Saturday 27 July 2013

Wandering Tattler and the Curious Spotted Sandpiper

July 24 2013 Iona Regional Park, Richmond B.C.

I have learnt that when a rare bird report comes in the best chance of success is to jump in the car and get moving right away. With the help and advice of many I have been fortunate enough in locating numerous Lower Mainland 'Lifers' and other interesting birds. Wednesday was one such day.

Iona South Jetty is 4km long
VANBCBIRDS had been reporting a Wandering Tattler at Iona. For one reason or another it took a text from another good birding friend to persuade me to drop my gardening and DYI chores and make the trip from Surrey. I hadn't seen a Wandering Tattler since a visit to Mitlenatch Provincial Park back in the mid 80s. There I had taken a grainy shot on Kodachrome 64 so this was possibly a chance to update my files and get another view of the elusive sandpiper.
With temperatures hovering around 22 c and with sunburn a good possibility, the thought of walking 2.5 kms on the South Iona jetty to look for a bird that might have already departed for California had me wondering if I was still sane!
Looking toward UBC as the tide moves in. Scenics taken with Canon SX50

I made a last minute decision to bike it, I hadn't biked or done much exercise in years so it wasn't long before my legs could pedal no more. I stopped and started several time before arriving at Marker 164, the last place the bird had been seen. I couldn't find the Tattler but a Spotted Sandpiper was feeding way out on the sandbar.
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia)

As I had the bike I thought I might as well make it to the end of the jetty where the only signs of life were two noisy Caspian Terns and what appeared to be a topless sunbather of the female persuasion, but without my bins I couldn't make an exact identification!  Making my way back I bumped into another birder who knew exactly where to look (for birds of the avian kind) and soon we were both photographing the Wandering Tattler. The bird was feeding on tiny crabs forced onshore by the flooding tide. Not to be outdone, a curious and possibly the same Spotted Sandpiper (above) landed on a rock a few feet away to pose for pictures.

Wandering Tattler (Heteroscelus incanus)
A wave pounds on the Iona jetty where a Wandering Tattler rests before continuing its southward migration. A fast shutter speed 1/2000 sec was needed to freeze the action of the wave splashing against the rock.
In conclusion I'm glad I made the effort to photograph today. I did get some fresh sea air, exercise and with this humble series of blogs an attempt to throw off a writer's block that has haunted me for over a decade.

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