A black-and-white warbler draws attention in Panama Flats in Saanich on May 13. (Geoffrey Newell photo)

A black-and-white warbler draws attention in Panama Flats in Saanich on May 13. (Geoffrey Newell photo)

Rare black-and-white warbler draws a crowd in Saanich

Panama Flats visitor a first for longtime Oak Bay birder and educator

Birders flocked to Panama Flats in Saanich on Saturday in hopes of spotting a rare black-and-white warbler.

Longtime bird watcher, photographer and educator Geoffrey Newell of Oak Bay spotted the rare bird – his first of its kind.

“Black-and-white warblers are highly migratory, breeding across Central and Eastern Canada and wintering in Central and South America. However, they are extremely rare west of the Rocky Mountains. Dozens of birders rushed over to Panama Flats on Saturday to see the bird. It was a cooperative male, singing from a Garry oak in the park’s southeast corner all day,” Newell said.

READ ALSO: Rare, predatory songbird tops Greater Victoria spring sightings

It’s the fifth ever recorded in Greater Victoria, with the last seen in 2012, he said.

It was new species No. 354 for Newell’s Greater Victoria list which made the discovery even more exciting.

Newell and his brother Jean started offering a new birding course to share their expertise this spring through Monterey Recreation Centre in Oak Bay. The brothers teach newcomers how to identify birds by plumage, shape, behaviour, flight style, vocalizations and the course includes a field trip.

Birding is a popular Greater Victoria pastime, with locals also reporting a couple of other rarities this weekend including a Swainson’s hawk spotted in Martindale Flats, and Lochside Drive north of Island View Road.

Visit ebird.org for details on the latest sightings.

READ ALSO: Victoria boy’s owl encounter draws thousands of YouTube views


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