Saturday, November 24, 2018

November 24 Part 2 - Brunswick Point

Brunswick Point is in western Ladner, south of Westham Island. It has a mix of farms and open foreshore. I headed west after crossing the bridge and parked in one of the spaces provided for visitors.

This shot shows the foreshore area.

I met up with a few other photographers and joined them for a while. They were there primarily to find and photograph Short-eared Owls.

The first bird spotted was a Northern Harrier, an active huter during the day.

Northern Harrier - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

Eventually a Short-eared Owl showed up and had some skirmishes with the Harrier.

Short-eared Owl and Northern Harrier - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

I have to admit I was seriously out-gunned by the other photographers. They had bigger lenses and much more expensive camera bodies. I'm sure they were getting better shots than the ones I took. But they were not really interested in anything other than the Owls. 

At one point I heard a familiar song more commonly heard in the Okanagan in springtime. It was a Western Meadowlark!

I was aware that they wintered in Delta, but did not expect to hear one sing. I tried to get a video of it singing but the bird was downwind from me and the recording did not turn out. However I did get a nice photo...

Western Meadowlark - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

I spotted another bird nearby. It was my second Northern Shrike of the day. These photos are better than the one I took at Reifel.

Northern Shrike - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

The Shrike appeared to be hovering here, but I could not find any reference that states that they can do this. I guess it's just the timing of this photo.

Northern Shrike - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

It appears to have spotted some prey and took off...

Northern Shrike - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

At this time of year there are thousands of Snow Geese resident in the Lower Mainland, many of them in Delta. There had been some noise coming from the Deltaport dock area, but suddenly it reached a crescendo. You can hear the high-powered cameras clicking away in the background...

Here's a photo that shows the numbers.

Snow Geese - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

This ended a very good day of birding at Reifel Bird Sanctuary and Brunswick Point.

November 24 Part 1 - Westham Island and Reifel Bird Sanctuary

After a soggy Thursday, the weather was much better on the last Saturday in November. I decided to take advantage of the good light and visit Reifel Bird Sanctuary. I was also thinking of visiting the nearby Brunswick Point later in the day.

Just after I crossed the Westham Island bridge, I spotted a raptor on a power pole alongside the road. I was able to pull over off the road and get some shots through the windshield with the Nikon. The bird turned out to be a Peregrine Falcon!

Peregrine Falcon - Westham Island, Delta BC

I zoomed in closer and had the feeling that the Falcon was looking at me.

Peregrine Falcon - Westham Island, Delta BC

I carried on the the Sanctuary used the Nikon to shoot a couple of movies featuring some common birds seen here.

First was some Mallards:

Next were some Black-capped Chickadees that seemed to be materializing in a spot where some bird seed had spilled.

Staying with the common birds, I took a couple of portraits of Song and Fox Sparrows.

Song Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Fox Sparrow- Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

And here's a close relative, the Spotted Towhee...

Spotted Towhee - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

I had reached the North Dyke trail which has a good view of the Purple Martin boxes out beyond the Sanctuary boundaries. Of course, all the Martins have migrated south by this time of year.

Near the viewing tower I took this photo of a woman hand feeding a Sandhill Crane. This seems like a dangerous practice to me as a good peck could pierce the skin. Feeding cranes  is illegal in Florida. 

Sandhill Crane - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

I continued along the West Dyke trail and spotted my second bird predator of the day, a Northern Shrike.You can see the hook on the bill, good for ripping a songbird open.

Northern Shrike - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Far off in the distance I spotted what looked like a Raptor on a tree stump. I zoomed the Nikon out to maximum and took this shot. When I looked at it on the computer at home, I realized it was another Peregrine Falcon...or perhaps the same one as earlier?

Peregrine Falcon - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

On my return to the entrance of the Sanctuary, I took this shot of a pair of House Sparrows. Fon an invasive species, they are pretty darn attractive. The female is on the left.

