The forecast was for rain or snow, but the morning sky was blue and the sun was beckoning. My only excuse to go out was to pay my $0.89 bill at Fairwinds. (The bill was the interest for being late on my last bill.) After paying the bill, I decided to check out the nearby mountain ash trees for Bohemian Waxwings (wishful thinking). The bulk of the berries had been devoured by robins, finches, and waxwings just after Christmas, but there were still a few smaller berries on every branch. As I slowly drove by I spotted a largish gray bird through the branches. I carefully pulled over, set up the camera, and focussed on the bird. It wasn't a Bohemian, but it was one of my favorite birds - a handsome Townsend's Solitaire. The Townsend's was quietly enjoying its picnic. It would grab a few berries then preen, poop, and relax. After the rest, it would grab a few more berries and repeat the cycle. I enjoyed its routine for about an hour whle I was trying for the perfect picture. I'm not sure if I achieved perfection, but I was pleased with many of the images I captured. Thanks to the $0.84 bill, I had a great morning.
My only other stop was Madrona Point. There were a few wigeons, mergansers, loons and cormorants around, but nothing close. I entertained myself with a distant male Red-breasted Merganser. It was too far away to capture some of the intricate patterns on its feathers.
Feb. 1 - Nanaimo Estuary
I'd never checked the Nanaimo Estuary at sunrise. I was hoping the sun would be far enough around to light up the north side of the dyke where the American Tree Swallows had been hanging out. I was disappointed before I got there. I could see that the sun wouldn't even come close to the north side. But, it was a picture perfect morning, and it was still fun to photograph a few of the birds that were around.
A large flock of Golden-crowned Sparrows landed in the blackberry thicket. I knew there would be a Lincoln's or two with them. Sure enough, one flew onto a nearby tree. It wasn't a Tree Sparrow, but the closest I would get today was a sparrow in a tree!
A lone Ruby-crowned Kinglet materialized out of nowhere and bounced around from tree to grass to shrub to fence and back to tree. They're always fun to photograph. It was a male, but it was too relaxed to raise its ruby crown.
A House finch was munching on some dried up rose hips. It was too far for a picture, but I lighting and background was interesting. Click! The beauty of digital. What's another shot?
A flock of three Trumpeter Swans rose from the river mouth and headed towards me. It looked like it was heading for some farm field in Cedar. That was my cue to head towards Nanoose, but there was one stop before getting home.
A large flock of seabirds greeted me at the end of Sebastion Road, but they were about 500 meters out. It would have been a good time to be in a boat checking through the thousand or so Pacific Loons for one of their Arctic cousins. I looked close to shore and saw a little grebe swim by. I thought Horned Grebe at first, but it was too dark. I suddenly realized it was a Pied-billed Grebe. They're usually in fresh water, but all the fresh water is frozen right now.
I hustled down to the beach and fired off a few quick shots before it got too far away.
As I watched the Pied-billed Grebe heading out to deeper water, three male Common Mergansers closed in from the south like jet planes. Click, click, click. I managed three clicks before they were past me. I wasn't unhappy with the results.
The dark eyes are hard to expose at the best of times. I was lucky just to get the ducks close to being in focus. Talk about a parting shot. It was time to head home. It wasn't the best of days, but the sun poked out occasionally and there were a few birds around. No complaints.
BALD EAGLE NEWS
3rd Annual Campbell River Bald Eagle Festival
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Maritime Heritage Centre at Discovery Pier
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Guest Presenters : Dick Cannings - naturalist, author/ Mike Yip - photographer - author/ David Hancock - biologist, publisher/ Jim Dubois - photgrapher/ Ian Moul - biologist/ Steve Howard & Harrison, the live Bald Eagle
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