Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter Weekend Part 2 - Richmond Snipe and Reifel Arrivals

I have been told by a few different birders that you can regularly see Wilson's Snipe in Richmond at the foot of Steveston Highway, west of #1 road. I arrived around 9:00 AM on this Saturday morning to see vehicles and people everywhere in the area. It turned out that a film crew was on site. The dyke was still open to the public and I started looking for the Snipe.Thanks to a helpful lady, I eventually saw them.

They come to this location to sleep during the day before resuming hunting around dusk. They were about 50 meters out and blended well with the long grass, so the pictures are not great.

Wilson's Snipe - Steveston Highway, Richmond BC - 2018 Bird # 93

From here I moved on and decided to visit Reifel Bird Sanctuary. It would be busy on a Saturday, but I figured there were many birds migrating in that might be seen there.

Upon arrival I saw Tree Swallows, already busy in the nest boxes.

Tree Swallow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

I love the eyes in this shot:

The Golden-crowned Sparrows are quickly moulting into alternate plumage. Many of them head further north for breeding activity.

Golden-crowned Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Fox Sparrows are year round residents and there seems to be an upsurge in their numbers. I met a woman who conducts regular surveys at the Sanctuary and she confirmed that assumption.

Fox Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Also present in good numbers were Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I was not able to catch a shot of their crown on this visit.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - 2018 Bird #94

Always photogenic are the Spotted Towhees, this one looks a bit ticked off about something.

Spotted Towhee - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Another first for the year was a Yellow-rumped Warbler. The yellow and blue Audubon's race is the most predominant here, but you can get lucky and see a Myrtle with the white throat occasionally.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC
2018 Bird #95

We have Downy Woodpeckers year round on the west coast, it's always nice to see them.

Downy Woodpecker - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Here's a movie of the bird drumming, advertising for a mate.

Another Reifel must-see are the Sandhill Cranes. They intermingle with the multitude of visitors and there don't seem to be many incidents. In breeding season the congregate in an area that's closed to the public.

Sandhill Crane - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Here's a brief movie of these two:

One reason I chose Reifel on this day was I had not seen any Gadwall Ducks yet in 2018. Today was my lucky day. These are an elegant duck with subtle colouring. The male is on the left and the female on the right.

Gadwall - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC - 2018 Bird #96

Another pair of lovebirds were close by, a male and female Northern Shoveler. 

Northern Shoveler - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Finally one of my best photos of the year, a female Northern Pintail in beautiful light. I like this one so much I submitted it to the Sanctuary manager as a candidate for cover photo for their bi-monthly magazine. We'll see if it makes the cut!

Northern Pintail - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

So ended day 2 of the 4 day Easter long weekend. The weather would not be quite as nice for the last two days, but there'd be some photos coming for that.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter Weekend Part 1 - Iona Regional Park

The four day Easter long weekend allows me to bird at a more reasonable pace than normal. On the Friday I only visited one location - Iona Regional Park in Richmond. A Say's Phoebe had been reported for a few days, hanging out by the washroom off the parking lot.

Say's Phoebe - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2018 Bird # 91

I'd seen a Phoebe in that area last year on April 1st, so perhaps it could be the same one. Upon arrival, it only took a few minutes to locate the birders and the bird. The Phoebe is more commonly seen in the Okanagan area, but the Iona foreshore has similar habitat.

The bird was actively feeding, making it hard to get in too close. This next shot is quite zoomed in, but a bit fuzzy.

I met up with some other birders I knew and we decided to see what was going on in the sewage ponds. The first birds we saw were Tree Swallows, already busy using the nesting boxes.

Tree Swallow - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2018 Bird # 92

There were lots of ducks in the ponds, but nothing we hadn't seen all winter. We left that area and looked at one of the larger outer ponds. There were some Turtles relaxing in the sun. There's actually three in this shot, one is background left.

Western Painted Turtle - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC 

I got one more shot of a Tree Swallow and headed home. Tomorrow I'd visit Richmond and Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Saturday Wanderings

Richmond Girl Guide Camp

I started this day by travelling to Richmond in Hopes of seeing the White-winged Crossbills that had been seen at the south end of Railway Avenue near the Fraser River.

But first, I stopped at the Girl Guide camp where I'd seen the Blue Jay in hopes of finding a Mourning Dove. I'd seen one there last December. I had no luck with either the Blue Jay or the Dove, but took a couple of good shots of other birds at the location.

