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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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 1-14 2018, Birds seen at Southern Alberta, Pakowki Lake, Writing-on-stone Park, Kettle River Campground, British Columbia

This blog is comprised of a collection of photos taken at various locations in southern British Columbia and Alberta between June 1 and June14, 2018.  
We made a stop at Kettle River campground for a few nights.  The object of our visit was to find a Black-backed Woodpecker.  A pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers first grabbed our attention.

A Black-backed Woodpecker is not rare but after 25 years of birding we had never seen one.  There were reports of one at Kettle River.  It took a few hours but we finally found it, making it number 400 on our British Columbia list.

One of the first stops on this trip was in Princeton, B.C.. We joined the BC Field Ornithologists here for a birding tour.  One of the highlights was this Lazuli Bunting.

This tour also provided a very cooperative female Violet-green Swallow.

We stopped at Writing-on-stone provincial park on our way back to B.C.  This little park is tucked away on the Montana border but always popular with local residents and tourists alike.
Two of the reasons for the popularity are the hoodoos and petroglyphs.  Formed by erosion, these interesting hoodoos can be explored by trails leading through them. 
The  Milk River winds its way through the valley.  The campsite is nestled in the grove of large trees at the top of the picture.
A bust of Trump or some other ancient inhabitant??

Rock Wrens were common amongst the hoodoos.
I have a feeling this Western Cottontail had seen many hikers pass by him before us.
Black-billed Magpie at the campsite.
A Yellow Warbler gleans the willows.
It blends in with the yellow flowers of the willow.

Another stop on our trip was Foremost, Alberta.  This was the closest campground to Pakowki Lake which is well known for its bird diversity.
There were many Eared Grebes courting on Pakowki.
American Avocets were filtering out food.  
As were Black-necked Stilts.
White-faced Ibis almost seem like a sub-tropical bird but they appear to like Southern Alberta.
  • Wilson's Phalarope.  Unlike most birds where the female has the predominant role in caring for young, female phalaropes desert their mates once they’ve laid eggs. While the male raises the young by himself, the female looks for other males to mate with. This unusual mating system is called polyandry, and it’s reflected in the way the two sexes look, with the females more brightly colored than the males.
Male Phalarope.
We found this Ferruginous Hawk as we drove around the south side of Pakowki.  It was beside the road on the only tree in sight.
You can barely see a Richards Ground Squirrel (gopher) in the nest.  When bison still roamed the west, Ferruginous Hawk nests contained bison bones and hair along with sticks and twigs.
Finally a White-breasted Nuthatch from Wasa Campground, close to Cranbrook.

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