Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vancouver Island – August ‘09 – Part four

Back to the beach…..this time back to the rocks at the base of Green Point Campsite….

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You can see it was a beautiful clear sunny day, none of the mist from the day before.

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The tide is a lot higher than it was when we were here in the evening.

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I threw this shot in because if you look carefully you will see two people….this gives an indication of just how big these rocks are. 

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Our objective, of course, was again to search for shorebirds, so any of you not interested in birds will probably want to scroll down to the bottom…..  we had headed south again, past the rocks and it didn’t take long to spot this flock of Sanderling….

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here is a closer view of the Sanderling

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Sanderling are like little wind up toys….as a wave recedes they all run with it as it ebbs, and then when another wave comes they all turn in unison and madly run up the beach, repeating the process over and over….

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There were Gulls too of course, I think California Gulls ~ but I am open to correction….

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This is a young one of what ever type they are….I just thought this was a neat shot….

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There were more of the Western Sandpipers as well….this guy had found himself some sort of juicy sea worm!

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We had wandered quite a ways down the beach….this is looking back….that is Green Point on the right…

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You’re probably getting tired of pictures of Western Sandpipers….but there were so many of them and I took so many pictures of them, after all, you never know how long it’ll be before you see them again….

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We were heading back to the campground and were just skirting the large tidal pool at the base of the rocks when I spotted something I knew I had never seen before!!!!

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there were more of those Western Sandpipers….and then this bigger golden brown guy ~ if you are a birder you know the excitement of spotting a species you’ve never seen before…and if that species happens to be a rarity – well the blood pressure really rises….and this was the case here, when we got back and consulted the field guide, we found this to be a juvenile Ruff….a Eurasian species that occasionally makes a chance visit to this side of the Pacific.

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Here are a couple more shots of it, and I’ll have some even better ones  in the next part…..

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vancouver Island – August ‘09 – Part three

Next morning we packed up and vacated the campsite, then reported back to the park headquarters and were told there was another site we could have for that night only… paid for that, but figured we might as well go for a bit of drive, so headed north up the peninsula in the direction of the town of Tofino, but only went as far as the parking lot at the north end of ‘Long Beach’

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The beach at this end looks pretty much like the beach at the campground end, but is usually more populated, due to the number of parking lots.

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Looking back towards Green Point in the far distance.

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This large rock is known as ‘Seal Rock’….because it is often covered with Seals…..didn’t see any this particular day.

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We did spot this flock of shorebirds……

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You can see that there was a fair amount of bird life but also more people, so we decided to head back to the campground and the less populated area as we find at the campground, most people stay concentrated on the beach right at the base.  Not to many head out along the beach.

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When we got back to the site, this Crow was there to greet us.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vancouver Island – August ‘09 – Part two

  After supper that day we headed back to the beach.  The skies had cleared and it was a beautiful late summer evening.  This time we headed south along the beach (our earlier walk had been northwards)

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There are a number of very large rocks just off the ‘point’ of Green Point campground.  The tide was very low, in fact I had never seen these rocks exposed to the point that you could walk around the ocean side of them before.  The above shot is taken on the ‘beach’ side of them.

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just past the largest of the rocks, you squeeze through a path, which brings you out to this section of the beach which I believe is called Schooner Beach….

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this is another wonderful sandy beach that goes on for miles, although it does get a bit pebbly if you walk far enough

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a long walk wasn’t in the plans that evening, so we turned towards the ocean where we could see all sorts of bird life at the edge of the water

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there were large numbers of gulls here.  I’m not very good at ID’ing Gulls.  I think they may have been California Gulls or possibly Westerns…

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spotted a Black Oystercatcher on one of the big rocks….turns out there was a family and I’ll have pictures of the young one a bit later on.

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If you enlarge this picture (click on it)….you will see starfish on the base of the rocks

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there were a lot of these moth eaten crows around – I think probably young ones moulting into their adult plumage.  Crows here on the west coast are the North Western variety….smaller than their cousins, the American Crows that are seen in most of the country.

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the lighting for this silhouette of a North Western Crow and a Black Oystercatcher, was provided by the very low angle of the sun.

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and this Oystercatcher on it’s own.

