Saturday, 7 May 2016

Up close to birds while sea kayaking at Goose Spit in Comox

by Keith and Heather Nicol
    Sea kayaking is a great way to see a variety of “water” birds in varied habitats from rocky shores to sandy beaches and as well as in different ocean environments. With wind warnings issued for Georgia Strait on Friday, May 6 we decided to head to Goose Spit in Comox to do some paddling around Comox Harbour and the protected water behind the spit. This area can also be good for birds but on this trip we just saw a few species. We were able to drift into a flock on Bonaparte Gulls which are a nice looking gull and one we had not seen before coming to the Comox Valley. It apparently was named by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, by a relative of Napolean Bonaparte and is the only gull to nest in trees.  We saw those close to our launch point on a gravelly bar exposed by the low tide. 

Bonaparte Gulls nest in trees!

  We paddled around Goose Spit but saw little else in terms of bird life. However, the Comox Glacier and surrounding mountains looked splendid with their white snow cover and we saw 3 other sea kayakers and lots of sailboats out enjoying the day. On our return trip just before we were going to “take out” we saw a red necked grebe which hung around and didn’t dive allowing us to get some good shots. This was the closest we have been able to get to one of these birds since they often seem to dive just as you get the camera out of the dry bag. These grebes apparently ingest their own feathers for reasons that are unknown. One suggestion is that it may protect their stomachs from bones or other hard to digest materials.
Heather paddling with the Comox Glacier behind
A Red Necked Grebe in Comox Harbour

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