Visiting friends in Vancouver in March I revisited Jericho beach, which abounds (literally!) with healthy escapee black and grey rabbits providing a meal, perhaps, for the bald eagles watching from above. There were two visible eagles sitting atop tall conifers: one a youngster as it was missing the white patches which appear on the belly at two years. At about four years comes the white head plumage, which gives it the rather misleading ‘bald’ name.

They may also have had an eye on the abundant and charming American robin…another misleading name as it is actually part of the thrush family but named for it’s red breast.

Eight hundred miles further south in San Jose, California I photographed a blue jay and later spotted a chickadee making a home in my friend’s nesting box. Once home again, I learn that the blue jays have swooped and the chickadees deserted their nest. I’m reminded of a dunnock nest in our conifer raided by magpies. Blue jays are related to our jays and have the same nest robbing propensity…they mimic cries of birds of prey thus scaring away parent birds. Chickadees, named for their call, belong to the same family as our blue tits with a similar lifestyle.

Another brilliant North American mimic is the sleek pale mocking bird whose repertoire includes natural and inanimate sounds from barking dogs to phones and slamming doors, phrases repeated many times. Highly territorial and solitary but common and easily spotted.

Another 230 miles south were more giants - elephant seals with pups on the beach below San Simeon. We were told that 2023 is a bad year following the extraordinary weather conditions (fire, drought then floods) and the count was way down but the beach seemed covered in them.

Nearby the hills below Hearst Castle host surprising herds of zebra descended from the newspaper magnate’s private 1920’s zoo thriving in Californian conditions .

Finally wild turkey at up to 16lbs gobbled past the house looking to roost in trees while at less than 1oz the rufous hummingbird posed in mid air. The wings of the adult male produce a high buzzy trill in flight, hence the name.

Only away 12 days away with a pocket sized Lumix camera but it is a lesson to me and I hope to others, to Be Prepared….you never know what you’ll see on your holidays!