We've all been hearing of the winter hardship that's been visited upon much of Europe and a good many birders have been gleaning the news for potential west-bound goodies.
The transatlantic wind that held strong and direct from the British Isles to North America for several days is shifting now.
The wind change takes with it many hopeful visions of sugar plum Euro-Birdies ....... until next time favourable conditions develop.
The prolonged on-shore flow also has a lot of eyes checking for pelagic birds, such as DOVEKIES, that might be pushed ashore and even inland. So far I haven't heard about anything unusual, though.
Here on MSI it's been largely uneventful, with just a hint of early migrants.
Our last SNOWY OWL departed a few days ago.
We don't usually think of owls as marine hunters but I've found evidence of RAZORBILL & HARLEQUIN kills. The ducks may be taken as they perch on shore and owls enjoy easy hunting if the Alcids are on the island.
However, no Alcids have come ashore yet. The Razos were most certainly nabbed on the water.
ALCIDS, in particular Razorbills & MURRES, are generally nearby but there's no significant rafting such as precedes the annual coming-ashore.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS continue at winter levels but I expect that there will soon be the annual pulse in the population as the regional population stages and departs for their breeding areas.
Other ducks are spotty: random RED BREASTED MERGANSERS (mostly singles); a few EIDERS; occasional small flights of LONG TAILED DUCKS and a few SCOTERS headed up the Bay.
Still just scattered GREAT CORMORANTS and the odd DOUBLE CREASTED CORMORANT.
No sign of migration, yet.
EAGLES continue their winter normal with one or two seen pretty much every day.
Gulls fluctuate with weather and apparent food supply but no big numbers yet. The regular Eagle visits no doubt discourage them, too. Gulls are a winter staple for these coastal-wintering Baldys.
PURPLE SANDPIPERS continue to exploit the unfrozen lightstation grounds, protesting loudly whenever they are disturbed. Much of the time they only scamper a few feet, just enough to stay out of reach while you walk past.
The single HORNED LARK continues, usually foraging around the buildings & boardwalks. It's been here for several weeks.
Friday produced a few ROBINS and a single JUNCO.
There also seemed to be a few extra SONG SPARROWS.
Over the whole island I've been seeing about 6 Song Sparrows in recent weeks.
On Friday I saw 7 just around the dwellings so I think that a few have starting to move.
Our "pair" of RAVENS were in Parliament with a dozen others on Thursday. I'm not one to look for Conspiracy but who knows what Unkindness they might perpetrate. I guess that's why there are Constables.
A few more GREY SEALS are arriving, although recent sea & surf conditions haven't been very conducive for them to haul out anywhere nearby.