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….

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