Spectacular Snow Geese

Airpark Lagoon, Courtenay, BC I took Clara and Alden out to the Airpark Lagoon yesterday afternoon before dinner – it’s a stroller friendly walk that circles around the Airpark Lagoon and offers fantastic views of the Courtenay estuary. While many use the loop to exercise or to socialize, local naturalists know that it is an excellent place to birdwatch. Many …

Rock Wren at Miracle Beach Provincial Park

Rock Wren | Salpinctes obsoletus Yesterday morning I took my son Alden out for a walk at Miracle Beach Provincial Park to enjoy the crisp fresh air and the changing colours of the fall. I spent some time birdwatching (as best as one can with a two year old in tow) and photographing the fall leaves. Rock Wren | Salpinctes …

Fabulous Finches

American Goldfinch | Carduelis tristis The sunflowers are done in our back lane but the seeds are now attracting birds – primarily American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) but also house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), chestnut-backed chickadee (Poecile rufescens) and house sparrow (Passer domesticus). That’s one of the many benefits of growing sunflowers. Not only do you (and insects) get to enjoy the …

Madera Canyon – Arizona Skywatch #3

Santa Rita Mountains One of the primary reasons to visit Arizona during spring break (aside from getting a break from the winter weather up here in BC) is the excellent opportunities for bird watching and botanizing as well as superb sky watching. Last March I joined two fellow naturalists and spent a week traveling around southeastern Arizona. One of our …

Turkey Vultures at East Sooke Park

Turkey Vulture Kettle East Sooke Regional Park. "A" marks Beechey Head. The fall migration of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) is still under way at East Sooke Regional Park near Victoria, British Columbia and Beechey Head is an ideal place to spend a sunny afternoon hawk and vulture watching. Beechey Head is a choke point for raptors on Vancouver Island that …

American Dipper

American Dipper | Cinclus mexicanus I was out scouting locations for International Rock Flipping Day (September 20) and spotted an expert invertebrate hunter hard at work on the Puntledge River in Courtenay, British Columbia. There’s a lot going on in the Puntledge River right now and this American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) was working the river along with a whole host …

Sandhill Cranes Migrating

Sandhill Cranes | Grus canadensis It is a distinctive sound and it’s a safe bet that once you’ve heard it you’ll be able to identify it again the next time around. I liken the rattling call of the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) to that of some sort of prehistoric flying dinosaur. Every year in early to late September flocks of …

Gray Jay

Gray Jay | Perisoreus canadensis One of the more common and frequently seen birds in the sub-alpine is the whiskey jack or gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis). In Paradise Meadows these social birds gather at places where hikers stop for lunch and commence aggressively begging for food. Unfortunately, many people give in to the begging either to “help” the bird out …

Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill | Loxia curvirostra Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) have been fairly common up in the sub-alpine this weekend. These finches are named after their very noticeable “crossed bill” which is useful for extracting seeds from conifers. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds the “bird’s biting muscles are stronger than the muscles used to open the …

Swimming with Bonapartes

The swimming was excellent at Miracle Beach this afternoon and as an added bonus a flock of Bonaparte gulls (Larus philadelphia) was actively feeding on invertbrates in floating bits of seaweed. I normally enjoy birdwatching from the shore but I have to admit that floating quietly on my back and watching the Bonapartes fly over added a whole new dimension …