Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back to the Beach

On the 22nd of last year we picked up my daughter in the morning, and set about doing some 'tourist' things. Our first stop was at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Center, run by Robin Campbell. When Robin first located to Errington (just outside of Parksville), my husband did a lot of work with him in the construction of the center, as well as helping out in other ways - like helping to bath a Bald Eagle or picking up a Turkey Vulture from the airport. The Center has grown a lot since those days. We did a tour and had hoped to see Robin to say hello, but only volunteers seemed to be staffing the gift shop and other areas so we didn't get a change to renew old aquintances.

From there we headed Qualicum to the beach, since my daughter, like us when we lived there, had trouble finding the time to just go and enjoy.

The profusion of bird life was evident when we started to walk out onto the beach. It was sunny but windy so a little on the cool side.
The Surf Scoters were in closer to the beach edge than I have ever seen them (not that I've seen them very often!).

I think Herring Roe is the great attractant. Besides the Scoters and Gulls there were a few Red Breasted Merganser and Barrow's Goldeneye in the mix.

The above shot has a Red Breasted Merganser just to the right - heading in the opposite direction to everybody else.

and we even saw some more Brant. On the way back to the car, my daughter spotted this tiny sea urchin. That is her finger for a size comparison.

Not only had we never seen a sea urchin so tiny, but this wasn't the sort of beach where you would expect to find any sea urchins. They are usually found on beaches with large rocks that they cling to, usually around the base and in tidal pools. This little guy was in a tidal pool, but the beach was a mix of sand and small rocks.
From the beach we headed to a place that we had driven past on a daily basis going to and fro work, but had never actually visited. That was Butterfly World on the Alberni Highway, so we decided to visit. The setting would look a lot more spectacular later in the season, but was still impressive with a lovely Japanese style pond and garden.

Here are some of the various Butterflies.

They used a lot of these red Kalochia plants and the butterflies certainly seemed to enjoy them. I tried to get pictures of the Button Quail that were also running around in the area but didn't succeed in getting anything worth keeping. They brought back memories because when we had lived in the area I had a small greenhouse and kept a pair of Button Quail in it for insect control. It worked great except for the odd time when they decided to jump up and nip off some seedlings for some fresh greens!
Another section had a display of Orchids, so we took those in as well although the heat and humidity was getting to us after having been out in the 'fresh' air at the beach.

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