Sandra Gray can normally be found out in a field, sporting a pair of binoculars and a bird book, trying to find some interesting species to add to her tally.
When the avid birder went to Beachcomber Park in Nanoose Bay this week however, she found herself faced with wildlife action on a far bigger — and mammalian — scale.
In amongst the brant, scoters ducks and gulls she expected to find were hundreds of sealions barking, lolling and feeding.
It was, she said, quite a show.
“The sea lion and bird show at Beachcomber Park is fantastic right now,” she said. “You have to go right down onto the rocky shelf for close up views to see the groups of California and Stellar sea lions — from five to as many as 150 — swimming about, sleeping with flippers up, challenging each other, roaring, barking … you may need ear plugs.”
She said the park has seen a surge in visitors of the human and bird kinds as well.
“Many local birders noticed a greater than usual increase in bird activity in Northwest Bay, Cottam Point, Dorcas Point area early in January,” she said. “The numbers have increased some days to hundreds of thousands of birds, particularly Common Murres. Uusually we get a few sightings over the winter but not what we have had recently.
Other birds in greater than usual numbers, she added, include Pacific loons, Red-throated loons, Western Grebes, cormorants, Red-breasted mergansers and thousands ofgulls.
“The herring are obviously here and the sea lions and birds know it!” she said.
The park can be accessed from Northwest Bay Road and turning left onto Claudet Road and then left again onto Marina Way.