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Thread subject: 48 hours of R&R
Name Date Message
Marie 11/14/04 02:12 am A friend of mine just happens to have a time-share arrangement up Island that was the perfect get-a-way for myself. She invited me to share some R&R up Parksville way. A two hour drive late Thursday afternoon in the foggy weather finally saw us arrive safely at our destination. Here was a beautiful resort nestled within a sheltered bay along the coast. It was fascinating to see how the builders had created a Nature sanctuary, not only for people but wildlife too. So many trees we left standing within this complex. They surrounded each building, providing unique and private views from each patio/recessed balcony. It was a most pleasing setting at this time of year. Most trees were Douglas Fir but there were a few golden/ bronze trees to add coulour to our green world. Perhaps at the height of the season this resort may well be too 'peopled' for my liking, but I was here as a guest and was determined to enjoy the tranquility of the moment. The beach we discovered the following day could be found almost at our door. The daylight had long disappered by the time we checked in for any exploration so, since we were both hungry we headed to the main dining room. A lovely three course meal of beautifully presented cuisine was our treat to ourselves. I remember biting into scallops so soft and tasty and remarking how they were some of the best I had ever tasted. An early night was in order for both of us after this sumptuous meal. The next day wasn't ideal weather wise, but at least it wasn't raining. We headed down to the beach to watch an eagle chase after gulls. It wasn't successful this time. I watched it slowly flap exhausted to a tree off in the distance. Meanwhile the sea ducks and gulls settled back onto the calm ocean after the aireal threat was gone. American wigeon, mallards, surf scoters, common loons and red necked grebes could be seen with binoculars off in the distance. We returned to the car after this interlude and headed away from our 'nature sanctuary' to find the huge area of sandy beach further along the coast. Fortunately my girlfriend enjoys birds but not quite to the extent I do. Still, I was about to show her a few birds she had never seen before. I was hopeful of finding a few straglers of migrating shorebirds here at the waters edge. The tide was moving in fairly swiftly over the vast expance of sand when we arrived. We headed out over the beach stones and walked along the waters edge. I soon found one lone Dunlin foraging frantically between the rocks. I became quite excited when three more scurried along to join their friend. They were so busy trying to find food that I was able to get within 8ft of them. Another sound caught my attention. I panned my binocular toward the noise. Black Turnstones were busy scalding one another off in the distance. It was here that I caught sight of a swirling ribbon or shorebirds that banked and rose as they tried to decide where to put down. There must have been 250 of these tiny shorbirds. When they finally put down they settled on a little peninsular of mixed sand and pebbles within walking distance. I was getting excited with this new find. Veronica and I headed slowly toward this mass of movement that foraged busily amongst the pebbels. Their body tones blended well with the colour of the surrounding rocks. Among the Dunlin were bigger shorbirds. The Black Turnstones kept up their constant chatter. Two dozen or so Black bellied Plovers meandered quietly among the Dunlin and a single Black Oystercatcher stood towering above this throng. It lifted up with all the others as the warning call went out of an approaching Bald eagle. It seemed as though another group of little shorebirds came out of no where and joined those infront of us. Their movement was amazing to watch as they flew on mass. With danger passed they settled again to forage. I was so pleasd to see so many shorbirds together. We 'gestimated' about 500+. Out on the water gulls and sea ducks floated and dove. It wasn't long before a juvenile eagle flew our way and the shorebirds were up again. Another adult bald eagle followed and headed to a favorite perch over looking the beach. There was much action down at the beach including the cold wind that was now picking up and the fog bank heading across the water. We decided to head into town for a hot cup of coffee. We later tried to visit the Raptor rehab center in this area but were greatly disappointed to find it closed for the season. We decided after that disappointment to head to another seafood restaurant later that evening and really spoil ourselves for supper again. Appies of stuffed mushrooms followed by scallops and prawns in a delicious sauce. These were accompanied by four different vegetables and baked potatoes. Mmmm mmm GOOD! We were too full to sample the house speciality dessert. Today Saturday, the sun came up but soon disappered by mid morning. By the time we checked out the grey balnket of cloud had moved in. However, where ever we went there were eagles. We saw 9 in total. Our drive meandered through the autumn countryside and along the misty coast. Flooded farmers fields were full of foraging waterfowl and swans. One a clear day this area is very pretty and pastoral. The grey heavy cloud that hung above us wasn't very inspiring. I think it kept the song bird species down deep in the bushes. We attempted to visit yet another Raptor Center just outside Duncan where 'PRINCESS' (the young osprey)is now located, but once again the welcoming sign said CLOSED for the season. I was so disappointed. I can see I will have to get special permission to visit Princess again. Once back in the city of Victoria, where the weather was equally cold and grey, we ended our get-a-way with a walk out along the harbour breakwater. It was refreshing after the three hour trip back but mighty cold on that exposed concrete walkway out over the ocean.
Celeste 11/14/04 07:31 am Thank you Marie for "taking" me along on your R&R!--actually Frank is on his "way"!:) I love how you can identify all those birds......I would be still looking through books. Glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing! I am anxious to hear about Princess......been wondering about her progress.
Nancy L 11/14/04 03:09 pm So glad you had a good "time off." 3 weeks ago, my husband & I had a 48 hour get-away to New Hampshire, which was just passing it's peak in leaf colors & was still beautiful! Every couple of months, we just HAVE to get off of this island - the only trouble being, we have to get through (around) N.Y.City to do it.
Marie 11/14/04 04:12 pm LOL.......Nancy L.....what a way to go......I can imagine being real stressed having to negotiate around NY to just get away. Crossing Victoria from where I live and heading up the highway to points beyond is no hardship even in rush hour. This particular highway wends its way higher and higher so the views along the lookouts on a clear day are spectacular. One of these years it would be good if I am up early and present at one of the highest scenic stop offs to watch the sunrise over the many small islands that are part of the gulf islands around here. Guess that is a Spring challenge when the days are longer. I hate getting up early!
Celeste and your dear Frank will have to come out west one day. ;-))
cathy 11/14/04 06:44 pm Yes - thanks for taking me along with you. It was great for me to taste the great meals without gaining any weight. Of course - all the descriptions of scenery and wildlife was so delightful.
Celeste 11/15/04 05:23 am Thank you Marie, Frank tells me "someday", and when that day comes I hope we will be able to meet you!
Marie 11/15/04 11:16 pm I hope so too Celeste.. :-)

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Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004