Journal 231 - Nov. 23, 2007
Nov. 20 - CRADLE OF LIFE - Trusting the weather forecast for sunny periods, I decided to visit the Little Qualicum estuary. Slight patches of blue peeked through the gray and white layers of cloud as I left Nanoose Bay giving me hope, but the heavy, dark cloud towards Qualicum cast omnimous doubts in my mind. I took my time, stopping at San Malo, Parksville Park, French Creek and Qualicum. The cold chill of winter hung in the air, intensified by a slight wind from the southeast. Nothing changed by the time I reached the beach access down Kincaid Road. I was reluctant to leave the cosy confines of my vehicle, but it was too late to turn back. I hastily pulled on my jacket, touque and gloves; set up my tripod and camera; and boldly set out towards the estuary. Normally there would be a few hearty souls on the beach, but I was sure that wisdom and comfort won out over frosty breath, pink cheeks, and frozen fingers. Fortunately, the birds and wildlife had no choice - Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers were busy probing the mud and sand for worms and invertebrates. Eagles were all around, some feasting on salmon carcasses while others perched on trees and snags, resting and watching for an easy meal. Flocks of well-fed gulls gathered in groups enjoying the silent company of each other. Meanwhile, the rivermouth was a frenzy of activity as mixed bunches of buffleheads and goldeneye dove regularly to retrieve loose salmon roe. Sreamlined Red-breasted Mergansers zipped by every few minutes as they headed upstream to start their downstream drift. Seals and sea lions regularly poked their heads above the surface for a breath of air, and sometimes snorting and trumpeting before submerging for another fish. A few Bonapartes and Mew Gulls worked the surface in a circular pattern - plunging from the air whenever a meal was spotted. Small flocks of Trumpeter Swans dotted the shallows just north of the creek before setting off to the potato fields. It was indeed, the cradle of life where death and life is a continuum. The cold, dull conditions were not conducive to photography, but I was still fulfilled to be in the midst of one of the wondrous events of nature.
Eagles, eagles everywhere ... not as good as Brackendale, but very special in its own way.
A few Bonapartes gracefully circled in front of me searching for the drifting roe.
It seemed wierd practicing flight shots of a Bonie on a winter's day, but one has to stay in practice.
A Western Gull, looking well-fed.
Nov. 22 - ALMOST HEAVEN - The sun was shining, the sky was a deep, pollution-free blue, and the air was still. It was a perfect day to be out, and nothing was going to deter me from revisiting the Little Qualicum Estuary. I'm glad I did as it was truly almost Heaven.
Right in front of the parking space were three juvenile eagles. One was enjoying breakfast while the other two looked enviously on.
The two onlookers left and I'm not sure if it was the same two that returned to harass the breakfast eagle.
They made several dives at the breakfast eagle without success.
The third dive worked - the breakfast eagle was flushed and the spoils were grabbed by one of the attackers. (No love lost between relatives.)
Predators and Pacifists - Trumpeter Swans paddled fearlessly in and around roosting eagles.
I'm not sure if it was the Coast Guard Boat that roused the Trumpeters or whether it was just time for them to leave for the farm fields. I think it was the former as the first waves of swans flew right over me heading south before circling back to the north. Later, the remaining flocks just headed straight north.
it is always an impressive sight to see one the largest bird species in flight.
I've been meaning to visit Comox for some flight shots, but I don't think that's necessary any more.
Like the other ducks, the Buffleheads drifted down the river with the current then flew back up to reposition themselves.
The calm waters and blue sky provided a marvellous background for the Red-breasted merganser.
Common Goldeneyes joined the Buffleheads right at the rivermouth
INTO THE SOUP - As I wanted to arrange a book promotion with the Clock Tower Gallery in Port Alberni, I reluctantly left the beauty of the Little Qualicum. The snow capped peaks sparkled in the sunshine as I neared the HUMP on the way to Port. I was hoping for some good photography weather, but that was not to be. As expected, there was not a sign of sunshine on the other side of the Hump. I suppose it didn't matter as the only birds I saw were black and white.
I was face-to-face with the Common Murre, but it was too close for a picture. I had to settle for a very poor distant shot. My Pacific Loon shots weren't worth keeping - I just missed a close shot of the loon eating a fish.
On the other hand, the Horned Grebe was very compliant.
Nov. 23 - A second sunny day at Little Qualicum was not to be as a dark shroud hung over Qualicum. After breakfast at Lefty's and a visit to the artisan's craft fair where I had a brief reunion with silversmith, Jonathan Rout, and a pleasant meeting with master potter, Sandy Richardson, there was still no sign of sun. Before heading home I detoured through the sunshine in Lantzville and found Ralph with the Spotted Sandpiper at Sebastion Park. I didn't have my camera out for Spottie, but I did catch up with my nemesis from Port Alberni.
Pacific Loons are fairly common around Sebastion Park, but they usually keep their distance. It didn't help to have a canoist paddle by just as the loons were approaching.
How about a Horned Grebe in the sunshine?
The Nanoose scoter flock was just off Eby Road. They were busy flying back and forth.
STRANGE BUDDIES? Yesterday I saw a Black-bellied Plover and Dunlin that were inseparable at Qualicum. Today at Sebastion, three Horned Grebes were attached to two Surf Scoters. The Surf Scoters didn't mind as they kept taking fish from the Grebes. (Maybe the Grebes were trained slaves?) At Nanoose Bay two Dunlin hung out with five Killdeer.
At the Nanoose estuary I ran into a House Finch Christmas tree. The whole flock posed for me but I only took a photo of one male and one female.
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