above photo: Apr. 6 - Somenos Scene - While the Forestry Pond at Somenos is always a favorite hangout for ducks and various other water birds like Green Herons, it is not a very suitable location for photography. The ducks see you as soon as you stop the car, and they're off to the far end of the pond. However, sometimes a long distance image can be quite interesting, and I liked the result above. The tremendous difference in size between the gigantic Mute Swan and the diminutive female Ring-necked and the male Redhead duck makes you marvel at how such a large bird has the power to take off and fly. Like the similarly sized Trumpeter Swans, it is the natural equivalent to a super jumbo jet. There were also Gadwall, Ring-necked, Mallards, and American Wigeons in the pond.
There's always something magical about the return of the Rufous Hummingbirds. It humbles me thinking of their incredible navigation and flying abilities. They have to fly thousands of kilometers and safely navigate around numerous life-threatening situations without the aid of GPS or navigational charts. It comforts me to see the return of old friends after a long seven or eight month absence, and I look forward to their daily company for the next four months. It reassures me that the environment is still intact from its wintering grounds to the Island. Any severe destruction of the environment would jeopardize their survival. And it delights me to know that I will be able to provide them with sweets for the next three or four months while they provide me hours of photographic and recreational pleasure. I've already spent a few hours catching up with Harry as he was guarding the feeders. The females are too businesslike when they first return. They don't sit around much. They're busy buzzing around looking for food, nest sites, and nest-building material.
Harry's not being cheeky. he's just offering you a friendly lick just like your puppy dog.
As soon as an intruder appears, Harry starts getting anxious and his gorget tilts up to catch the light. This might be an early warning signal.
Watch out when the motor is revving. Harry is ready to attack.
Calm down. It was just another false alarm.
The best time for photography is on an overcast day when there is filtered light. When it's sunny there is too much contrast and glare.
Harry knows I've got the camera pointed at him, but he's a good sport about it all.
I was out in the yard enjoying one our rare days of sunshine in the past few weeks. I had my camera and tripod set up close to the feeder trying to catch a Chestnut-backed Chickadee sitting on a bud of the rhodo bush. I knew that when the feeders were all busy, the incoming chickadee would have to rest on the rhodo waiting for its turn. Voila! One just landed. I was busy focusing when I felt and heard the turbulence of a bird next to my leg. I knew it was a raptor. Sure enough, a juvenile Cooper's Hawk swished by and gracefully landed on a fir branch about 30 m away. It turned and stared at the feeders while I quickly snapped a few distant record shots. I was deciding whether I should try to get closer or stay put. The Cooper's answered for me as it launched and headed straight for my feeder pole.
Cooper landed on the perch at my feeder pole and gave me the evil eye. He could hear the camera clicking, but he still didn't notice me hunched behind the camera. Notice the rounded corners on the tail feathers and the fairly wide, white terminal band. These are diagnostic features of a Cooper's. Its legs look skinny but apparently they are thick compared to a Sharp-shinned.
Cooper had a one-track mind. He was preoccupied with looking for lunch. He studied the rhodo bush intently.
Cooper hopped down to the ground and peered into the rhodo bush before he hopped in to look for juncos. I could see his yellow legs in the bush as the juncos scattered in all directions. When Cooper emerged right in front of me, he decided to scatter as well.
The close encounter with Cooper made my day. Many a time I've seen him through the window, but I've never had the opportunity for a clear, close-up shot. Now I've the juvenile. Where's the adult!
Oh, I did manage to get the chickadee shot that I was working on before I was so wonderfully interrupted.
My Violet-green Swallows usually don't return until late April, but there they were this morning swirling in front of the carport where their nest boxes are. I quickly ran and got my ladder as I had procrastinated in cleaning the boxes out earlier. I decided to clean just one of the boxes to see which one they choose. Last year they nested in the left one, but they were both filled with nest material. I haven't figured that one out yet.
It's always a joy to see the beginning of the next generation of birds, and now's the time for the Great Horned Owls. The Great Horneds mate early in the year and many of the nestlings are now poking their cute, fuzzy heads over the rim of their nests.
Two nestlings are supposed to be the norm, but there is a trio in this nest. The third little one is to the left of Momma.
Momma is enjoying the morning sun and relaxing while the young ones were obediently resting.
Here's the little owlet that was hiding behind Momma.
Momma's favorite? I don't know but it seemed to be getting all the attention.
It was a challenge trying to get a clear view through the jungle of limbs, branches, and leaves. To complicate matters the sun was playing peek-a-boo with the subjects.
Yuckkk! What's that? Momma's cleaning up the poop. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.
Finally, a ray of sun on junior's face to light up those sparkling eyes.
One last look at the big happy family. I think the babies hatched about three weeks ago. They'll be hopping out of the nest in another two or three weeks.
Apr. 7 - Anytime that I'm near Goldstream Park when the sun is still high is Dipper Time. It was about 4 pm, and the sun was still quite high in the sky. It was definitely Dipper Time.
A couple of weeks ago I found the dippers upstream from the bridge. That was the first place I looked today, and that's where we found a pair.
Why would I try for the Dippers again after just seeing them? They're fun to watch for one thing, and then there's always the pursuit of the mythical perfect picture.
The trick is to wait for the dipper to get into the sunlight. That doesn't alawys happen but I was lucky today. It was interesting that at first we couldn't get very close to the dippers but in the end this one landed in close range and serenaded us.
The sun was now behind the mountain. Once again the food shot was in the shadow. Maybe next time.
My posters are on display at: Victoria - Swan Lake Nature House; Nanoose Bay - Credit Union; Courtenay - Graham's Jewellers