Thursday 8 November 2012

Sunny on the Wetcoast..Time to get out!

Nov 5, 2012
When the sun comes out in the Lower Mainland most everybody gets out to soak up the sunshine, including the birds!
I started the day at Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary with some flight shots of Trumpeter swans but not much else. Thousands of Snow geese were way out in the bay trying to avoid the many hunters. I then decided to take a walk along nearby Brunswick Point where two rough-legged hawks tumbled through the sky, talons locked, albeit to far way for any half decent photographs. A number of Western meadowlark (5) and a Northern shrike flew from bush to bush. In the bay a large flock of perhaps three* thousand Dunlin were being pursued by a Peregrin falcon.
On my way home I decide to stop off at 72nd Ave and Boundary Bay. I am glad I did, a long-eared owl a 'lifer' was perched just a few yards from the parking lot. The bird had attracted quite a crowd, I hope it doesn't get too stressed by all the attention. Also present were a Northern shrike, more Western meadowlarks, Song and Savannah sparrows.
After a few quick shots I found three Northern harriers, a male, female and a juvenile stealing voles midair from a short-eared owl and then from each other. A common crow was the lucky recipient of a vole dropped by squabbling harriers.
Bit of a Rant..............
The above scenario with the raptors is only possible because of a number of fallow fields that have been left to grow wild. Unfortunately the is type of vegetation is becoming rarer and rarer as it gradually being swallowed up by monoculture. Our insatiable need for cheap foods at the grocery store is the main culprit. Cheap veggies tend to be grown by monoculture farmers who then use chemicals which can  detrimental to songbirds which then disrupts the nature of things. Eighty percent of prairie birds have now been lost to intensive farming and the by-products of chemicals used on food production.
And now a new ring road (to deliver cheap products from China) had swallowed up acres of prime feeding/roosting spots, leaving everything from hawks to sparrows and ducks with a lot less feeding opportunities than ever before. Perhaps its time to get in front of the bulldozers!
On a positive note many farmers across Canada are now setting aside tracts of land and working with organizations like the Nature Canada bcnature

*I reduced the original estimate.

Anyway, Here are the results of the days photographs and happy birding!

A male Northern harrier.

An adult northern harrier and  juvenile (right) drop their dinner.

Two northern harriers squabble over prey.
A common crow takes off with a dropped vole.

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