Sunday, September 23, 2018

September 16 and 23 - Lighthouse Marine Park

This post wraps up this location for September.

September 16, 2018

My weekly visit to Point Roberts featured only one species, the elegant Mew Gull.

 Mew Gull - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

The distinguishing features of this gull are:
  • the smaller, mostly yellow bill (no black spot)
  • smaller size overall
  • limited black on wingtips

Mew Gull - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

September 23, 2018

More activity on this day as we enter Fall season...
First up, a Common Loon that's still showing some breeding plumage...


Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

It's rare to see this plumage so late in the year, so here's one more.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

This location is one of the best for seeing Pelagic Cormorants, distinguished from the more common Double-crested Cormorant by the thin bill.

Pelagic Cormorant - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

A very occasional sighting here is the Black Oystercatcher. On the 23rd, they had decided to pay a visit...

Black Oystercatcher - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

Here's a movie featuring these unique birds:


As I was heading back to my car, I spotted this Killdeer on the beach. i'm not sure if I saw or heard it first...

Killdeer - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - September 2018

And last but definitely not least was one of my favourite birds, a Merlin. This is a member of the Falcon family. It's bigger than a Kestrel but smaller than a Peregrine. It does resemble the latter a bit with the vertical black bars on the face...

Merlin - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA
September 2018




Saturday, September 22, 2018

September 22 and 27, 2018 - Reifel Bird Sanctuary

I achieved a bit of fame with my Sept 22 visit to Reifel as I spotted a rare sandpiper (sort of ) and got a mention on the BC Rare Bird Alert.

September 22, 2018

Most of this post features photos taken on this date. Here's an introductory shot for those who've never visited Reifel...

Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

At this time of year, there are  many larger shorebirds at the sanctuary, primarily Yellowlegs (Greater and Lesser) and Dowitchers (Long-billed and Short-billed). 


Greater Yellowlegs and Long-billed Dowitchers - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC
September 2018

The species above are the most common. It's a challenge to see (and identify) Lesser Yellowlegs and especially Short-billed Dowitchers.

This movie shows a Greater Yellowlegs in action:


Another ID challenge is the common Song Sparrow vs the scarcer Fox Sparrow. Here's a typical western Song Sparrow:

Song Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

And here's a Fox Sparrow, which is also somewhat different from the eastern variety...

Fox Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

More easily identified is the Red Squirrel:

Red Squirrel - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

Along the trail I spotted this very cool spider's web, the Nikon was perfect for this kind of close-up:


A common species of duck here is the Northern Shoveler. It might be confused with the Mallard, but the bill is much larger and the colouring on the male is more brownish than green. Here's a male and female together.

Northern Shovelers - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

By this time I was in the southwest marsh and was seeing the larger shorebirds again:

Greater Yellowlegs - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

Long-billed Dowitcher - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

Suddenly, there was a noise overhead, a flock of Sandhill Cranes relocating inside the Sanctuary.

Sandhill Cranes - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

Sandhill Cranes - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

The second shot looks to me that they are flying in a war zone, but it's just the background trees partially out of focus...

And now my moment of fame...

I was now in the southwest marsh area and had met with Brian, the resident birding expert at Reifel and a pair of other birders. Brian was trying to show us the difference between Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers. I believe the photo below may have one of each...

Dowitchers and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

However, Brian did not see the bird on the right which as a rare Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. 

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018 (2018 Bird # 194)

I snapped a few more shots of the bird, unfortunately Brian didn't see it and it was flushed by a raptor shortly after my last shot.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018 

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018 

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and possible Short-billed Dowitcher (left) 2018 Bird # 195
 Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018 

I did get credit for seeing the Sandpiper and had a photo published in Reifels' Marsh Notes magazine. Fame at last!

September 27, 2018

My next visit wa not quite as exciting, but I did see a bird I'd only seen once earlier in the year. 

American Tree Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

This bird is rare in the Lower Mainland, but does show up in the winter. I saw it in January at Brunswick Point in Delta.

