Monday, November 17, 2008

Very bad photos of good birds

We weren't birding, this Saturday; we had other things to do. We voted in our local elections, then headed for a bi-annual pottery sale in Tsawwassen. Afterward, we would have lunch in Beach Grove, and then, weather permitting, go for a short walk. All very organized.

The voting went quickly. But the procedure was different than usual; they gave us pages to fill out by connecting arrows, using their pens, not ours. And those pages were fed into a machine that swallowed them and left the worker with the folder only. She said it had counted our votes already. I'm not so sure I trust these contraptions.

On to the pottery sale!

Except that we got side-tracked. On the far side of a plowed field, we saw a small flock of white birds. We turned off and parked on the farm road.

Trumpeter Swans

Too far away for good photos; why don't they come this way?

Oh. They've got a windfall: plowed-up carrots. Do swans eat carrots? It seems that they do.

They honked constantly. It sounded like a 5-year-old's birthday party, with all the kids at once blowing those silly plastic horns.

On to the pottery sale!

With a slow-down to check out an eagle's nest by the highway. No eagle there now. (There was when we were heading home.) Slow-down to look at a blue heron in the ditch, another for a flock of starlings that rose in a sudden cloud when we passed. Slowdown for Laurie to get these ducks in an artificial pond. (Two years ago, it was a bare puddle; then there were weeds, now grasses. Ducks are a new development.)

The car is moving. Not the ducks.

There were no birds at the pottery sale. Not even pottery birds.

It was late, and the weather was beautiful, so we stopped at Tim Horton's for soup, bought a couple of bags of bird seed at Bosley's for my feathery family at home, and went on to the beach at Beach Grove. The tide was in, the birds were out. Way out.

Mixed rafts of waterfowl. Too far away to identify.

A pair of loons swam close to the shore at one point, teasing us by diving in unison, halving the chances we got at photographing them. (Laurie got a beautiful shot of two circles on the blue wavelets, circles where two loons* had been when he pressed the shutter.)

Caught them, just after they surfaced. Didn't wait to focus.

Later, in the distance, we heard them laughing.

On the chimney of one of the houses, a seagull posed. At least, until he saw a camera pointed in his direction. Then:

Mooning us.

Looks like he's standing on wingtips.

Back into Beach Grove for coffee and tea. On the way, this Downy teased us, hopping from the backside of one branch to the far side of the next.

Caught him, anyhow. Once, and blurred.

Time to head home. For us and these crows; they were part of a long stream (river, even) of crows going west, as usual at this time of the night. I've watched them many a time, tried to count occasionally; there must be several hundreds, maybe even thousands, wherever it is that they go home to in the evenings.

So much for not birding.

*I was wrong. They were mergansers, Seabrooke says. I should have looked more closely, rather than relying on the clue of the laughing loons.


  1. Still it's easy to get a sense of all the bird activity there. And really, the photos aren't bad at all. Lots of wonderful wildlife there.

  2. Well, you know what, I think we passed you when you were stopped at the swan site. We stopped for a bit too, maybe just a bit behind you. We had stopped first to photograph the red-tailed hawk on the wire. And later, we went to ... Tim Horton's for soup. The world is shrinking.

  3. Robin,
    Thanks. It's a great place to be, on the Delta.

    I think of you often, no longer there, just across the water. I hope you can settle down comfortably soon.

    We're doing a slow dance, you, us and Cicero. (She passes our mossy truck all the time, she says.) One of these days, we'll meet.

    We need a signal, a big name tag, a feather in our hats; something so that we recognize each other.

  4. Adding on; we seem to be crossing paths with Hugh, too.

    One of these days ...

  5. Your pair of loons are actually mergansers, Red-breasted I think. They have similar habits and shapes to loons, but can be told apart by their spindly bills. They come down your coast in the winter.

    It's funny how small the world actually is, when you start talking with people, and yet how easy it is to still remain anonymous.

  6. We stopped behind a mossy truck, so it must have been you. We bump into quite a few people out there, so a signal would be a good idea!

  7. Seabrooke; thanks. I should have been paying better attention. I heard loons, saw elusive divers, and jumped to a conclusion.

    Huckleberry; Sorry. "Our" mossy truck is not one we drive, but one we photographed and put on the blog. I drive a little grey Toyota Echo.

    If you see, somewhere out there, a couple of people wearing cameras and peering at ends of logs or the reflection in a shiny tabletop or kneeling on the curb to check out a mushroom, it's probably us. Look for Laurie's white beard, and come over and introduce yourself.

  8. That's funny. We did park behind a mossy green truck, pickup, but not you! Although the fellow at the wheel had a white beard. Don't remember a grey Toyota echo (we drive a silver Vibe), but we certainly traveled the same route. We will watch for you.

  9. Huckle; we'll be looking out for your Vibe.


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