost silent (murmuring sounds instead of loud honking). Perhaps the mystery of how brant can escape detection on their twice, yearly passage along the Sunshine Coast has been solved.

The rarest bird of the month was the swamp sparrow that Rick Wright identified on Garden Bay Road on Oct. 8. This was only the seventh local record of this species, which is a regular, but rare wintering species along the Pacific Coast.

Hodges observed a brown pelican from the Roberts Creek pier, a rare but regular fall visitor to the Sunshine Coast and Bosch located a single tundra swan in Porpoise Bay.

On Oct. 24, Muriel Osbourne photographed a real blue jay (not to be confused with our local stellerís jays) visiting her feeder on Gower Point Road in Gibsons.

Although there have been about 20 records of this species on the Sunshine Coast, it has been a few years since the last one appeared. While looking for the blue jay, Bosch heard the distinctive raspy calls of a mountain chickadee and located the bird for another good record.

Hall photographed a white-winged crossbill at her feeder in West Porpoise Bay on Oct. 27. This species is very rare at low elevations along our Coast.

To report your sightings or questions, email or call 604-885-5539.



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