Monday, October 31, 2016

October 2016, American Bittern, Green Heron, Barred Owl, Heerman's Gull, Wilband Ponds Abbotsford

We didn't find many different species to photograph this month but some of what we did find presented some exceptional opportunities.  
Harrison Hotsprings lagoon had a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers at the beginning of the month.  The front one is brighter and slightly smaller than the other.  This indicates it is a bird hatched this year.  The adult is paler.

On Oct. 12 Dian and I discovered an American Bittern at Wilband Ponds here in Abbotsford.
Usually secretive, this bird was very obliging as we observed it fishing while we stood on a bridge.
In over 20 years of birding we have never had an opportunity like this.
A mink made a sudden appearance which prompted a defensive pose.  Unfortunately I couldn't get both in the shot.
The Bittern was reluctant to leave because the fishing was very productive.
Heerman's Gulls are not common here.  There were a few at Point Roberts.
Heerman's breed in the Gulf Of California and a few make their way up the west coast.
An American Dipper provided some entertainment at Harrison Lake.
The Dipper moults its feathers all at once, like a duck.  This makes it flightless for a short period.
Green Herons are commonly seen at Wilband.  They can apparently swim quite well due to a partially webbed pair of toes.  
Here is a close-up of a Green Heron's toes showing the little bit of webbing.  Makes one wonder if the toes were completely webbed at some time during their evolution.
Pied-billed Grebes are common at Wilband.  Grebes eat large quantities of their own feathers.  This acts as a sieve to prevent potentially damaging prey parts from entering the intestines and damaging them.  The resulting pellet is then regurgitated.
We know Owls are seen regularly at the Great Blue Heron Reserve in Chilliwack, but this is the first time we have seen one there.
This is a Barred Owl.
Barred owls are not a favourite of birders as they are believed to be responsible for the decline of other Owl species.
The Barred Owl is originally a bird of the east but during the 20th century, has spread into the west. 

This a picture taken from the bridge where I photographed the Bittern at Wilband.

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