Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 2014 Last Blog of the Year

December turned out to be good month for photographs (when the sun was shining).  I missed getting acceptable shots of 2 Golden Eagles and a Prairie Falcon although I made many attempts.  Maybe I will get lucky next month.  For now, please enjoy the following.
Female American Kestrel with a mouse.  The Kestrel is the most common falcon in North America.  Sumas Prairie has a few of these in residence for the winter.
Downy Woodpecker at my home. Male.
Downy Woodpecker female.
Gyrfalcon in Sumas Prairie.  While the Kestrel is the smallest falcon in Canada, the Gyrfalcon is the largest.
White-fronted Goose.  This goose is injured-probably shot somewhere and made it to Wilband Ponds where it may die.  At least it is in a favourable habitat which may help it recover.
I shot this Northern Pygmy Owl in Neah Bay and decided I liked it better than the one I posted last month.  Next time I photograph one I will have to try and eliminate those annoying black branches.
American Tree Sparrow.  One of 3 or 4 in Sumas Prairie.
This Red-tailed Hawk was caught and tagged at the Vancouver airport last July.  The airport does this to rid the airways of possible hazards.  It was released in Chilliwack.  I reported it to the airport and they gave me the info.  This was the first time it has been sighted (and reported) since its release.
Golden-crowned Kinglet in Agasszi.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Agasszi.
I found this Rough-skinned Newt slowly crossing the road east of Chilliwack.  It was 6 degrees celsius which probably accounted for its slow progress.  I picked it up and put it on the post for some pictures not realizing it can exude a highly toxic poison through its skin.  It is the same toxin that is found in Pufferfish and Blue-ringed Octopus.  Luckily I didn't put my fingers in my mouth or eyes.  I set it down on the side of the road and watched it disappear beneath the leaf litter.  There is some interesting information on this Newt if one googles it.   
River Otter marking territory near Wilband Ponds.  This is called sprainting or depositing a small amount of feces which is called a spraint. 
River Otter trying to figure out where the shutter noise is coming from.  Looks like it is holding a Pumpkinseed Fish (future spraint).

Bohemian Waxwing.  We found 70 of these uncommon birds (for this area) on Rannie Road, Pitt meadows.
We were watching a Northern Shrike when it flew to the ground and started dispatching a vole.  It flew off with it before I could get a good shot.
We later found the Shrike sitting quite contented.
I can get so involved with my camera settings that sometimes I misidentify what I am photographing.  For instance I thought I was photographing a Kestrel until I uploaded the pictures to the computer and realized I actually photographed a Merlin.  This is the last blog for the year.  Looking forward to next year.  Happy New year to everyone and thanks for checking out the blog.

Scroll down for previous blog.

Monday, December 1, 2014

November Pictures 2014

Dian and I stayed in the lower mainland this month.  I had a chance to take a short cruise in the bay at Point Roberts with friend Art before he put his boat up for the winter.  This gave me the idea of perhaps renting a boat at Horseshoe Bay sometime and seeing what that area has to offer.  That is in the future but for now here is what November provided.

Bald Eagle Nicomen Slough
  I was happy to finally get an American Kestrel that wasn't sitting on a wire.
Sumas Prairie has been getting some nice birds such as this Franklin's Gull
Red-tailed Hawk hovering in Sumas
Varied Thrush at the Harrison Mills Eagle Festival
Pigeon Guillemot Point Roberts
Pigeon Guillemot Point Roberts
Long-tailed Duck Point Roberts
Long-tailed Duck Point Roberts
Harlequin Duck Point Roberts
Glaucous Gull was a nice find in Nicomen Slough
Common Loon Point Roberts
Tundra and Trumpeter Swan comparison in Sumas Prairie
A tight flock of Starlings in Sumas Prairie.  Waldo is in there somewhere.
Eurasian Collared Doves-Sumas Prairie
Rusty Blackbirds are declining.  Sometimes they show up in large flocks of mixed blackbirds and Starlings as this one did in Sumas Prairie.
It was -8 and the wind was howling for these Trumpeter Swans
That's it for November.  Thanks for looking and don't forget to scroll down for the previous blog.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Neah Bay Washington Nov. 7,8 2014

A very rare Eurasian Hobby (a type of falcon) was reported on the Olympic peninsula at the end of October.  Dian and I couldn't get there right away and then bad weather hit us.  The weather forecast cleared up for the weekend of Nov. 7 and 8th so we decided to give it a try.  It was still blowing and raining on Thursday but we headed out.  When we got to to the ferry at Coupeville it was cancelled because of high winds so we took a detour to the Mukilteo ferry and then over to Edmonds for another ferry.  We got to Port Angeles when it was getting dark so we spent the night there.  It was long day for such a short distance.  The next day was calm and bright making the short scenic drive along the Olympic coast to Neah Bay a treat.  As we entered town we saw a lady scoping the bay.  She was on to a Red Phalarope.  We met her few more times that day and she was a great help in pointing out bird locations.
Neah Bay Washington

