February 29, 2004
Happy Leap Year! Does that mean spring will take one day longer this year? I guess that won't make any difference to the birds as they fly to the beat of their own drummer. Actually, signs of spring are all around. My neighbor spotted a Turkey Vulture over Northwest Bay on Feb. 23, Violet-green Swallows were reported in Nanaimo on Feb. 26, my backyard Juncos have been chipping for over 3 weeks, crocuses are blooming by the Englishman River, rhodos are blooming at the Parksville visitor center, and I'm planning on planting potatoes this week. This was a short month and a short week with only a couple of opportunities for photography, but that's better than none.
February 24, 2004
You can always tell when I don't have much to shoot. That's when I practice flight shots. Now that I'm digital, I don't mind all the wasted shots. Tuesday was one of those days at Qualicum Beach. (first 4 pictures)
BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS are always fun to shoot. Quite often they'll let you get close but this one thought I was after his lunch.
SCOTERS ARE SKITTISH - A dog, photographer, or any other threatening movement sends them on their merry way.
Amongst all the Scoter commotion, the Common Goldeneye was as cool as a cucumber looking for another snack.
EARLY WARNING SIGNAL - Widgeons are so wary that they are usually in flight before anyone else perceives there's any danger around.
Just to get in the mode of taking non-seabird pictures, I clicked this unsuspecting Gold-crowned sparrow in the dull morning light at the San Malo Mud Flats.
MALE BONDING - Mating season hasn't even started, but that didn't stop these Fairwinds boys from planning their post-mating adventures.
February 27, 2003
PHOTO FEATURE - HORNED GREBES
It's funny how life works. Today I started north to Deep Bay to check out how the eagles were doing with the sea lion carcass and possibly get a decent shot at the Horned Grebes. Well, I got as far as French Creek and the dark clouds ahead told me to head south, maybe to have lunch and check out the American Black Duck at the Crow and Gate. As luck would have it, the parking lot was overflowing so I decided to skip the crowd and lunch and focus on the Black Duck. There were Mallards all around, and the only possible Black Duck was tucked in the grass on the island having a snooze. A little commotion led me to a second pond where I found some very dark Mallard-like ducks. At first I thought they were Mallard-Black hybrids, but a little research on the web suggested they might be "Black East Indies". I have included the pictures for your own hypothesis. (Did you know that all domestic ducks are descended from Mallards except Muscovey's?). So, "mission unaccomplished," but there were places to check on the way home. My first stop was Maffeo-Sutton Park. I couldn't believe my eyes as I peeked over to the mouth of the Millstone River - a pair of Horned Grebes! As soon as they dove, I clambered down the bank for a shot. They fooled me by going upstream, and they were spooked when they saw me. The good news was that they stayed close to shore as they headed back out to the deeper water. By timing their dives, I was able to position myself for a series of reasonable shots. After 20 clicks they were out of range, but I finally got some decent Horned Grebe pictures. I gave up on the Horned Grebe earlier in the day an look what happened. I hope you enjoy the pictures.
PHOTO: I'm not sure if it's an eel, worm, snake or something else the grebe has, but it looked like a tasty snack.
Photo note - notice the water droplets in the 2nd photo from the top? The camera was able to freeze the action even as the Grebe was shaking its head. (ASA 800, shutter 2400, aperture 6.3, handheld).
MYSTERY DUCKS - Are these hybrids, BEI, or both?