Our trip up island Saturday Marsh 17th, 2018

King Eider is 2537th from the left

King eider watchers

Harlequin ducks

black bellied plover

Our annual trip to Qualicum Beach and Parksville was a huge success, the real shame was that only 5 people attended, this is very disappointing as some of us give up our day to show others what nature has to offer.
Our trip up was very easy with traffic at a minimum. Trumpeter Swans were spotted and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and many Bald Eagles. On the way home we also saw several Turkey Vultures soaring.
I told Eric to meet us at the viewing stand in Qualicum Beach, well when we got there someone had taken it away which left us stranded on the forshore. The township is building a super duper stand, covered and everything for those days when the weather is angry. The weather was far from hostile today with warm temperatures and calm seas. We scoped and scanned and saw many Common and Pacific Loons and a handful of Horned Grebes, one far off Red-necked Grebe was seen. Many California Gulls in nice spring plumage were had but sadly we failed to find the dapper little Bonapart’s Gull this year, maybe we were a tad early. We left and headed for a spot further south where the rare and elusive King Eider had been hanging out, when we arrived there were several birders already set up looking and we heard that the bird had been seen earlier, please view the picture to see what was entailed in finding the beast. Two young ladies who had been looking for a while exclaimed “we got it” and it was not long before we all got very distant looks at this wonderful male bird, see picture of the best I could get. We were joined by two of British Columbia’s well known birders one of which is one of the top lister’s for both Canada and BC. Mike Bentley who I hadn’t seen for such a long time I failed to recognize him, Mike was once a regular participant on the Duncan Christmas Bird Count. Great rafts of Scoters drifted back and forth with only a handful of Black Scoter making it hard to add to our day list which was around 45 species.
After a while we moved back up the coast to enjoy many more sightings of ducks gulls and a few flyby sightings of Brant, who’s numbers were very low so far this year. Not many shorebirds this year with just one Black Oystercatcher and a couple of Black-bellied Plovers.
We sat and had our lunch while looking out over the calm waters as a few Sealions passed us by, there was a distinct lack of Herring this year with the beaches easy to walk along with out getting covered in roe. Harlequin Ducks were in good numbers and posed nicely for one eager photographer. This same guy got some long sort after gull pictures for his collection, he is so gullible.
We moved south into Parksville only to find the tide was out, this didn’t stop the birds from being seen as pairs of Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail and American Wigeon drifted by, one nice Eurasian Wigeon was in the flock
Not many Cormorants this year although good number of both Common and Pacific Loons we seen. I got the feeling there was a lack of food. Were we too early as our trip usually goes a couple of weeks later, i guess only time will tell if the Herring come or not. Not sure what the fisherman are going to do with many relying on this catch for the livelihood.
Our last stop was Ugly Dwarf meadows were greenhouses are sprouting up and destroying what was once nice fields to look for early migrants.
The 5 of us had a wonderful day and some lovely sights and as we drove home in the late afternoon a shower of rain started. Shame the rest of you missed our great day maybe next year.