Apr. 15/08 - Last Look at the Brant
I wasn't really looking for Brant today as I was more interested in anything new or something I'd hadn't seen for a long time. But, I had to stop at the red light by the Beach Club which allowed me to scan the beach. The tide was about a third out and there were about 300 Brant foraging along the tideline. I felt the sudden impulse to have one last visit with the Brant so I made a right turn and parked beside the beach. It was gorgeous out - a bit chilly with the breeze off the snow-clad mountains, and there were do dogs or walkers to disturb the geese - except me, of course. I slowly worked my way towards the direction they seemed to be heading then set up my camera and waited. In about twenty minutes I had several geese wandering in front of me. Normally, they are difficult to photograph as the white flanks always blow out or the dark head and body is underexposed. That wasn't a problem today as the Brant conveniently posed with the white flanks in the shadow. I've never had that situation, and I was very pleased with the results. See for yourself.
After my very enjoyable Brant visit, I proceeded to French Creek. I was hoping for the Dunlin flock in breeding plumage or maybe some Pacific Loons. The last time I was there, a trio of Pacific Loons were working the waters east of the Coast Guard Station. I'd seen them there in past years, but never got any decent photos. I was really close to them two years ago, but it was a cloudy day. There were no shorebirds around, but there were a pair of Pacific Loons. I waited for over an hour, but the closest they came to the breakwater was about 25 meters. I had to settle for a distant shot.
Apr. 16 - I was waiting for a sunny day to try for some "Hummers-in-the-wild currant" and today was the day. I set up about twenty feet from my currant bush and waited. Oh, I also set up my bucket of bulrushes next to the currant bush so I could kill - oops, I don't like that saying any more. Let's just say I wanted to maximize my photo opportunites. A female hummer obliged me in the currant within a few minutes, and shortly after, I had one at the bulrushes. I waited another hour for some better shots, but it was a waste of time. There were no other visitors. Luckily, the first shots were quite acceptable.
Apr. 17 - This was my only chance for an April visit to the Nanaimo estuary, and I had visions of a Say's Phoebe and even a Brown Thrasher flying in my head, but ....... there was nothing unusual. I was tempted to go to the Crow and Gate for a consolation lunch, but decided it would be more fun to check out the Airport for the Vesper Sparrows. As I drove by the recycling yard, I spotted a bird on the barbed wire of the trailer compound. It was a Vesper! It's truly amazing how such a small population of birds can survive and return to the same desolate area year after year. The compound is a wasteland of gravel, industrial contamination, and only a few stunted weeds, but that's were I found four Vespers foraging. I was happy to see them again and happy they have survived two migrations and another perilous winter.
Apr. 19 - Remember this day. It set all sorts of new records for snowfall in April. I was incredulous as I stared out the window this morning. Eight inches of snow covered everything. I was worried about the hummingbirds. The feeders were barely visible. I ran out and cleaned them off and was happy to see a few hummers coming in for breakfast. By noon it had warmed up and the snow was melting quickly. The hummers were doing fine.
As I was watching the hummers, a stranger foraged along the edge of the forest. I grabbed the binoculars and saw my first Hermit Thrush of the winter. After luch I went looking for it. I caught a few glimpses here and there, but it was worst than a bouncing ball. I was ready to give up when a bird popped out of a thicket onto an alder branch. It was the thrush. I was delighted to get a few shots even in the shadows. As a bonus, I even got a Cassin's Vireo in the shadows.
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