Aug. 21 - A DOUBLE-HEADER
The birding gods smiled upon me this week as I chanced upon not one, but two lifers in the past two days. Both were absolutely amazing birds with totally opposite dispositions. The first was totally wary, nervous, unapproachable, and barely photographable. The second was docile and comfortable, wandering within a couple of meters from me - a photgrapher's dream. They certainly spiced up my week, and it's only Tuesday. They'll also spice up this website since it's been awhile for any new birds. I hope you enjoy them.
Aug. 17 - Blackberries and Bird - Female Common Yellowthroat at Holden Creek.
Aug. 17 - Quiz Time - What two birds are seen in the above photo?
Aug. 18 - San Malo Dowi's - It's always an annual challenge to get Dowis right. Subject to correction, the white-bellied bird with orange-marked tertials is a juvenile Short-billed. The orange coloured undersides of the other bird suggests adult Long-billed still in breeding plumage. What do you think? Anyway, I'm happy with th photos as they were taken minutes before a huge thunder, lightning, and rain storm.
Aug. 20 - RBA - Juvenile RUFF - It just so happened that I had a few overdue bills to pay yesterday so I tossed in the camera and headed for Parksville. I usually take the camera just in case I see something interesting enroute, even if it's raining. Of course, after the bills I had to check out at least one birding location. I hadn't been to Admiral's Lagoon in a long while so that was it. When I arrived, I wasn't happy to see eight tourists and two dogs exiting the access, but I wasn't deterred. As soon as I got to the lagoon, a small group of peeps, Black Turnstones, and one Pectoral landed in front of me. I was focussing the camera on the Pectoral when I was distracted by another flock of peeps with one large shorebird. They swirled around then headed up the shoreline towards Qualicum. I proceeded to walk south to check out the few shorebirds around the lagoon. After an hour of dawdling, I decided that I should look for the large shorebird just in case it was new to me. On a hunch I drove to the last access at Eaglecrest. I spotted a few peeps and proceeded to walk slowly towards them. Suddenly they flew and were joined by the mystery shorebird. They flew west then swirled back in front of me. I frantically tried to focus on the stranger and managed to click the shutter 4 times before they landed on a distant gravel bar. A quick peek at the playback screen got my adrenalin running. I knew I had found a new bird, and I could almost picture it in Sibley's.
I was lucky. In the brief second or two that I had to focus and shoot, I managed three useable record shots out of four.
I was impressed witht he size of the sandpiper. It was clearly larger than the medium-sized birds like the Pectoral and huge compared to the Western and Killdeer.
My car was nearby so I nipped over to check Sibley's. My heart skipped when I saw the picture of the juvenile Ruff!
The Ruff was having a snooze on the gravel bar, but it must have radar as it never let me get close.
It flew down the shoreline with some peeps and began to forage in the seaweed above the tideline. Soon after it disappeared down the beach.
Aug. 21 - Holden Creek Terror - I can't prove it, but the scarcity of shorebirds at Holden could have been related to the presence of Peregrine, the sentry.
Aug. 21 - RBA - Buff-breasted Sandpiper - What's the odds of finding two new birds in two days on the Island without twitching? Pretty slim, but chalk up the BUFF-RUFF double for my last two days. Things didn't look promising at Holden Creek with the evil Peregrine looking on from an old fir snag and only a few scattered peeps around. After a discouraging hour of slogging in the mud and slapping mosquitoes, we decided to call it quits - that is, until we flushed a medium-sized shorebird from the tall salicornia.
I thought it was a Baird's until we relocated it down the field. My friend, Joe, was cautiously approaching the spot we saw it land when the bird slowly emerged from the salicornia and headed straight for me. From the buffy chest and long yellow legs, I knew it was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper even if I had never seen one before.
Unlike the Ruff, the Buff seemed absolutely comfortable among strangers. It foraged within 2 to 7 meters of us for over a half an hour before we left.
When I got home, I confirmed the identification in Sibley's and then read the Aududon's report on the web. It was sad to note that there are only about 15,000 in existence and the prognosis is unfavorable as much of their winter grassland habitat in South America is being turned into agricultural land.
I was fortunate to see the Buff today. Who knows if I'll ever see another.
Aug. 21 - Cowichan Bay Ospreys - No offense intended, but it was comical to see the Osprey nest in one of the lamp standards in the lumberyard instead of one the platforms especially built for them. Regardless, it was heart-warming to see that three young Ospreys had successfully fledged.
I was hoping to show Joe his second new sandpiper of the day. He wasn't disappointed as we had good distant views of the Buff at Admiral's Lagoon before it was flushed.
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