Photojournal - 1 January 2006

Roberts Bank bluster

New Year's Day in Vancouver was a cold and windy affair. There were wind and gale warnings on the radio. I was staying inside, minding my own business, when I got a call from my friend Len. Len was out at Roberts Bank, an industrial port, and he had found two Rock Sandpipers out there, hanging out with some Black Turnstones. With this news, minding my own business went out the window, and I went out the door. At a few minutes before 3pm, I found myself at Roberts Bank, a place I'd never been before.

I got out of the car, and found that the wind was so strong that it was hard to hold my camera steady. I started by taking a few location shots. This one shows the container-loading part of the port. The ship is the Ever Unity, registered in Panama, and it's stacked pretty high with containers. This shot also shows the waves that the wind was whipping up in this normally placid shallow bay.


(I hadn't been to the port jetty previously, but the bay is the same one that the Tsawassen Ferry Terminal is in, so I know the bay well.)

The wind really was blowing a gale, it turned out, and really giving mariners a problem that day. I was not in a boat, which was a source of great contentment, but it didn't mean that the wind wasn't causing me problems. It was blowing the chill through my winter gear and straight to my bones. I wasn't going to be able to stay outside for long stretches.

Thankfully, though, it didn't take long for me to find some Black Turnstones out enjoying the bluster. Here's one of them, now.

He was wondering why I was making such a big fuss about the weather; it didn't seem to bother him at all.  
I scanned through him and a few of his buddies, all of whom were turnstones. Then I took a few shots the back the other way. The line of birds out by the far shore in this photo are ducks, mostly American Wigeons.  
I spotted a few gulls flying against the strong wind. They were easy to take photos of, because they pretty much weren't getting anywhere. They just hovered in the roughly the same place for a couple of minutes.  
I went up the shore a ways, looking for a Rock Sandpiper. I saw plenty of Black Turnstones.  
Turnstones mostly hang out at the water's edge, occasionally making short flights along it. Here's one that was making a little flight, struggling in the wind.  
Nearby, these two goofballs were out there bathing in the surf. I don't know how they can do that; I had on warm clothing and wasn't in the water, and I was freezing.  
I continued searching the shore, but didn't find either of the Rocks. Soon, the evening sun half-broke through the clouds, giving everything a slightly orange tone, like the underparts of this turnstone. At this point, I'd had enough cold and decided to head back to my car.  

When I got back to the car, there were a few Northern Pintails out in front of it. I took a few shots before retreating inside.

I sat in my car for a few minutes, running the heater, and then drove up the gravel road by the shore, watching for turnstones. I was able to cover much more ground in much more comfort this way, and although I saw many turnstones, I still didn't find any Rocks.  
As it was getting close to dark, I gave up on the sandpipers and drove the short distance over to Beach Grove Park. It was in a sheltered location and the wind wasn't anywhere near as bad there. I was walking around the park in the dying light when a falcon flew in and lit in a tree for a few minutes. It was a Peregrine Falcon.  
The last photos I took were of some trees; the patterns made by their bare limbs against the sky where interesting to me. I'll end with one of those tree shots.  

It had been a cold and slow start to the year; hopefully this wasn't an omen of things to come.

Much warmer now,


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