Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve in Pitt Meadows and Tsawwassen

On the last day of the year I was trying to add one or two more birds to my 2018 total. There were two options according to the BC Rare Bird Alert:

  1. Snow Buntings had been seen at the Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty for the last couple of weeks.
  2. There was a report for a Prairie Falcon in Pitt Meadows. It was possibly the same one I'd see there in February 2017 as per this post.
    Family Day Weekend Part 3 - Falcon good day in Pitt Meadows

I elected to try Pitt Meadows first and go to the Ferry Terminal if time permitted.

Pitt Meadows

After driving around looking unsuccessfully for the Falcon, I decided to try the Trans Canada Trail along the Alouette River. There might be a chance sighting of the Falcon along the trail.

As soon as I reached the dike, I heard the familiar song of a Meadowlark across the river. I took this long distance shot.

Western Meadowlark - Pitt Meadows, BC

A bit later, I saw something large swimming up the river. At first I thought it might be a Muskrat, but a quick google search ruled that out. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was a Harbour Seal.

Harbour Seal - Alouette River, Pitt Meadows BC

I found some old news articles that reported that Harbour Seals were coming up the river and disrupting the ecology of the area.

The Common Goldeneye is more appropriate for this river.

Common Goldeneye - Alouette River, Pitt Meadows BC

This Gull was taking it easy in the sunshine.

Glaucous-winged Gull - Alouette River, Pitt Meadows BC

You won't see too many dogs in my posts, but this one was impossible to resist. It was rolling on the pavement, trying to cure an itchy back.

This went on for about a minute and then it resumed its normal posture.

I saw a few Kingfishers while driving around looking for the Falcon. They were on the phone wires scanning the irrigation ditches below.

Belted Kingfisher - Pitt Meadows BC

I always find it interesting that the male is less colourful than the female. The female has some brownish-orange on its breast while these males just have the blue band.

Belted Kingfisher - Pitt Meadows BC

I finally found a falcon shaped bird perched on a tree in a nearby yard, but it was facing away from me. I took a few shots and hoped I could identify it at home. And although I always love to see them, I was disappointed to determine it was likely a Peregrine Falcon.

Peregrine Falcon - Pitt Meadows BC

Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty

I thought it would be a long drive from Pitt Meadows to the ferry terminal, but it went by quickly on the South Fraser perimeter road. There is a pull-out along the causeway where people can park for short sight-seeing stops. 

I went looking for the Snow Buntings but did not see them on the ground or in the air. My trip was not totally wasted as I found some Brant geese there. I always like to see these elegant looking birds with their white feather necklaces.

Brant - Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty - Delta BC

Brant - Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty - Delta BC

So ended my birding adventures in 2018. I'd be at it again on New Year's day, but that will be in a 2019 blog.

I will be posting my Best of 2018 review fairly soon. I'll pick my favourite photos for each month of the year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve at Reifel Bird Sanctuary

With the entire day off and all my Christmas duties fulfilled, I visited Reifel Bird Sanctuary for the last time in 2018. It was a sunny day with good conditions for photography.

There is a long pond or slough alongside the entrance road. This is an excellent spot to see Common Mergansers. These are the biggest and most robust of the three Merganser species seen in North America.

The males are black and white in with a large orange/red bill.

Common Merganser - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

After checking in, I looked to see what the Black-crowned Night Herons were doing. As usual, the were sleeping. Only one was close enough for a photo.

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

A female Wood Duck was posing nicely on a fence rail a bit farther along.

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

Many of the guests here buy bird seed to feed the chickadees, blackbirds and even some of the ducks. This Sandhill Crane is also willing to partake.

Sandhill Crane and Mallards - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

These Cranes look like they're digging for earthworms.

Further along the path was Great Blue Heron, possibly taking a nap. Some birds have a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane which is defined as:
  • a whitish or translucent membrane that forms an inner eyelid in birds, reptiles, and some mammals. It can be drawn across the eye to protect it from dust and keep it moist.

Great Blue Heron - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

This coot looked wide awake and alert.

American Coot - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

The Song Sparrows are numerous along the North Dyke trail.  This shot turned out quite well, although the branch behind the bird seems to be coming out of its head.

Song Sparrow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

An immature Bald Eagle flew overhead looking to cause some trouble out on the marsh.

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

It succeeded. The Eagles keep the Snow Geese on edge during the day. If an Eagle gets too close, all the geese take off at once. The honking can be heard over long distances.

Snow Geese - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

After leaving the Sanctuary I was lucky to see a couple of Hawks as I travelled homeward. I use the back roads around rural Delta to get to and from the Sanctuary, so it is normally safe to stop on the road and take photos out the window.

Rough-legged Hawk - 33a Ave, Ladner BC

Red-tailed Hawk - Deltaport Way, Delta BC

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Great Egret in Aldergrove

I was sitting at home watching TV sports when I decided to check the BC Rare Bird Alert . A new bird had been sighted in Aldergrove, a Great Egret. You would normally have to travel to Oregon (or maybe southern Washington) to see one.

It was a rainy miserable day and quite a long drive from home, but this would be a nice addition to my 2018 checklist.

