Sunday, 22 April 2018

Trip Report - Vancouver Island, BC, 04 April - 13 April 2018

04 April 2018
Waterloo - Pearson International Airport - Victoria, BC

     We picked Judy up and had an uneventful ride to the airport parking lot and took the shuttle over to the terminal. We were in the boarding lounge by 17h:30 to wait for our flight to Victoria, almost three hours later.

     As you may see Judy and Miriam were unfazed by the wait.

     We all got something to eat so as to avoid the overpriced and under-performing crap that is served on the aircraft, and people-watched, read and generally passed the time.
     Take-off was delayed slightly and we arrived in Victoria about fifteen minutes late. We retrieved our bags, were met by Jan, Miriam's sister, and were soon on our way to our Airbnb. We were dealing with a three hour time difference and by the time we got to bed at midnight it was already 03h:00 the following morning for us. We all slept well and Judy proclaimed her pull-out sofa bed to be quite comfortable.

05 April 2018
Clover Point - Ogden Point - Oak Bay

      Jan had kindly made sure we had enough food for breakfast the first morning, and - most importantly of all - coffee, so we we had oatmeal, fruit and coffee and were ready to face the day. It had been raining when we arrived and was raining fairly heavily still so we dressed accordingly.
      Franc and Carol, and Jim and Francine, had flown out via Calgary the previous day, and were staying at a B&B not far from us, so we texted back and forth and arranged for them to come and pick us up. We had rented a large minivan to accommodate us all.
     Our first stop was at Clover Point, one of my all-time favourite birding spots. This is not a location where you are going to tally a large number of species, but everything is up close, and the birds can be studied extensively. Furthermore, species that are seldom, if ever, seen in Ontario are quite common here, and it is so much more agreeable to see little groups of Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) rather than the odd one on the Great Lakes. There is also something inherently more satisfying about seeing birds in their natural habitat instead of far removed from where they belong, blown off course by errant winds perhaps.

     Brant Goose (Branta bernicla) is to be expected at Clover Point and Miriam managed this shot of Brant Geese together with Mew Gull (Larus canus), a species which was a lifer for Franc, Carol, Jim and Francine.

     There were several Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and we scanned every group searching for a Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus). That species would have to wait until a little later.

     Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), a winter resident in Ontario is found commonly along the Pacific shores and on fresh water in British Columbia.

     One of the signature species of Clover Point is Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmanii); a species always present when I have visited. Since we never have oystercatchers of any kind at home it is always a special treat to see them and to hear their loud calls as they fly in unison.

     We checked the cormorants carefully and located a few Pelagic Cormorants among the more common Double-crested Cormorants.

     From Clover Point we moved over to the Ogden Point Breakwater, a location where Miriam and I have had great success in the past.

     Indeed, a walk out to the end of the breakwater yielded our first Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba) of the trip, a lifer for Carol, Franc, Jim and Francine, and Judy. It was raining, windy and cold, but it was worth the effort.

     The other species we were searching for was Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca momocerata) and we had a single bird fly past at high speed right at the end of the pier.

     Needless to say Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus hyperboreus) was ubiquitous throughout. This one had caught a Kelp Crab (Pugettia producta) and was flying off with its prize with others in hot pursuit.

         By the time we all arrived back at the end of the breakwater it was lunch time and the restaurant looked inviting. We had a wonderful bowl of hot, steaming clam chowder with a mini loaf of corn bread and it was deeelicious! And hot! Just what we needed.
      After lunch we headed out to Oak Bay where we saw more of the species we had been seeing in other locations, but also added Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) when a couple of birds were spotted on the beach. 

    After a while we decided to go shopping. We picked up a bottle of wine and the ingredients for a salad, and a baguette,  and had dinner with the others, sharing in their pot of chili simmering away in the crockpot.
     We were tired and Jim drove us back to our B&B around 19h:00. We were in bed a couple of hours later, still adjusting to the time change, I suppose.

All species 05 April: Brant Goose, Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Mallard, Harlequin Duck, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Pelagic Cormorant, Doubel-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher. Grey Plover, Killdeer, Black Turnstone, Dunlin, Bonaparte's Gull, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, Rock Dove, Northwestern Crow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Common Starling, American Robin, House Sparrow, Red Fox Sparrow, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco.

