JOURNAL 84 - THE NOVICE BIRDER


MAR. 19/05 - I was tempted by Rick's promise of good weather to twitch the Boreal Owl at Riefel (in Ladner), but opted instead to check out the local scene for Brant, Bonapartes, and Yellow-rumps. There was a distinct chill in the air as I made my Brant stop at Rathtrevor. Thousands of gulls, the unmistakeable odor of rotting herring roe, and an ice-cold breeze greeted me as I approached the beach, but the tide was still too high for the Brant. I decided to head for Qualicum to check out the masses of ducks and look for the Bonapartes. Huge flocks of ducks were still located off the wildlife viewing stand at the north end of Qualicum, and the air was filled with gulls drifting lazily in the breeze, but no Bonapartes. Thinking it would be warmer and there would be Yellow-rumps, I headed for the Little Qualicum Hatchery - 3 Belted Kingfishers, 1 Brown Creeper, 4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 5 Chestnut-backed Chickadees, 2 American Dippers, 1 Bewick's Wren, 9 American Robins, and 2 Common Mergansers, but no Yellow-rumps. On my way back I stopped at the south end of the beach. Voila! Bonies galore! After snapping about 50 pictures, it was off to Morningstar for the Yellow-rumps. There was plenty of flycatching activity at the northwest corner of the big pond - some by swooping swallows, but mostly by fluttering Yellow-rumped Warblers. I set up my tripod and waited. A Yellow-rump landed right beside me. I looked it in the eye and admired the rich yellow patch under its chin and on its head, but it was too close for my camera. It didn't take long for one to land on my target tree, and 20 minutes later I had my 30 shots. When I got home, I read Rick's message that the weather was good, as promised, and the Boreal Owl put on a fine show. I would have loved to see my first Boreal, but I didn't have to get up at 4:00 AM for the 5:15 ferry, saved $100, and had a pleasant morning with the Bonies and Yellow-rumps. The cup was half full!


MARCH 19/05

SIGN OF SURVIVAL - The Yellow-rumped Warblers are one of the first summer migrants to arrive in good numbers. This is a good indication that the world will survive for at least another year. (Don't quote me on that one.)

THE BONIES HAVE LANDED - Like the California Gulls, the Bonapartes usually arrive with the herring spawn.


MARCH 14/05

SERMON ON THE ROCK - The Reverend Cal Gull was admonishing his flock in Qualicum for over-indulgence, but with the waters saturated with herring roe, it was difficult not to pig out.

FAIRWINDS EURASIAN - I've been looking for Mrs. Eurasian, but no luck so far.

CONSOLATION BIRD - I hitched a ride to Yeo Island on Mar. 14 to look for a Rock Sandpiper, but had to settle for 60 Surf Birds, 40 Dunlin, 3 Bald Eagles, and 2 Canada Geese. The real consolation was a few pounds of prawns from the boat's captain.

MAKING A MOVE - What a wonderful time of the year. Love is in the air everywhere you look including the the Red-breasted Mergansers at Qualicum.


MARCH 12/05 - VICTORIA LEFT-OVERS

Brant at Cattle Point

Great Blue at Beacon Hill Park.

Winter Wren at Rutland Road.


FROM THE ARCHIVES

"CLINGING TO SURVIVAL"

Lewis Woodpeckers and Western Bluebirds have been extirpated from Vancouver Island. Is the coastal subspecies of the Vesper Sparrow next? According to the Nanaimo Area Land Trust, there were only about 7 breeding pairs left at the Cassidy airport in 2004. (Photo: July 2004, Cassidy Airport)


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