Nov. 6/04, 2004 -

Mon. (Nov. 1) was so windy and wet that I didn't take my camera with me as I made a quick drive-around Nanoose and Parksville. Rolling garbage cans at Fairwinds, waves crashing over the breakwater, and Double-crested Cormorants flying backwards at French Creek were the images of the day. Actually, I regretted not taking my camera as there was a lull in the rain at San Malo Flats, and as I walked the boardwalk I saw my first Barrow's Goldeneye (male) of the winter. That would have been a distant shot (60+'), but I was able to walk within 20' of a female Bufflehead. I have yet to get a close-up picture of Buffleheads, and I missed a good one there. The moral of the story is ... On Thur. morning (Nov. 4) I headed to Victoria with Snow Buntings and Rock Sandpipers dancing in my eyes. Unfortunately, they didn't materialize despite the best efforts of Ted and Chris. However, I did enjoy the personalized guided tour, and I did get to visit Derrick's Sandhill Crane in Duncan. Thanks Ted, Chris, and Derrick, respectively.

NANOOSE ESTUARY - On Wed. (Nov. 3)I did a quick walkabout in the Nanoose Creek Estuary. Good thing I had my gumboots on as much of the estuary was flooded, which is what the ducks love. Yes, there were Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintails, and Mallards aplenty. The estuary Redtail cruised by on my way in and a few House Finches flew off while a couple of Song Sparrows chirped close by. Other than a Great Blue Heron in the creek, there was nothing new around until I caught a movement in a willow. I was about 30' from my first Northern Shrike of the winter. It flew to another tree further away and landed close to 2 Redwing Blackbirds, but it stayed long enough for a distant photo. I also managed to flush 2 Wilson's Snipe on my way out, but I think a Snipe photo might be impossible.

DUNCAN SANDHILL - Derrick was kind enough to entice a juvenile Sandhill Crane with juicy Cowichan worms and bugs to stay around for amateur photographers like myself.


GODWIT TRIPLETS - Most people have seen the pair of Marbled Godwits at Cattle Point for several weeks. We watched them fly over to Rutland Road, but to our surprise when we checked Rutland Rock, there were actually 3 Marbled Godwits.

3 OF A KIND - There were 3 Whimbrel (3rd one out of the picture) on Rutland Rock, 3 Marbled Godwits and 33 Black Oystercatchers. Okay, I just made up the 33, but there were about 30 which, which according to the latest Audubon report, would represent 1/300th of the North American Black Oystercatcher population! Studies indicate that the current (2004) population is about 8,900 making it the 16th smallest species population on the continent. When you consider the top 3 may be extinct (Eskimo Curlew, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, & Bachman's Warbler), the Black Oystercatcher could be the 13th on the list.

LOVE A DOVE - At the bulb fields, Chris pointed out the spot where the Dickcissel made it's one day stand a few weeks ago. I had to settle for Savannah Sparrows, House Finches, Cooper's Hawk, and Mourning Doves. Had I gone with Ted, I would have seen my first Sky Larks. There were also Mourning Doves at Puckle Road where I took this picture.

SEARCHING FOR PERFECTION - If there's nothing new around, Photographers can always try for the perfect picture. With overcast skies, this wasn't going to be the day, but you can't blame the Surf Bird as it was very cooperative.