Today was just about perfect. Birding in the morning, a nap at midday, cut the grass, had a shower, ate ordered-in pizza, had a beer and watched the hockey. Unfortunately that's where it all went horribly wrong. The Vancouver Cancuks were 1-0 up in the last period with a minute to go when Nashville scored, then beat them in overtime. Ok, other than that is was perfect. At 06:02am I grabbed a toasted bagel and a large double-double from Tim Horton's then headed to Rathtrevor Beach. It was a glorious morning and luckily I had the place to myself. My target birds were shorebirds though there was a severe lack of them; basically there were 2 Black Oystercatcher and one unidentified distant peep. There was, however, just over 200 Pacific Black Brant on the shoreline. Savannah Sparrows were all over the place, Townsend's Warbler, Pacific Wren, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Robin and Varied Thrush were all singing their hearts out.
My next stop was at the Englishman River Estuary where I managed to find two new year birds: Western Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper. Not much else to report here other than a few Green-winged Teal and a family of Canada Geese.
Another quick stop at the Parksville Community park produced a Merlin, about 30 more Brant, lots of Savannah Sparrows and a beautiful Bonaparte's Gull in breeding plumage.
I then headed up to Little Mountain where I spent about an hour poking around. All the usual suspects were present though I still had no luck in finding the pygmy owl. Species here included Red Crossbill, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Cassin's Vireo, Townsend's Warber, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Varied Thrush, Common Raven, Turkey Vulture and a cracking adult male Northern Harrier, which was seen flying above the trees from the bluff. The best bird though, was a calling Sooty Grouse (year bird) which was perched up in a tree. I watched this bird for about ten minutes, that was until a Turkey Vulture flew by, about 20 ft away, which sent the grouse crashing into the forest in shear panic!
My last stop on my morning's jaunt was the Englishman River. It was a pleasant walk but nothing really exciting to report. Black-throated Gray Warbler were in good numbers as were Rufous Hummingbird, Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler. I did get one year tick; my first Hammond's Flycatcher.