Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Nov 2018-Dec. 31 2018-Fieldfare, Mandarin Duck, Great Gray Owl, Leucistic Crow

This blog covers birds seen in November and December of 2018.  

In November there was a Mandarin Duck making headlines in Central Park, New York.  Then Vancouver news outlets (wanting to get in on the bandwagon) reported one in Burnaby.  Not to be outdone, Chilliwack also had one.  Many theories to their origin were speculated but anyone with a knowledge of birds realizes these ducks have probably escaped from some bird fanciers or farmer's yard.  The Wood Ducks above seem to find the Mandarin a source of curiosity. 
We spent a few days in Kamloops in December.  On a ride out in the grasslands we encountered an actively hunting Great Grey Owl.
This Mew Gull was hovering over the water gleaning Salmon eggs at the Kilby Eagle Festival.
We get many Common Mergansers spending the winter in our area.  If you look closely you will see the serrated edges on the upper bill.

Bald Eagles are always a welcome sight at an Eagle Festival.
Hooded Merganser.

A tip from the Fraser Valley Birding site led to us to Chilliwack to find this leucistic crow.  Leucism is a lack of pigment.  This crow appears to be silver.

This crow was quite skittish; probably because many people found it interesting.
It was acting like any other crow-turning over leaves looking for grubs.
One morning we had a Northern Shrike on our property.  These shy birds usually avoid humans but this one was quite approachable.
The big birding event of the month or possibly the year, was the report of a Fieldfare in Salmon Arm by Roger and Nan Beardmore, and Peter and Sharon Lawless. Amazing find.  The location is above.
After the hubbub of Christmas was over Dian and I went on a road trip to find this mega rarity.  We found it within 15 minutes of arriving and took some pictures under cloudy skies.
A variety of thrush, the Fieldfare is usually found in northern Asia and Europe.  
This one was keeping company with our common thrush, the Robin.  This is only the second time this species has been seen in British Columbia.
Mountain Ash berries were keeping it in one particular yard.  We went back to the location on our second day.  The sun was shining but the bird never got into a very good photographic position while we were there.  This was the best I could get.
One of the Fieldfare's companions (Robin) tosses back a Mountain Ash Berry.  As of Jan.1 2019 the Fieldfare had been at the same location for at least 2 weeks.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

October 2018-Lardeau River, Western Painted Turtle, Ruffed Grouse, Rusty Blackbird, White-winged Crossbill, Wilson's Snipe

 Dian and I spent a few days in the West Kootney area this October.  The first few days we camped in our trailer.  The goal was to find bears to photograph but we only got a glimpse of a black bear.  Kokanee Salmon returning to spawn up the Lardeau River historically were a magnet for bears but this year there were very few.  We thought perhaps we were early so we went home to return 2 weeks later.  The weather was turning cold and this time we decided to get a motel in Kaslo.
The leaves were changing, forming some beautiful scenes.

The Lardeau River.  

A few years ago 300,000 Kokanee Salmon swam up the Lardeau River.  We talked to a grader operator who was maintaining the road and he said the expected run was 30,000 this year.  No-one knows what the reason for the decline is.  But it was the reason we didn't see any bears.
The lack of bears detoured our attention to birds.  Ruffed grouse are quite plentiful here.

We usually see American Kestrels in open grassland areas so we were surprised to see this one sitting on a stump in the middle of the river.  Probably a rest stop on its migration south.
Bald Eagles were also finding the Kokanee difficult to locate.

One afternoon we went for a walk on the Kaslo waterfront.  Birds were not plentiful but this migrating female Rusty Blackbird made up for the lack of quantity.

The Rusty was gleaning the debris washed up on Kootenay Lake.

Rusty Blackbirds are rapidly declining.  The population has dropped 85-99% over the last 40 years.  Every time we see one we wonder if it will be the last time.
This is a shot of a female White-winged Crossbill. I could barely see the bird deep in the darkness of a tree.  I turned up the ISO on the camera and hoped for the best.  I was quite happy with the results.

The Crossbill flew down to the road and was joined by a male.  There were seeds falling to the ground from the trees above and they were taking advantage.

This Western Painted Turtle was photographed at the Great Blue Heron Reserve in Chilliwack. There are about 250 adults in Western Canada according to "Wildlife Preservation Canada".  I am not sure how they would determine that. 
Trumpetor Swans have returned from the north to spend the winter in the lower mainland.  This one was at Wilband retention ponds in Abbotsford.
Wilband also had this Wilson's Snipe lurking in a ditch.  They usually flush when one approaches but this one held its ground.
I was snapping shots of Chum Salmon spawning in a local stream when the impressionistic brush stroke patterns on the water caught my eye.

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Neah Bay Washington, September 4-7 2018, Sandpipers, Painted Redstart, Sanderling

After the hot summer it was time to load up the trailer and go camping.  There was a report of a Painted Redstart on Cape Flattery.  This was the first record for Washington so we decided to try for it.

The marina at Neah Bay.  
We stayed at Hobuck Campground which is right on the beach.  Services included water, electricity, sewer, and WiFi.  We are the white trailer next to the cabins.
This is the spot where Dian first heard the Redstart singing.  She has better hearing than me. I was the only one to spot it though, as Dian had moved down the boardwalk and before she returned, it was gone.  This has happened before where Dian hears the bird and doesn't get to see it.  Very frustrating!!
This is a Painted Redstart.  It was impossible to get a shot of the one at Flattery Bay so I include this one taken in Arizona a few years ago.
It's migration time and the beach is the perfect spot to find sandpipers.  Here a Western and Least Sandpiper huddle behind some kelp.  
One of the smallest Sandpipers is the Least.  They are gorging themselves on bugs before they head south as far as South America.

A Sanderling joins a Least.  Sanderlings are the palest peep and one of the worlds most wide spread.  They can migrate over 6000 miles.

Their most common predators come from the sky.  They constantly check for incoming raptors.

A pair of Westerns and a Sanderling sprint ahead of the incoming tide.

A Stellar Sea Lion cruises below us at Cape Flattery.
Cape Flattery-the most westerly point of the continental USA.
While we were sea watching at the cape, a helicopter flew over with a backhoe.

It was transporting it to an island just off the Cape.

A young Pigeon Guillemot was trying desperately to swallow this large fish. 
Amazingly, it gulped it down after much maneuvering.

This was the view from our campsite.  There was miles of beach and we hiked a lot of it.  We would have stayed longer but inclement weather was moving in.  

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