House Sparrows - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

The last bird for this visit was the ever-elusive Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

My birding day was not over, I decided to visit the nearby Brunswick Point back on the mainland side of the bridge. That's detailed in the next post.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

November 22 - Boundary Bay Raptors on US Thanksgiving

This Thursday was the American Thanksgiving and I decided to take the day off to watch football and get out for some birding. It was a rainy day, so I limited myself to a morning visit to Boundary Bay.

I parked at 72 St and made my way north hoping to see some Owls and Raptors. There were no Owls on view on this day, but there were a couple of Raptors.

There is an electrical compound north of 72 St that often features a Rough-legged Hawk. Today was no exception. The rain was coming down hard at this point and the Hawk did not look happy.

Rough-legged Hawk - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Here's a zoomed in shot using the Nikon.

Rough-legged Hawk - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

The only other bird seen on this soggy morning was a Harrier.

Northern Harrier - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

I took one last shot of the Hawk and headed home to watch football.

Rough-legged Hawk - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Sunday, November 18, 2018

November 18 - Rare Bird in Tsawwassen - visit to Blackie Spit

This is actually the second post for this date. I visited Point Roberts earlier in the day as detailed in my November post for that location.

Ruff at Beach Grove Lagoon

There had been a rare bird alert for over a week for a Ruff in Tsawwassen at Beach Grove Lagoon. This is an Eurasian bird that shows up occasionally on the West Coast. I saw my lifer in 2014 at Reifel Bird Sanctuary.

The alert specifically said it was a male, but that is a bit redundant as the female is known as a Reeve. However, in winter plumage the males and females are similar, although the males are quite a bit larger when seen together.

In breeding plumage, they are easy to distinguish. I suggest the reader use a Google search or Wikipedia to see what a male Ruff looks like in breeding season. I'm reluctant to violate copyright by posting an image here.

This was my second attempt to see the bird, the previous weekend it was present but hidden out of photo range. This week I was luckier and took a few acceptable shots.

Ruff - Beach Grove Lagoon - Tsawwassen BC
2018 Bird #199

In winter plumage, the Ruff is similar to our Yellowlegs and tends to associate with them. It has a shorter and darker bill than that species.

It also blends in very well with the background vegetation, making photography difficult from a distance.

Ruff - Beach Grove Lagoon - Tsawwassen BC

Blackie Spit

After seeing the Ruff, I headed east and then south to visit Blackie Spit near Crescent Beach. It was a nice afternoon with good light, but there was not much bird life to photograph.

There were quite a few Northern Pintail Ducks on the ponds.

Northern Pintail - Blackie Spit, Surrey BC

I'm sure I've photographed Cormorants on these pilings in the past.

Double-crested Cormorant - Blackie Spit, Surrey BC

Double-crested Cormorant - Blackie Spit, Surrey BC

This was the last stop for the day, the Ruff was definitely the highlight.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

November 11 - White Rock Pier and Backyard Birds

I had not planned to post my photos from this visit to the White Rock Pier as the birds were scarce on this day. But given the events on December 20 where the pier was severely damaged by a historic windstorm, I changed my mind.

I have a running joke with my golf buddies that after I visit a place, there is a chance that disaster will happen. This started in 1989 when we visited San Francisco about a month before the
big earthquake.

Here's a picture taken from the White Rock Pier in 2012:

Getting back to November 11, the only birds I saw were these Surf Scoters.

Surf Scoters - off White Rock Pier, White Rock BC

From the end of the pier someone pointed out a man and his dog out on the water on a paddle board. He thought it was animal cruelty, but the dog did not seem to mind being out there.

I also took this fuzzy photo of the passenger train to Seattle. We hear it as it goes through Burns Bog down below us.

Backyard Birds

Upon returning home, I decided to take advantage of the good light and try to capture some shots of birds in our yard and at the feeder. This junco was on a stair rail in plain sight.

Dark-eyed Junco - Backyard, North Delta BC

I took out the screen from one of our sunroom windows and leaned out to get these shots.

