Friday, September 22, 2023

Vancouver Island - Part 1

07 September, 2023 
Waterloo, ON - Victoria, BC

     We picked up Selwyn and Victoria at 14h:00 and drove to the Kitchener-Waterloo Regional Airport, for us the first time flying out of there, and the first time using Westjet. 
     Everything went smoothly and we settled in for the long wait until flight time. Having heard bad things about Westjet we were a little nervous, but all went well, and even though we had two connecting flights, in Calgary and Vancouver, each leg of the journey proceeded on schedule and we arrived in Victoria around 22h:30.
     We got a taxi to the Airport Day's Inn and settled in for a comfortable night in a large, well-appointed room. Hotels are ridiculously expensive these days, but there is nothing to be done about that.

08 September, 2023
Day's Inn - Clover Point - Ogden Point Breakwater - Oak Bay 

     The continental breakfast at the hotel was a fine affair, with a wide variety of food. Selwyn received precise instructions on how to make a waffle and did a fine job in producing two, one for him and one for me. There were also boiled eggs, bagels, cream cheese, toast, muffins, fruit and other stuff. Most importantly there was good hot coffee, the essential ingredient to kickstart the body first thing in the morning!
     We could only pick up our rented car at the airport at noon, so we took a walk and spent a leisurely hour or so in our room, catching the 11h:00 shuttle from the hotel. We had a fine Ford Edge Titanium 4WD, which served us very well throughout our trip. It had every modern bell and whistle you could imagine, push button start, and was about twice the size of my own little Volkswagen. It took a while to get used to it, and initially it seemed huge, but once I was familiar with it, it was a very pleasant vehicle to drive.
     Our first stop was at Clover Point, a place very dear to me, and where I start my day on every visit to Victoria.
     Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) is the default gull in coastal British Columbia, and right away we were treated to a display where a juvenile harried its long-suffering parent over a crab, which it seemed to have no idea how to handle.

     Like all children, it has much to learn, I suppose.
     We were interested onlookers.

     In addition to the birds, the plants around the coast are different from those at home, and exciting to see, witness this Oregon Gumplant (Grindelia stricta).

     Many of the west coast specialties were new to Victoria, so she was quite excited when a Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) swam past us.

     Several Grey Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola) played hide-and-seek with us, but ultimately they were unable to escape Miriam's probing lens.

     I had thought that all the cormorants we saw were Double-crested (Nannopterum auritus) but looking at this picture, this individual is clearly a Pelagic Cormorant (Urile pelagicus).

     Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) are boldly marked and quite different from the form we see in Central Canada.

     American Crows (Corvus brachyrynchos caurinus) were numerous, cheeky and bold.

     Their vocalization is quite distinct and noticeably different from birds in other regions of Canada; it was formerly considered a separate species, Northwestern Crow.

     Is there anything more agreeable than to see a flock of gulls loafing around on a rocky shoreline?

     We are accustomed to seeing Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) in fields and meadows, but it is not shy in adapting to coastal habitat.

     This juvenile Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) appeared to be coordinating its toilette with a Harlequin Duck.

     And speaking of Harlequin Ducks, tiny little gems that they are.....

     ..... and dusky, alluring Song Sparrows.

Ogden Point Breakwater, Victoria, BC

     A vase of cut flowers in the home is a very fine adornment, California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) along the shore even better.

     The entire length of the breakwater is decorated with indigenous art, a very appealing touch, and abundantly appropriate given the rich cultural heritage of the ancestral occupants of the west coast, and their deep, spiritual relationship to the sea.

     Strands of Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) were just about everywhere, on the water, and washed up on the shore.

     We were quite excited to see this aptly named Egg Yolk Jelly (Phacellophora camtschatica), yet another reminder that we had in the space of a day been whisked from fresh water lakes to the Pacific Ocean.

     A couple of sea stars were equally appealing, not as clear as we might like, but given the fact that they were a couple of metres down in salt water, the pictures are really not too bad.

