Apr. 14/08 - Spring Has Sprung
No complaints about the weather in the past week. Conditions have been variable with an ample helping of sunshine for birding and photography if one were so inclined. Unfortunately, I'm in the midst of spring chores, and my fun activities have been limited to a few quick stops here and there.
The best signs of spring have been right at home. My two hummingbird feeders are now a veritable hive of activity with the constant buzz of hungry hummers constantly visiting for their sugar fix. They're now consuming 4 cups a day, and are even so bold as to use the feeder when it is still in my hand after refilling. They are cute little creatures when they're "up close and personal." So far, there are 3 males and maybe 20 females. (I'm not buying that business about so many birds per cup until I see for myself. When and where is your next session, Cam?)
Other signs of spring in my yard are the return of the Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and the Cassin's Vireos. I've seen the latter two, but have only heard the regular "sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet" of the Yellow-rumped. I have seen the Yellow-rumped in many other places, and even have a few pictures in this journal.
Signs of spring on the waterways is sad in a sense as many of the ducks have become scarce. One exception seems to be the wigeons with a large flock at French Creek. Of course they're mostly Americans, but there were still 3 Eurasian males and possibly 3 females. Horned Grebes are still around and looking dazzling as they molt into their breeding plumage. Keep your eyes open for their courtship rituals as they are a joy to witness.
Books and presentations have also been keeping me busy. I delivered 72 books to Campbell River which continues to be one of my best retail towns. My outlets there include Save On Foods, Coho Books, and Campbell River Museum. My presentation last week was to the Cowichan Valley Garden Club. It's always nostalgic to visit Duncan as that's where I was born. It was a pleasure to be greeted by a friendly crowd of well over a hundred interested members.
French Creek is one of my favorite spots for many birds including the Eurasian Wigeon. In the morning the sun is at your back, and if you approach the creek quietly and peer over the bank, your chances of seeing a Eurasian close-up is pretty good.
It's not unusual to se one preening or snoozing on the gravel bar or far bank of the creek.
Sometimes they're even closer when they're feeding in the creek.
Like the American Wigeons, they are wary. Once they sense your presence, they're gone. From the warm (light brown, not gray) colour of the head, I would call this a female Eurasia. (This business of a gray colour is confusing as there is supposed to be a gray phase Eurasian. I'll try to get some photo analysis next winter.)
Although the breeding plumage of the Bonaparte's Gull isn't as spectacular as the Horned Grebe, it is interesting and a challenge to photograph.
The black head and white body creates the ultimate challenge for proper exposure and positioning. Positioning is most critical as you need a light background to show up the black head and bill. Even with the blue sky refecting in the water, I had a lot of rejected shots depending on the angle of the light on the waves. One way it looks blue and the other it looks black.
Another positioning challenge is to get the reflection of light on the eyeball. Without the reflection, the picture looks lifeless.
Whenever I have to go to Campbell River, I like to check out the cormorants on the shoreline rocks just east of town. If you're lucky, all three species will be present. For all the beginners, the Double-crested has the orange chin and the Brandt's has the white whiskers on the neck and back. The Pelagics are in the last picture.
When the tide is right, you can often sneak up on the cormorants - especially when they're busy with the call of nature.
This immature Common Loon has been hanging out in Schooner Cove Marina. How long does it take to reach maturity?
The Greater Yellowlegs is always fun to watch and photograph. There were three around Columbia Beach all winter. I wonder if these were newcomers or old-timers today at Admiral's Lagoon?
The last time I photographed them was on a cold, overcast winter's day. It was pleasing to have a little sunshine today.
Notice the straight bill on front bird. That's what drives beginners crazy. Seen in isolation, it could easily be called a Lesser Yellowlegs. I think the length of the bill is more reliable for identification than the slight up-curve.
This Bald Eagle looks like it could use some grooming help.
A good face wash would be in order.
I usually have a pair of Orange-crowned Warblers in my yard every summer. It was a treat to see them again two days ago. If only we could communicate. I'd love to hear about their winter travels.
I've been hearing the Yellow-rumpeds around my yard for over a week but still haven't seen them at the suet feeder. Maybe, it's using the new one that is out of sight from my window. Meanwhile, they seem to be everywhere I go.
A quick stop at Piper's Lagoon was worth it for a Yellow-rumped "on the rocks" opportunity.
The normal "in the tree" shot at Legacy Marsh.
Feeder Fun - With the Rufous Hummers back from their long Mexican siesta or fiesta, or whatever else they were doing down there, I enjoyed a few hours of feeder-watching.
The Spotted Towhee hopped up to remind me that it was around all winter and never got its picture taken.
The Pine Siskin stopped to pose and thanked me for taking care of it after it hit my kitchen window. By the way, I did find a fine home for the injured bird that couldn't fly - thanks, Crystal.
Herrrrrre's Harry. Okay, it could also be Henry or Harold. All three have returned.
All three males have been getting along quite well with each other and the ladies.
I guess it'll only be a matter of time before the alpha male surfaces.
I could tell them apart from the different configuration of green patches on their backs, but I haven't bothered.
Herrrrrre's Hariet. Okay, it could also be Hanna, Helen, Hazel, etc. I was going to record the gorgets on each one, but there are too many to worry about.
They all seem to have different gorget patterns
I suppose the size of the gorget is related to the age of the bird. Please correct me if I'm wrong, Cam.
If my theory is right, this should be one of the older females.
I know I look ridiculous with this fluff on my bill. I guess I should have passed on the cotton candy.
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 Comments, questions, or book orders? email firstname.lastname@example.org
SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
CAMPBELL RIVER - SAVE-ON FOODS, COHO BOOKS, CAMPBELL RIVER MUSEUM
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
Comments, questions, or book orders? email email@example.com