Thursday, August 22, 2013

Honeymoon Day 9

Bald Eagle and Crows

My day started by waking up at 8 (boo) for no particular reason, but I heard some crows making a racket outside the room, so I stood up to look out the window. I pretty much immediately saw an eagle fly across below our balcony. I practically tripped over myself running for my camera, unfortunately I didn't have the telephoto lens attached so missed any overhead shot opportunities. It was also quite rainy, so I was reluctant to just stand on the balcony. Eventually the eagle came around and landed on top of a tree pretty close to the balcony.

Cropped close

The rain picked up even more though, so I headed back in to dry my camera off and grab one of the Op Tech rain sleeves. Those things have been so very useful. After that I grabbed some more pictures of him sitting there, then before long some crows came along and started harassing him.

The crows were flying above him and diving down towards him but not quite hitting him.

Eventually they convinced him to take flight.

He landed on a tree pretty far away and I took a couple of shots of him there. I later noticed that there was a crow sitting there too, probably still harrassing him. I also noticed some other crows closer to me flying upward and diving, I think probably at the eagle I saw's mate, but I had no visibility to where the crows were finishing their dives. Eventually the eagle that had been chased away took flight, and before long he was joined by another eagle. They flew around each other for a while then headed off into the distance. After all that, it was just about time for Erin to get up too.

We started the day off by having breakfast in the hotel restaurant again. Today it was normal service. I had a smoked salmon eggs benedict and Erin had granola, yogurt, fruit and a smoothie. After that it was a quick trip through the hotel gift shop to grab a photo book of Vancouver Island by Matthew Maran then frantic packing and checkout.

From there we headed to PiƱa, in search of a print of Ucluelet 2011 by Angie Roussin (owner of Pina). We had seen a print of it in Ukee Dogs the day before and were totally fascinated by it. We were hoping to find a print, alas they had none. We settled for a fridge magnet version, but at that size it loses a lot of impact. Once we were finished there we headed out of town.

I was determined to try to hit up some of the stop offs on the Pacific Rim highway that I had missed on the way in, but the weather was not being very cooperative and most of the cool stuff we saw was not accessible (or not easy to access) from the side of the road going back towards Port Alberni. On the drive through the mountains, in addition to being very foggy and misty and drizzly there were a ton of waterfalls, and when we got away from the lake (Kennedy Lake) we started passing over a lot of creeks and rivers. There were points where we could see a lot of raging water flowing. Eventually we got through all the twists and turns and ups and downs. Finally we made it through Port Alberni and it was back to much more normal driving. Up until Port Alberni, we were regularly spotting eagles in the tops of trees and soaring overhead. After Port Alberni, not so much. Just an occasional soarer.

Anyway... Shortly after Port Alberni we stopped off at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park for a short hike (rain had stopped literally just as we arrived!). There were two waterfalls, the lower and the upper. Both were pretty awesome. Lots of rushing water, it's amazing how powerful water can be. We walked the circuit, took a bunch of pictures then continued on our way. While there we spotted a slug, a frog and a snail.

After that we passed through Coombs again, and saw a sign for the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. The sign said they had owls, which I knew would be interesting to Erin since she loves owls so I offered to stop. She seemed interested so we took the turn and headed there. A couple turns later, and it felt like were just heading back to the road we had been on before but there was the center (centre?).

Took this on the way out but seems fitting here

We went in, paid, got a map and stepped through the door. The door led to a room filled with taxidermy, all labeled and some informative posters about wildlife, as well as a wishing fountain. We looked around for a bit, then headed out of the building. Once we got outside, the place looked kind of small (we weren't expecting much anyway), we walked a short way into another building, which was a barn set up for eagles to fly in, with an upstairs area with view ports for people to view them. Before we headed upstairs though, we watched bear cubs playing on a live video feed they had set up. They were not allowing the cubs to see humans because they had plans for releasing them eventually. After watching the cubs wrestle for a few minutes, we headed upstairs. It was midday, and the eagles seemed content to preen and sit around, so we didn't see any flying. We headed out of the building, and back out into the main outdoor area and started wandering around, looking at the animals that were recovering in outdoor enclosures.

We couldn't resist this photo op

They had doves, peregrine falcons, barred owl, great horned owl, short eared owl, barn owl, a golden eagle, a couple of ravens, a few bald eagles, a ferret, turkey vultures and other birds I can't recall. It turned out to be a much larger place than we thought!

It is a pain to shoot through cages

There was also a pond with a lot of ducks and turtles, some geese, and turkeys.

It turned out to be a very impressive facility, and I'm glad we decided to stop off there. From there it was off to Nanaimo to (finally) grab some lunch. We ate at the Corner Bistro in downtown Nanaimo. It was 4, so we had a light lunch. I had clam chowder that came with a tasty piece of buttery, herby toast and Erin had quinoa sliders which were also very good. Finally we hit the road to Victoria, and arrived a bit later. We were very tired by the time we arrived. We found our hotel, parked in a "parkade" down the street and lugged some of our stuff to the hotel. We checked in, relaxed for a bit, then headed out to dinner at Sizzling Tandoor. I had veal masala, Erin had paneer masala. And of course we had naan. It was excellent. After that, we walked around for a bit then headed back to our room to relax, shower and hit the hay.

Tim Horton's Count - 14

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