In terms of birding, the first two weeks of the month were fairly inclement - almost two weeks of sub-zero and then a couple of days of fog - a lot of global cooling. But, we've just had a few days of spring-like conditions and there's sun in the forecast. As well, we're on the brink of the greatest natural spectacle on the Island - the annual Pacific herring spawn. If you're interested in birding, the beaches will soon be wall-to-wall gulls and huge flotillas of ducks and seabirds will be filling the bays while they drift around gorging themselves with herring roe. The herring spawn often starts in the last week of February and runs through the first week of March. The bird activity continues for several weeks afterwards as the herring roe persists for weeks. If you've got the time, make sure you get out and enjoy the show.
I spent today enjoying the Bald Eagle Festival in Campbell River. The fun-filled, education day was organized by the Mountainaire Rescue Society, and featured presenters such as Dick Cannings, David Hancock, and yours truly. I was totally humbled by the number of people who came by to mention that they have my book and enjoyed reading my newspaper articles. The North Islanders are the greatest, and I love all of them.
I think it was Millie from Comox who came by and scolded me for not adding a journal for the past 3 and a half weeks. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Millie. I do have a few bits and pieces so here goes.
Feb. 2 - Quamichan Lake - The Duncan CBC reported over 200 Ruddy Ducks, but I had only ever seen one or two from Art Mann Park. I decided to check the other end of the lake and lo and behold - I counted 250! They were too far for any decent picture, but I'm into verifying my reports with record shots if possible. The following photo shows a small segment of the huge flock.
Talk about ducks in a row. The Ruddy Ducks were strung out in a long line.
Most of Quamichan was frozen. The Lesser Scaup enjoyed sitting on the edge of the ice.
Over at Art Mann, there was a very narrow band of water between the ice and the parking lot. Mallards were the main duck, but a pair of Common Mergansers mingled within 20 feet of the cars.
Feb. 08 - I made a quick trip to Qualicum to take advantage of a little filtered sun after several days of heavy overcast. The usual three species of shorebirds were foraging close by.
Black-bellied Plovers seem to be more approachable in the morning. I wonder if that is a fact or just a series of coincidences lately.
A few weeks ago I found a Dunlin that was buddy-buddy with a Plover. This one was pretty close to the Plover. They seemed like an item.
I haven't paid much attention to the Black Oystercatchers for quite awhile. This seemed like a good day to try for a few shots.
I don't know about the other photographers, but I always have a difficult time with the correct exposure trying to get the leg colour correct with out blacking out the body.
The leg colours were pretty good today. What do you think?
The scoters were just up the beach from the Shady Rest. I always have time for a few scoter shots. Can you tell that the Black Scoter is my favorite?
I like the male as well as the female.
Feb. 12 - You can probably guess where I was for the following pictures. Right! The Esquimalt Lagoon. That's the best place on the Island for a duck-shoot. There is a feeding area where hundreds of ducks, blackbirds, and shorebirds congregate for the free lunch. It's a fabulous place to practice flight shots.
Wall-to-wall ducks - Mallards, Northern Pintails, Lesser Scaup, American Wigeons, Common Goldeneye, Buffleheads ...
I didn't quite get the long graceful neck of the male Northern Pintail on this shot.
I didn't have time to really work on the flight shots, but a few American Wigeons were playing their courting games and kept flying by me.
The Mallards were constantly coming and going.
I think the ducks were disappointed that no one was feeding them. I had a small bag of feed, but that didn't last long.
Adios. Off to find some food elsewhere.
Feb. 8 - The Winter Blues - I've had the privilege of enjoying the winter "blues" since Dec. 10. As of today, there were still 2 Mountain Bluebirds in the bluebery field at Nanoose Edibles.
Earlier in the week I waited patiently to try to get a picture of the birds not on the wires. It was still a bit foggy for this picture of the female.
Hooray! A Bluebird in a tree and in the sun!
I wasn't really pleased with the previous shots of the female so I'll finish with another wire photo.
I dive by Schooner Cove every day and always watch for the birds. Today's species was the juvenile Barrow's Goldeneye.
Feb. 21 - I mentioned once before that the Sebastion Spotted Sandpiper was the most photgraphed on the Island.
You can now add another hundred pictures to the count. (I don't know how many Martin took when he was there.)
Make that 101 more photos!
After I finished with Spottie, I tried to catch some clamming action with the Barrow's Goldeneye. Oops, I think this one has a stone.
Like the scoters, the Barrow's were after the varnish clams.
Unlike the scoters, the Barrow's didn't juggle the clams around very much. It was just bounce, bounce, and down the hatch.
Just another visit with the Townsend's Solitaire. It's been enjoying the Pink Pagoda Mountain Ash berries for several weeks now.
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