Jan. 13/05 - The mercury was falling as the sun was rising on another sparkling Arctic morning on the mid-island. I hadn't been to Deep Bay for about a month so today was the day for the Long-tails. Of course, there would be a few stops on the way like San Pareil, French Creek, and Qualicum. Again, the main roads were good but the side roads were still packed snow or ice; however, traffic was sparse and there were no incidents to report. There were about 20 Longtails parked just a little too far off the spit for decent photos, and it didn't help to have the frigid NW winds whipping off the mountains. It was FREEEEEEZING. I was glad to be wearing my parka and touque as I took a few shots and waited for about 15 minutes to see if anything interesting would show up. I was happy when nothing appeared and headed for the Bean Counter coffee shop in Bowser for a delicious hot sandwich and coffee before heading home.

On the way back, I stopped in Qualicum to check up on the scoters. They were just out of camera range, but I knew that if I waited, they would get used to me and come in. The sun was perfect and the cold and snow kept all the walkers home. After about a half an hour, they were in and I had my eye stuck to the viewfinder waiting for the perfect shot. Suddenly, I felt a presence beside me. I tried to ignore it, hoping it would go away. I was totally being distracted and so were the ducks. Finally I had to deal with the situation. In the politest manner I could fake, I explained to the lady that I needed to concentrate on the ducks. I couldn't believe it - she wouldn't leave. Finally I had to pack up and escape to the beach which meant I would have to wait another half hour to get the ducks back. I wonder if I should wear a "DO NOT DISTURB SIGN" or maybe "RADIATION HAZARD"? The good news was that I finally got a few decent pictures. And to later find the Ruby-crowned Kinglet at French Creek was a real bonus.

FINCH TREE - My first stop was San Pareil where I found about 20 birds in a willow huddling in the morning sun - White-crowned, Gold-crowned, and Fox Sparrows with a bunch of House Finches. The male House Finch is really quite a handsome bird.

THE KING WAS IN THE HOUSE - I had my usual game of camera tag with the King at French Creek. He kept his distance and landed across the creek just a little farther than I wanted but perfectly illuminated in the morning sunshine. I waited for 20 minutes to see if he would hover or dive for a fish, but we were both out of luck and I had to settle for the distant portrait.

CLAMMING UP - Mrs. White-winged Scoter definitely had a big appetite as I watched her fill up with several clams for lunch at Qualicum.

CLAMMING UP 2 - Mr. White-winged Scoter wasn't quite matching the Mrs. clam for clam, but he was having his share. Those scoters must have a food processor for a stomach!

MEW GULL SIDESHOW - While waiting for the scoters to come in, I was entertained by several Mew Gulls that regularly cruised by displaying their aerobatic skills. I've never paid much attention to the Mew Gulls before, but they are really quite delicate and reminded me a lot of the Bonapartes.

RUBY-CROWNED ON THE ICE - The Ruby-crowned Kinglet had no aversion to the snow at French Creek. However, it had to be pretty spry to escape the sharp claws of one of the feral cats living there.

RUBY-CROWNED ON THE ROCKS - I was half way out on the breakwater when I was joined by the Ruby-crowned. I was surprised to see it doing an impersonation of a Rock Wren.

WINTER SONGSTER - Despite the big chill, the Song Sparrows were full of song today. That has to be a sure sign that spring can't be too far away, or was it singing "Jingle Bells"?