Thursday 4 September 2014

Birds, Birds and more Birds

Sept 3 2014  Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Boundary Bay. Sunny and Warm 20c

I was good to be birding again. The wind, the sun, the birds, plus meeting more than a few birding friends made for the perfect morning to go birding. There were the two Peters, both photographers and avid birder Floyd. Super birding duo Tak and Mama rounded out the gaggle watching the two rails and sandpipers.
I also met to Ian, a Canadian who now calls Seattle home, his tally of birds has just surpassed an amazing 6000 species. Sorry to tell you Ian, only 4000 more to go!

A most unusual sight, a Sora (Porzana carolina) in a tree. 
The morning began in a most unusual fashion with number of us photographing a Sora climb a bush and then fly across the pond. No one had ever seen a Sora behaving in that manner. Thanks to Floyd for spotting that one. Then the Virginia Rail came searching for food obliging us with excellent views. As the rails went round their business, the trees behind us were alive with Red-winged Blackbirds, American Goldfinch, Orange-crowned Warblers and Downy Woodpecker. A Lincoln's Sparrow and Yellow Warbler made a brief appearances further along the trail.

Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)
The first three pictures were all taken at the same spot at the corner of the West field.

The two rails, the Sora and Virginia Rail fed within feet of the lookout, seemingly oblivious to onlookers.
Out in the pond seven Stilt Sandpiper fed amongst the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. The Ruff was nowhere to be seen and may have moved on. A Peregrin Falcon flew low scattering the Western Sandpipers. The Yellowlegs headed for the rushes to join a Muskrat feeding on the bullrush tubers.

Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata) with a snail.
Soon it was time to head for Boundary Bay for the rising tide. At 13metres there was hardly any meaningful movement so I donned my boots and walked out into the muddy bay. Except for the odd raiding Peregrine Falcon the flocks of Western Sandpipers had the place to themselves. Small groups of Semipalmated Plovers scurried across the sand accompanied by a few Sanderlings. Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs fed together while a spotted Sandpiper picked off insects from a log. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Green-winged Teal and Mallard fed in the shallows.

The image below shows the size difference between a Spotted Sandpiper(l) and the Greater Yellowlegs (r)

Boundary Bay is a busy place in Aug through Oct. Masses of shorebirds migrate through which attracts predators like the Peregrine Falcon. 

The Predator
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

The Prey
Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri)

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris malanotos)

As the tide ebbed it was time to head back to the dyke. I have learnt to tread carefully as many species of Sandpipers feed well away from the water and close to shore. Sometimes they can so well camouflaged any can be very easy to miss.
On my way back I photographed two Black-bellied Plover and this Pectoral Sandpiper. A careful approach is often rewarded with birds continuing to feed, allowing for a close-up image. I carry a small pad to kneel on so that I stay comfortable and dry. This allows me to keep still as sudden movements will flush the bird.

Reaching the dyke I could see quite a few small birds feeding on the piles of pungent and rotting seaweed that had been washed ashore. At first there were a few Savannah Sparrows, their yellow lores and white bellies shone in the sunshine.

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)

As the sparrows became used to my partially hidden location a Cooper's Hawk flew past scattering the smaller birds everywhere, a few minutes later a flock of American Pipits arrived in their place.
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)
The day ended with a search for the pair of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at the Mansion. They were quite far away out and I was satisfied to watch them through the binoculars.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon

©John Gordon 2014

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