Friday 27 September 2013

Willet or Won't It

Sept 26 2013 White Rock, B.C. Canada. Sunny
I had heard on vanbcbirds that a Willet, a member of the sandpiper family has taken up residence on the beach at White Rock opposite the large white painted rock from which the city takes its name. Silhouetted against the late morning sun, the bird wasn't too hard to find.
I first encountered a Willet on the shores of Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan (see picture below)

Willet (Catoptrohorus semipalmatus) Regina Beach, Saskatchewan.

The second Willet I photographed was being chased by an American Avocet at Chaplin Lake, the Willet had the audacity to get between it and its mate.
An American Avocet chases away a Willet
(Below) During my 2013 road trip I spotted what turned out to be a Willet feeding in a fallow field near Regina Beach, Saskatchewan. I finally followed it to a watering hole for cattle where it settled down beside its mate.
A pair of Willet close to their nest.

At White Rock I made my way down as the tide was about an hour from full flood. The bird was still feeding for about 10 minutes before it hunkered down for safety with a flock of Mew Gulls.
The White Rock Willet hangs close to a flock off similar sized Mew Gulls
as a form of security.

The intricate plumage of the Willet is accentuated by photographing the bird
with a long lens and side light.
Click here for More about the Willet

Good Birding 
John Gordon

Thursday 19 September 2013

A Few Hours Well Spent.

Sept 18 2013 104th Delta, B.C.

After looking for the elusive Smith's Longspur without any success I decided to walk east on the dye path. I wanted to check a freshly ploughed corn field that I thought might attract the small flock of Longspurs that had been near 96th Ave. As much as I wished no such miracle of miracles prevailed.
However I did find many Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Song sparrow, one Lincoln Sparrow and numerous Barn Swallows.
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
I also chatted to a few birders before making my way back to the car. Just by the railway line a juvenile Red-tailed hawk was surveying the ground from a telephone poll. I took a few pix and waited until it flew off before pressing the shutter for an action shot.
A few hours well spent, it's as simple as that!

Waiting for just the right moment .

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Sept 17 2013 Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Overcast with Sunny breaks.

Male Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
As soon as I arrived at the Reifel parking lot a Belted Kingfisher flew over my head. I followed it to the warming hut where it had alighted on a nest box about 100 metres away. I just had to be patient until it decided to take off, a trait I picked up from when I used to fish for specimen Carp and Tench back in the UK. Birding and angling have a lot in common but I have come to the conclusion that birding has less impact on the creatures we both seek.

The same bird but in a different location on the outer dyke. 

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

Same bird different background.
 I prefer the first shot but that is just my style. I like an uncluttered background unless it is to tell a story about the bird's habitat. 
Greater Yellowlegs, I think?

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)

Sora (Porzana carolina)
A Sora makes a dash for cover near the Tower at Reifel. A pair of Sora were present as well as a Virginia Rail.

Good Birding.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Good Birding, Good Friends and Good Laughs.

Sept 9 2013 Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Westham Island, Delta B.C.

Size comparison between Lesser Yellowlegs (foreground) and Greater Yellowlegs (background)
September is one of the best times to see these two species together. Note the comparative size and beak lengths. 

It was so good to be out in the fresh air again. The fog was clearing over Boundary Bay and the cool morning air would soon be replaced by the scorching sun and clear blue sky. The first sounds I hear are three American Pipits flying overhead. Out on the mudflats a Semipalmated Sandpiper crouches low as a Northern Harrier flies past on the hunt for a Savannah Sparrow or Townsend's Vole. My camera, still idle is left unattended while I enjoy the scene before my eyes. Sometimes, especially moments like these I just don't feel the need to be photographing, just being in the Here and Now is enough.
I decided to go to Reifel as the tide might push some shorebirds into the holding ponds where over the weekend a Stilt Sandpiper was spotted. I have photographed them before in Churchill, Manitoba and once last Fall at Reifel. Although none was seen this time there was a chance encounter with a Virginia Rail, that some of us in attendance (you know who you are) managed, despite all the fancy gear some not very good pictures. One of our party didn't manage any shots at all  as he was busy on his phone BOTH times the secretive bird ventured out from the reed bed. We all had a good laugh at his expense, even he had to chuckle at his timing.
Anyway here is the shot of the rail, albeit not in the best light and not quite in focus. Also a Sandhill Crane that flew overhead against the ONLY cloud in the sky, Murphy's law, Eh!
Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)

Good Birding

Thursday 5 September 2013

Back to the World of Birds

Sept 5 2013 Boundary Bay, Delta, British Columbia.
The past six weeks has just flown by since my last blog. What with my annual U.K family visit to help out my brother with his festival stall at the Cropredy Festival near Banbury, Oxford (festival headliners were Fairport Convention, Alice Cooper and 10cc) and visiting my wonderful parents in the picturesque Wye Valley.  As you can imagine little birding was done, I did however walk the Malvern Hills for an hour or so where I spotted Buzzards, wrens and a type of grouse and some LBJ's.
Although I returned to Canada almost two weeks ago the imminent wedding of our oldest daughter had me helping the wife 'pretty up' the house and garden for visitors. New paint, wainscotting in the living room, new countertops and new bathroom meant the birdwatching had to take back seat. I did however manage to get out to lead a two day photography workshop which I took photographers to Boundary Bay. Apart from that it was the nose to grindstone. What did I miss? A rare Buff-breasted Sandpiper and an elusive vagrant Red-necked Stint. Although I would have loved to have added them to my B.C. and Canada list I may not have found them anyway so I'm not loosing too much sleep over it as one never knows what tomorrow may bring.
Finally with the DIY mostly finished I made my way down to 96th to find the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. After looking for some five hours, myself and numerous others headed home without even a flyby. So slow was the action most of the time we spent trying to identify first year gulls. Where's Mike Tabac when you need him!
Anyway I went again September 4 to have one last look for the Buff-breasted and although I didn't see it I got back into shooting mode with the following pix. I hope to see many of you out there, Enjoy!

Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Long Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
Note: The bird has only one leg but otherwiseappeared to be in good health.

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

This Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) showed no fear of humans as it walked along the dyke pathway.
 Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarenis)
Practising flight shots with common birds is a great way to prepare yourself for that time when the unusual turns up.