Jan. 15 - Deep Freeze Continues - We are now well into our second week of sub-zero temperatures but that is nothing compared to -28 in Inuvik today. I'm not complaining even though there haven't been many birding and photo opportunities. I'm not sure about how other birds are faring, but my backyard Juncos, Towhees, Song Sparrows, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Varied Thrushes have been spending a lot of time at the feeders. Today was one of those marginal overcast days with high, thin clouds occasionally allowing some filtered sun. It was enough to get me out, and it was about time for my first Deep Bay run of '07. Deep Bay was calm and quiet as expected. The harbour was also calm as it was covered with ice. There weren't many birds around, but that didn't matter. The peaceful setting is always therapeutic and a cathartic for whatever ails you. And if nothing ails you, it's good for that too.
The end of Deep Bay Spit is an unlikely location for a Black Oystercatcher as it has a fairly steep drop-off unsuited for limpets and mussels. I was surprised to find Blackie there and wondered why.
It didn't take me long to find out. It was nap time, and the bed of seaweed was softer than a Sealy Posturepedic mattress.
Three Long-tailed ducks were diving about 50 meters too far away for pictures, but there was an immature male Surf Scoter within range. If you look closely you can see that he was using dental floss.
At times the spit is an excellent location to practice flight shots as ducks, cormorants, and gulls often fly by. Today wasn't one of those days. All I saw was a lone male Common Goldeneye flying by - it was a bit out of range and the lighting was poor, but being trigger happy, I clicked anyways.
The only duck that wanted her photo taken was the female Bufflehead. She swam by several times and apologized for the dull weather, but I reassured her that it wasn't her fault.
If at first you don't succeed ... - Last week I mentioned that the handsome male Hooded Merganser was still on my "most wanted" list in terms of a decent close-up photo. I decided to try again at French Creek since the light overcast wouldn't accentuate the contrast and "blowout" as much. Of course, the Hoodies were nowhere in sight, but I had a bit of time. I waited patiently and entertained myself with the Common Mergansers for half an hour before two dark shapes appeared in the distance at the creek mouth. It was Mr. and Mrs. Hoodie. They were slowly working their way upstream towards where I was parked. They certainly weren't in a hurry, diving and feeding on the way. 20 minutes later, they were finally in my sights. The angle wasn't the best, and the sky had darkened, but the proximity was good. I was able to shoot at ISO 640, aperture f 6.3, and shutter 1/100 sec. which wasn't great for a moving target, but with a lot of clicks, I got a few reasonable shots of both the male and female. Considering the conditions, I was quite happy with the results.
A few female Common Mergansers were fishing right in front of me until they noticed the clicking shutter. If there's one improvement required for Nikon cameras, it's a quieter shutter.
Hey sexy girl! The female Hoodie always reminds me of the Marge Simpson. No, I don't watch the Simpsons, but my son always did when he was still at home.
The male Hoodie is beautiful. My son used to call him the golfball duck. That crest does look like a Titleist.
Mr. Hoodie hung around for all of 30 seconds, but that was enough for a few decent shots. For you camera fans, I underexposed -1.0 because of the white golfball.
Jan. 17 - My plan today was to catch the morning sun for a bit of birding and photography before a newspaper interview. As it happened, the interview was cancelled, and the sun was a no show, so I decided to go birding just to avoid going 0 for 3. Birds were scarce in the chilly overcast conditions, but I did encounter a MONTY at French Creek. I'll let Derrick explain that one.
With not too many birds around, I was ready to shoot anything. My first opportunity was a Bald Eagle on top of a tree at the west end of Qualicum.
Peek-a-boo - At the bird lookout I scanned the gull flock for anything interesting - nothing really dark and nothing with white wing tips. Just for fun I decided to take a picture of a snoozing Black Oystercatcher. Well, I guess it wasn't snoozing as its eye was open.
One of the other Oystercatchers looked up to see what I was doing so I took its picture too.
On the way home I popped into French Creek again as the tide was rising. There wasn't anything new except the tightrope walking Double-crested Cormorant.
Jan. 20 - Finally, a sunny day but just my luck to be burdened with several "must do" chores. That left me about 2 hours of prime time to check around. I was disappointed to see the tide out as that meant the ducks would even be further out. A quick trip to San Malo, Parksville Beach, and French Creek was birdless except for the usual feathered cast of gulls and ducks. The trip home was slightly better - there was a bit of rapture with a pair of raptors.
Kaye Road was Sunday morning quiet except for Mr. Redtail catching a few rays in a tall arbutus. I parked a fair distance away for a record shot, but it flew the coop when I tried to edge closer.
On Northwest Bay Road I thought I saw a Kestrel flying by. I turned around at the next intersection, but all I could find was a Merlin. I've never seen one with tail bands and grayish-blue head. Might be a Taiga?
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NANAIMO - BACKYARD WILDBIRD & NATURE STORE
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SAVE-ON FOODS (COUNTRY CLUB)
PORT ALBERNI - CLOCKTOWER GALLERY
COURTENAY - GRAHAM'S JEWELLERS
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DEEP BAY - Ship & SHORE
SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS
CAMPBELL RIVER - CAMPBELL RIVER MUSEUM
DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE
CHEMAINUS - LITTLE SHOP OF NOVELS
LADYSMITH - SALAMANDER BOOKS
NANOOSE - SCHOONER COVE MARINA
SOOKE - SOOKE HARBOUR HOUSE
LAKE COWICHAN - GALLOPING MOON GALLERY
TOFINO - BOTANICAL GARDENS
UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS
Comments, questions, or book orders? email email@example.com