I made the 45 - 50 minute drive and arrived at the location at 272 St and 17th avenue. I was able to park on 18th Avenue, as 272 St is very busy. After a brief binocular search I located the Egret about 100 meters away in a large field. I used the Nikon to zoom in and took a few sketchy photos.

The first shows the Egret with a Great Blue Heron also in the vicinity.

Great Blue Heron and Great Egret - Aldergrove BC

Great Egret - Aldergrove BC
2018 Bird #201

The Egret didn't look too happy to be in rainy BC, but it is still there as I write this on January 2nd.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Loony exercises at Point Roberts

This was my last visit to Point Roberts in 2018. These posts probably get repetitive with the same birds featured frequently. This post has a couple of different species and a Loon putting on a show.

Here's a pair of Common Goldeneye, the male is the mostly black and white bird, the female has a brown head and a darker back.

Common Goldeneye - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I was surprised to see a Bufflehead, I can't remember the last time I saw one at this location. As always, it's very difficult to capture the bird's eyes in a photo.

Bufflehead - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Quite close to shore was the loon mentioned in the title. It was getting some stretches in before resuming its normal posture. This went on for a good minute or two.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

And then it returned to normal.

The last shot of 2018 from here, a Killdeer. These birds are quite photogenic here as they contrast with the rocky shoreline very well.

Killdeer - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 15 - Point Roberts Shorebirds

Here's a different post from Point Roberts, it only features some smaller shorebirds, no ducks, loons or cormorants.

For some reason there were a number of smaller sandpipers/shorebirds on site on this Saturday. The other usual birds were also present, but they have been featured many times recently. The common sandpipers at the rocky beach are Black Turnstones and Sanderling. they were both present on this day.

Turnstones get their name from their feeding behaviour, they turn over the stones on a beach looking for small crustaceans, mollusks and insects. The one below has found something...

Black Turnstone - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Only a minute later, it looks like the shell has been cracked open.

Black Turnstone - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

It's hard to get a good photo of this species as the dark head hides the eyes. This shot below is somewhat successful.

Black Turnstone - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

The other shorebird present today also likes the rocky shoreline. It is much different looking from the Turnstone.

Sanderling - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Here's the two of them together in a short video.

This video shows a couple of Turnstones in the surf.

And finally here's a video of a large number of shorebirds. I did not get an identification but I suspect they were mostly Sanderling.

That's it for this post, there may be one or two more visits to Point Roberts in 2018.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

December 2018 - Backyard Birds

Here's a short post featuring birds photographed in our yard in December. One of them is an addition to my 2018 year list.

December 2

Downy Woodpecker - Backyard, North Delta BC - December 2018

House Finch - Backyard, North Delta BC - December 2018

December 8

I had seen this Brown Creeper before as it's a regular in our yard. But I had not added it to my 2018 list and had no photo. I shot this through the living room window with the Nikon P900. It turned fairly well.

Brown Creeper - Backyard, North Delta BC 
2018 Bird #200

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December 1 - Point Roberts, Tsawwassen and Boundary Bay

I had a productive time on the first day of December. I made three different stops as  you can see in the post title.

Point Roberts

Not too many bird photos taken here on this day, but the wind was up and  there were sailboats close to shore. The light was very good for some action photography.

The great thing about this location is the boats come close to shore as the bottom drops off very quickly.

There were the usual ducks around, mostly ignoring the sailboats nearby.

Harlequin Ducks - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Here's one more sailboat shot:

Tsawwassen - Beach Grove Lagoon

After getting a coffee at Starbucks in Tsawwassen, I visited Beach Grove Lagoon to see if I could get a better photo of the Ruff that had been in the area for a couple of weeks. I did spot the bird, but it was even further out from the dike than my last visit.

Ruff - Beach Grove Lagoon - Tsawwassen BC

I did get a nice action shot of a Harrier overhead...

Northern Harrier - Beach Grove Lagoon, Tsawwassen BC

Some nervous ducks took flight when the Harrier flew over...

Northern Pintail - Beach Grove Lagoon, Tsawwassen BC

104 St at Boundary Bay, Delta BC

I decided to try one more location, there had been some good shorebirds reported at Boundary Bay over the last couple of weeks. There were plenty of the common Dunlin, a medium sized shorebird flying around the Bay.

Dunlin - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Another common bird here (and everywhere on the coast) is the Glaucous-winged Gull.

Glaucous-winged Gull -  Boundary Bay, Delta BC

There was some loud honking overhead as a group of Trumpeter Swans flew over...

Trumpeter Swan - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

As I was walking back to my car I had a man with his dog in front of me. The dog had found quite a treasure that it was attempting to carry home...

Unfortunately, it was a long walk and the stick was eventually abandoned.

There were some raptors in the area, including this immature Bald Eagle...

Bald Eagle (Imm) - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Even when I got back to my car at the Boundary Bay Airpark, there were still birds to be seen. The Merlin is a smaller member of the Falcon family, kind of like the Peregrine's little brother or sister.

Merlin - Boundary Bay Airpark, 104 St,  Boundary Bay, Delta BC

As I left the Airpark, I spotted one last hawk on the wires overhead. 

Red-tailed Hawk, 104 St. Boundary Bay, Delta BC

December was off to a good start!