Wednesday 9 April 2014

Odds and Sods

End of Mar/Beginning of April.
It has been a while since my last post. It's not that I haven't been birding but after all the excitement with the Gyrfalcon and Prairie Falcon things have been a little quieter. I now know why many Lower Mainland birders take off to warmer climes during the latter part of March.

While the birding has been somewhat slow the grand plan was to visit a few new locations or at least check a few spots that I perhaps had only previously given a cursory glance. Ambleside Park was one of those.
Ambleside (foreground) and Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge from Cypress.

Mar 12 Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Birding with Langara Photography class and former Vancouver Sun/Province photographer Les Bazso. We had a great time especially as Canon and Nikon kindly shipped out all kinds of exotic lenses from Toronto for the students to try. There were plenty of 600 F4's and 500 F4's. We were lucky enough to find a Great-horned Owl for the students as well as the usual suspects. The assignment was to not only get close-ups but also show the birds habitat. The students were able to observe and document nest building activities as well some pairing and breeding behaviour.

Langara Students with an exotic array of lenses.

This Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) proved popular with the students.

My first stop on Mar 24th was Maplewoods but after walking the entire trail system I left without taking a single picture and decided to move on.
Then it was on to Lonsdale Quay where a number of Pigeon Gillemot are nesting at the harbour. 
At least the day wouldn't be a total bust. I hadn't set eyes on a Guillemot since a visit to Mitlenatch Island in 1984 so I was pleased to get these new shots. A flight shot is always a bonus.
Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba)

March 25 
I gave a presentation to the Langley Heritage Society titled "Birding in the Lower Mainland" About thirty attended at the historic Milner Church.

March 26 
I presented Flower Photography at Fraser Valley Regional Library in Hope. As I was in the area anyway I decided to investigate the Hope Airport.  A number of Turkey Vultures used thermals to float above the airfield. I couldn't find the Say's Phoebe or very much else. A few ponds above the town held Bufflehead and Lesser Scaup. Very few other birds could be heard or seen.

March 30 Brydon Lagoon.
The Green Heron had moved on but there were plenty of birds including Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Double Crested Cormorants, American Coots, Canvasback, Hooded Merganser, a pair of Bushtits at the nest and Song Sparrow.
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
Brydon Lagoon
Note the curved beak.
This is taken with a proper DSLR while the other Green Heron shots in previous blogs were taken with the Canon SX50HS

March 31 Burnaby Mountain.
Only a few Red-breasted Nuthatches and perhaps 75-100 American Robin.
Later in the day I dropped Piper Spit at Burnaby Lake as there is always some action. The splendid Wood Ducks were pairing up, a flock Long Billed Dowitcher flew around only to eventually land feet from a surprised group of out of town photographers. A Sandhill Crane stayed for a few minutes before flying off to Deer Lake. I missed the shot as I was talking to another photographer.

                                                                         Wood Duck (Aix Sponsa)
The Wood Duck is easily photographed at Piper Spit as are the Long-billed Dowitchers and other sometimes wary birds.

If that wasn't enough birding I decided to drop by Centennial Beach on my way home. Hundreds of Glaucous-winged Gulls were bathing in a freshwater pool. Accompanying them were numerous Ring-billed and Bonaparte's. A pair of Northern Harrier hunted in the inner fields while a northern Flicker cold be seen entering a nest hole by the swamp. A flock of House finch, their red heads contrasting against the blue sky was a beautiful sight. 
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
I really like the expression and the tilt of the head.

April 7 2014 Chelem Trail, Squamish Estuary
The last stop on this somewhat disjointed ramble was up to Squamish Estuary to take my son and grandson birding. Birding with a youngster poses some unique challenges but to see him point out "birdies" for me was truly magical. I look forward to more outings with him.
The Squamish Estuary was one heavily industrialized and with the threat of an LNG project the fate of the wildlife in the area is once again up in the air.

Chelem Trail signage.

The Stawamus Chief from the East Field.

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)

A checklist of birds can be found at the visitor centre and a map makes the location an easy place to find. Drive to the end of Training Dyke which is parallel to the Squamish River.
Signage provides a history of the area as well as the birds that can be found at different time of the year.

There were quite a number of paired off Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye on the Squamish River. On the East field the highlight was a pair of American Kestrel as well numerous Rufous Hummingbird.

More information

Good Birding
John Gordon


  1. beautiful photos all of them! spring is here!

  2. I guess no one saw the SawWhet owl that is at Reifel eh?
    What a neat thing to do as a photography class and nice to see NIkon/Canon lending out the bigger lenses too!

  3. Tyler I saw the saw whet and bitterns you can't miss them with all the photogs