Dark-eyed Junco - Backyard, North Delta BC

We have a resident Downy Woodpecker (or maybe a pair) and we can see them every day of the year.

Downy Woodpecker - Backyard, North Delta BC

They seem to like the bird seed as much as the smaller finches and sparrows do.

                                 Downy Woodpecker - Backyard, North Delta BC

That was the end of the day, nice to get a couple of good shots at home.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November 4 - Arrival of the Snow Geese

While reviewing my choices for the Best of 2018 post, I noticed I'd missed this day when I caught up on my November posts.

I can't say this is the day that the Snow Geese arrived from the north, but it was the first day I saw them in numbers. Just after I crossed the Westham Island bridge, I saw many geese in a farmer's field.

Snow Geese - Westham Island, Delta BC

They were clustered close together and can do significant damage to crops. The farmers do put in winter cover crops to assist feeding the geese and protecting the fields.

Snow Geese - Westham Island, Delta BC

The darker coloured goose in the foreground is an immature first year bird.

Snow Geese - Westham Island, Delta BC

When I reached Reifel, I saw another new arrival since my last visit, a Black-crowned Night Heron. Each winter, six to eight of these birds stay over until spring. It is believed that they come from nesting areas on the Columbia River in Oregon or southern Washington.

The birds are out in the open but always manage to look inconspicuous as they sleep during the day. I was lucky to shoot this bird with an eye open.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Right out in the open are the Wood Ducks, quite often on tree branches just above eye level.

Wood Duck - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

The next photo is a happy accident, a Chickadee with its tongue showing. This is quite a rarity to see. There appears to be a seed under the tongue.

Black-capped Chickadee - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

The next bird is a repeat of the first bird I saw in 2018, a Harris's Sparrow. In the summer they are up in the Northwest Territories on their breeding grounds. In late Fall or Winter, they occasionally show up on the west coast. 

Harris' Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

In breeding plumage, this sparrow has a black face and cap, quite different from the look here.

Two more shots to round out this post, the first shows a group of Yellowlegs, probably Greater.

Greater Yellowlegs - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

And finally a shot of a Northern Pintail doing some preening...

Northern Pintail - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Saturday, November 3, 2018

November - Point Roberts

At the risk of being repetitive, I'll start November off with all my shots from Lighthouse Marine Park for the month. The rest of the month's posts will detail other sites I've visited as I tried to diversify this month.

November 3

Just a couple of worthy shots on this day. The first one shows a pair of Surf Scoters. The colourful male is on the left with the female trailing.

Surf Scoters - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

The next shot is not as sharp as I'd like, but it does show the white patterns on the back and underside of the Red-breasted Merganser.

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

November 12

Point Roberts is quite close to Tsawwassen and it's not unusual to see ferries heading for Vancouver Island. The rush for the cafeteria seats is over and the winners are probably enjoying their lunch.

Speaking of lunch, this Horned Grebe has captured its midday meal. They are very successful here. I have similar photos from other recent visits. I believe one of  the common fish species here are Sculpin.

Horned Grebe - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Farther offshore are bigger hunters, the Steller's Sea Lion.

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

This merganser was close enough to shore to get a close-up shot. This is likely a female, but immature males are similar in appearance.

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

As mentioned in other posts, there seem to be House Finches here in good numbers, even in November.

House Finch - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

And finally on this day, I got an interesting shot of a Pelagic Cormorant looking right into the camera. It's interesting how rounded their head appears looking straight on at them.

Pelagic Cormorant - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

November 18

The last post of the month from this location. Here's a close shot of a Common Loon when it came close to the shoreline.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

There are a few resident Bald Eagles here, but I see them infrequently. 

Bald Eagle - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

The pair flew away, their wing beats seemed to be in unison.

Bald Eagle - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

These Pelagic Cormorants are not quite as synchronized. The  nearby Double-crested Cormorant is not interested in joining them.

Pelagic Cormorants and Double-crested Cormorant
Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

That's it for Point Roberts for the month, there will be another post or two for December.