Monday, April 30, 2018

April Round-up - Queen Elizabeth Park, North Delta backyard and Boundary Bay

This blog covers the rest of April. It was fairly quiet but I got some good shots, especially at home.

April 26 - Queen Elizabeth Park Warblers

I had the day off and decided to chase a rarity in Vancouver, a female Common Grackle. It had been seen around 4th and Alma, and is still appearing on the Rare Bird Alert as I write this in mid-May. I didn't see the Grackle and decided to try my luck at Queen Elizabeth Park.

It took me a while but I finally located a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers near the pitch and putt golf course. 

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) - Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC

There are two predominant races of this species:
  • The western Audubon's race of which the bird above is a member, the yellow chin and the eye crescents are good indicators.
  • The eastern Myrtle race commonly see east of the Rockies, it has a white chin, a white eye line and is less dark around the breast.
There's also some intergrades where the birds have features of both races.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle?) - Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC

This bird has the Myrtle characteristics, but when the photo is blown up there is some yellow on the chin, so it may be an intergrade.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle?) - Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC

This photo was taken about 10 minutes later than the one above, but it might be the same bird. There definitely seems to be some yellow on its chin.

April 28 - Backyard Finches and Boundary Bay

We had a sudden influx of American Goldfinches on this day at the feeder. They temporarily displaced the usual Pine Siskins who hog the feeder.

American Goldfinches and Pins Siskin - Backyard, North Delta BC

American Goldfinches - Backyard, North Delta BC

I was quite happy with the last shot through the window.

April 28 - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Later on that day, I made an evening visit to Boundary Bay to see if there were any interesting shorebirds around. Spring migration is fast moving as the birds are heading north to breed. They stop here to load up on biofilm to fuel the next stage of their journey.

Here's a teal that was reasonably close to shore.

Green-winged Teal - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

There were hundreds (perhaps a couple of thousand) of Dunlin but they were far out on the low tide. I did find some that were closer to the dike and used all the magnification that the Nikon gives me. I believe these are both Dunlin, the top in breeding plumage for sure, the lower looks like a youngster still in Basic plumage.

Dunlin  - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

This bird is a Western Sandpiper in nice breeding plumage.

Western Sandpiper - Boundary Bay, Delta BC
2018 Bird #139

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Last Point Roberts visit in April

I won't put too much text in this post as I've had many visits to Point Roberts and specifically Lighthouse Marine Park. Here's a collection of photos taken on this Saturday morning.

I belive this is the same Loon I've been shooting over the last few months, it seemed to moult into breeding plumage earlier that the others I see here.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

One or more of the Gulls in this photo are California Gulls. You can see the blue legs if you click on the photo to blow it up. The pink legged ones are Glaucous winged Gulls. The California Gulls are 2018 Bird # 138.

California and Glaucous-winged Gulls - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Pelagic Cormorant - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

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

Not sure if this is a family or not.

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

The Red-breasted Mergansers in flight are striking. Female in front.

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

Glaucous-winged Gull (Imm) - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

That's all for this post, next post from Point Roberts will be in May.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Adventures with Chris

I've been posting to a birding site named since 2007 when I met two ladies at Île Bizard in Montreal. They were birdwatching and happened to have similar camera equipment to mine. I asked them if they ever posted their photos and they gave me the name of the website.

The site was started by a fellow named Chris so he could post and share his birding photos. About a year ago Chris moved to the lower Mainland and we've met up a couple of times for birding excursions.

We agreed to meet at Richmond Nature Park, which is close to where he lives.

Richmond Nature Park

While waiting for Chris to arrive, I took a few photos of hummingbirds in the park. The feeders are situated in a location where you can get close-up shots of the hummers in the surrounding bushes.

Rufous Hummingbird - Richmond Nature Park, Richmond BC

And here's a shot of a female:

Rufous Hummingbird (F) - Richmond Nature Park, Richmond BC

Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts

Since I post photos from this site all the time, I figured I should show it to Chris. There wasn't much going on in the water other than this Loon, now in full breeding plumage.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I was a bit disappointed, but Chris suggested we take a look at a small woodlot just in from the shore. We hit the jackpot there, starting with this common sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

We heard a high pitched call and Chris suggested Warbler. It sounded familiar to me and I thought it was an Orange-crowned Warbler. I was right!

Orange-crowned Warbler - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA
2018 Bird #136

This photo catches a bit of the Orange crown, usually difficult to see.

And here's a short movie of it singing.

There was also a Yellow-Rumped Warbler present which I only caught as it flew away from us.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon Race)  - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Suddenly a loud call broke out, familiar to me but unusual to Chris. It was a chattering Bewick's wren. Although this is a backyard bird for me, this was my first good photo for the year.

Bewick's Wren - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

And here's a movie of the loud call:

We left the park and went up to Lily Point on the east side of the point. It was a nice walk, but we saw no birds to speak of.

Brunswick Point, Ladner

I thought that this would be another good spot to show Chris and it turned out pretty well. While driving there, Chris spotted a small raptor at the side of the road.  We stopped and it flushed. It was an American Kestrel,  I got this shot as it sped away.

American Kestrel - 33a Ave, Ladner BC

We parked and walked in on the dike along the point. We heard some activity off to our left and we made our way into a wooded area, a place I'd seen my first Barn owl back in the 90's.