This is a good spot to see Fox Sparrow close-up.

Fox Sparrow - Woodward Landing, Girl Guide Camp, Richmond BC

It's also easy to see Steller's Jays here.

And here's a profile of a Jay:

Steller's Jay - Woodward Landing, Girl Guide Camp, Richmond BC

And finally a Towhee:

Spotted Towhee - Woodward Landing, Girl Guide Camp, Richmond BC

I spent some time at the Railway Avenue location but saw no Crossbills. I had an errand to run in New Westminster, and then headed east to check out Colony Farm Regional Park in Coquitlam.

Coquitlam - Colony Farm Regional Park

It was raining lightly, but I completed a full circuit of the park. There was very little bird activity other than a couple of Hooded Mergansers. First a movie of a female:

And here she is in profile:

Hooded Merganser (F) - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

And one shot of the showy male:

Hooded Merganser - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Delta - Boundary Bay

I returned to Delta and had time for a short visit to Boundary Bay. 

It was too early for high tide, so I concentrated on the birds along the dyke.

House Finch - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Song Sparrow - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Song Sparrow - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

A Harrier flew over my head hunting for its next meal.

Northern Harrier - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

There were some Green-winged Teal offshore.

Green-winged Teal - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

The Long-eared Owl was in its usual location (which I won't reveal here).

Long-eared Owl - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

The Owl appeared to be awake, so I took one more shot and left.

On my way home I saw my first year bird of the day, a Brewer's Blackbird.

Brewer's Blackbird - Delta BC - 2018 Bird #89

Sunday, March 18, 2018

More Variety at Lighthouse Marine Park

Sunday morning at Point Roberts produced another new bird for the year. It was an overcast day as the photo below shows. The high winds earlier in the year had brought a lot of driftwood onshore.

The day started out with some of the usual suspects in the water close to the shoreline.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

The Harlequin Ducks won't be here much longer, they will be heading inland to the mountains to breed.

Harlequin Duck - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

The female Red-breasted Mergansers were also in camera range.

Red-breasted Merganser (F) - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

On the shore I caught a glimpse of some small shorebirds in the rocks, my first view of Sanderling for the year.

Sanderling - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA
2018 Bird #86

Here's a short movie of one moving around the rocks.

I got some nice shots of them close up.

A related but different looking sandpiper put in a appearance with the Sanderling.

Black Turnstone and Sanderling - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Back in the ocean a Common Loon was wrestling with a catch.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Here's a rare shot of a male and female Merganser together.

Red-breasted Merganser - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

And finally a few shots of a group of Harlequin Ducks.

Harlequin Ducks Sanderling - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

It was another productive day at Point Roberts.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday Morning Point Roberts

If you read this blog you know I visit Point Roberts a lot. Part of it has to do with cheap gas, but the major attraction is the variety of birds on display at Lighthouse Marine Park. If you compare this post to other recent ones, you'll notice this blog has a different set of birds from the last one.

I started the morning with a sighting of a Sea Lion fairly close to shore.

Steller's Sea Lion - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

The featured birds today were a flock of Brant even closer to shore. I'm not sure why these geese have a singular name, sometimes they are called Black Brant. They frequent coastal salt water bays and always appear in numbers. Up close they are very distinctive. THis photo sequence was taken in less than a second as this pair navigate the waves.

Brant - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Brant feed on eel grass and seaweed as you can see below.

Brant - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

This short movie shows them in action:

After watching the Brant for a while, I noticed a pair of Black Oystercatchers on the rocky shore. I normally see them on the Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty rather than at Point Roberts.

Black Oystercatcher - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

It's easy to see how they could crack Oyster shells with those beaks.

A bird I do see here frequently is the Red-breasted Merganser. However, it's usually only the females. Today the more colourful males were also present. 

Red-breasted Merganser - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I assume the one in the background is skimming for food in the shallow water. In the video below there are two females doing the same thing.

I left the park and made my way up to Lilly Point. I'd had some luck there in year's past with Pacific Wren, but it was too early in the year for such birds to be present.

This shot shows the terrain at this elevated location on the Point.

I made my way back to Canada and decided to try my luck at Brunswick Point in South Delta. That's detailed in the subsequent post.