Jan. 2, 2005
Happy 2005! With 5 cm of crispy snow on the ground, I knew my usual Sun. golf would be cancelled, but that was a blessing in disguise. It was a beautiful sunny day - perfect for a couple of hours of easy birding. I checked out one of the ponds at Fairwinds Golf Course then headed for French Creek and Qualicum.
There was a male Hooded Merganser among the Wigeons, Buffleheads, and Mallards a few days ago, but it was absent today. However, I couldn't leave without taking a few pictures so a Eurasian Wigeon and Mute Swan were the subjects of my digital affection.
MOULTING WIGEON? - I'm not at all familiar with the moulting process or schedule of any bird let alone the Eurasian Wigeon, but if this is the same bird as the one I posted in Journal 55 (Oct. 26/04), then it seems to be almost in its breeding plumage. Please let me know if that is what the Oct. 26 and this photo illustrates.
MASTER OF THE POND - The Mute Swan may look peaceful and gentle, but stay away when it is in a bad mood. Apparently, it was seen catching and drowning a gosling 2 years ago.
It was high tide at Qualicum, and I knew my chances of finding Black Scoters near the seawall were excellent. Sure enough, I found a flock just north of the ice cream shack where I got a few shots. Unfortunately, everybody and their dogs were out for a sunny Sunday stroll, keeping the flock just out of range for that "perfect" picture.
HIGH TIDE DUCKS - The Black Scoters at Qualicum seem to be very predictable. When it's high tide, their favorite feeding spot seems to be just north of the Ice Cream shack.
The creek at French Creek and the Marina usually produce a few good photo opportunities. There wasn't anything new today, but many of the usual birds were there to enjoy. Some of the birds present were Mallards, American Wigeons, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorants, Rock Pigeons, Dunlin, Song Sparrow, Bald Eagle, Canada Geese, Belted Kingfisher, and Dunlin.
SHY GUY - The male Common Mergansers always keep their distance, often hiding behind the bolder females.
EYE TO EYE - I spotted a female Common Merganser inside the harbour at French Creek. When it dove, I ran to a vantage point and set up my tripod and camera. When it surfaced, I was looking it in the eye, but it was too close to photograph. Luckily, it didn't fly, and as it paddled away, I was able to get a picture.
MAKEOVER TIME - The 2 best times to get close-ups of birds is when they are eating or grooming. For the Hooded merganser, it was the latter. I managed to take as many pictures as I wanted while it was preening and cleaning near the dockside restaurant.
NOT THE SHARING TYPE - Just having mentioned that feeding time was a good time for photos, I need to clarify "with the exception of the Common Loon." As soon as the loon spotted me, it dove and came up several hundred feet away. Past observations indicate that it doesn't even like to share with other loons.
HARBOUR BIRD - Double-crested Cormorants seem to enjoy perching on the masts and pilings at French Creek. Occasionally, I've seen Pelagics perching on the rocks and fishing in the harbour, but I haven't seen a Brandt's there in the 2 years I've been birding.
NEGLECTED BUT RESPECTED - I see Northwestern Crows almost every day but rarely photograph them. However, in the interest of equality and non-discrimination, I'm starting the year with the Crows. HAPPY NEW YEAR!