Birdlife in period of transition

Early August is a time of stasis in the birdlife of the Sunshine Coast as the frenetic activity of our breeding birds is over for the year while wintering species are still largely absent to the north and east. Some migratory movements are taking place – for example, there is a trickle of shorebirds heading south (sandpipers, yellowlegs, dowitchers) that may be seen at muddy coastal locations such as the head of Porpoise Bay, Wilson Creek estuary and Oyster Bay. Also, winter resident black turnstones and surfbirds are reappearing in small numbers at their preferred locations such as White Islets and other offshore rocks.

On the ocean the first common loons and red-necked grebes return from interior breeding locations. In Porpoise Bay the gull population is increasing as mew gulls, Bonaparte’s gulls and the occasional ring-billed gull forage on the mudflats. 

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Violet-green and tree swallows are the earliest spring migrants to appear on the Sunshine Coast beginning in early March. They are also the first to depart in the fall and most have already left by the first of August. Conversely, their congeners, purple martins, are late breeders and the nestboxes erected for them on pilings in Porpoise Bay, Wilson Creek and elsewhere are busy places in August.

Barn swallows, a seriously declining species, and late arrivers, are often present until mid-September as they push the envelope raising their second and even third clutches of young. 

In mid-August the first migrant ducks such as mallards, pintails and green-winged teal reappear on the mudflats at Porpoise Bay and the adjacent Sechelt Marsh. 

The reporting area for Sunshine Coast birds is synonymous with the administrative boundary of the Sunshine Coast Regional District and takes in the areas around Salmon, Narrows and Jervis inlets to their respective heights of land. These locations are remote, water-access only, and followed by strenuous hiking to reach the alpine elevations.

However, there are birds here that are not to be found at lower and easily accessed locations. In July, Kaiden Bosch made the effort to climb up to Stakawus Peak in the remote Deserted River area of upper Jervis Inlet. He was rewarded with species only available in these locations: rock ptarmigan, gray-crowned rosy finch and breeding American pipits.

To report your sightings or questions, contact tony@whiskeyjacknaturetours.com or 604-885-5539.

Good birding.

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