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.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Weekend Part 3 - Point Roberts and Backyard

At this point of the year, it's still early for spring migrants and I've exhausted the usual places to visit. This post covers a quick trip to Point Roberts and a couple of birds in our yard at home.

Lighthouse Marine Park

The weather was gray today and there weren't many birds present. There were a pair of Steller's Sea Lions fairly close to the shoreline.

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


A flock of Brant flew by and I caught the essence, if not the detail, of the event.

Brant - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I got a slightly closer look at the Sea Lions.


And a final shot of a Common Loon before I left.

Common Loon - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Backyard Birds

Earlier in the day as I was about to leave I heard some drumming on our chimney. I rushed outside and caught this culprit just after the fact.

Northern Flicker - Front Yard, North Delta BC

After returning from Point Roberts I happened to see a Nuthatch at our suet feeder. My only other sighting of the year was similar but through a very dirty window. It was cleaner this time and I was able to get an angle where  a couple of shots turned out.

Red-breasted Nuthatch - Back Yard, North Delta BC


That wrapped up birding for Easter Sunday, I'd have one more outing on the holiday Monday.


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