Leather Star (Dermasterias imbricata)

Rainbow Star (Orthasterias koehleri)

     For me, the most thrilling discovery was a Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), fresh on the heels of having reviewed a book on this taxon

     We strolled back along the breakwater, where we all, but especially Victoria, were elated to see a mixed flock of Black Turnstones (Arenaria melanocephala) and Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri). They stayed for quite a while, fed, preened, paraded in front of us, quarreled a little, rested - the following pictures speak for themselves.

     We had not seen a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) all day so we were happy to hear their familiar call and see a squadron of them come in to land on the water.

     We were bid a cheery farewell by a member of the Leafcutter, Mortar and Resin Bees (genus Megachile) devoting its full attention to Oregon Gumplant.

Helms Inn, Victoria, BC

     We checked into our accommodation, right across from Beacon Hill Park, and close to Clover Point, our home for the balance of our stay on Vancouver Island. We were very satisfied with this location and would certainly stay there again.

Oak Bay, Victoria, BC

     Since our last visit, Miriam's sister, Jan, has moved to a condominium in Oak Bay, a delightful location, on a quiet street just minutes from Oak Bay Marina.
     She hosted us all for a superb dinner of homemade clam chowder soup with toasted croissants, a wonderful salad and blackberry cobbler. I can't think of a better way to end our first day on the Island.

David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. A great start to what I hope was an excellent stay for you all, David. I too would have been very excited by your marine finds and your avian finds would, of course, have been just as thrilling . Your accommodation looks very pleasant.

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  2. Wonderful photos! I'm so envious as I haven't been out to the Island since 2017...and I absolutely love it out there. Looking forward to seeing more about your travels.

  3. I look forward to more in this series. I enjoyed seeing the black turnstones especially!

  4. Hari OM
    Oh my, another trip away with David and Miriam... and with this opener, I know we are going to have much fun! YAM xx

  5. Hi David
    It looks like a nice place to visit. I have fallen in love with the Western Sandpipers. They are very pretty.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

    1. Gorgeous little birds, Marit. Hugs and kisses - David

  6. It's a great way to start. Sparrows are my little favourites.
    Water birds are fascinating to watch. Thanks David.

  7. very interesting sea creatures, we used to see several types of stars here when i was a child, not so true now. the octopus i can do without. stuff of nightmares, LOL.. about that bull kelp. have never seen it and I am thinking it is so named because it looks just like a bull whip like the Florida Crackers used to get those cows moving in the distant past. amazing photos as always.

  8. It looks WONDERFUL. The egg yolk jelly is certainly aptly named. An octopus? Lucky, lucky you. And thank you to Miriam for the usual stunning photos.

  9. A wonderful start to your adventure. Nice scenery and some beautiful sigtings. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Buen viaje has realizado, que te ha proporcionado un mundo de aventuras, en medio de una buena naturaleza.
    Tras una magnífica jornada, te espera un buen descanso, en ese cómodo hotel.
    Que tengas un buen fin de semana.

  11. Great start to your trip. I will find the time to post about ours very soon.

  12. Certainly seems a great start to your trip.
    Lovely photographs, I enjoyed seeing the sea creatures and that egg yolk jelly ... amazing.

    Looking forward to more in part two.

    All the best Jan

  13. Como siempre encantada de pasar por aquí, maravilloso reportaje. Abrazos y esperando el siguiente.

  14. Loved to see the images of the Sandpipers which reminded me of their cousins the Spoon-billed sandpiper (Calidris pygmaea) which are sadly greatly endangered.
    A clutch of 13 of their eggs were brought to Peter Scott's Wildfowl and Wetland Trust from Russia to try and build up their numbers. The project, using a technique known as head starting, began a decade ago which has now resulted in an increase of the number of fledglings that survive from 2.5 out of every 20 eggs laid to 15 out of every 20. Since 2011 when the project began, 205 spoon-billed sandpiper chicks have been released back into the wild in artic Russian using the head starting method.

