Birding Paddle - Oak Bay Marina/Chain Islets Area (March 29, 2014)

There was a window in the winds and rain that allowed for an interesting paddle for kayaking-birding enthusiasts.  The paddle launched from the beach south of the Oak Bay marina.


The first birds to be spotted from shore included Black Oystercatchers and Surf Scoters.


 Upon launching, we headed towards the Chain Islets, experiencing some swells over the shallow areas.



 A number of Rhinoceros Auklets were spotted in the water.


 As we approached the Chain Islets, a pair of Pigeon Guillemot were spotted resting on the rocks.


A number of Glaucous-winged Gulls and Canada Geese were also found on these islets.


 A Bald Eagle sat ontop an impressive nest on one of these islets, a nest originally used by Double-crested Cormorants but has since been abandoned because of the increased presence of Bald Eagles in the area.


Paddle leader, Jennie Sutton, went to take a closer look at some juvenile Bald Eagles on one islet.


 We were privileged to have Jacques Sirois educate us on the seasonal patterns and behaviours of birds who reside or visit our area.


 He provided tips on how to identify birds.  For example, Pelagic Cormorants can be distinguished from Double-crested Cormorants by their smaller size and narrower neck size.


 Jacques found a nice, narrow passage between two islets to share more natural history stories of the area.  In this area, there were Black Turnstones and Harlequin Ducks.




 It was decided that the conditions would permit some further exploration, so we headed towards the gap between the Discovery and Chatham Islands.  There we spotted Dunlins in their winter plumage.


A number of Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, a Belted Kingfisher and Pacific Great Blue Heron were present in this area.


 During our return, Jacques explained some of the differences between the gulls spotted on our paddle: Glaucous-winged Gulls, Mew Gulls, Herring Gulls, California Gulls (and hybrids). 


 A pair of Long-tailed Ducks were also spotted on the paddle back to the launch site.  The post-paddle debrief at the Oaky Bay Marina cafe was attended by all paddle participants, with an opportunity to thank Jacques for sharing his time and expertise with all.  The total paddle distance was 6.4 nm.   



SISKA Birding Paddle - March 29-14