Updated: Feb 7, 2020
My first “proper” field trip to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (PacRim) on Vancouver Island is coming to the end, so I thought I’d share quickly what I’ve seen in the way of wildlife (listed in order of size where possible, and guessed if not).
Golden-crowned kinglet Regulus satrapa (4-7g) - tinkling in the canopy with their aptly named golden crown, set in like a little mohawk between two black go-faster stripes.
Brown tree creeper Certhia americana – creeping up tree trunks.
Pacific wren Trodlodytes pacificus – chattering amongst themselves in a miniature machine gun war.
Black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus (9-14g) – a North American member of the tit family. Not quite as great as the great tit, but still cute.
Stellar’s jay Cyanocitta stelleri (100-140g) – this black and blue iridescent bird has hair gelled up like the boys from school and is about as naughty too.
Western terrestrial garter snake Thamnophis elegans (140g) – black- and red-backed with a pale dorsal stripe, coiled and ready to strike, but thankfully they're only mildly venomous and would be no match against my wellies (not that I bothered him enough to find out).
Northern flicker Colaptes auratus (86-167g) – flies like a woodpecker and pecks like a woodpecker.
American red squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (200-250g) – slightly less tufty and slightly less red than Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin.
Common raven Corvus corax (0.7-2kg) – almost as common over here as crows, they laugh and squawk among the treetops and bounce along the sand in search of prey they can scavenge.
Great blue heron Ardea herodias (1.8-3.6kg) – sitting like a homeless woman in her grey-blue ruffled coat.
Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus (3-6.3kg) – THE bird of North America.
Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (4.5-22kg) – returning to freshwater rivers weary after their arduous journey to spawn.
Colombian black-tailed deer Odocoileus hemionus columbianus (40-100kg) – much like a roe deer but with less of a moustache and more of a black tail. They are habituated and docile; and hang out in the kids play park, and along the sidewalk, and along the highway (look at me using all the Canadian English).
American black bear Ursus americanus (40-250kg) – two cubs and a mum hotfooted themselves off the forest road as we turned a corner, they were gone before we even needed to beep the horn.
Everything I saw behaved exactly as it should; the birds went about their business and the bears buggered off into the bush. The only exception was the black-tailed deer, that have become habituated and urbanised, which is all fun and games until a cougar follows them into town.
I’ve got one more office-based week on the island, so maybe I’ll see some new birds out the window.
Edit: The common eider is on hold until a more senior birder goes and looks for it, because it turns out they're not usually found around here and I may have misidentified it... watch this space I guess.
Common eider Somateria mollissima (0.8-3.4kg) – these have the coolest “ah-oo” call and made my face light up on my coastal walk. Check it out.