Thursday 13 February 2014

Free as a Bird/That Can't be Bad!

Feb 6-11 Blackie Spit-Richmond and Tynehead Regional Park.  Sunny and Showers.

My day planner for the week was blank, I was free as a bird. No dentist, no anything, nothing! So with a packed lunch and a full tank of gas it was time to the take advantage of the good weather.
Prior and in-between the Great Gray Owl twitch I headed down to Blackie Spit to photograph the Snow Bunting that had been recently sighted. As I searched I happened upon a flock of Dunlin busily feeding on the exposed mudbanks at the end of the spit. At first the birds were far way, amongst them were few Black-bellied Plovers.
I lay on the gravel and sand hoping the Dunlins would come closer and sure enough they did. The Dunlin seemed fearless while the Plovers scuttled off at the slightest movement. Five minutes later my patience paid off when one of the birds quite oblivious of my presence came so close I couldn't close focus. I just enjoyed the moment which was a pleasant distraction from the howling wind around my ears.
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

The Plover (below) kept its distance so I decided to use selective focus and use the foreground to frame the picture. The bright earth tones I think brightens up a somewhat drab image.
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

I eventually found the Snow Bunting with the help of one Canada's best birders Roger Foxall, who had, after a trip to Mexico just celebrated his 5000th species worldwide. Congratulations on an amazing achievement.
Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)

Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)

 As this is a round-up for the week the next bird up is a Varied Thrush which I photographed while looking for the Great Gray Owl at Tynehead Regional Park earlier in the week. Some think the Varied Thrush should have been B.C.'s official bird rather than the Stella's Jay, either way they are both beautiful in their own right.


Finally the week rounded out with a few shots of a Townsend's Solitaire that had been reported in Richmond. I changed my position to create different backgrounds.

Pic #1 Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi)
  (Above) Pic #1 The green backdrop is foliage  about twenty feet behind the bird. Just by moving the tripod, the mood of a picture can be changed especially with a greyish coloured bird like the Townsend's Solitaire.
The Townsend Solitaire which normally migrates to warmer climes has survived the B.C. winter by staying close a ready source of ornamental berries. A few warm days have also produced insect hatches giving the bird a high protein diet and good chance of survival. The Townsend's Solitaire normally winters in Oregon, California and Mexico.

Pic #3 the blue background is a restaurant window.

and pic #4 the background is a yellow ornamental bush which creates a warmer look than pic #3.

                                                    More on the Townsend's Solitaire

Good Bird
John Gordon


  1. The varied thrush is beautiful you are lucky to keep spotting them. I do think the stellar jay is better as BC's bird though. Lovely shot of the townsend solitaire. Was he at Iona? I went to blackie spit last week but couldn't find the beautiful snow buntings. Thanks for sharing. I will have to go back.

  2. I just found out the location of the bird from my friend what a weird location for the townsend's solitaire! Thank you for posting I will go take a look at him today cheers!

  3. Hi where are the snow buntings at blackie spit? I went again today but couldn't find them. I saw them last month in twasswsen would like to find them at blackie spit too. I also could not find the townsend's solitaire.

    Thanks again for sharing these photos.

  4. I also went to Blackie Spit with a group of birders but the Snow Bunting could not be found anywhere so it may have gone. As for the Solitaire it was there all this week in the parking lot behind the theatre. You have to wait if you don't see it at first. The second time I went it wasn't there either.

  5. Thanks for the tips very much appreciated! I find your blog to be the best birding blog out there always love to see what you photograph next with such precision.

  6. I found him a couple of days ago he let me get really close beautiful and cute bird.