Once again we spent the morning birding the beaches between Ucluelet and Tofino. Since the rain and gloom of the previous day had now cleared we decided to go back to Chestermans Beach to try and see the Black Turnstones again. This time we headed straight to the north end of the beach, but sadly we were unable to find the turnstones again.
Wandering Tattler - Although we couldn’t find any Turnstones this morning, we did have a bumper crop of Wandering Tattlers, with five all together on the rocks where the Turnstones had been. The fact that the Turnstones had moved on and the Tattlers had arrived clearly demonstrates how the waders were moving through the area.
Chestermans Beach: Surf Scoter, Semipalmated Plover, Black Oystercatcher, Wandering Tattler, Western Sandpiper, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Glaucous-winged Gull, Northwestern Crow, American Robin, Savannah Sparrow,
We had an inshore pelagic booked for the afternoon, but we still had some time left over during the morning. A report of a Slaty-backed Gull at the north end of Long Beach presented an intriguing prospect, so we headed down to investigate. The north end of Long Beach was very similar to the south end, in that it was a sandy beach dotted with rocky outcrops, with tall conifer trees on all sides. As before, there were mixed sized flocks of waders trotting around the beach which we were able to look at, as well as a number of large gulls on the beach. We did find the ‘Slaty-backed Gull’ but after discussion with a number of local birders it seems more likely that it is actually an aberrant American Herring Gull.
Semipalmated Sandpiper - The last wader that we could have expected to see, but had not yet connected with was Semipalmated Sandpiper. Today we finally spotted a group of about 10 birds within the mixed flocks of waders that were dotted around the beach. As a species that we should expect to see in Western Europe, it was good to be able to compare them with the Sanderlings that were also on the beach there.
Long Beach - North End: Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Surf Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Northern Diver, Brandt’s Cormorant, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, American Herring Gull, Western Gull, Black Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plover, Western Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Sanderling, Dunlin, Steller’s Jay, Varied Thrush, Violet-green Swallow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Savannah Sparrow,
We had tried, desperately, to organise an offshore pelagic to try and see Albatrosses, but sadly due to the short notice of the trip we had been unable to find anywhere that wasn’t already booked up. We took the best option, so it seemed, which was an inshore pelagic, where we ended up doing almost the exact same route as the previous day except without stopping for any marine mammals. The sole aim of the cruise was to try and find birds.
The vessel was more substantial than the previous day, and the boat was full of people. We made our way round the islands in much the same way that we had done yesterday, but there seemed to be a fewer birds around. Perhaps the clearer conditions had sent birds out to sea, because the number of auks was way down. Perhaps in hindsight it would have been better to have done a Bear Watching cruise instead, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s obviously worth saying that we still saw a lot of cool birds, and had an enjoyable time.
Tufted Puffin - The reason most people were on this tour seemed to be to see Tufted Puffin. Although we had seen them yesterday it was nice to be able to share their excitement again when we saw them again flying around the boat. The boat was higher off the water so we were able to get better, if not more distant views, than we had got yesterday.
Gray-bellied Brant Goose - Although we had seen distant Brants throughout the trip, today we saw numerous birds migrating close to the boat. We also had a single bird perched up on one of the islands.
Jamie’s Whaling Station - Inshore Pelagic: Gray-bellied Brant Goose, Harlequin Duck, Surf Scoter, Pacific Diver, Great Northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, Arctic Tern, Glaucous-winged Gull, Western Gull, Mew Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Tufted Puffin, Belted Kingfisher, Northwestern Crow, Barn Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Sea Otter, Steller’s Sea-Lion, Harbour Seal,
Our last stop before we began our journey back to Nanaimo, and off the island, was at Amphrite Point at Ucluelet. If there were any lingering Surfbirds, we were told, this would be as good a place as any to look. The rocky shoreline was pretty expansive and there was plenty of habitat for potential rocky coastline waders. We spent some time scanning the rocks, but to no avail. Behind the beaches were the tall conifer forests that we had become accustomed to seeing, with warblers and other passerines singing from within the shrubbery. Because we were a little pushed for time, to ensure that we were back for our ferry we were not able to stay too long here, but it was a nice place to spend our last hours birding on the island.
Black Turnstone - We had encountered these cracking birds three times before we bumped into a flock of seven here. These were by far the best though, showing very nicely in clear sunshine, they were brilliant. So much for our chances of finding one in the spring being slim, as we were told on many occasions…
Swainson’s Thrush - In the bushes behind the footpath we could hear a strange call. When we eventually tracked down its source we were surprised to find a pair of Swainsons Thrushes. These are not common in this area, so we were pretty thrilled. Fortunately we were able to get good views of them, ruling out Hermit Thrush.
Amphrite Point: Pacific Diver, Pelagic Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, Glaucous-winged Gull, Northwestern Crow, American Robin, Swainson’s Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler,