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.
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. ...the Pacific Northwest is a magical place!

  2. Wow, Vancouver Island looks beautiful. And you must have been happy with the sighting too. I enjoyed seeing the view, and the September weather since i just came in from shoveling. :( Yesterday I heard a loud noise for a good 15 or 20 minutes, and after about 8-10 minutes I went to see what was in the road making all the chatter. It sounded like something scraping metal-almost, but that's the best I can describe it. It turned out it was not in the road but a gigantic flock of what I think were starlings chattering and flying into my neighbour's across the street yard. The houses are spread out here but I could see the birds flying in, hundreds of them. They were calling out something which was the noise. It went on and on. Amazing. After a few minutes they left my neighbors yard and flew off behind their house quite a ways and the noise stopped. Just like that, quiet. I looked online and someone said they might be grackles, but in silhouette they didn't look quite that large and their tails looked shorter. Whatever they were, it was pretty impressive. I hope your week has started off well. hugs-Erika

    1. Vancouver Island is among the most beautiful places in the world in my estimation.

  3. I love the piano! ☺ What a nice visit. I've never seen a Black Oystercatcher before, what a gorgeous beak!

  4. Great report on your trip! I always enjoy seeing your birds and photos. Beautiful coastal scenery, I like totem poles and the waterfalls. Take care, have a great week!

  5. What wonderful place to visit. We used to live in the Pacific Northwest, a truly beautiful place. I like those totem poles, very nice to see.

  6. A beautiful place for sure. Your photos really bring it to life. Have a nice day today.

  7. Absolutely delightful. And yes, keep your dog under control and clean up after them too.

  8. The Pacific Northwest is a place that is truly enchanted!

  9. You guys had a great trip! The island looks so amazing with so many animals. I have never seen any great horsetail plants interesting.

  10. vitoria does a great happy dance, ask her to do a rain dance and aim it at SW florida please. 5 year drought, every ting is crunchy. love the lovely lady in the tree trunk. beautiful shot. the west coast fern is all over our yard but feeling ill due to no rain, i am trying to save it but now watering is very restricted. so may wonderful things you saw.. sadly our vultures are not here. we are worried over that.

  11. Hari OM
    Sigh... I am feeling the little sadness of departure with you! This series was excellent, truly delightful. YAM xx

  12. Thank you David for another great photo report. Actually, more than one, because the expeditions were to different places. Despite the diversity of birds on different continents, I see similarities in species in the same environments.

  13. Fabulous post and photographs, so much to see.
    I was so pleased you spotted an American Dipper, thanks too for all your other wonderful sightings.
    I did like the colourful piano and thought the totem poles finished off your post so well.
    My good wishes.

    All the best Jan

  14. The dipper reminded me of a catbird but I see why it gets its name. It was a great trip. Next up, will you share Cuba with us again?

    1. More Cuba will come soon, but I am pressed for time right now. I will be visiting my daughter in Ottawa for the weekend, but by next week at the latest I should be able to start on it.

  15. I saw the American Dipper for the first time when I visited Skagway, Alaska and I was smitten with the little bird. I've never seen a Black Oystercatcher so must add that to the list of look-for when I'm on the island again.
    Thanks for sharing your trip with us and all the marvelous photos!

  16. A fun, happy post depicting a beautiful area.

    I used to love watching the oystercatchers when I lived on Newry Island, taking care of the small resort thereon (the resort no longer exists).

    One moment which has remain clear in my mind is the day an oystercatcher was so very distressed. It was pacing up and down, around and around on a section of the beach. I went to investigate only to sadly find the bird's mate dead. The bird was so was I. He wouldn't leave his mate...and I didn't disturb him..leaving him to be. It was very sad.

  17. You captured some brilliant shots. So beautiful.

  18. Here in Southeast Texas, I'm still eagerly waiting my first sighting of a Dark-eyed Junco and White-throated Sparrow of this season.

  19. God of Mercy and compassion looks with pity upon us. We were blessed with 2 American Dippers at the very end of our second attempt at the Goldstream Park . Hallelujah !

  20. All beautiful and a delight to see the photos of what you all saw.

  21. Hello David,
    What was the best thing about the trip, I think all in all it was a great vacation, saw and photographed a lot, had good friends with us... it couldn't be more perfect, thanks for the report.
    Greetings Frank

  22. The black crows are so beautiful. Here the crows are grey and black. I loved to see the Buddleia bush again. It's a beautiful flower, and the insects love it very much. I'm already longing for summer.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

  23. What a great series of photos from your trip David.
    The black oystercatcher is not found in our country, but the common oystercatcher is, but its numbers are declining alarmingly.
    The dark-eyed Juncos is also a beautiful species.
    The dipper appears sporadically here.
    Miriam photographed the black birds perfectly, my compliments.
    It is a beautiful area where you were.
    I enjoyed it.
    Greetings Irma

  24. Hi David.

    I enjoyed all the beauty you saw on this part of your journey.
    Beautiful nature and many beautiful birds.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  25. I found myself smiling and letting out a happy sigh when I read the part about Victoria seeing the bird she most wanted to see--and to have it put on a little show as well! How wonderful!

    I never saw horsetail until we moved to a coastal town in Ireland. I love it, but when I asked about it, I was told that it's invasive and people hate it. :-( I still think it's beautiful.

  26. What a spectacular area to explore and you made the most of it for sure. Many of us who visit other areas rarely see the wildlife like you do, David. I love how you find the details in nature. Also, that is a great photo of Miriam!