06 April 2018
Clover Point - Goldstream Provincial Park - Thetis Lake - Swan Lake Nature Reserve

     We were up around 06h:00 and had coffee and cereal for breakfast, and made sandwiches for lunch that day. We were happy to note that the rain had stopped and it was dry outside with even a hint of brightness. 
     Our first stop was at Clover Point where it is always worth checking to see whether anything new has come in, to say nothing of the sheer pleasure of enjoying the "regulars." Most days at least one Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was perched on a light standard in the parking area, sometimes two.

     I am assuming that this was a pair since there was no hostility between them and I am equally surmising that the female is on the left based on size. We saw Bald Eagles every day but never became blasé about them. It is a truly magnificent bird (whatever Benjamin Franklin's opinion) and it is wonderful to see populations spreading throughout the continent following the shameful period of organochlorine contamination when many populations virtually disappeared. 
     Black Turnstones (Arenaria melanocephala) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina) were always present at Clover Point and every day I looked forward to seeing them. Several of the Dunlin were already in full breeding plumage and the sight of a Black Turnstone in flight was heart stopping.

Black Turnstone with Dunlin flying over the waves

     Brant Geese were particularly in evidence this morning.

       We left Clover Point to drive up to Goldstream Provincial Park in Langford where we had a whole suite of forest birds on our mind, and aspirations for an American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus).

      One of the birds highest on Francine's wish list was Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) and we encountered this species shortly after we had parked the car.

     Stellers Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) has learned to associate humans with food and it was not long before an individual showed up hoping for a handout. Like all other corvids it is a highly intelligent species that has learned to exploit humans for its own advantage.

     In the trees surrounding the parking area there were several Audubon's Warblers (Setophaga auduboni) and an early Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi), the latter being seen by only Judy and me.
Audubon's Warbler

     Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius) is a species whose core range is in the temperate rain forests of western North America and we were delighted to encounter a couple of individuals.

     California Quail (Callipepla californica) was introduced to British Columbia for hunting purposes and as always happens in such cases a few birds escape the guns and a feral population is established. This individual had learned to exploit the feeders at the Visitor Centre.

     Red Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) was also observed at this location.

     Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) was common throughout our visit to BC, although often skulking in dense vegetation, darting out quickly to snag an insect or two, and retreating just as rapidly. By exercising a little patience Franc was able to get several good pictures of this handsome bird.

     Many Violet-green Swallows (Tachycineta thalassina) were hawking insects over the water and checking out nest sites.

     And one pair had already claimed occupancy of a nest box.

     For those of us who live where dippers do not exist the prospect of seeing one is always exciting. We were not disappointed at Goldstream and Franc captured this remarkable sequence of an individual capturing prey and beating it into submission before swallowing it.

     Carol had never seen a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) and was pretty excited when Judy found this one for her.

     We returned to the parking area, well satisfied with our morning's activity to have lunch.

      Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) was quite common in wet boggy areas; really quite beautiful.

     And this seemed like a good spot for a group picture, sans Francine!   

Jim, Judy, Miriam, Franc, Carol.

     We left to visit nearby Thetis Lake, and while the walk there was very pleasant, the bird life was decidedly sparse. We did have a good look at a Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) of the red-shafted variant found in the west, and, once again, Franc excelled.

     We had the great good fortune to meet a young couple from the Ehattesaht First Nation and had a very engaging conversation with them. They explained to us that in their tradition to find the feather of a Northern Flicker indicated the wish for "Blessings on your Journey." What an inspirational thought! There are myriad other traditions too, revealing a respect for all the other creatures with whom we share this wonderful earth, an ethic that is sorely lacking in the 21st Century I am afraid.
     Our final destination for the day was the Swan Lake Nature Reserve, a spot Miriam and I remembered well from our last visit to Vancouver Island. One of the highlights of this visit was the presence of numerous singing Marsh Wrens (Cistothorus palustris), and since the bullrushes and cattails were still bare, they were quite visible.

