Tuesday 28 January 2014

Sumas Prairie Raptors

Jan 24/14 Sunny Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford B.C.

Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford B.C Jan 24 2014

With Boundary Bay fogged in due to a week-long inversion I decided to head out to sunny Sumas Prairie in search of an elusive Gyrfalcon and some much needed sun. It wasn't long before the Gyr was found but it was too far away to get even a half decent picture. I was happy with the sighting and moved on to search for a Golden Eagle that had recently been seen in the vicinity. 
Following an hour of driving around, scanning every large tree for signs of the Golden Eagle a large silhouette in a distant tree promised success. Even with binoculars the bird was too far way, it was either an immature Bald Eagle or the Golden but I couldn't be certain.
Frustrated by the situation (the bird was on private land) patience again would have to come into play. Hopefully the bird would take flight and in my direction.
A great deal of birding I am finding is part research and the other half, plain good luck. A cold wind buffeted the car while I ate lunch and waited. The waiting reminded me when I used to fish for carp and tench back in the UK. Sometimes waiting hours or even all night for a bite. To bird you need patience, there's no way around it. I once spent ten days in silence at Buddhist retreat so waiting for an hour of two for a bird to move is not really a big deal.
I remember one particular day when after meditating for six or seven days with only minimal sleep my mind was in a quite a tranquil place. The internal chatter of the mind had died down and everything seemed well with the world..so I thought. Just as I was thinking I was getting the hang of the "meditation thing" a flock of birds landed just outside the monastery window. The flock burst into a noisy chatter and all the calm I had acquired suddenly vanished. Bloody birds, I thought. That night, we could if needed ask the monks a question and so I asked her was about the noisy birds and how they disrupted my 'precious' meditation.
Her answer was simple and became the title of my blog "Listen to the Birds". With those few words I understood the concept of letting nature be itself and not to try and impose any thoughts upon it. Those wise words are with me today as I bird and photograph our avian friends.
Suddenly out of nowhere a Bald Eagle flew toward the tree. It became clear the bird in the tree was indeed a Golden Eagle and a fierce battle for territory was suddenly being fought overhead. The Golden Eagle soared in an ever increasing spirals suddenly swooped down to drive the intruder away. No contact was made but there was no doubt who now ruled of the roost.
Who needs the National Geographic channel when we have this in our own backyard!
Here is one the resulting shots.

Golden Eagle ( Aquila chrysaetos)

The day continued with sighting of one Rough-legged and seven Red-tailed Hawks, five American Kestrels and one Gyrfalcon and a large flock of Western Meadowlarks.

Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)

A long distance ID shot with some nice backlight. 

The day ended with a quick coffee run to the Great-blue Heron Reserve where we were alerted to the possibility of a Lincoln Sparrow hanging out with the Song and Fox Sparrows. An hour later, the shy and diminutive sparrow posed for pictures.
Lincoln Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)
Good Birding

1 comment:

  1. John, excellent! You definitely have the luck with you! Glad the patience sustains you!