Monday 15 December 2014

Some Winter Birds

Dec 14, 2014 Boundary Bay Regional Park Sunny 5c
Every Lower Mainland birder knows the parking lot at the end of 72nd Ave. It's an especially busy place in the winter when the owls return. If I turn right onto the dyke I could join the hordes photographing the Long-eared Owl.
However, if I turn left out of the parking lot I have the dyke pathway almost to all to myself, except that is for a few joggers and Sunday afternoon walkers.
I have a few hours to see what will turn up. Song sparrows are most common species followed by distinctive Marsh Wren's territorial cry tektuk tektuk.  
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
Often overlooked, the Song Sparrow as the latin name implies has a beautiful song.
Next up and not too far from the parking lot a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers were hawking insects from a bush. It was enough warmth for a hatch of some kind but I couldn't identify any of the insects. Yellow-rumped Warblers are one of the few warblers who can switch to berries when its too cold for insect life.

Yellow-rumped Warbler  (Dendroica coronata)

Further along the dyke was one of the 'target' species I had hoped to photograph. Among a flock of White-crowned Sparrows was an American Tree Sparrow. Note the bi-coloured beak, one of the field markings to separate it from the immature white-crowned which it can be easily confused with.
American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)
The light was failing, the sun setting on a glorious afternoons birding. I thought to make a little detour before going home, commonly referred to by photographers as 'one more shot' 
Anyway, everyone had gone home, the dyke was deserted and the light was fading. I had to crank the ISO up to 3200 then 6400 for the Cooper's Hawk, a far cry from shooting birds on Kadachrome 64. Digital has been boon for photographers with the gap between 'professional' and hobbyist narrowing each year.
Cooper's Hawk (Accipter cooperii)
 The light was getting quite low when I spotted this Cooper's Hawk eying something off in the distance. Ten minutes later I stumbled on the same bird at a different location. I had to use ISO 6400 and slow shutter speed, as the bird busily tore apart a duck.
Cooper's Hawk with prey
As the day ended I turned to salute the sun, just then a Northern Harrier flew by patrolling the fields for its next meal.

Northern Harrier (Circus cynaeus)

It's never too late to start birding
John Gordon

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful shots so glad you found the tree sparrows