Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Are you interested in birdwatching? I'm always noticing the birds when we're out kayaking.

Some are easy to identify, like kingfishers and bald eagles. Others are pretty much "little black waterfowl" with maybe a white patch or a bent feather. Was that a coot or a surf scoter? Sometimes it's hard to tell. Ducks can be hard to tell apart, especially in the dim morning light when they all look like black forms silhouetted against shiny water.

One time in Oak Bay, a puffin surfaced right next to my bow. Yes, a puffin! The beak was very clearly that odd shape and bright colour, even if the bird was holding what looked like a little grey squid. I squealed with delight, the bird ducked down, and I haven't seen one since. I looked it up in the bird books at the Elk/Beaver Lake Nature Centre: tufted puffin. For real, in Oak Bay right by the Uplands, without going way up-coast or off-shore to the birds' isolated nesting grounds.
(I found a great photo taken by Dave Walsh of a similar sighting which you can find at his website. Look him up -- he's got some terrific photos. There's also a page by Joe and Mary-Ann McDonald with action shots that point out these pudgy little birds are active predators like hawks and eagles!)

But it's always great to glide in our kayaks close enough to see the ripples around birds, or have them fly past and swoop low right by our heads. John takes some awesome photos from his kayak!

At any rate, there's a beginner birdwatching course starting soon at Swan Lake Nature Centre. The Capital Regional District sent out a promo poster by e-mail today, promoting the course. It's not free, but it is taught by an expert.

Birding Basics
an introductory course for adults
Birdwatching is the fastest growing activity in North America and Victoria is a great year-round birding location - join in the fun and discover the birds in your neighbourhood.
Taught by local ornithologist, James Clowater, this course includes 4 Wednesday evening classes and three Sunday morning field-trips.

Classes: 7 to 9 pm, Wednesday April 13, 20, 27, May 4
Field trips: 9 to 10:30 am, Sunday April 24, May 1 & 8
$80 for Swan Lake members - $95 for non-members
Please call to register - 250.479.0211
3873 Swan Lake Road, Victoria, BC, 250.479.0211

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