Neah Bay Harbour

Totems in front of museum
A 1/2 mile hike to Cape Flattery was well worth the effort for the view and bird life.  We spent about an hour there and although most birds were too far away to photograph we did get a reasonable shot of Ancient Murrelets.  This was the first time we have gotten good looks at this species and we were finally able to add them to our life list.
Black Oystercatchers were abundant.
Black Turnstones surged along the beach in front of the Seniors Centre.
A Black-legged Kittiwake was also at the Seniors Centre.  We almost missed it but another birder had it in his scope and clued us in.
This Brambling was a target bird for most and we were fortunate to have found it.   
Dorsel view of the Brambling which was also at the Seniors Centre.
A Brandt's Cormorant was listless on the beach and may have been feeling the effects of the previous days windstorm.
Bullock's Oriole was at feeders on the main street.  We saw another Oriole there at the same time.  The owner came out of the house at that moment and they both flew off before we could id the second bird.
Some minima geese-some dusky and 2 with rings around neck, sometimes indicative of Aleutian species.
The lady who showed us the Red Phalarope also got us on to this Cattle Egret at the transfer station.
Common Murres were quite common.
One of the lookouts at Cape Flattery.
A Fox Sparrow popped up as I searched for a nonexistent Harris's Sparrow.
Golden-crowned Sparrow was with a group of assorted species.
A nice find was this Golden Eagle.  He flew in and chased away a Bald Eagle that was being harassed by crows.  The Crows then turned their attention on to him.
I have noticed that when Eagles are being harassed they activate their  nictitating membrane .  It must be a protective response.
A Herring Gull was a nice surprise but we would have preferred a Slaty-backed.
Others saw a few but we only found one Heerman's Gull.
The sewage pond area had this Northern Pygmy Owl.  They are always a treat.
This shot shows the false eyes in the back of the head. 
When we first arrived at Neah Bay we were excited to see a Red-throated Loon.  Then we discovered they were as thick as flies.
A cute little Horned Grebe.
Western Grebes were also very abundant.

There are miles of beach to explore.
Cape Flattery
We found the few people we encountered in Neah Bay to be very friendly and accommodating towards tourists.  Dian and I told the waitress at the Warmhouse Restaurant that we were going to share an order of fish and chips so she put on an extra piece of fish and an extra coleslaw;  the staff at the mini mart let us use their cell phone twice and even dialled the number for us; our hostess at the Butler Motel put up bird feeders just for us;  and the owner of the house with the orioles was very sociable.  The two days we were there the weather was just perfect.  Although we didn't find the Hobby we found a place that we will definitely return to.  Following is a complete list of birds we saw.  Scroll past the list for previous blog.

Neah Bay, Clallam, US-WA
Nov 8, 2014 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
Comments:     report covers general area
72 species (+7 other taxa)

Greater White-fronted Goose  20
Cackling Goose  X
Canada Goose  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Northern Shoveler  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Greater Scaup  4
Lesser Scaup  2
Greater/Lesser Scaup  2
Harlequin Duck  X
Surf Scoter  4
Long-tailed Duck  1
Bufflehead  X
Barrow's Goldeneye  2
Hooded Merganser  X
Common Merganser  X
Red-breasted Merganser  2
Red-throated Loon  X
Pacific Loon  X
Common Loon  X
loon sp.  X
Pied-billed Grebe  2
Horned Grebe  X
Western Grebe  X
Brandt's Cormorant  2
Double-crested Cormorant  7
Pelagic Cormorant  X
cormorant sp.  X
Great Blue Heron  X
Cattle Egret  1     Transfer Station 
Golden Eagle  1     on dirt road to transfer station
Northern Harrier  1
Bald Eagle  X
Red-tailed Hawk  2
American Coot  X
Black-bellied Plover  4
Black Turnstone  20
Surfbird  10     about 5 miles east of Neah bay
Dunlin  20
peep sp.  X
Red Phalarope  1
Common Murre  X
Pigeon Guillemot  X
Black-legged Kittiwake  1
Heermann's Gull  2
Ring-billed Gull  X
Western Gull  X
California Gull  X
Herring Gull  1     Glaucous-winged Gull  X

Northern Pygmy-Owl  1     
Belted Kingfisher  6
Northern Flicker  2
American Kestrel  1
Merlin  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Tropical Kingbird  4     maybe more than 4 seen.  They kept popping up along the main street.
Steller's Jay  X
Northwestern Crow  X
Common Raven  X
Black-capped Chickadee  X
Varied Thrush  6
European Starling  X
American Pipit  1
Spotted Towhee  5
Savannah Sparrow  X
Fox Sparrow  5
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
sparrow sp.  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Western Meadowlark  10     across from Sewage ponds
Bullock's Oriole  1     2 Orioles along main street-only identified 1
Brambling  1     continuing bird by seniors centre
House Finch  X
House Sparrow  X
passerine sp.  X

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Scroll down for previous blog and be sure to check out the Grizzly blog of October 2014.