  27. What a wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing so much of it with us. :)

  28. Bonsoir David, another great walk that I have so enjoyed. The dipper is a fun bird by the look of it. What a fab photo of Miriam I hope that one gets framed. Love the totem poles, not something we see over here :-))) As for bind weed, I did not know there were so many varieties and I think we have most of them in our garden - Sigh!
    Bisous mon ami, Diane

  29. I fell in love with Vancouver Island the first time I went there and always enjoyed every single visit there. It is such a beautiful place. You saw some beautiful birds again, and hurray for finding the American Dipper. I can understand that Victoria did her happy dance. The Black Oystercatcher is wonderful, I love these birds! We sometimes see them at the coast here. Before seeing them here, I only knew them from the German islands in the North Sea where they look a bit different - but are just as wonderful. Seeing a Northern Flicker is always something special. In the cooler season they hang around our neighborhood, but in the warmer season they prefer to go to the nearby mountains; I sometimes see them at the lake then. Oh the Bushtits, aren't they wonderful? I've only seen them in big flocks (if that is the correct word) in my garden where they sit in the bushes or trees, singing their little hearts out. Thank you, David (and Miriam) for all these wonderful photos and taking me back to Vancouver Island.

  30. I came over to see if I had missed any of your posts and, of course, I had. Another Vancouver Island filled with beautiful and interesting birds, flowers, insects and of course, some fun people. Good for Victoria ... it always makes my day if I find what I am looking for on a trip. Sadly I haven't done much in the way of birding since we moved where we are now. We seem to be far from anything that would be of interest and unless my Lady Hawk makes a visit or the GHO shows up at night, I have very little nature to look at. I did have an open farm field behind my house that provided some interest, but low and behold, a developer has purchased it and is prepping it for building of more houses ... just what we all need, right? So you are off in Cuba with Stewart and I anxiously await the pictures that you and Stewart will share. Hope all is well and your trip is wonderful and safe ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  31. An outstanding journey. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. That little Dipper is new to me, as are several other birds you photographed.

  32. Oh how lovely! This could be 2 weeks worth of good posts or a book even!

    "joy continent-wide, familiar yet always endearing."

    I like that!

  33. Nite nite friends Miriam & David!
    guau, such a beautiful post! what a wonderful narrative of nature and its charms! these photographs transport me to a truly inspiring spectacle, the images remain engraved in my mind.
    Referring to the indigenous totem poles in the rental car drop-off area, the story connects to the rich cultural heritage of the region, adding depth and meaning to the experience, it was very spot on. I love how you enjoy life, guys!
    Kisses and hugs 🌿✨

  34. Vancouver Island looks like a bucket-list destination!
    As always, I enjoyed your gorgeous photos.

    Happy Wednesday, David.

  35. If I was a younger man, David, your reports on Vancouver Island would have me puting this on my bucket-list.

    I find myself slightly puzzled by your rather negative comment about that waterfall. It might not be as dramatic as, for example, Niagara Falls, but it appears to be infinitely more beautiful.

    My very best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

    1. The surrounding area is without doubt more beautiful, Richard. The falls at Niagara, a wonder of nature, have been turned into sop to the desires of tourists concerned only with frippery and superficiality, where coloured lights illuminating the falls have assumed greater importance than the falls. Sad! Honeymooners favour Niagara Falls where it is said that they experience their second disappointment!

    2. That last sentence is priceless !!!

  36. Such places are a pleasure to visit. Looks awesome

  37. I have never been to the Pacific Northwest..A place I regret not seeing..Vancouver Island looks amazing..Does anyone ever play that piano?? Lovely photos always.
    Our Oystercatchers are colored differently..We have many Dark eyed Juncos now. Love the waterfalls!!!Thanks for taking me along on your journey..

    1. Your Oystercatchers are American Oystercatcher, a different species. As for never having visited Vancouver Island, we’ll have to let you know ahead of time before making a return visit. We’ll meet you there and show you around..

  38. What a fantastic place to visit! I loved every bit of nature you've shown on your post, and I must admit that thanks to your blog, some species are now quite familiar to me. I really admired the totems and how respectful you are towards indigenous people.
    I hope you're having a good time before christmas. Best wishes to you and your family!

  39. Precioso e interesante reportaje con especies poco conocidas para mí. Enhorabuena David y gracias por compartir. Un abrazo desde el norte de España donde por fin comenzó el invierno.

  40. Vancouver Island looks like a wonderful island with many places to visit and many animals to see.
    I have never met Turkey Vultures around here.

  41. Ya me gustaría visitar la isla, se ven tantos pájaros y plantas que no se ven por aquí. Un abrazo.

  42. Hi David,

    An interesting trip has come to an end. Looking back at everything you showed us and described here, there is only one conclusion: you had a great time. Now winter is approaching. The difference will be enormous.
    Greetings, Kees

  43. The color on that oystercatcher's beak is so brilliant -- it really kicks up the photo! Love the pic of Miriam, too! What a grand trip!

  44. An incredible place, where all nature enchants our eyes.
    Thank you for sharing your spectacular photos!

  45. Goldstream Provincial Park is a lovely place, so totally opposite where I live on the flat gulf coast plains.

  46. What a beautiful place to spend time and go on an adventure. You really got to see so much too. Love the photos of everyone that enjoyed the day and smiled for the camera!

  47. Vancouver Island is beautiful and very rich in various birds. I admire wonderful landscapes and beautiful vegetation. as always, excellent photos that are hard to take your eyes off.
    I send you hugs and greetings.


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.