     Bewick's Wrens (Thryomanes bewickii) were also in full voice.

    It was fortunate that the movement of a couple of American Bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus) caught our eye. They were gathering nesting material and building a nest in a spruce tree.

    We returned to the B&B with the others, having picked up a bottle of wine,  and we all had dinner together, of zucchini pasta with meat sauce and cheese, accompanied by a fabulous tomato salad made by Franc. I guess he did double duty today as chief photographer and assistant chef.
     We were home by about 20h:30 and sat and sipped wine, and chatted, and checked emails, and laughed and chortled until we all went to bed around 22h:00.
     It had been a great day!

All species 06 April: Brant Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Harlequin Duck, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, California Quail, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Dunlin, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rock Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Steller's Jay, Northwestern Crow, Northern Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Bushtit, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Marsh Wren, Bewick's Wren, Pacific Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Common Starling, Varied Thrush, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, American Dipper, House Sparrow, House Finch, Orange-crowned Warbler, Audubon's Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Red Fox Sparrow, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Savannah Sparrow, Spotted Towhee.

07 April 2018
Clover Point - Beacon Hill Park - Ogden Point - Mount Tolmie - Clover Point

     We were all up fairly early and Judy had hot coffee waiting for us, as she did every morning in fact. We had showered, eaten and were ready to go by 07h:00 and waited for the others to pick us up.
     Our first stop was at Clover Point where we scanned carefully but nothing new was to be found. Quickly we moved on to nearby Beacon Hill Park where there is the tallest totem pole in the world, atop of which most times when we have visited is a Bald Eagle. Today was no exception.

     The pond, as usual, yielded American Wigeon (Mareca americana) and Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope).

      The singular pleasure of this visit to Beacon Hill Park was to meet Don Williams, a fellow who has developed a unique relationship with the Northwestern Crows (Corvus caurinus) there.

David, Don
     It is obvious at first blush that there is a genuine fellowship between them, and he brings them food and toys to play with. The crows look forward to his arrival, recognize him, and flock towards him as soon as he appears. As I observed his behaviour with the crows I could not help but think of the work done by John Marzluff in demonstrating that crows have the ability to recognize individuals, to know friend and foe, and even to pass on this information to subsequent generations. There is obviously a true bond between Don and the crows - they are friends, with all that that statement conveys. The crows were a little wary of us, especially the young ones, but they seemed to realize that if we were accepted by Don, then they had less reason to be fearful and wary than if they had met us in other circumstances. For me it was a remarkable experience and one which I will not forget.

Not quite sure about Francine
     Don told us that he knew where a Barred owl (Strix varia) was located in a nearby wooded area and took us to see it. When we arrived Franc and Carol were already aware of the bird, having been alerted to its presence by someone else.

     From Beacon Hill Park we went back to Ogden Point Breakwater where we thought we might see Rhinoceros Auklet on the water, but we had no luck with that. The restaurant looked inviting and we all stopped in for a hot coffee.
     Our final destination for the day, other than for our customary check at Clover Point, was Mount Tolmie where we did not see a whole lot, but Franc did manage some decent shots of a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii).

     Miriam, Judy and I had dinner with Jan and a fine affair it was. She had made hummus and baba ganoush for snacks, followed by a delicious salmon stir fry and a salad.
     Jan had to be on her way by 19h:00 so we returned to our B&B and passed the time doing all manner of inconsequential things until bed time.

All species 07 April: Brant Goose, Canada Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon, Mallard, Harlequin Duck, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Dunlin, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, Rock Dove, Barred Owl, Anna's Hummingbird, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Northwestern Crow, Northern Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Violet-green Swallow, American Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, American Robin, House Sparrow, Audubon's Warbler, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee.

08 April 2018
Clover Point - Cowichan Bay - Somenos Marsh - Duncan - Cattle Point

     Having checked the birds at Clover Point we set out for Cowichan Bay.

      A pair of Western Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) had claimed their nest and the male was kept busy bringing construction material to the female for her to carefully arrange.

     Purple Martins (Progne subis) had returned from the south and were feeding above the bay, but too far out for photographs. Their apartment complex awaited occupancy.

     Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) and Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) were closer to shore.

     Right in town in a bushy area on the opposite side of the main drag several Orange-crowned Warblers (Leiothlypis celata) were moving through the vegetation.

      A kind fellow, seeing that we were birders, stopped his car and asked us whether we knew of the local heronry, the largest on Vancouver Island according to him. We did not and he obligingly pointed it out to us with clear instructions how to get there.

     It was indeed a very large colony with a good deal of activity. 

     We were very happy that we had been made aware of its existence. 
     Soon it was lunch time and we ate in a little park on the bay - very pleasant 
     Our next stop was Somenos Marsh, near Duncan, a place we had birded during our last visit to BC and we looked forward to doing it again with Franc, Carol, Jim and Francine, and Judy.

     Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) had returned in good numbers and many nest boxes were occupied.

     A couple of Anna's Hummingbirds (Calypte anna) put on quite a show for us; this species is covered in an earlier post.
     The waterfowl on the marsh was either scant or beyond our vision but we were happy to see this male Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis).

      Leaving Somenos Marsh we paid a brief visit to Duncan to see some of the totems for which the town is renowned and then left to head towards home, stopping at Cattle point en route.

     At Cattle Point there many Glaucous-winged Gulls as one might expect.

     And Mew Gulls too.

     A pair of Killdeer (Chardrius vociferus) was nesting on the beach in an area where they would almost certainly be assured of continuous human disturbance.

     Back in Victoria, Miriam, Judy and I went to a local Thai restaurant within walking distance of our B&B and it turned out to be a great choice. I had a well prepared Thai chicken curry and Miriam and Judy both had Pad Thai. There was lots of food and it was reasonably priced.

All species 08 April: Canada Goose, American Wigeon, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Harlequin Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Western Osprey, Bald Eagle, Killdeer, Black Turnstone, Dunlin, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rock Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Steller's Jay, Northwestern Crow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Bewick's Wren, Common Starling, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, House Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Audubon's Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee.

09 April 2018
Island View Beach - Observation Hill - Francis King Regional Park - Clover Point
     Jim and Francine had never visited Butchart Gardens and wished to do so, so we dropped them off there with a promise to return at 13h:00 to pick them up.
     Our day began at Island View Beach, a lovely place to walk and enjoy the bird life. It was not crowded when we arrived and even though there were many more people when we left it still could not be described as crowded. I suspect that in the summer it would be a different story.
     It was here that we saw our first Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) and we assume that they had arrived on the island after we had arrived. 
     The highlight for me at this location was an extended stop at an area where numerous Sooty Fox Sparrows (Passerella unalaschcensis) were coming out of the scrub vegetation to feed. They were joined by Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla), Dark-eyed Junco - Oregon subspecies (Junco hyemalis), White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) and Spotted Towhee. We were unable to determine what they were feeding on but whatever it was it was very appealing and kept them coming back for more.
     Fox Sparrow was formerly a single species with numerous subspecies, but it was recently been split into several separate species. I had never before seen Sooty Fox Sparrow and this deep chocolate-brown bird with heavy markings on the chest and belly looked very different from the familiar Red Fox Sparrow found in Ontario. Even after about twenty minutes of observation it was hard to tear myself away.

Sooty Fox Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco

Golden-crowned Sparrow
     We watched a Bald Eagle sail towards us, looking as though we might be intended prey, until it perched on a spruce.

     Before going to pick up Jim and Francine we made a stop at Observatory Hill, which was interesting, but not especially birdy.
      It had been recommended to us that we not miss Francis King Regional Park, and while this location was a magnificent example of ancient growth coastal rain forest its bird life was scant indeed.
      Our day ended at Clover Point where a pair of Bufflehead gave a textbook demonstration of how to land on water!

     Dinner was taken at the same Thai restaurant as last night. I forget what we all had but it was equally delicious and equally reasonable. 
     We turned in for the night at around 22h:00.

All species 09 April: Brant Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Harlequin Duck, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Dunlin, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rock Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Northwestern Crow, Northern Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Bewick's Wren, Common Starling, American Robin, House Finch, Audubon's Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee.

