Sunday, May 27, 2018

Last Outing in May

This Saturday was a mixed bag with a few birds from three different locations.

Point Roberts

This visit was primarily for gas, but I took some time to visit Lighthouse Marine Park. Late spring and Summer are the least active periods for this location.

I checked out the grassy area around the auxiliary campground and took a couple of good shots of this bird.

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

Offshore I spotted a Pacific Loon that was in photographic range. I just love the look of this bird.

Pacific Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Vancouver rarity in Kitsilano

Since early May there has been a rare bird alert for a female Great-tailed Grackle in Vancouver near West 4th and Alma. This is a bird normally seen in the southwestern US and as far north as Oregon. It has been on the alert since early May and is seen regularly.

I made one trip out there on a day off, but did not see the bird. Now, the bird alert had been updated with a specific location. It was frequently seen in a fenced-off vacant lot at 4th and Highbury. I fought my way through traffic and found a parking spot. It was a brief walk to the location and then: no bird!

Of course this is my usual luck. I walked a few blocks up Highbury and looked into the Jericho army lands, then returned to the empty lot. Still no bird. 

I noticed there was a BC Liquor store in the mall next to the location and went in to purchase wine for Sunday dinner. About 15 minutes later, I returned and there was the bird!

It was only 4 meters away, but there was a mesh fence in between. I was able to use the Nikon to zoom in through the mesh and take a few good shots.

Great-tailed Grackle (F) - Vancouver BC - 2018 Bird #151

This was not a lifer for me, I had seen them in Arizona in 2008 and Texas in 2010. Still a great sighting for Vancouver.

Iona Sewage Ponds in Richmond

I decided to make one more stop on the way home and Iona was about the most convenient place to visit. It was very busy and there were no birds to be seen on the foreshore. I decided the Inner Sewage ponds were my best bet.

Even here it was quiet, two of the four ponds had been drained for maintenance. There were some blackbirds hanging around.

Red-winged Blackbird - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - May 2018

I heard and then saw a Killdeer along the path, I soon realized there were three of them. To protect their nests they will feign a wing injury and attempt to lead you away. They will usually stay 8 - 10 feet in front. 

This one blends in well with the path.

Killdeer - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

When I had entered the area I had heard a high-pitched call of a sandpiper, but had been unable to spot the bird. Upon my return I did see and identify it. Th first facing away shows a little bit of the spots on the underbelly.

Spotted Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2018 Bird #152

The next show is much better. It's great to see them in their breeding plumage as it shows how they got their name. In Fall, when they are returning from the North, they have no spots at all.

Spotted Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

It took a lot of driving, but the day had been worth it for the Loon, the Grackle and the Sandpiper.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Colony Farms in Coquitlam - Part 2 on Monday

On the holiday Monday I decided to return to Colony Park. My primary reason was to find a Lazuli Bunting. Also, I hadn't visited the east side of the park the previous day and that was where both Eastern and Western Kingbirds had been reported.

This is the view looking north towards the mountains from the parking area by the community gardens.

Once again, the first bird I saw and heard was a male Black-headed Grosbeak. He was singing to declare his territory and attract a mate.

Black-headed Grosbeak - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Another bird was singing nearby, a Song Sparrow with a nice background.

Song Sparrow - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

A small hawk flew by and I snapped off one quick picture. I thought it was either a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk. I met up with another birder later and he had seen it too and had seen the tail pattern for a Cooper's Hawk.

Cooper's Hawk (probable) - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

My next sighting was unambiguous, a Wood Duck in one of the water filled ditches along the trail.

Wood Duck - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Also nearby were a pair of Barn Swallows, taking a rest from hunting.

Barn Swallows - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

I heard a Common Yellowthroat singing nearby and got one clear shot of it with the Canon. The black face on this bird plays havoc with the camera's exposure settings.

Common Yellowthroat - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

I had reached the Duck pond by this time and was hoping there might be a Cinnamon Teal there. I got a great shot of one at this location last year. There was no Teal, but there was an active Pied-billed Grebe nearby. 

