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Rare birds in Tofino

On the 3rd of October 2009 Lori and I travelled to Tofino to look for the Prairie Warbler that was reported by Adrian Dorst five-days prior. It had been a frustrating week, as I wanted to get there earlier but couldn’t get the time off work. We departed Parksville at 5:15 a.m. and arrived on site a little before 8:00 a.m. On arrival we hung out, binoculars focused on the now famous Maple Tree that the warbler was frequenting. We were in position for about fifteen minutes when an oriole flew into some grasses planted in a window box. This bird bounced around, hiding then reappearing near the railings of a second story balcony. It was in site for about one minute in which I snapped a few shots with my camera. I assumed that it was a Bullock’s Oriole, though I did register that it looked small, as that is about the only oriole I would expect to see there.  Though a good bird, it only distracted me for about as long as it stayed, then I continued; focused on locating the Prairie Warbler. The Prairie Warbler finally turned up for about five minutes at around 10:00 a.m. We had great looks at the bird then eventually continued on birding in Tofino and enjoying our day. On returning home, I uploaded the Prairie Warbler photos to my photo gallery site. And that was that.
Prairie Warbler
            Eight days later, on the 11th of October 2009, I was cleaning up some files on my computer and looked at the photos of the oriole. The penny dropped! I did not know which oriole this was. I discussed this with Guy Monty who was pretty sure it was an Orchard Oriole but sent the photos out to some experts for their help, just to be sure. It took a few days to confirm the identity of this bird but I soon received news with a definite identification. It was an adult female Orchard Oriole! This was the third record of this species for Vancouver Island that I am aware of and equally if not rarer than the Prairie Warbler itself. This was a hard but good lesson in looking and being prepared and open to anything.
Orchard Oriole


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