    1. Hello, Rosemary: I am a huge admirer of Peter Scott, his love of waterfowl, and his commitment to wildlife in general, and the facility at Slimbridge is a beacon in the world of conservation, captive breeding and reintroduction. I visited there once about thirty years ago, and I vow that if ever I return to the UK (sadly, doubtful) it will be in first or second place as a “must visit” location. I have several of Peter Scott’s books, one of which was acquired only last week in Sidney, BC. We lost a giant when Scott died.

  15. ...David, you travel to see birds, I travel to see barns and murals.

  16. This sounds like a great start for a trip. You saw a nice variety of birds, and of course, whenever a flight works out as it is supposed to, life is good. I've never seen nor heard of the egg yolk jelly. What a cool creature. And how cool to see the octopus. Was it a large one? It's hard to tell the size from your photos. I'm looking forward to part 2. Have a great weekend. hugs-Erika

    1. The octopus was about as big as a human torso. Very exciting to discover it.

  17. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Looking forward to day two, and all the rest.

  18. Hello David, such spectacular trip you have had! everything is very cute, I like the octopus, the ducks, the yellow flowers and the seagulls, the whole thing is so poetic! and the food, the car and the cozy accommodation, that's good life! and I got hungry! xx
    Sending a big hug and wishing you a wonderful weekend! 🤎🦢🐻🍄🍂🐌🌰🌙🌖🧚‍♀️

  19. Sounds like that you had a great time with your friends in Vancouver island. The ducks are so adorable.

  20. Sounds like a fruitful trip.
    The photos are pleasing.

  21. hello David
    What you show here definitely makes me curious about what's to come, I'm looking forward to more posts.
    Greetings Frank

  22. An enjoyable introduction to what I'm sure will be an excellent series of blogs from Vancouver Island. Are you sure someone hasn't just cracked an egg in the ocean?

  23. These are great series of photos, David.
    The Mayor's Gull is really great to see, this species also occurs in the Netherlands, but it is rare here.
    The American crows are also found in our country, we call them carrion crows.
    I think Harlequin Ducks are really beautiful.
    I think they decorated the breakwater nicely.
    You had a beautiful accommodation there.
    I enjoyed your photos.
    Greetings Irma

  24. Hello David,

    Your trip sounds wonderful. I would love visiting Vancouver Island some day. Beautiful captures of the birds, the coastal scenes and flowers. Some of my favorites are the Harlequin Ducks, the Black Turnstones and the mural on the sea wall is beautiful too.
    Great trip report and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  25. Hello David, most wonderful trip I can imagen, I am sure you show us much more of birds and animals. The egg yolk jelly is amazing.

  26. The wildlife and coastal beauty are truly captivating, and the photos are wonderful!

  27. Hi David.

    You show a lot of beautiful things.
    Beautiful the flowers. plants and seagulls
    I really like the Harlequin Duck and the Leather Star.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  28. Beautiful to see everyone, David.
    Nature has many beautiful birds and other animal species.
    Greetings Tinie

  29. Hi David, thanks for sharing your adventures, it sounds like another fun trip. The underwater photos you took are fabulous, wow! Your accomodation looks great, too! Hugs, Valerie xxxxx

  30. I would have been especially excited to see the octopus! A different world than at home, for sure.
    Looks like such a nice place to stay and you were also able to visit family. Perfect! Looking forward to the rest of the trip's pics!

  31. I so enjoy Miriam's incredible photos and your descriptions. Such beauty. I'm glad that you had a good journey and excellent accommodation. May the rest of your trip be equally wonderful.