American Tree Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018

Finally, here's a shot of a Trumpeter Swan at at the sanctuary:

Trumpeter Swan - Reifel Bird Sanctuary - September 2018


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September 3 and 4 - Backyard Birds

Here's a few more shots of birds seen in the backyard, similar to my August post. There's one special visitor in the last photo.


Black-capped Chickadee - Backyard - September 2018


Red-breasted Nuthatch - Backyard - September 2018

Hose Finch  - Backyard - September 2018

American Goldfinch (in fall moult)  - Backyard - September 2018

And one interested observer of all this activity - our cat Stella.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Spetember 3 - Boundary Bay

This is going to be a very short post to get me into September 2018. I'm writing this in late November, so there's some catching up to do.

This day was my first foray to Boundary Bay to hopefully see some fall migration shorebirds. It was quite successful, I added two new  2018 species.

The first bird seen was a Bank Swallow. It was pointed out by someone and I luckily got one shot. The band around the neck is the best field mark for this species. I'd seen one in Alberta in June, so it was the second time I'd seen this species in 2018.

Bank Swallow - Boundary Bay, Delta BC


My first new species this evening was a Baird's Sandpiper. It's quite a bit larger than the peeps that are commonly seen at this time of year.


Baird's Sandpiper - Boundary Bay, Delta BC - 2018 Bird # 192


There had been reports of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at this location, always a rare treat for birders. I was lucky enough to see it and get a few good shots...

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Boundary Bay, Delta BC
September 2018 - 2018 Bird #193

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Boundary Bay, Delta BC - September 2018

This rare bird deserves a few more shots:

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Here it is with  the Baird's Sandpiper...


Buff-breasted Sandpiper (top) and Baird's Sandpiper
September 2018


My lat bird of the evening was a more common American Coot...

American Coot - Boundary Bay, Delta BC


Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2 2018 - Lighthouse Marine Park Murre

This post features all the birds seen at this location in September. I visit here every weekend, partially for the cheap gas that's available just across the border. The post is partitioned by the date visited.

September 2, 2018

Only a couple of photos and one movie for this date.

The first is what you see as you pull into the parking lot at the park, gulls and cormorants on the pilings.

Glaucous-winged Gulls & Pelagic Cormorants - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I was lucky on this day to see a Common Murre offshore. The photo adn the movie were taken with my IPhone through my spotting scope at long distance.

Common Murre - Lighthouse Marine Park - Pont Roberts WA
2018 Bird # 191




Most of my other visits to this location will be consolidated into one future post.



Sunday, August 19, 2018

Reifel Bird Sanctuary - August 11, 18 and 19

This post contains the last group of photos taken at Reifel Bird Sanctuary in August.

Saturday August 11

I missed these photos taken on August 11th when I first published this post.

The highlight of the day was seeing this Cooper's Hawk, a medium sized Accipiter, a hawk than primarily hunts small birds. The squared off tail with the black bands are an excellent field mark for this species.


Cooper's Hawk - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

I had good luck in getting a couple of clear shots of the resident Purple Martins outside the sanctuary boundary.


Purple Martins - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

And here's one in flight...
Purple Martin - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

I took a couple of shots of common female ducks as well...

Mallard (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018


Northern Shoveler (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018


Saturday August 18

This day started with a decent shot of a Northern Harrier patrolling the outer perimeter of the Sanctuary.

Northern Harrier - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

This next shot has been cropped to make it look as artistic as possible.

Canada Goose and Dowitchers - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

It's always a treat to see a Cinnamon Teal. In this case it was the elegant female who was putting on a show.

Cinnamon Teal (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

Cinnamon Teal (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

Sunday August 19


This day started with the equally elegant female Wood Duck.

Wood Duck (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

A bit later in the day another female popped up, in this case a Western Tanager. This might be my first sighting of the female of this species.

Western Tanager (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018


Western Tanager (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

Further along in my visit I saw this pair of Sandhill Cranes, looks like a mother and a juvenile to me:

Sandhill Crane - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

Here's another look at a Yellowlegs, I think a Greater...

Greater Yellowlegs - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

And next to last is a female Mallard duck, looking great with this lighting...

Mallard (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018

My last photo of the day was an immature Bald Eagle...

Bald Eagle (Imm) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - August 2018