Last week it was Marshall Illif. This week it's Pete Thayer. Pete has a new bird identification CD-ROM on the market that not only features sounds but also pictures. He has done a lot of work with Cornell University and usually part of his profits is ear-marked for Cornell bird projects. I'm proud to say that I have contributed a Shoveler duck to his CD-ROM. I may be precocious, but I am also expecting my Black Tern from 2004 to make it this summer in the "British Birds" magazine.
On the bad news front, I was horrified when my tripod ballhead died. The tension knob for tightening the ball was frozen and my camera dangled precariously on its side. I could still balance the camera to take pictures but it was a delicate task. The good news was that MARKINS CAMERAS had just opened shop in Coquitlam. 2 years ago I purchased my Q-ball from their Toronto outlet. The early word was that my Q-ball just needed a cleaning, and I should have it back 3 days after I sent it in. Despite this minor problem, the Markins Q-ball is one of the best and lowest priced ballheads on the market. It is heavy duty and handles my 20 pounds of camera and lens with ease. (It's rated for 90 pounds.) As well, their customer service is NUMBER ONE.
Apr. 23 - A SOLITAIRE-Y FAREWELL
Like a gray ghost the very handsome Townsend Solitaire appeared in my yard on Apr. 22, and I felt privileged to be able to spend a couple of hours watching and photographing as it swooped down from the fence or tree to grab unsuspecting spiders and bugs. I kept a distance of about 40 feet but when its prey was in my direction, it would land about 25 feet from me. I couldn't say that it trusted me but it did tolerate my presence. I was surprised when it appeared for a second day, so I decided on a few more pictures. It landed on the holly tree very close to me and in perfect light. It was posing for a farewell photo. As the poet, John Keats, put it, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." It was there for a 3rd day and has since moved on, but the joys of my personal Solitaire will be with me for years to come.
Just one last look for the road.
Apr. 24 - INFATUATED
It was love at first sight with the gorgeous winter plumaged Horned Grebe, and I was obsessed with getting a few more photos before it headed for its breeding grounds. I knew my best chance would be at Deep Bay Spit where the Horned Grebe regularly patrolled. If this is the same bird, 10 days ago it was still mostly in winter plumage. (There are a lot more Horned Grebes at Brickyard, but they seem to stay away from the shoreline.)
For the first 3 hours there were only Red-necked Grebes, Long-tailed Ducks, Surf Scoters, Common Loons, Buffleheads, and Red-breasted Mergansers. (Had I been there 3 hours earlier with Joachim Rushtein, I would have gotten close-ups of the Marbled Murrulets, river otter eating a sole, and flight shot of the Yellow-billed Loon.) Finally, I spotted the sublime rufous and black shape towards Denman.
I waited patiently, kneeling as low as possible, freezing like a statue, and praying that no dog or visitors would appear. Half an hour later, it was 35 feet in front of me, looking as pretty as a flower. As predicted, it worked its way along the shoreline, affording multiple opportunities to get some good pictures.
The colourful Red-necked Grebes kept me entertained with their strange antics manipulating their eel-like prey. At times I wondered who was manipulating who.
They seemed to take a long time before they could devour their meal. I wonder if they had to wait for their prey to succumb or drown in the air.
Besides 6 Least Sandpipers, 4 American Pipits landed close by to amuse me. They were both new spring arrivals for me.
Normally, the Long-tailed Ducks would feed close to shore, but today they were skittish. They stayed away. The rear view picture was the best I could get and reminded me of the symmetry in nature.
Hello to you too, Barney! I saw my first Barn Swallow of the year on the road out to the spit. I generally dislike birds on a wire, but if that's all I can get, I'll take it.
Apr. 21 - DRAMA ON THE BAY
I wasn't going to publish these photos. I don't like to post substandard photos as they betray the truth. Yes, the truth is that all of my photos are not perfect. In fact, the opposite is true. Most of my photos are downright ugly. There, now you know. If you never want to check this site again, I'll understand. However, sometimes a story is worth telling. A bad picture of an unusual scene could be a good picture. The drama of life or death is always intense and interesting. No one wants to see death, but death is part of life. The death of the Marbled Godwit sustains life for the Peregrine. But did the Peregrine bite off more than it could chew? I saw it drop the heavy Godwit once and retrieve it. Then I saw it drop again, but this time the Godwit recovered and flew off with the Peregrine in hot pursuit.
Apr. 25 - Another Sunny Spring Day
Before I could really miss the Solitaire, the trill of my returning Orange-crowned Warbler caught my ear. Like a magnet I was drawn outdoors to catch my first glimpse. There it was on top of an alder with its musical greeting to all.
As I was heading back in, a large gray bird swooped down by a clump of grass and weeds. It proceeded to stalk around and in and out of the clump several times probably looking for mice or other edibles. I think it was a Cooper's Hawk.
With my ballhead out of commission, I was fortunate that fellow photographer, Ralph Hocken had just upgraded to a Wimberly. He kindly offered to lend me his spare ballhead which I had to try out at the Nanoose Estuary.
The tall willows in the estuary were busy with super-sized Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warblers.)I'm assuming they were Myrtles and not intergrades.) According to Guy Monty, the western race of Myrtles is slightly larger, but one would need calipers to note the difference. I think the fact that I saw mainly distincly marked males gave me the illusion that they were larger birds.
I could see that the warblers were working their way west along the row of willows. I set up and waited at the last tree, hoping that they would show up. I wasn't disappointed. 2 of them arrived simultaneously. They were beautiful birds.
After a few insects, a song ... nature at it's best.
Before I left, I had to check the estuary pond. From a distance I could see the congregation enjoying the late afternoon sun. Can you name the 6 species in this photo?
NANAIMO - BACKYARD WILDBIRD & NATURE STORE SAVE-ON FOODS (WOODGROVE) SAVE-ON FOODS (COUNTRY CLUB) CHAPTERS FALCONER BOOKS COLE'S PORT ALBERNI - CLOCKTOWER GALLERY COURTENAY - GRAHAM'S JEWELLERS SAVE-ON FOODS SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS DEEP BAY - SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS MUNRO'S CAMPBELL RIVER - CAMPBELL RIVER MUSEUM BOOK BONANZA SAVE-ON FOODS DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE CHEMAINUS - LITTLE SHOP OF NOVELS LADYSMITH - SALAMANDER BOOKS NANOOSE - SCHOONER COVE MARINA SOOKE - SOOKE HARBOUR HOUSE Comments, questions, or book orders? email email@example.com
NANAIMO - BACKYARD WILDBIRD & NATURE STORE
SAVE-ON FOODS (WOODGROVE)
SAVE-ON FOODS (COUNTRY CLUB)
PORT ALBERNI - CLOCKTOWER GALLERY
COURTENAY - GRAHAM'S JEWELLERS
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE
COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS
BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS
DEEP BAY -
SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS
CAMPBELL RIVER - CAMPBELL RIVER MUSEUM
DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE
CHEMAINUS - LITTLE SHOP OF NOVELS
LADYSMITH - SALAMANDER BOOKS
NANOOSE - SCHOONER COVE MARINA
SOOKE - SOOKE HARBOUR HOUSE
Comments, questions, or book orders? email firstname.lastname@example.org