The activity was caused by Ruby-crowned Kinglets. We both started snapping shots as the birds flitted around.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Brunswick Point, Ladner BC

I got the shot below which shows the ruby crown just a bit.

Chris got a much better shot of the Ruby crown which can be seen here:

It wouldn't be South Delta (or Ladner) without an Eagle flying overhead.

Bald Eagle - Brunswick Point, Ladner BC

I got one more shot away at the Kinglet:

We continued along the dike. It's a really good spot for Harriers as there's a large grassland area for rodents, and there's always a good breeze for gliding. I love the look of the male Northern Harrier, completely different from the mostly brown and larger female.

Northern Harrier - Brunswick Point, Ladner BC

On our way back we encountered a Killdeer on the path, it was not too concerned about our presence.

Killdeer - Brunswick Point, Ladner BC

And last, but not least, we saw a Barn Swallow, my first of the year. A sure sign of spring!

Barn Swallow - Brunswick Point, Ladner BC - 2018 Bird #137

I drove Chris back to Richmond. We'd had a great day together.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Saturday at Point Roberts and Blackie Spit

Point Roberts

There had been reports of a Herring run at Point Roberts on Thursday and Friday. This usually causes a feeding frenzy with ducks, Brant geese and gulls massing close to shore. I missed that excitement, but there were good numbers of birds still around on Saturday morning.

Normally you can see Red-breasted Merganser but not too close to shore. Today they were well within camera range, including this male.

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

The male met up with its mate and I had the good luck to get this shot. I was using the Nikon in single shot mode and happened to click at just the right time.

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

There are always Harlequin Ducks here from fall to spring, but the numbers today were unusually high. I counted 22 males and females in a small area.

Here's a few shots of their antics.

Harlequin Duck - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

It may be the case that they are paring up as they get ready to head inland for breeding season.

Another signature bird at Point Roberts is the Pelagic Cormorant. In the winter it's hard to identify them, but in spring the telltale white patch on the rump is obvious.

Pelagic Cormorant - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Surf Scoters are also seen in numbers here. I keep looking for the occasional Black Scoter in the mix but have not seen one here yet.

Surf Scoter - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

After leaving the park I drove around Point Roberts and got my first Savannah Sparrow photos for the year. I'd seen one in the Okanagan the week before, but only through a scope.

Savannah Sparrow - Point Roberts, Wa

I took this very short movie of one calling.

Blackie Spit, Surrey

There wa a rare bird alert for a Vesper Sparrow at Blackie Spit at Crescent Beach in Surrey. I diverted there to see if I could get lucky.

Upon arrival I met a junior birder and his father and they had seen the bird in the last 15 - 20 minutes. We did relocate the bird and I got some shots of it. It wa a year bird for me.

Vesper Sparrow - Blackie Spit, Surrey BC - 2018 Bird #135

We also briefly saw an Anna's Hummingbird - nice to get them away from feeders.

Anna's Hummingbird - Blackie Spit, Surrey BC 

That ended Saturday, Sunday would be an awesome day of birding as well.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter Weekend Part 4 - Richmond Nature Park and Crossbills!

I detailed my attempts to see the long-staying White-winged Crossbills in south Richmond in earlier posts in March. I actually did see them (see March 25 post) but had no time for a photo.

According to the rare bird alert, the Crossbills had been relocated at a garden shop across from the Richmond Nature Park. They'd travelled a few kilometers from near the Fraser River to central Richmond.

I arrived at the site in the morning and looked for them. There were none present, so I decided to see if they were in the Nature Park. I did not see them but had a good look at my first Purple Finch of the year.

Purple Finch - Richmond Nature Park, Richmond BC - 2018 Bird #99

Overhead in the trees was a Mourning Dove, another first for the year and #100.

Mourning Dove - Richmond Nature Park, Richmond BC
2018 Bird #100

Another birder had joined me and was heading across the street to see if the Crossbills had shown up. I asked him to text me if he saw them and he agreed to do so.

Richmond Nature Park has numerous nectar feeders which attract Hummingbirds and photographers. It's in a bushy area with opportunities to catch the hummers perching on branches.

A female Rufous Hummingbird appeared, another first for the year.

Rufous Hummingbird (F) - Richmond Nature Park, Richmond BC - 2018 Bird #101

As I was watching a squirrel in one of the caged off feeders my phone buzzed. The Crossbills had shown up.

Douglas Squirrel - Richmond Nature Park, Richmond BC

I hurried across the road and joined the fellow. The birds were quite high up, so it was difficult to get a clear shot of them at first.

White-winged Crossbill - Westminster Hwy, Richmond BC

They were feeding on the seeds in the large cones with gusto. This shot shows the white crossbars on the wing.

The females have less gaudy colouring but are still quite attractive.

This close-up shows how they got their name.

This winter is unusual with the number of White-winged Crossbills that have shown up in the Vancouver area. We more frequently see Red Crossbills here, but they were scarce this winter.

However, Crossbills tend to go wherever the cones are abundant, and we seem to have them this year. The other thing about cone abundance, it can spark them to go into a breeding cycle regardless of the time of year.

Interesting Species and great to get my lifer in late 2017 and see them again this year.