10 April 2018
Esquimalt Lagoon - Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site - East Sooke Park

     Jim and Francine were not with us today, having gone to Gabriola Island to visit friends formerly from Kitchener.
     It was raining on and off as we set off for the Esquimalt Lagoon and it rained quite heavily at times when we were there. There was a nice assortment of ducks, geese, gulls and a few cormorants on the water including a Eurasian Teal. Since this species is always found at Beacon Hill Park and was also here it is possible that there is a small localized breeding population. In my experience Eurasian and American Wigeons usually interbreed in these circumstances, swamping the original progenitors, but perhaps Eurasian Wigeons are a little more aloof in BC! Our first Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) of the trip were spotted here.

     We saw the first Brewer's Blackbirds (Euphagus cyanocephalus) of our trip - a new species for Franc and Carol.

     We left Esquimalt Lagoon for Fort Rodd where a friendly park employee gave us all kind of information which we found useful. We walked around for a couple of hours, spotting many Ruby-crowned Kinglets (Regulus calendula) in the process. 

     Several Orange-crowned Warblers also played hide-and-seek with us.

     We ate lunch in the parking lot at Fort Rodd where we were entertained by a Spotted Towhee which kept darting in and out of the undergrowth.
     Our afternoon was spent hiking through East Sooke Park. We had seen that there was a Pelagic Cormorant Colony at the end of one of the trails and that was our intended destination, but the trail got tougher and progressively more impassable as we travelled farther along it. Finally, we turned back.
     We were well-serenaded by Pacific Wrens (Troglodytes pacificus), with Judy being very pleased that she got the song imprinted on her brain.

     Jan had mentioned one of her favourite eateries, Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant, and she met us there for dinner. The food was simply delicious; authentic Thai cuisine done well. Busy as always, she had to leave by 19h:00 so Franc and Carol came back to our place where got caught up on the check lists and shared a little wine together.

All species 10 April: Canada Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Pelagic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Killdeer, Dunlin, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rock Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Northwestern Crow, Northern Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Tree Swallow, American Bushtit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Bewick's Wren, Pacific Wren, Common Starling, Varied Thrush, American Robin, Orange-crowned Warbler, Audubon's Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee.

11 April 2018
Beacon Hill Park - Clover Point - Goldstream Provincial Park - Mount Tolmie

     When we all met it was the consensus that we should go for a stroll at Beacon Hill Park before going anywhere else. It was not raining and we enjoyed our walk. The Barred Owl was in exactly the same spot as previously; we took a quick look and left it alone. Actually it roosted in a dense thicket right above the pedestrian path so it was likely not bothered by people. Certainly most would pass by and not have a clue it was there.
     A quick check at Clover Point in a fierce, bitterly cold wind produced nothing new.
     Goldstream Provincial Park had been not only our most productive location, but also our favourite, so we decided to go for a second visit. The birding was not quite as active as it had been on the first visit, but very agreeable nonetheless. Close encounters with Chestnut-backed Chickadees were frequent and delightful.

     Brown Creepers (Certhia americana) were busy doing what Brown Creepers do.

     We spent time at the Visitor Centre where the staff are friendly, cooperative and efficient, had a coffee and between us spent about $150 in there. We are always glad to support such organizations.
     Despite a concerted effort to locate a dipper on the way back we were unable to do so, which made our first encounter all the sweeter, since it had been a life for everyone except Miriam and me, and Judy's first dipper ever.
          The familiar Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) has a quite different look to it in the Pacific Northwest, its belly and underparts being a grey/brown colour, in marked contrast to the crisp white we are used to seeing in the east.

      We had seen Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) on both visits to Goldstream, mainly as a flash zooming down the creek, but this female posed nicely for a picture.

     Heading back into town we made a second visit to Mount Tolmie where we had excellent looks at numerous species we had seen throughout our stay.

    Jan joined us for dinner at the Fernwood Inn, a very agreeable local pub, well patronized with very good food. Miriam had a cod/avocado burger with the soup of the day, and I had the same burger except with Cesar salad.
    When we returned to our B&B Miriam went down to finish a game of Scrabble she had started earlier with Jan, while Judy and I sat and did our list, and talked of all things under the sun, and drank wine! It was not long before Miriam rejoined us and we all passed the evening together in agreeable repartee. 

