Sept. 15 - Where Are All the Birds? - It's been a quiet week on the Mid-Island. The Common Terns and Parasitic Jaegers seem to have moved on from Deep Bay, and the migrating shorebirds have been relatively scarce. Other than the American Golden-Plovers at Holden Creek on Wed., there wasn't anything to report. Even my back yard birds have disappeared although I was happy to see my first flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets pass through the yard, and my resident Cassin's Vireo is still singing in the tall firs. However, my friend, Joe, spotted a Brown Pelican at Deep Bay which may signify a bountiful Pelican fall just like last year. I would like a photo of a healthy pelican this year. The one I saw last year at Goldstream Marina did not survive. Another interesting report was a pair of Horned Puffins seen off of Bamfield by a fishing guide I know. He has invited me, and I just might have to take him up on the offer one of these days.
As fate would have it, the planets aligned for me for a Friday (Sept. 14) visit to Victoria: my back was too sore to do any more roofing; Munro's and Goldstream Nature House had ordered some books; the weather was wonderful; the tides would be low; and some interesting birds like the Red Knot and Tattler had been reported by Chris Saunders and even photographed by Ted Ardley. A relaxing, sunny day of birding was the perfect therapy for my ailing back, not to mention my birding obsession.
Sept. 13 - On my way to Deep Bay, I made the usual quick stop at Qualicum to photograph some juvenile Harlequins that were sitting on the rocks close to shore. I was distracted by a pair of Red Crossbills that were foraging in the trees and occasionally visiting the beach. I almost got a picture of the crossed bills in action, but it was a little blurry. If you're wondering how the crossed bills work, the tips of the bill meet when the bill is sligtly open and can easily be inserted into a crevice like between the leaves of a seed cone. The bill is then closed and the tips spread open the cone. The seed is then easily extracted with the crossbill's tongue. (By the way, Deep Bay was soothingly tranquil but relatively birdless along the shoreline.)
Sept. 14 - Knot? - Not! Plover? - Never! Tattler? - Rattler! Despite the planets being aligned for today's outing, my gut feeling was slightly pessimistic. The Knot and Tattler have eluded me many times in the past, and I could see no reason that things would be different today. But, I wasn't deterred. How could I not enjoy a day of birding? And, there was always a chance for consolation birds.
Getting to the point, none of my target birds were at Clover Point, Bowker Creek, or Ogden Point. There wasn't even a Heermann's Gull on our first visit to Clover Point. After our quick hike to Ogden Point, we decided to check Clover again for some Heermann's. I wanted to take a few flight shots before they went south for the winter. We were in luck. An hour earlier, there were none. Now there were about forty. They were on my consolation list. With the sun at my back and a whole flock of Heermann's lounging on the rocks, it didn't take long to get a few good shots.
No orange bill? That could only mean a juvenile Heermann's.
Coming in for a landing.
Everybody needs a good stretch.
Just cruising in the breeze.
After I finished with the Heermann's, Houdini, the Glaucous-winged Gull landed to show me his magic act: First, you see it, then it's gone!
A few days earlier, Chris Charlesworth and his tour group had reported a Whimbrel at Esquimalt Lagoon. Would consolation #2 be available? It didn't take long for my wife to spot a large shorebird on the gravel island. Unfortunately, the tide was already half in and the Whimbrel was too far to photograph. No problem, I walked in up to my waist for some reasonable shots. Thanks for the report, Chris.
Any idea what the Whimbrel was thinking?
Any idea what the Whimbrel was catching?
Crabfest time! I'd only ever seen the Whimbrel digging for worms at the Victoria Golf Course in the spring. It was fun watching it chasing crabs.
I wonder if the Whimbrel knows the legal size for crabs?
Afternoon Nap - Even a Whimbrel needs its beauty sleep. The Black Oystercatcher was doing the same.
Goldstream Park is the best place I know of to photograph the American Dipper. There were only three possible problems. First of all, would there be any water in the river? Secondly, would the Dipper be home? Thirdly? Would there be enough light for pictures. The answers were: yes, there was a trickle of water; yes, the Dipper was home, and we found it right by the parking lot; and the lighting was poor. When I post small pictures, you know they weren't quite in focus. C'est la guerre! It was my first Dipper visit of the year and consolation #3.
Would there be a consolation #4? Derrick had recently reported Cinnamon Teals at the rest stop by Somenos. We took a close look but there was nary a bird in sight. The Forestry Pond was our last hope. Great Blue Heron, Green-winged Teal, and Hooded Mergansers - but wait! What's that in the tall grass across the pond? It was a Green Heron! I tried to sneak up for a close shot, but the Great Blue flushed, taking everything with it. We watched carefully as the Green Heron landed on a small snag at the north end of the pond. We drove to the next pull-off and eased our way towards the pond. Gradually I moved around a tree to see the Green Heron about 15 meters away perfectly illuminated by the sun. The Heron saw me too. It hopped to a higher branch and flew, but not before I got a few clicks. That was consolation #4. The best was saved for the last. It was a good day.
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE, TANNER'S BOOKSTORE COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS DEEP BAY - SHIP & SHORE VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS, MUNRO'S, Crown Publications, Ivy's UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS Comments, questions, or book orders? email email@example.com
SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
CAMPBELL RIVER - SAVE-ON FOODS
DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE
CHEMAINUS - Willow's Wild Bird Store
LADYSMITH - SALAMANDER BOOKS
NANOOSE - SCHOONER COVE MARINA
LAKE COWICHAN - GALLOPING MOON GALLERY
TOFINO - BOTANICAL GARDENS
Quadra Island - EXPLORE & BOOK BONANZA
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE, TANNER'S BOOKSTORE
COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS
BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS
DEEP BAY - SHIP & SHORE
VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS, MUNRO'S, Crown Publications, Ivy's
UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS
Comments, questions, or book orders? email firstname.lastname@example.org