Dec. 4, 2007 - AFTER THE STORMS - Two days of snow and icy roads followed by high winds and a torrential pineapple express ... Fortunately, the mid-Island was spared of any disastrous consequences although a few inches more and the Englishman River would have overflowed with some serious problems for San Pareil. Otherwise, flooding and power outages were minimal. The low areas of the estuary were inundated, making it difficult for humans but quite delightful for the ducks that seemed to be enjoying the expanded range. There was no precipitation today, but it was still mostly overcast and cool. It was a good chance to get some fresh air and check on a few birds around San Pareil and French Creek.
Birds were plentiful just offshore of San Pareil. Pacific Loons and a variety of ducks were everywhere.
Sensing there wouldn't be many photo opportunities today, I took a few distant shots of the Pacific Loons. This had to be about 30 m away.
The only bird that ventured into range was a Red-necked Grebe. Its drab winter colours matched the drab winter day.
Dec. 6 - My plan today was to find some sunshine, and I decided to drive south until I hit blue sky. That took me to the sunny Cowichan Valley and the Cowichan estuary to search for some Red-throated Loons.
There were no loons of any description along the Dock Road, but there were Bald Eagles of every description just about on every tree and pole. I didn't have to exit my vehicle for a couple of close shots.
I did stop at a blackberry bramble and tried some pishing. A Fox Sparrow was the first to respond, followed by two Song Sparrows and a Bewick's Wren.
My next stop was Art Mann Park. As expected, the Mallards, American Coots, and gulls were waiting for some handouts.
I scanned the lake for Canvasbacks or Ruddy Ducks but came up empty. A female Hooded Merganser entertained me while I was waiting.
I always had the impression that the Common Mergansers were like big tough bullies, but on the contrary. They are as shy and skittish as most wild ducks.
The Common Mergansers knew I was there and stayed out of range. Finally, a newcomer flew in and swam in front of me.
Some distant activity caught my eye. It was a Double-crested Cormorant with a large catfish. I didn't know there were catfish on the Island.
Despite being about 25 m. away, the cormorant was still spooked by my presence and kept retreating with its catch. I'm, not sure if it was afraid or just didn't want to share.
I didn't think the cormorant could swallow the fish, but it took one last dive and emerged with a big lump in its throat. It eventually took off but seemed to require a longer runway.
Just before Lakes Road I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk in the alders. It was rush-hour traffic, but I managed to pull over for a couple of quick shots.
Dec. 7 - I had planned one last, sunny day visit to Deep Bay before Christmas. I didn't expect it to be so soon, but my motto is "Do it now!" (just for birding - not chores.) It was sunny, so I did it.
As usual, Deep Bay was a veritable bath tub and there were plenty of rubber duckies floating around. I had to wait for the Long-tailed Ducks to get closer. Meanwhile, there were other ducks like the Common Goldeneye to warm up the camera.
The Common Goldeneye were not quite as shy as the Long-tails.
The one duck that seemed comfortable with my presence was the Bufflehead. It was merrily diving away about 12 meters from me.
Finally, a male Long-tailed Duck drifted close by. It was reasonably close for a few pictures and actually stayed fairly close until I left.
I usually go to Deep Bay more often in the fall, but this was only my second visit.
I love hearing the gentle voices of the Long-taileds, and they still remind me of puppy dogs.
The Horned grebes were even less shy than the Buffleheads. Quite often one would pass within 3 meters.
I think the Horned Grebes were on to something. There seemed to be a few fish lurking close to shore.
Human activity was minimal at the marina so it was worth checking out. I was rewarded with a Pelagic Cormorant.
It was busy diving for a variety of snacks.
The first snack was a small fish, but the second looked like a shrimp.
A Red-breasted Merganser was also busy diving but didn't seem to have any luck.
Three juvenile Surf Scoters were hanging around. They were diving for mussels.
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