All species 11 April:  Brant Goose, Canada Goose, Harlequin Duck Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Bufflehead, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rock Dove, Barred Owl, Anna's Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Steller's Jay, Northwestern Crow, Northern Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Violet-green Swallow, American Bushtit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pacific Wren, Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Audubon's Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco.

12 April 2018
Clover Point - Chinese Cemetery (Carling Point) - Esquimalt Lagoon - Witty's Lagoon

     Our final visit to Clover Point proved the value of regularly checking this hotspot. A couple of Rhinoceros Auklets were on the water and finally came in reasonably close. Franc added to his record of the single bird in flight seen at Ogden Point.

     Furthermore he got a nice shot of a small group of Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) coming in to land on the water.

     We then made a very pleasant visit to the Chinese Cemetery at Carling Point where a Song Sparrow serenaded us for a while.

     It was also a great pleasure to see a lone Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) pounding a shellfish on its chest in typical Sea Otter fashion.

     The Brewer's Blackbird seen at Esquimalt would have been a lifer for Francine and Jim so we returned there and successfully relocated it, much to their delight.
     We had planned to have lunch in Metchosin at My Chosen Café, a restaurant Miriam and I had enjoyed very much during our last visit to BC. In four years we knew it might have changed hands, the chef might not be the same, the menu perhaps different, but it was exactly as we remembered it. Miriam chose French Onion Soup and said it was delicious; I had a Thai wrap and it was mouthwateringly good. Everyone else enjoyed their choices too.
     Our final destination of the trip was nearby Witty's Lagoon where we had a long and pleasant walk down to the ocean; not especially bird-filled but very enjoyable. Chestnut-backed Chickadees, as always, kept us company, many of them going about the important task of nest construction in preparation for the breeding season about to begin.

     This was the only location where we saw Gadwall (Mareca strepera) and Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes).

     Upon returning to Victoria, Miriam and Judy went to have dinner with Jan (soup and salad) while I joined everyone else for pizza and to bring everyone's list up to date.
     Franc and Carol dropped me off around 21h:00 and we all got ready for our early morning departure.

All species 12 April: Canada Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Harlequin Duck, Surf Scoter, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rhinoceros Auklet, Rock Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Northwestern Crow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, American Bushtit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pacific Wren, Brown Creeper, Common Starling, American Robin, House Sparrow, House Finch, Orange-crowned Warbler, Audubon's Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco.

13 April 2018
Victoria - Pearson International Airport - Waterloo

     Jan drove us to the airport at 04h:00 in pouring rain. We arrived in good time and waited in the boarding lounge until our flight was ready to board. Judy and Miriam had made sandwiches so we did not have to buy food on the plane and they were very enjoyable, much tastier than anything we could have purchased. 
      Our bags were among the first to come down the carousel and in no time at all we were back at the airport parking lot to retrieve our car. The drive home was seamless with only a brief delay on the highway and we dropped Judy off before doing a little shopping for dinner. By 16h:00 we were in the house - glad to be home!


  1. Wow, what a great post and trip! Awesome collection of birds and wonderful sightings. Great photos of the group! I should add this area on to my list of places to visit and bird. Thanks for sharing, Have a great day and new week!

  2. Hari OM
    What a feast for Sunday enjoyment you have provided, David! I am taken with the Mew Gull - somewhat reminiscent of the Silver Gulls we have so many of Down Under. YAM xx

  3. David, it's always a pleasure to relive our trip through your exquisite rendition. You capture the true essence so well. And the photos! Franc and Miriam, your skill, patience and perseverance amaze me. I feel fortunate to see these birds in nature, often for mere seconds. But your stunning photos allow me to behold their beauty in lingering awe.

    1. It’s a lovely comment, Carol. You have a way with words yourself.

  4. Wow! I admire your passion for birdwatching David!
    Great series of pictures! Such beauty!
    I really enjoyed all the pictures and the preety birds!
    Thank you for sharing! Enjoy your new week!

