Heavy rain overnight and still dull with low cloud at dawn but calm at 8C warming up to 12C by midday with light rain showers then heavy rain arrived from midday and back problems meant the afternoon spent in car reading and sleeping!
At Dungarvan early the usual birds were on the pond with a Lincoln’s Sparrowin the bushes. We then headed down to Waterton Park and looked at the marsh on the way in before walking up the Red Rock canyon road still closed to traffic after the 2017 fires. The first marshy area had a pair of Sandhill Cranesand a pair of Common Loons with one bird clearly visible on its nest with another bird calling from the lake the other side of the road. Marsh Wrenswere particularly noisy and obvious but in the cool cloudy conditions it was the flock of 300+Cliff Swallowsroosting in the willows that was most impressive. A few Tree Swallows joined the throng and three Trumpeter Swanswere on the large lake. Two singing Gray Catbirds, Warbling Vireo and Common Yellowthroat plus Great Blue Heron and displaying Wilson’s Snipes were a precursor to the walk up the canyon road. The air remained heavy with spits and spots of rain but a fine array of flowers in the meadows were a beautiful sight. Birds included singing Vesper Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and Clay-coloured Sparrows. Audubon’s Warbler and a singing Ruby-crowned Kinglet were in the burnt areas with an empidpossibly Alder Flycatcher on song, Northern Flicker but pride of place went initially to a pair of Mountain Bluebirdsfeeding in the colourful meadows. Five birds were seen in total but Julia kept saying she could hear hummingbirds! Eventually cloth ears found a miniscule hummer perched atop a 30-foot thin pine tree and it proved to be lifer number five a male Calliope Hummingbird. After this we managed to lock onto at least 10 birds feeding on the pinker flowers mainly the fireweed (Rosebay Willow Herb) but the cloud was getting thicker and the rain drops bigger. Two Pine Siskins, the first of many on the trip on the way back to the car, a fly-by male American Kestrel, a drumming Ruffed Grouseheard only, Spotted Sandpiper and a pair of Harlequin Duckson the river by the car park were the last birds before the rain set in and with bad back pains we hit the dry car. After lunch in Waterton at Trappers we looked at the lakes from the vehicle adding Bald Eagle, two Common Mergansers and a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers. Mammal sightings included 20+ Elk, Columbian Ground Squirrels, Coyote, White-tailed Deer and a number of Beaver Lodges but no actual beavers. Evening meal at Zums in Waterton and back for an early night in the heavy rain that was still falling and forecast for another 24 hours.