Jan. 29/05 - STELLER TIME - I have Stellers regularly at my feeders, but I haven't taken many pictures because I prefer to see them in a more natural setting. Despite their boisterous manner, they are generally very shy, but I finally got my chance on Jan. 29 at Dolphin Lake while I was looking for Hutton's Vireos. I noticed a few Stellers going back and forth to a tree by the lake. I'm not sure what kind of tree it was, but they were feasting on the buds or berries. I set up my camera and waited. Sure enough, within a few minutes, the jays were back and I had a few pictures.

PROVINCIAL BIRD - The handsome Steller Jay is the official provincial bird of British Columbia.

A STELLER YEAR - It could be just a local trend or a general population increase, but I have seen more Stellers in Nanoose this winter than ever.

Jan. 31/05 - For the first time in a week, it wasn't foggy and I spotted an occasional patch of blue in the sky. That was all it took to get me going this morning. I didn't get any pictures at Rathtrevor or San Pareil, but the King was waiting for me at French Creek. We'll see who got the last laugh today. My next rendezvous was with the scoters in Qualicum. I spent an hour trying for some interesting shots, but every time the scoters we in close, people would stop to see what I was doing and the scoters would leave again. I have a couple of reasonable shots, but it could have been much better with perfect conditions: high tide, blue sky, calm waters, and friendly scoters. After that I decided to go to the fish hatchery to look for the American Dipper. I heard the Dipper singing then saw it fly through the fish tunnel but never got a picture. I had to settle for a couple of Bald Eagle and Common Merganser pictures instead. Taking pictures with the sunshine, blue sky, and blue water was much more fun than on cloudy, dull days.

CHOW TIME - I love watching the scoters when they dive and come up with a clam just like the female Black Scoter above.

SNACKLESS - It seemed like the female scoters were doing a lot more eating than this male Black Scoter. Were they better hunters or did they just eat more?

THE JUGGLER - The female White-winged Scoter seemed to flip the clam around until it was in the right position for swallowing, or was she just playing with her food?

THE LAST LAUGH - The King was laughing because he thought I was too far away for a picture with his pants down. However, he didn't know I had a 800 mm lens, so who's laughing now! Did you know the King has black underwear?

EAGLE HANGOUT - I saw about a dozen Bald Eagles at the Fish Hatchery. Several were sitting in the trees like this 3rd year bird.

DRIFT FISHING - I watched a couple of Common Mergansers drifting and diving at the turn of the river just above the hatchery. When they went back upstream, I snuck down to the corner and waited. About 4 minutes later, one Merganser drifted around the corner.

SUCCESS - A few seconds later, 2 more Mergansers drifted down. One of them was chewing on a crayfish.