Well, I managed to use up my year's supply (25 mb) of disk space for this website in 2.5 months. I decided to buy more disk space; however, I will have to slow down and post fewer pictures or remove some earlier pages. Neither option is appealing to me, nor is the third option which is to look for a sponsor. But that's my problem, so on to the birds. Since my last journal, I had the pleasure of visiting Thetis Island on Mar. 15 - a small but super friendly Gulf Island where everyone smiled and waved at us. I didn't have time to bird but on the short ferry ride over, we saw a flock of about 70 swimming cormorants, 8 Red-necked Grebes, 3 Western Grebes (first for me), and a variety of ducks. Unfortunately, no pictures as we were on the ferry and not close enough to the birds. Another "no pictures" was my first backyard male Rufous Hummingbird on Mar. 20. (That'll be my mission in the next 2 weeks.)
Now you know what I didn't get pictures of, so what did I photograph? How about Bonaparte Gulls? I hiked out Parksville Bay at low tide on Mar. 14th just to get a couple of shots. (I have a soft spot for Bonapartes as the arrival of a large flock of black-headed Bonies at French Creek last spring coincided with when I got interested in bird photography.) I enjoyed watching a flock of 30 for half an hour and managed a few usable photos (need to learn how to adjust for white subjects in the sun). I've also included a few "educational" photos for novice birders regarding the herring spawn, the underwing of the Western Gull, and the "ring" on a Ring-necked Duck.
BONAPARTE GULLS AT PARKSVILLE BAY
HERRING SPAWN CONTINUED
SUISHI BAR BUDDIES - The California Gulls enjoyed the all-you-can-eat menu at the herring spawn suishi bar while the "bad-hair-day" Bald Eagle was waiting patiently for one of the gulls to eat so much that it couldn't fly.
photo left - Dead Pacific herring on a clump of herring eggs stuck to seaweed. This 8" herring was probably killed by a fish net as herring aren't supposed to expire after they spawn
photo right - GULLS EVERYWHERE - Typical beach scene a week after the herring spawn. Gulls by the thousands resting after the free lunch continues with the herring roe washed in by the tide.
The beaches like this one beside Piper's Lagoon will be covered with loose herring roe for weeks.
WHERE'S THE RING ON THE RING-NECKED DUCK?
It took me a year to finally see the ring on the Ring-necked Duck. The angle of the sun has to be almost perfect to get the reflection from the subtle but beautiful chestnut ring.
THE DARK SIDE OF THE WESTERN - I could be wrong but I think the Western is our only common gull with dark underwings.
THE FRIENDLY LOON
I happened upon this loon in Nanaimo on Mar. 19. It seemed too small and too friendly to be a Common Loon, but what else could it be? After I spotted the loon, I sat on the beach and the loon swam to within 20 feet of me as if wanting my company. I visited for about 15 minutes before I had to say good-bye. (Hey Rick, maybe I've developed some kind of "loony" kinship!)