Totally captivated in 2007 by the live camera feed of the Hornby Island nesting Bald Eagles in B.C., I was drawn into birding and have never looked back. Thus begins my account of what I'm fortunate enough to discover each day and perhaps capture with my camera.

Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by and are the property of Janice Melendez

Species Counts:

2014 Final Year List: 255; 2015 Year List a/o June 5, 2015: 235; Life List: 327

Saturday, June 28, 2014

UnBEARable Times at Carden

The memory of a trip to Carden a week ago today will stay with me for a very, very long time, unbeknownst to me while making my way there as usual. 

A close view of a Bobolink was an unexpected treat, as their focus is now on family in distant fields, rather than chilling on fence posts like this male:    

The high, insect-like buzz I heard belonged to this cooperative Grasshopper Sparrow on Prospect Road: 

Wilson's Snipe maintained their trash bird status for me, as I saw my first one for the day who had quite the routine: 

1. Find a solid fence post.
2. Strike a pose by balancing on one leg.
3. Tuck long bill into feathers as far as possible. 
4. Chill.

5. Lift head on occasion to amuse photographer.
6. Make one to two chip calls. 

7. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 until photographer gets bored and leaves.
8. CHILL until next photographer arrives. 
9. Repeat steps 2 through 8, as needed. 

My second Snipe for the day was far more engaging:

A female Eastern Bluebird demonstrated good housekeeping skills as top-up nesting material was brought to the box:

My third Wilson's Snipe for the day was a character:

Next I met up with Justin and our game plan for the next few hours was firmed up. Our first stop along Wylie Road was my first Wilson's Snipe, and yes indeed, it was repeating steps 2 through 8 while Justin took photos. We continued north and saw and/or heard more of the expected bird species, including Loggerhead Shrike, Sedge Wren, Brown Trashers Thrashers, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, and assorted warblers and sparrows, including a Vesper Sparrow (Year Bird, yay, thanks, Justin!).   

We reached the end of Wylie Road and parked along Alvar Road, arriving at our target and hopefully not final destination, North Bear Alvar:

For the next hour we went off-trail (not that I'm even convinced of the existence of a proper trail, as I suspect this alvar is under-explored)  through significant patches of poison ivy and other typical alvar shrubbery. At one point we spotted a Ruffed Grouse family dashing into the woods, and a White-throated Sparrow had harsh words for us as we inadvertently got to close to its nest as we navigated the terrain. 

Justin found a snake skeleton that could have been easily overlooked: 

By now we had also observed plenty of overturned rocks indicating bear activity, as bears look for insects to eat by flipping logs and stones, and will also tear apart decaying stumps and logs in their search for nibblies. 

Bear paw prints were also seen in a few spots, but alas, no sighting of the owner(s), so we made our way back to the car, stopping to enjoy a relatively poison ivy- free section OMG  an open meadow filled not only with those wonderful Carden flowers, but also a bear. 

Feeding on those wonderful Carden flowers, clover no less!! 

These are crazy-cropped record shots of the grazing bear as we watched it from a distance:

It eventually moved out of our sight so we continued to the car, but of course couldn't resist another final look back, just in case it was out in the open again. 

It was.

We eventually lost sight of it behind the flowers: 

Admittedly, after this ever-so-brief bear encounter the balance of the Carden visit paled in comparison, so my account of that day ends here. 

The following day was the first full day of summer, and the sunrise made it impossible for me to choose a favorite angle: 

I was overdue for an evening visit to Carden so left with Tessa. Both Wylie and Alvar Roads belonged to us as we were alone. 

Except for an Eastern Kingbird: 

Except for cattle...

...including a pretty white one in a field of fleurs at Golden Hour:

Except for a Blanding's Turtle that dashed across the road, ruining my focus!

Except for one of three Upland Sandpipers at Golden Hour. All lined up in a row. On consecutive posts, all at the same time. With an Eastern Bluebird on the fourth post. After weeks of me bitterly complaining about only distant views of Upland Sandpipers this year.   

But no bears.... 

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