  5. Wow what an awesome time you had. The birds were wonderful I've taken notes in case I ever get up to Victoria!

  6. Hello David,

    Wonderful photos, and great post! You have a big passion for birds :)

  7. A delightful report, David, and I'm extremely impressed by the range of birds that you saw. It shines through that you had a splendid time, enhanced by good birds and great company - and the Thai food sounds rather attractive too!

    With our love to you both - - - Richard

  8. Well done to Miriam and Franc with their great photos and record of the trip. I love the gull in flight with the crab. The Bald eagles are beautiful, but my heart will remain with the South African fish eagle because of its magnificent call. The varied thrush is gorgeous, what a pretty bird. As for the dipper, woodpecker and the Northern flicker, fabulous shots. Then the owl and the hawk I could rave on and on. Great post, well done Diane

    1. I remember well the call of the African Fish Eagle - loud and distinctive. Good looking bird too. I saw them feeding on fish in SA but at a couple of lakes in Ethiopia they had switched to preying on flamingos.

  9. Jag instämmer gärna i allt beröm du får för detta fantastiska inlägg. Jag inser att vår natur här i Norden är förhållandevis fattig på olika fågelarter. Det är otroligt vilken rikedom den kanadensiska naturen erbjuder, jag kan ju inte låta bli att fundera över varför det är så. De skandinaviska årstiderna med kalla vintrar skiljer sig väl inte så mycket från Canadas fyra årstider?

    Jag måste i alla fall välja en favorit bland alla dessa fåglar och det blir den gröna svalan - alldeles underbart vacker!

    Tack David för ett långt och genomarbetat inlägg och för alla bilder på fåglarna!

  10. David, what a wonderful post. So detailed and with such beautiful photographs. It really did need more than one reading ... and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    After a lot of reflection although ALL photographs were marvellous my favourite has got to be the Glaucous-winged Gull, having caught a crab and then flying off with it - amazing.

    All the best Jan

  11. David that was an incredible birding trip! I don't think I've seen that many species in such a short time ever. Beautiful pictures -- I'm especially in awe of the flight and skimming shots .... fabulous. I thought of about a million things to say as I read, but if I said them all, this comment would be a book. Thanks for sharing all these amazing sightings!!

  12. This post is almost overpowering in its beauty, information and complexity. What a wonderful holiday you shared, what astounding photos and what a magnificent place to see so many remarkable birds. Most of these I've never seen! And it sounds as though the Visitor's Center was sorry to see you leave but at least it was what must have been a good deal of their inventory! I know you were glad to be home but oh, what a grand time!

  13. Wow, wow and wow.
    You see eagles every day? Colour me jealous.
    I have a huge soft spot for the corvid family. Intelligent, family minded birds.
    And I really loved the signs promoting concern for nesting birds. Something I would like to see a lot more often.

  14. The content of your blog is exactly what I needed, I like your blog, I sincerely hope that your blog a rapid increase in traffic density, which help promote your blog and we hope that your blog is being updated.

  15. Wonderful report of your days and birds, some pretty others blending in very well with the area.
    Owls, I'm fascinated with them :)

  16. Hi David.

    Beautiful David, so many species that you show.
    Everything is equally beautiful.
    This has been an experience for you.
    Beautiful pictures shows you.
    Species that I have never seen before.
    Thank you for letting us take a look.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  17. David, I'd sack Franco, he keeps taking great pictures, really really beautiful photos.

    1. Nah, I think we’ll keep Franc around for a while.

  18. Hi David,
    You certainly have made an interesting and succesful trip. I am once again amazed by the number of species I have never seen before. Of course, there is an number of familiar ones but in general I have enjoyed seeing many new birds. It takes some time to read your text and to look at the large number of pictures, but it was really worth it.
    Greetings, Kees

    1. I am glad that you persevered and enjoyed it, Kees.

  19. A great trip and so many birds, it's seems making a lot of noise is a trait held by all Oystercatchers as the ones we have here do also!

