Salal, a Visual Symphony

Guest post by Chris Carter If I had been asked for a list of photogenic wild flowers a few weeks ago, Salal (Gaultheria shallon) would not have been near the top. Salal is best known for its bright evergreen leaves, always in demand by the florist trade. Walking back from the beach last week, I noticed a splendid Salal bush …

Savannah Spring

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed quite a few Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) in the playing fields at work. The grass is growing a little long and there are plenty of dandelions, many of which are going to seed. Flocks of Savannah Sparrows are working their way through the flowers, plucking out the fine white fluff and eating …

Oh Me, Deary-Deary-Me

You know that spring is here when early wildflowers come into bloom and newly arrived migrants from the south begin singing to to attract mates. Year round residents also join the chorus and this week during my lunch time walk I’ve seen (and heard) a couple of White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) singing from the tops of low trees along the …

A Galling Discovery

We’ve had some good weather lately and I’ve been walking the country roads around my place of work. Earlier in the year I noticed a large section of Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)  alongside the road with a large number of galls on the stems. I know that galls are usually a plant’s response to the eggs (and subsequently, larva) that are …

Gorgeous Ground Beetles

One of the joys about having a backyard garden is the opportunity to discover something new. It might be a strange looking slug, an odd looking sow bug, or in this case, a gorgeous beetle. The European Ground Beetle (Carabus nemoralis), a gorgeous introduced ground beetle that can be found in many North American gardens. This week I was prepping …

Lunchtime Walk with Chestnut-backed Chickadees

I’ve really been enjoying my 30-45 minute lunchtime walks – it’s a great break from the office and gives me a chance to get out, stretch my legs, take in some fresh air and do a little birding. There is plenty of good habitat to see some of the common thicket sparrows like Spotted Towhees, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows and …

Signs of Spring – the American Robin

An American Robin (Turdus migratorius) keeps a watchful eye. I’m not sure whether it’s the weather but there seem to be more American Robins (Turdus migratorius) around lately. On my regular lunchtime walk this week I came across a large flock of close to thirty robins on a snow covered field. This was a day or two after the last …

West Coast Rollout

I love this time of year when spring migration is just starting and the number of shopping carts on Vancouver Island are starting to build. Hard to believe with the recent snow fall we’ve had that last week we were battling through a couple of windy and wet days. It’s often said that storm days are great for birding since …

Bird on a Wire – American Kestrel

I like to keep an eye on the telephone wires and poles while driving between Courtenay and Black Creek on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This winter I’ve seen an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) on a couple of occasions but never have had the chance to stop and take a photo. This week I had the good fortune to not only …

Northern Shrike

On one of my lunch time walks last week I got a quick glimpse of a Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) as it flew from a small thicket of trees and brambles. That section of the roadside was active with sparrows that seemed quite agitated and I probably should have looked a little more closely as I walked by – especially …