Pied-billed Grebe - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Luckily for the Grebe, and unluckily for a poor frog, it had captured lunch.

There are always Red-winged Blackbirds around the Duck Pond.

Red-winged Blackbird - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Another spring visitor was also around the pond:

Cedar Waxwing - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

I heard and got a nice shot of a singing Marsh Wren.

Marsh Wren - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

I made my way back to the trail along the Coquitlam River. This was the area where the Kingbirds had been seen. Just after arriving, an Eastern Kingbird flew in. The Kingbirds are large members of the Flycatcher family. They are more commonly seen in the Okanagan and further east, but Colony farm gets a few of each species most years.

Eastern Kingbird - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC - 2018 Bird #148

Also in the area was the more colourful Western Kingbird. It was father away and didn't stay in one place for long. It was difficult to get a good shot.

Western Kingbird - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC - 2018 Bird #149

As reported in the previous day's blog, there were a number of male Rufous Hummingbirds in the park. They seem to like sitting in a conspicuous spot.

Rufous Hummingbird - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

The Eastern Kingbird was hanging around, whereas the Western had disappeared. Here it is coming in for a landing on a low branch.

Eastern Kingbird Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

I made my way back to the community gardens and ran into a birder who was going out to look for the Kingbirds. I asked him about the Lazuli Bunting and he directed us to an area by the parking lot.

We made our way there and the bird showed up in 5 - 10 minutes. I saw it with my binoculars, but couldn't locate it with the camera. The other birder got some good shots and left. The bird appeared again 15 minutes later and once again I could not get a shot.

In the meantime a Willow Flycatcher was singing nearby and it was much easier to see.

Willow Flycatcher Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC - 2018 Bird #150

The Bunting came back again and this time I was able to locate it and get some shots. Since I'd seen it earlier, it was bird #149 for 2018.

Lazuli Bunting Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC - 2018 Bird #149

Lazuli Bunting - Colony Farms Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

This was a nice bird to end my weekend, I added seven new species for 2018 over the Sunday and Monday.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Colony Farms in Coquitlam - Part 1 on Sunday

I always plan a visit here sometime in the last half of May. It's a great place to see a number of spring migrants in this time period. This post details my visit on Sunday, I came back on the holiday Monday for more.

There is a small parking area just after the entrance that allows you to walk north parallel to Highway 7B. You're guaranteed to see and hear singing Black-headed Grosbeaks along the Munday Creek trail. Today was no exception.

Black-headed Grosbeak - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC - 2018 Bird #145

I also saw a group of Cedar Waxwings, they pop up all over the park at this time of year.

Cedar Waxwing - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

I made the turn onto the Wilson Farm Dyke trail and saw my first Western Tanager of the year. This is one of my favourites to see with the mix of Yellow and Black colours plus the orange/red on the head area.

Western Tanager - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC - 2018 Bird #146

Further on the same trail I caught a brief glimpse of a Yellow Warbler. This would be my only sighting of that species on this weekend.

Yellow Warbler - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC - 2018 Bird #147

At this time of year it's common to see male Rufous Hummingbirds out in the open away from the nectar feeders.  I assume they are feeding on insects and probably getting nectar from flowering plants. They don't participate in rearing the young, they are free agents at this stage.

Rufous Hummingbird - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Not to be oudone, the Anna's hummingbirds deserve equal time.

Anna's Hummingbird - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

It's terrible to see discarded items in a wildlife refuge, but i guess this Mallard mom and her chicks disagree with this sentiment.

Mallards - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Here's a shot of a Red-tailed Hawk flying over, I was able to get a couple of shots away as it went.

Red-tailed Hawk - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

The Coquitlam River bisects the park. It's higher than normal, but not likely to flood.

Coquitlam River - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

Finally, there had been a report of a Solitary Sandpiper at Blackburn Lagoons Park in Port Coquitlam. This is a brand new park that features three lagoons surrounded by walking trails. It had only been open for a  couple of weeks.

I didn't see the Sandpiper, but got a nice shot of a Killdeer. I also had the opportunity to educate some visitors on what kind of bird it was and detail some of its behaviours.

