Another housekeeping item. Have you noticed that the counter on my site goes backwards sometimes? I haven't had a chance to study the situation thoroughly, but my logs said I had over 6,000 hits last month while my counter said I had about 300. I've asked my service provider the check it out, but so far haven't had an explanation or solution. Like any website owner, I'm curious as to the number of hits I actually get.
Back to the birds. As I glance outside, the tall firs and arbutus are swaying vigorously, and the rain is pelting sideways. It's a good time to complete this journal and get on with a few domestic chores. Since my last upload, the weather has been what you would expect for the "wet-coast winter" - mostly wet and overcast with a few unexpected flurries of snow for variety. But, there were a couple of sunny days, and I had had several opportunities to do some photography. Mind you, I didn't let the rain stop me as you'll discover when you see the photos from Parksville Park.
One of the questions that I ponder regularly is, "Should I work more on photographic skills and techniques, or am I content with just being a bird lover who likes to take pictures?" You'll notice that I carefully avoided the terms, "birder" and "photographer". I've mentioned it before that the term birder is reservered for those who are competent at recognizing a lot of birds by their field marks and sounds. Similarly, the term photographer should be reserved for those who have some in-depth knowledge of light, cameras, lenses, and advanced techniques. There's no denying that the real photographers produce superior images. I'm not kidding. I'm always envious when I compare my images to real photographers. One other point is that you'll never see a bad image from a photographer. They have them, but they'll never show you because they are perfectionists. On the other hand, I've shown you a lot of bad pictures, especially if they are of a good bird. Lately, I've been more selective, but I still consider my site as a birding site and not a photography site. I think that's one reason why I've resisted setting it up like a catalogue. Many photography sites will give you technical info on equipment and camera settings, but they give no information about the bird or where the photo was taken. Although my dialogue can be useless at times, I do try to provide some information about the bird and situation.
For the time being, I'm sticking with the status quo merely because of time management. I'll continue to shoot in JPEG instead of RAW, and I won't be setting up blinds, or using flash and studio setups. If I have extra time, I prefer to spend it birding or catching up on much unfinished business.
My second goal of the day was to check out short trail along the Englishman River to San Malo. There were still lots of crab apples on the trees and that attracted a lot of the local birds. Of course, I was looking for a vagrant or two but was content to take a few pictures of the regulars.
Cedar Waxwings are always a favorite subject. I wondered why they were so late in eating the berries. My best guess is ice wine. Maybe they had to wait until the beries had fermented a bit? What's your theory?
I chose the San Malo trail for several reasons. First, I hadn't been there for a long time. Second, it's a pretty good habitat for birds. And third, it's fairly open and bright for photography. The first bird to welcome me was a friendly Spotted Towhee.
Purple Finches were the most common bird.
They were too busy with the crab apples to worry about me.
The finches were all females and juveniles. I wondered where the guys were.
I wasn't surprised to see a couple of Fox Sparrows pop up. I seem to be finding them everywhere.
They were also enjoying the crab apples.
This one had just finished lunch and was enjoying the sun.
I decided to take a few Dunlin shots when a white bird trotted by. It was a Sanderling! It stopped for a few seconds to probe the sand for food.
It was on the move most of the time so all I got were a few feeding shots.
Jan. 10 - It was raining, but I had to run a chore in Parksville. That meant I could take a quick look at the park and check out the seabirds. I didn't expect the field to be full of shorebirds, but it was. They were mostly Dunlin, but there were also a lot of Black-bellied Plovers.
I parked the car just ahead of where the birds were heading. Sure enough, several Plovers came my way.
It was fun to watch them run a few steps then stop and look. If the found something, they would bend over and grab it. Otherwise, they ran a few more steps.
Eventually a few Dunlin ventured near.
They were much quicker. In fact, almost non-stop. When they weren't running, their heads were bobbing furiously up and down like the bobbin on a sewing machine.
A few of them discovered a puddle and decided to take a bath even though it was raining.
I wondered if this was the same flock I saw at French Creek 2 days ago. After scanning the whole field, I finally saw the Sanderling. (I'm assuming it was the same bird I saw yesterday as French Creek is just across the bay.)
It took almost an hour, but I finally was able to park close enough for a photo. My quick stop took 2 hours. At first I thought that the birds were there because there were no people or dogs, but then the light came on. It was because of the rain. The rain brings up the worms and other tasty critters.
On my way out of the park, I glanced at the empty playground. Well, it was empty of the usual kids, but there were a few geese standing around. One of them was a Cackling Goose.
Jan. 11 - No Excuses Required - I had planned to do some birding today and the weatherman had cooperated.
My first stop was the Craig Bay pond. I had seen a Pied-billed Grebe there earlier in the week. There was no grebe today, but the female Ring-necked Duck was close by.
A quick look at French Creek wasn't productive, but I ran into a flock of Pine Siskins on Despard Road in Parksville.
I hadn't had any close looks at the Siskins all winter so it was worth a stop.
The Siskins were busy feeding on the cedar and alder trees.
Just before home, I decided to stop at Nanoose Edibles to look for the Mountain Bluebirds. They have been around the blueberry field ever since Dec. 10/07. They were in the tall firs beyond the field and not in any mood for photos. I had to settle for a perky Bewick's Wren instead.
While I was there and the sun was oh so warm, I decided to do a farm walk. I ran into a pair of Ruby-crowned Kinglets on a back trail.
The female didn't mind foraging in front of me, but the male was too shy to get into the sunshine.
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