A Morning in the Marsh

Guest post by Marcie Callewaert

The Somenos Marsh is a renowned bird watching location just north of Duncan, British Columbia. It is home to hundreds of bird species who are year-round residents, and many that just stop by on their migration path. Besides birds; muskrats, beaver and river otter also reside here. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society has been working to build accessible boardwalks around areas of the marsh that are of interest such as Watt’s Walk off of Highway 1 and the Garry Oak Forest to the east side of the marsh. The BC Forest Discovery Centre borders the north side of the marsh and the centre’s Somenos Marsh Trail follows the edge of the Ducks Unlimited Nesting Area. The trail continues along the Somenos Marsh for a distance and through a field before entering the forest. Many species of birds can be seen in this area because of the variety of habitats within such a small area.

I went to visit Watt’s Walk on Tuesday, May 10th 2011, to see what bird species I could identify and photograph. I was quite excited to hear a lot of bird song – they seemed to be in every bush and shrub and atop every tree. Not that I could find any of the birds! It took a few minutes sitting on a conveniently located bench before they began to emerge into sight.

First a song sparrow, then an elusive shadow through the branches, and next a great blue heron flying over head! The tree swallows were out in full force catching insects in mid air and pausing only briefly on fence posts nearby. There was one Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) in particular that I enjoyed watching. Every time I moved too close with my camera and tripod – it flew away. But before I knew it, it would be back on the very same branch! The last time I approached it let me get rather close, and this is when I got my best series of shots.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) #1 © Marcie Callewaert
The melodious song of a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) is a sign of spring. Image © Marcie Callewaert
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) #2 © Marcie Callewaert
Taking a break between choruses. Image © Marcie Callewaert
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) #3 © Marcie Callewaert
A final look at the friendly Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia). Image © Marcie Callewaert

On the other side of the boardwalk, the flash I saw through the branches earlier reappeared. This time though, it landed on a nearby branch and sat still for a moment! A Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)! Its cheery song lit up the marsh and I happily clicked away.

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) © Marcie Callewaert
A Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) sings from a tree top in Somenos Marsh. Image © Marcie Callewaert

With the abundance of Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor), there was no doubt I would get some shots of them. Whether they would sit for me was another question. In the end I had a nice encounter with a puffy swallow on an old fence post, and another on a bird house.

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) © Marcie Callewaert
A Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) rests on a convenient fence post. Image © Marcie Callewaert

The marsh is a delightful place to visit, particularly in the migratory months of the spring and fall when the most birds are present. For more information please visit the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society and the BC Forest Discovery Centre.

Getting There:

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About the Contributor:

Marcie is a nature photographer located on southern Vancouver Island. She carries her camera with her nearly everywhere she goes, and because of this, she has many photos to share of wildlife encounters at home, at work and all the places in between. Marcie’s photography can be found online at MEC Photography or on Facebook.