Thursday, May 5, 2016

BC day 5 - Tofino Shorebird Festival

After two days without proper internet I have some catching up to do. I will write about our bear encounters later on... This morning we got up early and headed out to Long Beach. And there was a shorebird festival there indeed. The sandy beach was full of shorebirds, feeding on the sand and mud. The dominant species was Western Sandpiper, maybe 600-700 birds. They are so pretty now in summer plumage. Interesting to study the variation in bill length. They were busy running all the time:

Check out those nice palmations:

They were feeding on these tape worms - they certainly needed some pulling:

Other than the westerns there were some other species too, mainly Semipalmated Plover, Dunlin and Sanderling that were present in pretty good numbers too. I had few Semipalmated Sandpipers (4-5) and also 2-3 Least Sandpipers. This single Short-billed Dowitcher was very attractive:

Dunlin and Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover


Gidon avoided getting wet and dirty

A pair of Black Oystercatchers were on the mud too - stunning birds:

Look at that eye:

When I saw these two gulls in the field I was sure they were Western Gulls:

However by this shot I think they are Western X Glaucous-winged Gull hybrids:

I also had a single California Gull, and an Osprey patrolled the beach. From the vegetation along the beach some warblers were calling but I had my back to the trees most of the time so got views only of this Orange-crowned Warbler:

 Later on in the morning we joined a whale-watching tour out of Tofino. Our first target was Sea Otters, and fairly quick we got to see some, in total we had four animals. A lifer for me so I was pretty excited. They were much larger than I had expected. We found three swimming in the open water, while this female was quite relaxed on the kelp:

Photobombed by Harlequin Duck

Then we went out into the open ocean, and the sea was pretty rough. Cleland Island was great though. It held both sea lions (California and Steller's):

And big numbers of Pigeon Guillemots whizzing about:

Those red legs... 

We then continued to follow some whale sightings. We had encounters with both Californian Gray and Humpback Whales. The gray was alright and we did get some views of it, though typically we didn't see much more than a bit of its fin-less back. The humpback was distant and showed pretty bad. I must admit that the tour was too brief and we did run from one target to the next. Combined with the choppy sea this tour was slightly less enjoyable, but still I am very pleased with the otter.

Mandatory Bald Eagle

In the afternoon we headed back towards Nanaimo. We checked a couple of sites in Nanaimo that were pretty quiet. Buttertubs Marsh had nothing special, neither did Nanaimo River Estuary, so I paid some attention to common birds instead.

Song Sparrow

American Barn Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallows


  1. Hi Yoav. The sparrow is actually a song sparrow, not a fox, of the pacific NW form. Essentially, all gray-looking bill and foremost, higly contrasted striped head. Check out this link
    All the very best

    1. Hi many thanks! Of course it's a Song Sparrow, 01:30 am mistake...

  2. The warbler you photographed look like an Orange-crowned Warbler to me, rather than a Yellow Warbler.