Monday, 21 March 2011

West Coast Sailing Part 1: Harlequin Performance

Harlequin (noun): a colourful stock character in an improvisational comedy.  Also a sea duck breeding in fast flowing waters and wintering on rocky shorelines.  I think this video shows that there is some overlap between these definitions:

The lack of posts over the last couple of weeks is due to report card preparation time, leading up to taking my Grade 9 class sailing in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia last week.  It was a great trip with generally decent weather – a few wet days but that’s to be expected on the coast in March.  We spent our time around the south end of Saltspring Island and near Pender Islands.  We were probably never more than 10-15km from the Victoria airport as the (Northwestern) Crow flies but as far as the kids were concerned we were in the middle of nowhere!

The "Passing Cloud" in Todd Inlet, Brentwood Bay, BC
Obviously this was not a birding trip, and tramping through the woods with 22 rambunctious teenagers does tend to flush all but the most laid back species (that would be you, Chestnut-backed Chickadee!).   Nevertheless it’s kind of hard NOT to see lots of species when you’re on a boat in the Pacific Northwest in March with the birds migrating and the herring spawning.  I ended up recording 31 species in my journal and I thought I would write a few posts spotlighting some of the more interesting sights and a few of my novice identification challenges. Mr. Harlequin seemed as good a place as any to start.  More to follow tomorrow...

Harlequin Duck, Histrionicus histrionicus


  1. Great video! They are beautiful ducks. There is one pair in Calgary right now, seen in the fast-flowing water near the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

  2. Enjoyed the vid,he was so playful in the water,and that Brentwood bay shot is splendid too!

  3. damn your first photo almost doesn't look real, I have to visit this place