Friday 10 May 2013

Whimbrels (Perseverance Pays Off)

 176 Street and 8th Ave, Delta  and 176 Street and 8th Ave,  Surrey, B.C. Sunny 24c
The day started with a tip that there were 12 Whimbrel on 112th Ave in Delta. It was noon and the fields where the birds were feeding was shimmering from the heat. Sunscreen and a hat were the order of the day. A farmer was preparing the soil for a potato crop and the Whimbrel were feeding on the disturbed ground. A few Killdeer, Crows, American Robins and Savannah Sparrows were also taking the opportunity to find an easy meal.
Fellow photographer Raymond and myself spent several hours skulking around the hedgerows hiding from the birds but as soon as we got anywhere near a Red-tailed hawk and then a noisy farm vehicle would push then back out of range. The shimmering heat coming off the fields made photography difficult and almost impossible to get anything in sharp focus. Another problem was that the birds were almost the same colour as the soil making for a very drab images. Every single shot from 112th was eventually deleted.
After several hours and wanting to get out of the sun the decision was made to head for the cool of the Little Campbell River to look looking for warblers or flycatchers. The cool forest glade soon revealed a  a number of Pacific-slope Flycatchers and a Swainson's Thrush. Being out of the scorching sun was a great relief and the backlit Maple leaves made ideal props for the diminutive flycatchers.
After an hour or so the light was beginning to soften and as evening approached and it was back to 176 Street to stalk the Whimbrel flock which we estimated to be between 185-225 birds. an exact account was difficult as there were even more birds in another field. The Whimbrel were feeding on a freshly hayed field and despite the dry weather there seemed an abundance of worms for them to feed on. Here are the results of the photo session. Total time spent photogtaphing six hours plus four hours looking for the birds. time well spent, you bet!
 I have to admit that I would have settled for any in-focus shot after spending so much time trying to find the birds so I was elated to have at least 50 keepers from the day plus the bird was also a 'Lifer'
Whimbrel (Numenenius phaeopus)

Picking off a single bird is easier than trying to follow a flock. Nikon D300 500mm  F4 with 1x4 converter.

These large sandpiper like birds can stand 18 inches high. Most breed in the Arctic, the Hudson Bay area, the West  Coast and winter south of the USA.

1 comment:

  1. John, excellent! Glad you persistence paid off! Congrats on the lifer.