|Monday, 08 September 2008 13:37|
Birds of British Columbia II – Vancouver Island
In the second part of the “Birds of British Columbia” story we will shortly look at Vancouver Island located NW from Vancouver. Although island it is almost the same size as is the Czech Republic. Like in the other parts of northern America we need a car to drive the large distances between interesting places. The Island can be reached by several ferries – the ferry from Horseshoe Bay can take us to Nanaimo – the city roughly in the middle of the vancouver Island eastern coast. Here we can take the highway following the eastern coast south or north. The only road that crosses the Island from east to west leads to the most touristic area of Vancouver Island around Tofino village with nearby Pacific Rim National park. These places were our main destinations during the short 5-days trip to Vancouver Island
Tofino and Surrounding – Tofino Mudflats and Pacific Rim National Park
Although the trip to Tofino was planned without any consideration of birds at the beginning, Tofino is located in one of the best areas for birdwatching at Vancouver Island. The tourist attractions are not only the Tofino village with its heritage but for sure are so the surrounding beautiful nature and wildlife too – the vast sandy beaches facing the rough Pacific waters, forests of the Pacific Rim National Park giving shelter to birds and larger beasts like is cougar of black bear or the shallow seawaters with thousands of seabirds and mammals like sea otters or whales.
Giving our trip schedule and also the season which was not the best for birding, we only saw some of the common local birds. One of the most common bidrs we can easily meet here is the beautiful blue-feathered Steller´s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), Which is often seen close to human habitats shouting and begging for food. The forests of the Pacific Rim National Park give safe asylum to animnals and so the birdwatching is quite difficult there. Besides number of passerines we can be lucky to see hummingbird – here it is either Anna´s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) or Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus). From raptors the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is again one of the most common species here. The small islands at the Pacific shore are great places for watching the seabirds – probably the most popular species here that you can see on many birding brouchures is the Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata); we unfortunately were not so lucky an during the whale-watching trip and one short stop at one of those small islands we could only see the other auks, gulls, oystercatcher and cormorant. A few species of waders present on the beaches was just a glimpse of the vast amount of birds that are coming anually to this area during migration. Tofino surrounding is one of the most important stop for migrating birds and the Tofino Mudflats Reserve must be paradise for birdwatchers during Spring and Autumn migration – when the tide goes down, the shallow sheltered inlets become huge muddy flats attracting birds to rest and feed. More information about the Reserve can be found on the website www.tofinomudflats.com. The highlight of our Tofino trip was the presence of Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani), whose black feathering contrasts with red bill and red and yellow coloured eye.
Sooke – Whiffen Spit Park
From Tofino area we then headed south of Vancouver Island to Victoria – the capital of British Columbia - and without any intention we ended up in a small city Sooke at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island at a stone´s cast from USA borders. Sooke is a good starting point for nice drive along the western coast of Vancouver Island northward to Port Renfrew with many Nature Reserves on the way. But the most interesting was the Sooke itself, or more precisely a small piece of land that is traditionally called “spit” here – the best local spot for birdwatching has a name “Whiffen Spit Park”. It is ca. 1 km long and at some places only few meters wide belt of land protecting the inlet of the Sooke and covered by thin bush vegetation. The Park is popular place for locals but the birds are quite used to human presence so there is always a lot to see – one short evening and one early morning visit produced for exampleCedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), flock of Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri), Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), ever-present American Robin (Turdus migratorius), White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala), Killdeer with little chick (Charadrius vociferus) or California Gull (Larus californicus). Whiffen Spit Park was by no means the best birding place for me at Vancouver Island during our trip.
The goal of this short report is not to completely describe birdwatching opportunities at Vancouver Island. It is true as for the other parts of British Columbia we visited that one would like to spend at least one year here to get to know all local species around all seasons.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 03 February 2011 08:39|