Thursday, October 17, 2013

by Kerry Finley,
IBA Caretaker, British Columbia

Tuesday October 15th

" If you would become familiar with a bird, you must live with it, day by day through the seasons, following the activities that fill its life and add up to the picture conjured up by its name. So it is with the Bufflehead. Where they linger around a residential area, as in Victoria, British Columbia, and Boston, Massachusetts, this is easily done. People fortunate enough to live on the water's edge may watch Buffleheads from their breakfast table, and others can do so from a parked car on the streets that wind along the shore.", so began Dr. Tony Erskine in his monograph of the species in 1971.

 Through the seasons, through the decades now, I've awaited their return with great anticipation. From my breakfast table this morning, I was fortunate enough to watch the first flock of Buffleheads arrive in their 'arena', just over a hundred metres north of the "Bufflehead Kiosk". I counted six, including one drake. They remained only about five minutes then departed north over mirror calm waters, across the mouth of Tsehum Harbour, toward Canoe Cove. 

I informed the FOSH group as they prepared for the 11:00 am ceremony. The skeptics said, yeah right, who's to corroborate. Fortunately, at 10:18, just as I was leaving for the ceremony I noticed the flock actively diving in the centre of their 'arena', directly out from the kiosk. At the kiosk I set up the telescope, and all the corroboration needed, came from the admiring crowd. Jill Hawkins-French counted nine, including the single drake, just as the ceremonies got under way. Only in Canada, you say ?

MC Dr. Hugh Richards, chairman of FOSH, introduced Chief Vern Jacks who opened the ceremonies with the traditional Salish greeting and a brief account of their ancient village Wsi-i-kem, and the abundant marine resources of the area. Councillors Celia Stock of North Saanich and Steve Price of Sidney then made presentations on behalf of our councils, and our MLA Gary Holman represented the riding. Yours truly, stuck to the facts as usual, giving standard deviations of 1.6 and 3.0, respectively, around  hatching dates in the Cariboo and ABD in Shoal Harbour. I then had the great privilege to honour Mayor Marie Rosko and Councillor Brenda Harfield for their essential roles in putting the Bufflehead on our Coat of Arms. The honourable former mayor recounted some of the details of the titanic struggle to raise the standards and buck the trends ( Arbutage is what Briony Penn dubbed it). Farrell Boyce ended the session with a rowdy tune.

All in all, a fine howdya do. Somewhere in the middle it, the Buffleheads disappeared again.

Female Bufflehead - photo by Kerry Finley



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