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further up on the beach there were more of those Semi-palmated Plovers

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as the sun sunk lower and lower it was time to head back to the camper for the night…

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with a pretty respectable sunset happening!

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west coast sunset….

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others wandering homeward -

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and a final look back at the beach as we head up the hill and to bed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vancouver Island – August 2009

Back in August Ernie suddenly was offered a couple of weeks off work.  August isn’t the month we would choose to travel in, but we weren’t about to turn the offer down, so we headed over to Vancouver Island.  Perhaps not the wisest destination in terms of having to catch ferries and tourist traffic, but it happens to be where my daughters and their families live and we hadn’t been there since our trip in March of 2008 (way back there in the archives somewhere).

We first headed to my elder daughter’s just outside of Parksville and spent a few days with there before heading out to Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast.  The drive out was a lot less hair raising than last time’s snowy one….in fact it was quite pleasant as they were actually working on the narrow, windy road and only allowing one way traffic, so even though we had a few waits, we didn’t need to worry about meeting a big rig on a narrow corner……

We reached Green Point Campground on a Sunday afternoon ~ only to discover it was completely reserved!  To begin with this is a policy I am really opposed to!  I don’t mind some sites being reservable but I think, in a National Park, there should always be some ‘first come, first serve’ sites and an over flow area as well.  The fact is I’d never really thought about it – whenever we had been here before it was in the ‘off season’ and lack of campsites was never an issue.  I shouldn’t complain too much though since they were very good and there had been a cancellation so they gave us a spot for the night and said to check back with them in the morning if we wanted to stay longer……

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Here is our site – if you’ve never stayed in this park it is extremely dense rainforest…  Nice on a hot day but kind of dark and gloomy the rest of time – the campground was built a long time ago when units were a lot smaller.  Not a problem for our truck and camper, but pretty tight for a lot of today’s big RV’s…..Ernie will never forget his experience here with our 18 foot travel trailer – he got it in OK, getting it out was another matter!

But you don’t come here for the campground ~ you come here for the beach!!!

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There are a couple of paths down to the beach from the campground, both are steep switch backs, we were camped closest to the slightly less steep one and wasted no time heading to the miles of sand known as Long Beach.

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You can see it was a kind of foggy, misty day, but that was OK.  We’d come in search of Shorebirds, figuring that mid August is pretty much the middle of shorebird migration….

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and it didn’t take long to find them!  Western Sandpipers – lots of Western Sandpipers!

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and some of these guys that had me stumped for a minute – but turned out to be Sanderling…..I’m used to seeing them as a flock of little clock work toys following the surf in and on, not individually or mixed in with other species.

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this is one of my favourite pictures of the Western Sandpipers…

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there were also quite a few of these Semi-palmated Plovers.  If you recall we had seen one of these nesting in a gravel pit along the Dempster Highway, back in early June.  Kind of nice to think that we might have seen the same one, along with their off spring, this trip.

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more pictures of Western Sandpipers…..for any of you that really aren’t ‘into’ birds – just skip down….there will be more scenery eventually – promise!

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a closer look….

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and another Semi-palmated Plover, high stepping it….I took over 500 pictures here…..

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this shot shows the size comparison between a Semi-palmated Plover and the little Western Sandpipers.  Little Sandpipers are often just called ‘Peeps’…

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here is a view of beach with ‘Peeps’ scattered across it.  There were lots of sand fleas, which are probably what they were after.

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This is one of the best close ups I got of a Western Sandpiper

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and just a neat shot – it was quite late in the afternoon by now so the sun, at least as much as there was of it, was low.

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This puddle, or I guess more correctly, ‘tidal pool’ held a mixture of Western Sandpipers and Sanderling – the Sanderling being the larger, lighter birds

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Here is a closer look at one of those Sanderling.

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As we headed back to make dinner, the fog was breaking up and the sun coming out – this is the same log I showed in an earlier picture….now it is not nearly so ‘gray’

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another view of the beach – Green Point Campground is situated on that ‘green point’.

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one final Sandpiper shot – you never know during migration – what is there one day, won’t necessarily be there the next.

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as soon as you step off the beach and onto the trail – you are in these towering trees….

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and one last look at the beach from part way up the trail….