Journal 228 - Oct. 30, 2007
VICTORIA BIRDS (Oct. 23) - It was no surprise that once again, the Victoria region was the focus for some interesting birds in the past week. (There's a good reason why they are the CBC champs in Canada.) As I have no access to any bird records, I no idea how rare any birds might be, but I would hazard a guess that the Rustic Bunting sighted on Whiffin Spit was a mega-rarity. The Ash-throated Flycatcher in the Oak Bay area and the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Esquimalt Lagoon were also quite rare as well as several vagrant Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at Clover Point and Esquimalt Lagoon. Another remarkable and uncommon species was the wonderfully hyperactive Northern Mockingbird playing tag with the robins on Atkins Road. Throw in a few other uncommon birds like Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and Lapland Longspurs and the south Island was the place to be.
As much as I would have liked to see all of the rare birds mentioned, that would be asking for too much. As it were, I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen even one, and that was the delightful Northern Mockingbird.
My sincere thanks to the many south Island birders who have unselfishly posted their sightings on the internet. Encountering new birds is always an enjoyable and educational experience, and I'm happy to be able to share my experience with others through my photography.
A BUNTING DAY - It had been several years since I saw my last Snowbird at Deep Bay, and I had promised my friend, Joe, that today was a bunting day. We started off at Whiffin Spit looking for the Rustic Bunting. There was no sign of the rare bird, but we enjoyed the invigorating morning sun and the deliciously close up views of the Western Grebes. There were four of them inside the spit perfectly illuminated by the rising sun. Remembering to set the exposure compensation to - 0.3, I got few decent photos. Of course, it would have been more fun to see them catching some fish, but I think they were just catching some rays.
After our "grebe" session, it was off to Clover Point without stopping at Tim Horton's. Joe always says we are wasting time when we stop to eat even if I'm starving. But, today I brought a peanut butter and jam sandwich so I was ready to go. At Clover we found the male Snow Bunting immediately near the pumping station. Amazingly enough, it was in the exact location of the Rosy-Finch we found last year. Like the Rosy-Finch, the Snow Bunting was extremely co-operative. It showed no fear of people and seemed to be content just to keep foraging and eating. Again with the sunshine at our backs, it was ideal for photography, and it didn't take long to take over a hundred photos.
The last Snow Bunting I saw was at Deep Bay in 2005. I was happy to finally catch up to another one.
The Bunting was content to nibble on seeds and plant material.
HOODIES IN THE 'HOOD - Oak Bay may be an upscale neighborhood, but it's not too sophisticated for the "Hoodies." There's always a few Hooded Mergansers hanging around Oak Bay, and when the boys get together, they like to strut their stuff while the females are content to preen and put on their make-up.
The white crest of the male Hoodie is always spectacular.
When my son was young he called the duck "golfball head!"
The Hoodie can act tough when he wants to.
How's this for a giraffe impersonation?
On my way out of town I stopped at the Esquimalt Lagoon. There was a small group of Dunlin near the duck-feeding station.
Dunlin are one of our main winter shorebirds, and I have been pleased to see them regularly for the last two weeks.
Just as advertised in the report to the BCVIBIRDS website, the Mockingbird was on Atkins Road. Driving past the last reported sighting at 190 Atkins, I found a convenient parking spot at 199 Atkins. As I stepped out of the car, a group of robins flew by and "voila!" the Mockingbird landed on a stump right in front of me. Naturally, by the time I set my camera up, it was gone. I wasn't disappointed. I was happy to have found it. With a little patience and luck, it was mission accomplished in about an hour.
The Mockingbird was playing tag with a group of Robins.
The brownish colour on the chest indicated that this was a juvenile.
Did you know that the Mockingbird is the state bird for no less than 4 states? Texas, Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
There might have been a Mockingbird in the White House as Thomas Jefferson had a pet Mockingbird named "Dick." (Was there a a White House during his term?)
A SNOWY GULL? - I almost missed the injured Snow Goose at Clover Point as it was lying down close to a bunch of gulls. Someone said it wasn't able to fly because of an injured leg.
It wasn't surprising to see a group of Long-billed Dowitchers. Their winter range is just a bit south of Vancouver Island along the Pacific coast.
The Pectoral Sandpiper wasn't a surprise either as they seem to dawdle on their way south.
There's more than shorebirds at Holden. It can also be excellent for songbirds like the Golden-crowned Sparrow and many raptors.
THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER (Oct. 30) - For me the first day of winter is when I have to scrape the frost off the windshield and that's exactly what happened this morning. Of course, frost usually comes with sunny weather, making it the perfect time to visit the Long-tailed Ducks at Deep Bay.
I hadn't seen the Long-tailed Ducks since spring. It was like an old time reunion to see them after their summer breeding season up north.
There were only four Long-tailed Ducks today, but the population will be growing every day.
As expected, there were also a few Red-necked Grebes just off the spit. They have been there since August.
Harlequin Ducks swim and fly by the spit regularly as well as many other sea birds like Pelagic Cormorants and Common Loons.
Harlequins are one of my favorite subjects for the winter. Not only are the males very colourful, they are often close to shore for photo opportunities.
Sea Lions also swam by regularly. It was a shock when one of them snuck up behind me and snorted about 4 meters from my back.
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