Aug. 26 - After the Ruff and Buff in my last journal, I back to enjoying the regulars. But, isn't that the nature of birding? Beginning birders can expect a lot of new birds over the first couple of years, but after that, you just have to be content learning more about the usual birds.
I did try a couple of times to find the Ruff for some better pictures, but it was still quite wary on Aug. 21. Ralph Hocken had better luck on the morning of the 22nd, but it was a no show that evening. It did show up again on the 23rd, but I was on my way home from a family hike up Mt. Washington and didn't hear about it until that evening. That was the last reported sighting. I took one last unsuccessful look on the 26th. Hopefully, it has found another fertile feeding area as it makes its way down the coast. It was interesting to read that the Ruff is still rare, but it is Washington State's most frequent visiting Eurasian shorebird. I have no access to any data for Vancouver Island, but I would guess that over a decade there would be less than one sighting a year.
Watch out below - Just another pic from last week's visit to Cowichan Bay. We saw 6 Ospreys on Aug. 20, but Derrick reported 7 on Aug. 21.
Aug. 22 - As mentioned previously, we are in an irruption season for Red Crossbills. I even ran into a couple while I was looking for the Ruff at Columbia Beach. The male was quite shy compared to the female.
The female didn't mind the presence of a photographer as she munched the dry seaweed for her minerals and fibre.
On my way home I popped into San Malo Bay. (That's what the mud flat becomes at high tide.) It was fun to see the Green-winged Teal back in town as well as the Northern Pintails. The only shorebirds around were a few Lesser Yellowlegs.
Aug. 23 - On our way to Mt. Washington I spotted some bird activity in a grove of alders. Among the birds that were hawking flies was the female Western Tanager.
Mt. Washington is not a productive area for bird photography. I lugged my big camera and lens around the 5 km trail for the second and last time this year. As expected, there wasn't much to shoot. I just took a picture of this dream-catcher to make it worthwhile.
No 3-Toed or Hermit Thrush, but you guessed it - Gray Jays all over the place. I learned something new today. I had only seen Gray Jays pan-handling for food in the past. Today, I was surprised to see them hawking insects like flycatchers and foraging on the ground. Of course, they ceased those activities as soon as they noticed my lunch bag.
One of the juvenile Gray Jays challenged me to a game of hopscotch. Does anyone still play that game?
Of course, the adult Gray jay was too sophisticated to join in the game.
We met Joe and Dalinda on the 5 km trail. Joe runs bird tours to Costa Rica, but this year he's doing Peru. He told me about his white-tailed Junco so, not to be outdone, I'm posting a photo of one of my two white-tailed Juncos. I guess they're quite common - perhaps, a case of delayed development in the other tail feathers.
Aug. 24 - I just happened to be passing Holden Creek on my way to Cedar where I was going to pick blueberries. There were only a few shorebirds present as the lack of really high tides has left the fields almost dry. Even the Peregrine seemed disappointed. One of the few groups around included 3 Baird's and one Semipalmated Sandpiper.
The Baird's were extra careful in keeping an eye open for the Peregrine.
Aug. 25 - Most of the California Quail chicks in the area are almost full grown. I was surprised to find a fairly young family down at San Pareil. I talked to some people on the beach and they mentioned that they had seen a Chukar in the same place a few days ago. Although Chukars have been reported periodically on the Island, I have yet to encounter one.
Aug. 25 - Can you believe this was the first Semipalmated Plover I have seen this year? I was looking for the Ruff at Admiral's Lagoon when the "Semiplover" wandered right in front of me.
Although the Semiplovers aren't abundant on the Mid-Island, I usually encounter at least 5 or 6 in the fall migration.
Aug. 27 - Admiral's Lagoon is an excellent spot to watch Black Turnstones. As the tide rises, they fly from the gravel bar to the main beach. It's a good place to work on flight shots as their flight is almost predictable, and if it's late afternoon, the sun is at your back.
Sometimes if the Turnstone doesn't like you, it'll fly back to the gravel bar. When the gravel bar floods, the Turnstones will leave en masse along with the Black-bellied Plovers, gulls, Black Oystercatchers, and any other shorebirds.
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