May 26, 2008 - Twitchin' Time - Ever since I started birding five years ago, the old birding reports of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher fluttered in my mind. Even the name sounded enchanting, but the pictures were even more tantalizing. Finally the time had come. A Scissor-tailed was reported at Botanical Beach, and it sounded like it might stay awhile - at least that was my wishful thinking. Should I or shouldn't I? With the bills from my Arizona fling still trickling in, I was wary of the expense of another twitch. But, how could I pass up a chance at one of the most desired birds in the country? I decided to leave it up to fate. I'd dangle the twitch in front of Martin's camera and see if he would bite. Bang! He took it - hook, line, and flash card.
Despite the forecast of clouds and thunder showers, we left Nanaimo at 8:00 AM. The first good sign was a partial blue sky. The second good sign was when I asked the gas station attendant at Lake Cowichan how the road was to Port Renfrew. He laughed as he replied, "Better than the other route! All but 4 km is paved." He was right, the trip to the west coast was fast and comfortable. Even the 4 km of gravel was smooth. By 10:30 we were strolling quietly along the gravelly beach at Botanical Beach. The seas were calm with just a gentle breeze. We were greeted by a Steller's Jay, otherwise, things were pretty quiet. Half an hour later at the south end of the beach, we were starting to have doubts. We headed back north and met a tall Viking striding purposefully down the beach. He asked if we'd seen the Scissor-tailed. He probably could tell from our glum looks that we hadn't. We continued towards the trail until I chose a spot to sit and wait. Meanwhile the Viking was returning from his quick trek to the south end. Just as he got to us I saw a bird fly up towards the water. Almost at the same time the Viking looked over and exclaimed, "There it is!" We were all relieved and excited as we got closer for a good look. The Scissor-tailed was gorgeous. The Viking turned out to be the intrepid twitcher, Thor Manson, from Hope.
Golden-crowned Kinglets were a common feature in the evergreens bordering the Pacific.
Every deciduous tree seemed to host a Wilson's Warbler or two.
The male Wilson's seemed to be a lot more outgoing than the female.
I'd always wanted to check the gravel pit a few miles east of Port Renfrew for Northern Rough-winged Swallows and their nest burrows. I was right on as the gravel and sand cliff was dotted with holes and the air was filled with Northern Rough-winged Swallows.
Just south of Port Renfrew I spotted a brown soccer ball in the grass - it was the chubbiest Sooty Grouse I'd ever seen. Maybe it was ready to lay her eggs.
Oh yes, the Scissor-tailed. I'm embarrassed to say I blew my first and probably only chance. Without my big lens I tried to improvise with a doubler on my small lens. Everything jammed when the Scissor-tailed was in range and the camera wouldn't even click. The worst part was that I think I would have gotten a decent shot without the doubler. It's been a bad month for me.
I was looking for a Black-throated Gray in my backyard when I got a surprise visit from a Townsend's.
Do you take your Chickadees for granted? I admit that I haven't paid much attention to them since Dee-Dee disappeared. Just to make up for that, here's a couple of chickadees at my feeders.
The Band-tailed Pigeons always seem to be waiting for their chance at the feeders.
It's been a good year for Blue-winged Teal on the Island. There have been many more reports than ususal. This pair was at Rascal Pond.
I've seen Cedar Waxwings in my yard several times this spring. The don't seem to have any interest in the feeders. I guess they're just passing through.
Have I ever mentioned that I have Rufous Hummers? Just kidding. I have many, and now that the juveniles are showing up, there are a lot more. Which photo has the juvenile? Look for the one who hasn't figured out what the perch is for.
It's always a fun challenge to try to photograph the gorget of the female.
Who needs a perch? The flowere will do! Those juveniles are such characters.
Pretty in pink. My hummingbird perch just happens to be in front of my pink rhodo bush.
Get a load of this little short-tailed nuthatch. It's fun to see the little juvenile Red=breasted Nuthatches bouncing around.
May 29 - "twas a beautiful day for birding, and since I hadn't been out since Monday, I was due. As I mentioned on my post to the egroup, I dipped before I got out of the house when I found out the Northern Saw-whets had fledged and fled the night before. That was only strike one. I still had the White Ravens and Wood Duck and Common Merganser ducklings to go. Before I hit the road I parked beside one of my feeders to catch the morning sun for a few pictures. I lucked out with the Northern Flicker and a juvenile Red-breasted Nuthatch.
The Northern Flickers are always adorable. It's hard to take a bad picture of one.
Here's a few more nuthatches.
On the way to Qualicum I lucked out at French Creek with five Blue-winged Teal. I told you it was a good year for Blue-winged Teal.
Now can you see why they are called Blue-winged Teal?
White Ravens Deja-Vu - For the second year in a row I've seen a pair of White Ravens. Last year it was in nearby Hilliers. It's not surprising as there have been a history of white ravens in the area.
Thanks to Vicky, I knew the White Ravens were around the Qualicum fields.
There were no raven sounds when I arrived, but a blob of white on a distant tree caught my attention.
The Raven din't pay any attention to me as I positioned myself for a photo.
I had the White Raven all to myself for about 20 minutes until its one white and two black siblings flew in with the parents. it was quite a raucous reunion.
I had just dipped on the eight Wood Duck duclings and the Common Merganser ducklings at the Fairwinds Beaver Pond when a Barred Owl flew up and into the bush with an entourage of indignant robins. I joined the chase as the owl landed on a low branch and tried for a little snooze. That gave me a chance to get close, but one lone branch was in my way. I took one more step and flushed a juvenile robin. In a flash the Barred whisked past me and snatched the robin right out of the air despite the tight quarters. I was able to get a record shot before the barred departed with its lunch.
While I'm on the lunch theme, a few minutes later at Dolphin Lake I saw a Bald Eagle splash down and snag a Mallard duckling. A few minutes after that I saw one of the two eaglets chowing it down.
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