Champions of the Flyway!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vancouver Island, Canada - July 2011 (day one)

Anna's Hummingbird

After a truly rich and varied fortnight based in (much-missed) Seattle, we finally hit the road again, this time northbound and deserving of fresh ink in the passport. Being close to the border for so long, especially in Washington, it would've been rude not to, and luckily for us, we'd old friends waiting to receive us on the other side.

Particularly lucky in that we'd only reconnected with Dave and Susan a fortnight earlier after a couple of year's radio silence, and they kindly agreed to drop everything and give us their undivided attentions (and local tour guiding) for a long weekend.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

We got to know them a good six, maybe seven years ago, when Dave co-promoted the legendary Gilded Palace of Sin in Brighton, and booked a fledgling Morning Bride on the strength of our first, self-released single (a man of fine taste, it goes without saying). Much water under the bridge since then, and they now reside in Vancouver Island's second 'city', Nanaimo.

We arrived after Greyhounding from Seattle over the border to Vancouver City on the mainland, where we transferred to another, this time for the short journey to Horseshoe Bay. Suitably dramatic, with snow-capped mountains alongside us, Vancouver City to the south, and our destination west across the Salish Sea, we boarded the ferry (not dissimilar to the Calmacs, for Hebridean fans) and kicked back for the couple of hour's sailing.

Three views from the Ferry leaving Horseshoe Bay, North Vancouver

Landing in Departure Bay, our long weekend began with the town centre, a gear-drop back at their apartment, and a walk around Piper's Lagoon in the late evening sunshine. A tidal inlet and rocky, pine-covered promontary hosted Caspian Terns, Least Sandpipers, Glaucous-winged Gulls and Black Oystercatchers at the former, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Spotted Towhees etc. (typical species in this habitat locally) on the latter.

This immature Glaucous-winged Gull gained a small round of applause for achieving what looked like the impossible

While this one remained in Poirot mode

Back at the homestead - a third-floor apartment on the outskirts of town - the first Anna's Hummingbirds of the trip sparred and buzzed around the feeder on the balcony, a sweet way to close day one on the island.

adult Glaucous-winged Gull

Great Blue Heron