Killdeer - Blackburn Lagoons Park, Port Coquitlam BC

Monday, May 14, 2018

Monday visit to Boundary Bay

I noticed on the BC Rare Bird alert that there had been a Pacific Golden Plover seen at 96 St on Boundary Bay. I've seen this bird in Basic (non-breeding) plumage in years past, but never in Alternate (breeding) plumage.

There were some logistical issues involved as there is no parking allowed around 96 St. The only allowed location is 104 St. and it's about a 2 Km walk with gear. I had Edith come with me and dropped a car off at 104 St and then she drove me to 96 St.

One of the birds seen as I walked in was a Common Yellowthroat. As always, this warbler was very wary and I only got a poor shot if it hidden in the underbrush.

Common Yellowthroat - 96 St. Boundary Bay, Delta BC

The location where all the birds and birders gather is actually west of 96 St at a place known as "The Mansion". This is a large house that is gated off from visitors, it's also where a sewage outfall runs into Boundary Bay.

I did see some plovers, but alas, they were the common Black-bellied Plovers, still lovely in Alternate plumage. As a bonus, there were a pair of Gadwall ducks in the shot as well.

Black-bellied Plovers and Gadwall -  96 St. Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Here's a close-up of the Plovers, the Pacific have a rich golden crown. The more common Black-bellied Plovers have the creamy white crown. 

Black-bellied Plovers -  96 St. Boundary Bay, Delta BC

It was near high tide and there were a good collection of birds in the area. One species I had not yet seen this year were Blue-winged Teal. I wasn't able to get too close, but this shot turned out well enough for certain identification.

Blue-winged Teal  96 St. Boundary Bay, Delta BC = 2018 Bird #143

I gave up on seeing the Pacific Golden Plovers and started the long walk back to 104 St. Right at 96 St I spotted a number of large shorebirds with down-curved bills. I think I counted nine Whimbrel. The were about 100 meters away, so this is not too sharp.

Whimbrel -  96 St. Boundary Bay, Delta BC - 2018 Bird #144

These were the last birds seen on this outing. I did take a couple of scenery shots on the way back to my car. First looking south into Boundary Bay.

Boundary Bay, Delta BC 

Here's a shot looking north towards Delta and Surrey.

Tuesday evening Barred Owl Visit

The next evening we had a Barred Owl in our backyard. We could hear it, but it was impossible to see in the dark. The video below catches the call just near the end.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Point Roberts winding down - Reifel nesting time

This Sunday visit provided a contrast between the two locations in the title. Point Roberts bird diversity is dwindling as summer approaches while Reifel Bird Sanctuary is in mating season.

I'm going to Point Roberts now mainly for cheap gas, but I still check out Lighthouse Marine Park. There's still a few Harlequin Ducks around, they should be moving inland for nesting soon.

Harlequin Ducks - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

When I took this photo I didn't see the second bird in the background, this was one of five shots taken in a second or two.

Pelagic Cormorants - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I crossed back to Canada and headed for Ladner and Reifel Bird Sanctuary. On my way I saw this House Finch and was able to stop and take a couple of photos and a movie out my window. Fortunately, the farm roads in Ladner are not that busy.

House Finch - Ladner BC

I arrived at Reifel early enough to dodge the crowds and walked the outside perimeter of the park hoping to see some shorebirds. There were the usual Long-billed Dowitchers, but they were too far away for a good photo. There were Marsh Wrens calling from the cattails, but they were hard to spot.

I finally got lucky and had one pop up nearby.

Marsh Wren - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Here's a short movie of one singing just as it slips back into the reeds.

I started heading back and passed by "Crane Island". This is a small island in one of the ponds where the breeding pair of Sandhill Cranes attempt to produce offspring each year. There have been more failures than successes, but they persevere. 

This is likely the female on an egg, with the goose just waiting for a moment of carelessness. 

Canada Goose and Sandhill Crane - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Over on the shore another Crane is keeping an eye on matters. I assume it's the mate of the female.

Sandhill Crane - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

This wrapped up my weekend, I'd make a special outing to Boundary Bay on the Monday evening in the next post.