  20. Hi David,
    What a wonderful trip with such a varied array of birds, as with other comments I am amazed with the number of species you saw.
    Our American Wigeon is not so well marked,must be missing its homeland.
    Glad to see the Ospreys are doing well.
    Super images from Franc and Miriam again.
    All the best, John

  21. Hi David - you are so kind to have taken a tour of the area I happen to be living in - and told me where to take a look!! I'll be back - and will follow your route in various stages ... brilliant write-up - thank you ... cheers Hilary

  22. Impresionante reportaje, me han llamado la atención muchas especies de aves que siempre he querido conocer, en especial el Cerorhinca momocerata y el Cepphus columba. Enhorabuena David, un fuerte abrazo desde España. Todo lo mejor!!!!

  23. Thank you for your recent visit to my blog. Your comments were kind; most of the photos were from the Internet and not my work ...

    I am astounded by this post. It contains more birds/variety than many people will see in a lifetime. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

    We have installed two bird boxes and a bat box this week; already the mountain bluebirds and the tree swallows are considering whether the nesting boxes are worthy!!

  24. An epic post David. Glad you got to see the Harlequin Ducks and those Black Oystercatchers look great too.

  25. Hi david. An epic post indeed. My thanks and regards must go the your pal Franc for some truly wonderful photos there, far too many to pick a winner if there is such a thing. Of course the Varied Thrush is one that UK birders would aspire to, but coming from the east. Considering the pretty poor weather encountered I think your group's combined efforts amount to 100% for effort and 100% for results.

  26. I saw your post yesterday but it is so extensive that I wanted to read it carefully and enjoy the excellent photos. The place reminds me the orography, biome and climate western part of Patagonia, only that in Vancouver Island there are many more species and more colorful, although our forests have some interesting and some other shared as the kingfisher. I enjoyed andlearned a lot from the fauna of the place, seeing the magnificent photos of those beautiful birds, that is an excellent place to do birding! And it's good that you enjoyed having friends who love birdwatching, here in my town we have very but very few, to gather friends I have to go to other cities.
    Un fuerte abrazo

  27. Wow, what a wonderful and in-depth post, I enjoyed it immensely. The photos are absolutely beautiful. Glad you all had a very successful trip and thank you for sharing your knowledge. Your passion for birds shines brightly.

  28. Hello my friend David,
    I see many beautiful birds in your post again.
    The Bufflehead is an exception in the Netherlands and is only observed once. I have never even seen the black oystercatcher. I have never even heard of a dove-coot. I learn so much more in your post. And wow ... the
    Haliaeetus leucocephalus you have also seen and even 2 next to each other. In addition, many stonecrops and geese.
    I'm jealous of your redbreasted monkey woodpecker !! What a beautiful beautiful woodpecker is this! even those beautiful little birds below it are great to see.
    I really enjoyed your post.
    Dear greetings and a kiss,

  29. Awesome birds and awesome photos! I'm glad you had a successful trip and you saw so many wonderful things.

  30. this is a wonderful journal of your trip...which sounds amazing!! many of these birds i have never seen and i really enjoyed all of the pictures!! i think the bald eagles were a real favorite for me. they are so special and so majestic, seeing your images of them is a real standout for me!!

    it must be a great feeling to have had such a successful trip!!

  31. WOW what an amazing birds you saw on this trip. Are those Violet-green Swallows for real? So beautyful. And you saw also one of my favorit birds, the Osprey! Just to much to grasp at once what you all saw. Amazing is the word for now.

  32. It's a very interesting post David. All theses species are very beautiful. This travel will remain in your memories for a long time. Thank's to Franc for his superb images and thank's to you for this post. I loved seeing all those birds, sometimes unknown.
    Have a good sunday !

    1. Nathalie:
      You MUST come to Ontario. I will take care of you and show you many wonderful birds.
      David. xo

  33. So many beautiful pictures, David...
    It must have been a wonderful trip, many birds I haven't seen before.


  34. Hi David - I've been keeping all your posts to read ... so need to read forward! Thanks for all the details - really helpful as I haven't heard of many of the places. Wonderful photos Franc and you take ... also good to have the information ... wonderful records for you all and for us!

    Amazing and such a delightful read - cheers Hilary