  32. Hi David,
    Great report ! The Harlequin duck is a great welkom! Lovely flowers and beautiful birds like the Calidris and Turnstones. The song sparrow is cute What a lovely blue sea decoration on the breakwater with fishes and symbols!
    Regards, Maria

  33. Among the rocks, birds have adapted as hunters.

  34. Querido David me encanta ver tantas especies diferentes y todas me encantan, el Pulpo sin duda fue un gran hallazgo. Las fotos preciosas. Feliz estancia. Un fuerte abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

  35. Oh I can't begin to tell you how I have missed your wonderful Posts and pictures and ... So much information (how, at your age, do you remember the names of all the birds, flowers, insects etc.?) If I had those pictures to post, I would be spending the rest of the week trying to figure out what everything was ... you are so impressive :)
    So I am back and in good health. Actually as soon as I got home from the hospital, I was fine ... I have no idea (and neither do the doctors) what went wrong. They tested me for just about everything and it all came back negative ... so I will take it as long as it doesn't happen again. It will take me awhile, but my plan is to go back through the posts I have missed and get up to snuff on all the good information. Hope you and Miriam are doing well and clearly your trip to Vancouver was a success. Life is good when you spend it with nature ... it's a pleasure to share time with you again, David ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  36. I've visited Victoria a couple of times, but it was many years ago. I've never forgotten it. It was beautiful and there was so much to see.


  37. So happy you visited Van Isl, we live in Calgary AB and White Rock BC. VI is one our favorite place to go. I had a chuckle about "Stories of Westjet" There's horror stories of all of the Cdn airlines, but I, for one, will never fly Flair again. Ugh. Tried 4 flights, 3 were late, from 2 hours to 12. Never again.
    Islander comment if you go again..."There's Victoria, then there's Vancouver Island, 2 seperate things " We've learned it's so true. We rarely go to Victoria anymore.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. It is quite true, there is much more to the Island and we have explored other parts of it on past trips, especially around Nanaimo and farther north. We still need to do the west coast, however.

  38. Beautiful moments about explore animal. Warm greetings from Indonesia

  39. Lovely pictures.. Those crows are real dark and stout.

  40. Hi David!
    That seems like a very nice trip, lots of nice pictures of the birds. The nature is beautiful.
    Have a nice day /Marika

  41. It is always a joy to pass by.... Let's have part II. : )

  42. Interesting post. Beautiful water! I haven’t taken an overnight trip in ages.

  43. Wonderful pictures as always David I especially love the Octupus and the sea stars..Not often available to a lens..I guess it helps to be in the right place!! I have never visited Victoria..I think we spent the night there before we boarded a cruise ship to Alaska..
    It seems that Crows and Sparrows are everywhere..The Harlequin duck has beautiful markings..ENjoy your week..

  44. lovely informative photos as usual

  45. What a great trip! another one to your extensive list and that many of us would like to do. It is a fantastic place, with so many new species for me, although several similar ones, mainly birds. Very interesting marine uinvertebrates, especially egg yolk! And what a good accommodation, almost better than a house!
    Kind regards

    1. It was in fact like an apartment, Hernán. A couple could easily have lived there.

  46. What an interesting place to observe. I really like watching sea birds. They have something of sailors - perseverance, tenacity and cunning. I was amused by pieces of other animals in seagulls' beaks ;-)
    Nice apartment and comfortable. You can relax after a whole day of walking with cameras and binoculars.

  47. Beautiful shots. I have never been to Vancouver Island.

  48. What a great start to your trip, David! So nice to have good accommodations and a good hotel breakfast (that doesn't always happen!). And certainly a beautiful spot, too. I loved the painted breakwall!

  49. Hi David - I used WestJet both ways when I was over 'recently' ... all well thankfully. It flew into Gatwick - which helped. I reminded myself of Beacon Park and the sights I visited there - yes your Ogden Point ... the Emily Carr House, and the Abkhazi Garden in particular ... and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's next post - cheers Hilary

  50. This has been a beautiful start to your stay on Vancouver Island. I've been to Victoria only once about 20 years ago and am more familiar with the area of the island further up north. My daughter was five years old at that time and her (and our) highlight in Victoria was a visit to the Bug Zoo where we spent hours. Such an interesting and fascinating place.


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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.