The Englishman River estuary is a diverse conservation habitat featuring mudflats, grasslands, deciduous patches, and a mature second growth coniferous forest. Needless to say, it is an excellent birding area.
Sept. 18 - Be Careful What You Wish For - Last winter a lot of people expressed concern for the lack of Steller's Jays in their neighborhoods. I wasn't one of those people. I was quite happy to see the Steller's in the forest and hillsides. I do like them, but preferably at a distance. Having them at your feeders is like having 300 pound house guests. They have ravenous appetites, and they store a lot more food than they need to. They are also very lazy and opportunistic. Before I had feeders, they used to be quite content to gorge themselves on the sunflower seeds growing in the garden. Now they skip the garden and head right for the feeders. So for all of you who wished for Steller's, I hope you get yours, and you can have mine too.
The Steller's is bold and brassy
And annoyingly sassy ...
Derk-eyed Juncos are year-round residents in my yard, but many of their relatives join them for the winter.
I tried to find a matching photo on the internet to confirm that this is a Chipping Sparrow, but no luck. Thankfully, Adrian Dorst came to my rescue, and correctly identified it as a juvenile White-crowned.
Sept. 17 - Christopher's Bird - Wednesday is a golfing and non-birding day for me, but what happens when I get home and read a message on our Yahoo! group that a Lark Sparrow has been sighted in Parksville. I was on the phone immediately to our budding ornithologist, Christopher Stevens, begging him to show me the bird. His mother didn't like me dragging him away from his hot lunch, but what's more important?
Christopher discovered the Lark Sparrow at the Englishman Estuary while returning from his summer job as a stream-keeper monitor.
The Lark Sparrow is a casual visitor to Vancouver Island. I can only recall 3 reports in 5 years. (Thanks for the excellent bird, Christopher.)
Sept. 19 - For Plover Lovers - Prior to my car appointment, I made a quick check of Admiral's Lagoon. The tide was rising, not enough to cover the sandbar, but enough to shrink it to a small island. As usual, someone had to leave, and in this case, it was the Black-bellied flock. With the overcast skies it wasn't a good day for photography. It was a toss-up for a steaming hot coffee at Starbucks or to check out the plover flock that had landed at the point at the eastern edge of the lagoon. I surprised my self by choosing the plovers thinking that the long-departed Red Knot might have returned or a golden-plover might have joined the flock.
"Eureka!" - As I scanned the flock, I noticed one jaundiced individual. My heart skipped a beat as I fumbled to set my camera for the dull lighting. ISO 640 (need the speed for hand-held), aperture 6.3 for quicker shutter speed, and 0 exposure compensation for dull lighting and little contrast.
A Pacific Golden? - My initial reaction was that I had found a Pacific Golden-Plover. The primary projection over the tertials and tails were correct for a Pacific. However, Mike Tabak noticed that the bird was the same size as the other Black- bellied Plovers, and there were a few other suspect field marks that said Black-bellied. He also discounted the yellow colouring as a camera &/or lighting problem but has since found a reference in Paulson and a photo with yellow colouring in some Black-bellied juveniles. Based on his compelling arguments, I have to agree that this bird is a "golden" Black-bellied. If you don't agree, I would appreciate hearning your concerns.
The yellow spots are uncommon but possible for Black-bellied juveniles.
Sept. 22 - B&B Day (birds and books!) - Thanks to an order of 2 boxes of books from Graham's Jewellers in Courtenay, I had an excellent excuse to skip the chores and do some north Island birding. Despite the glorious, sunny weather, my ususal stops at French Creek, Admiral's, Qualicum, Deep Bay, and Ship's Point were disappointingly devoid of avian species. But, it only takes one bird to make my day, and that was the Green Heron at the Courtenay Airpark. In fact, there were two greenies there, and one was the photographer's best friend as it foraged close by for some almost full-frame photos. As I tell anyone who cares to listen, "It's the law of averages that makes the digital photographer look good." After shooting two hundred pictures, there had to be a few usable ones.
Just for convenience, I named the Green Heron, Greta. My apologies if it wasn't a female. From the striped neck and chest, you can tell that Greta is a juvenile.
Greta was foraging at the edge of the lagoon but had to move as the tide was rising.
Once in awhile she would look up to check for danger.
Her elastic neck could extend a long ways up for a better look.
Time to move again.
Surrounded! Time to do a little jump to safer ground.
Click! How's this for a Greta-in-flight shot?
Where to now?
Bonus Bird - I know, it's a mink, not a bird, and it's a rabbit road-kill that's being dragged off for breakfast. It was a bonus shot for my birding day.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org