Thursday, December 07, 2023

Happy Hanukkah




Monday, December 04, 2023

Vancouver Island - Part 6

13 September, 2023
Clover Point, Victoria, BC 

     As always, our day began with a visit to Clover Point, where Victoria began keenly scanning to see what was around.

     It's probably safe to say that a Northwestern Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos caurinus) had sharper eyes than us, even aided by binoculars.

     It was always exciting to see Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) probing among the seaweed searching for food.

     It still seems a little odd to me to see Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) in salt water, although I am not quite sure why, since, though favouring fresh water, they are known to inhabit both salt and brackish water too.

     I have been unable to identify this plant specifically, but I suspect that it is a species of Bindweed in the subfamily Convolvuloideae.

     I remember many years ago when I first started paying serious attention to plants I thought that ID would be simple since plants stay in one place. What a delusional conclusion that was!
     The water was calm and a boat out in the bay seemed especially tranquil.

     A Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) verges on exotic for a visitor to the west coast.

Goldstream Provincial Park, Langford, BC

     Always a favourite spot, and nearing the end of our visit, we decided to make one final pilgrimage to Goldstream.

     Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) were there to greet us.

     Great Horsetail (Equisetum telmateia) is an impressive plant.

     An American Robin (Turdus migratorius) brings joy continent-wide, familiar yet always endearing.

     Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) is the most abundant fern in west coast forests.

     Many Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) patrolled the skies and from time to time we caught sight of some perched.

     There is a waterfall in Goldstream Park, no doubt impressive when drought has not reduced its flow, but quite insipid during our visit.

     As far as I can tell there is no formal name for this cataract other than Niagara Falls Waterfall, which seems like an odd designation for a waterfall on Vancouver Island.

     The general area is undeniably beautiful.

     There were a couple of patches of very attractive Western Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aleuticum).

     Two good friends were happy to hang out together.

     These holes have been drilled by a sapsucker (genus Sphyrapicus), although I am not sure which species.

     I bet you all wish you could see this kind of treasure in an old stump.

     The tree rings on this log have seen a lot of history and it is quite sad to see it reduced to lumber.

     The principal reason we had returned to Goldstream Park was to try to find an American Dipper (Certhia americana) for Victoria. It was the bird she most wanted to see, yet despite diligent searches we had been unsuccessful.
     This stretch of the river, close to rapidly flowing water at a bridge, seemed promising habitat.

     Eureka! Within minutes we spotted an American Dipper!

     If ever you need lessons on how to perform a spontaneous happy dance just call on Victoria.

     That is a very happy birder.
     And it only got better as a second dipper put in an appearance and between the two of them they delivered a textbook performance of dipper behaviour.
The following pictures require no further commentary from me.

     I am quite sure that Victoria glowed for the rest of the day.
     Perhaps this Dark-eyed Junco was happy for her too.

Oak Bay Marina and Cattle Point, Victoria, BC

     There was quite a gathering of Northwestern Crows; one might call them a murder I suppose, but who ever actually uses that term?

     Black birds are difficult to photograph and I think that Miriam did an exceptional job with this individual.

     Ready to play a tune, anyone?

     Oak Bay is a beautiful spot.

     It appeared that someone had scattered food quite liberally, and Rock Doves (Columbia livia) were quick to take advantage of it.

     A White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) peered out from behind the leaves.

     The crows appeared to have found a stash of peanuts too.

     Cattle Point is a wonderful location to watch birds.

     Rocky outcrops just offshore provide resting places for a variety of species.

     A lone Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) cruised by.

     It had been a great day.

Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal - Island View Beach Provincial Park, Victoria, BC

     This was our final day on the island and we dropped Selwyn and Victoria off at the ferry terminal to head over to the mainland where they had a wedding to go to.

     We missed them already even as they were walking away.
     The rental car was due back at the airport at noon, so we made our way to Island View Beach Provincial Park, only a short drive from the terminal.

     It was a very pleasant place to walk, and a cheery House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) was the first bird we saw.

     A colourful male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) was not to be upstaged.

     This Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) put on quite a show for us, sallying out from its perch to snag a passing insect, and returning to the same post.

     It's an uplifting experience to be immersed in such scenic beauty.

     Beauty was at our feet too.

Oregon Gumplant (Grindelia stricta)

     Dog owners please pay attention and control your pets in accordance with the posted regulations.

     Your friendly, furry companion can do a lot of damage. I am aware of one instance where a dog was responsible for digging up a stand of provincially endangered orchids when allowed to run free in an area restricted to official access only.
     A Short-billed Gull (Larus brachyrynchus) explored the water's edge.

     The highlight of our walk was to meet up with a flock of lively Bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus), a species characteristic of brushy areas in the western parts of the continent.

     Small White (Pieris rapae), on the other hand, is found continent-wide.

     A Butterfly Bush (genus Buddleia) is a magnet for pollinators of every description, and a captivating sight for human eyes.

     This Hover Fly (family Syrphoidea) proved the point.

     Just before getting back to the car we saw our final Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) of the trip.

     We made our way to the rental car return area at the airport, along the way passing a series of totem poles, so emblematic of the traditions and the wisdom of the indigenous people of the west coast.

It seemed a fitting way to end our journey.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.