The Tale of the Meadowlark Tree
Only a very privileged few know about the Meadowlark Tree. There is no particular time that the Meadowlark tree blossums with meadowlarks. The event is unpredictable and sudden. The Meadowlarks blossum and a few seconds later, they are gone. As the legend goes, those who have been blessed with the privilege of witnessing the event will also be blessed with good fortune and good birding.
Searching for the Tree Sparrows
Two weeks ago Richad Mooney reported 17 Tree Sparrows at the Nanaimo Estuary. I tried unsuccessfully to find them a couple of days ago, but was more than happy with the consolation bird, Shorty, the Short-eared Owl. With another sunny day, I decided to try again. I continued well past the area where the birds were first seen. I was about to quit when I spotted a bunch of birds foraging in the shadows of the dyke and trees. Focussing my camera, I was able to identify, Song Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Juncos, and Tree Sparrows. I tried for over an hour to get a picture but the tangled mess of branches, poor angle of the sun, and wariness of the birds all conspired against me. The best I could do was a slightly obscured distant shot which I'm reluctantly posting just to prove I saw them.
A Slatey Junco
Among the many Juncos flying with the Tree Sparrows was a slatey-looking character. Most slatey-looking birds on the Island tend to be hybrids.
A Bouquet of Crossbills
Jan. 26 - I was down at Sebastion Beach looking for seabirds and dreaming that one of the hundreds of Pacific Loons in the distance was an Arctic Loon. I didn't see many seabirds close-in, but I wasn't surprised to find Ralph Hocken there. We caught each other up with the latest gossip while we were waiting and enjoying the morning sun. Behind us the trees were alive with Pine Siskins and Red Crossbills. As soon as I mentioned the Crossbills, they began flying down to the beach in the row of seaweed. I finally got a chance to get some Crossbill pictures in the sun.
The Crossbills in the seaweed looked like a scattered bouquet of roses. The colours were truly vivid and delightful, and the gnarled bills were fascinating. It was difficult to see what exactly they were eating, but I guess everything was saturated with salt and minerals.
The Crossbills in the seaweed were joined by an even larger number of Pine Siskins. I guess they all needed their sodium chloride fix and don't have any problems with high blood pressure. Why do I call them copycats? Do you remember in the spring when I was photographing the hummingbirds taking bulrush fluff. Guess who joined in with that activity?
Jan. 25 - The Forest Virtuoso
I have two Winter Wrens that frequent my garden, but it is always in the shade. I encountered this friendly Winter Wren at Cherry Point.
Jan. 28 - Happy New Year Long-taileds - I had been waiting for an opportunity to make my first New year visit to Deep Bay. It was supposed to snow today, but the sky was clear when I hopped out of bed. It take me long to decide what to do.
I always stop at Qualicum on my way to Deep Bay. A lone Black-bellied Plover was standing at the high tide line by the viewing stand.
Just before the spit at Deep Bay, I stopped to watch the socters diving for clams. Suddenly, a large flock of Dunlin landed on the beach beside a few Black-bellied Plovers. The Black-bellied Plovers weren't too happy to have their tranquil morning disturbed.
The Long-taileds at Deep Bay are one of my favorite subjects. Not only are they very photogenic, their gentle call and demeanor is very soothing and therapeutic. It's also easy to be charmed by their cute, innocent puppy-dog looks. Even the long tail on the males looks like a puppy's tail. If you want to enjoy the Long-taileds at Deep Bay, just remember to visit before herring season. Like all other ducks in the region, they'll be switching to a herring roe diet in just over a month.
Life is good. Doesn't The long-tailed look contented?
The simple life is the best.
They even look cuter when they're close up.
The female Long-taileds are also quite attractive.
The Spit is also a good location for Horned Grebes. Once they get used to you, they'll swim right in front of your camera.
The Red-necked Grebes are much more wary. They usually keep their distance unless you're totally still.
This Red-necked Grebe didn't realize I was on the beach until it heard the shutter click.
Late News - (I just received an email from the coordinator of ABBI.) It is an honour to have my Long-billed Curlew photo on the homepage of the All Birds Barcoding Initiative (ABBI) website. The ABBI is an international organization with the goal of recording the DNA data required to identify all the birds in the world. To date they have barcoded 2,279 species. ABBI is part of a larger initiative to DNA barcode all living organisms. For more information, check http://barcodingbirds.org/. My photo is a minuscule contribution, but it is fun to be part of the project.
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