Since mid-November a Citrine Wagtail has been reliably located in Courtenay, BC. For the most part it has been predictably located along the same stretch of road that it was originally located. Directions to that location, and a bit of history on the sighting, can be read at Jeremy Gatten’s blog here.
I returned to that location on Sunday December 30th, but was informed the bird had not been seen for 2 days (it has disappeared for several days on occasion in the past). I grew up in the Comox Valley, and so have a bit more insider knowledge about vantage points than others. So, after leaving the traditional location around 3:45 pm on Dec. 30th, I decided to check out an alternate spot. To my surprise, I immediately found the Citrine Wagtail in the fading light. This is a somewhat sensitive location in terms of site access, so I decided to check again first thing the next morning. I was delighted to again find the bird on Dec. 31st, and be able to show it to some very relieved American birders. For those wishing to twitch the bird, I am summarizing the directions to this “new” location here.
The bird is on private property, but still visible without entering any fields. Please obey all access rules, and do NOT enter any fields. It can be reached by following these directions:
Follow the same directions to the bird as previously described. Instead of parking near the pumphouse and walking down the laneway where it has been most often seen, continue east along the Comox/Dyke Rd. approximately 500 m. Park at the Rotary Viewing Stand parking lot on the south (estuary) side of the road. From the parking lot look across the road and find the first (westernmost) house. That house has a cedar hedge along the front and continuing along the side of the property. Beside this cedar hedge is a small laneway that leads to a field and a few more houses. The hydro powerlines also cross the road here, leading down this same laneway. At the botton of this laneway is a metal gate with a No Trespassing Sign, and another sign indicating that it is both conservation land and actively farmed.
The field beyond the gate is grassy, and a bit flooded in a few places. It is around these flooded pools that I first found the wagtail late Dec. 30th (~4pm). It was still present in this same location at least until 11 am on Dec. 31st. This field is known as “Simpson’s Farm”, and there is a metal Duck’s Unlimited plaque at the southeast corner of this field labelling it as such.
Birders may view the bird from the laneway, but the fields and driveways here are all private. Observers should only park at the rotary viewing stand, and not in the laneway. Use caution crossing the road, as it is busy! Nobody should enter the fields beyond the gate (you don’t need to in order to see the bird, and it is sometimes 10 m from the gate anyway). Even if you see dog-walkers in the fields, that does not imply permission to enter (they are residents of the laneway).
This could be where the bird sometimes disappears to, and should be checked if the bird is not found at its original location. Please be courteous and respectful of all landowners, do not trespass, and ensure that birders continue to be able to access this phenomenal rarity.