Monday, 16 March 2015

Lower Mainland Birding

                         March 12-13 2015 Various Lower Mainland Locations Sunny 19c

Ann'a Hummingbird (Calypte anna) feeding one of two nestlings. 
A female Anna's Hummingbird feeds one of her two chicks. The nestlings are about two weeks old and still have short beaks. Anna's hummingbirds live year round in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland area. For the UK readers I would describe Vancouver's weather as something like Devon and Cornwall with occasional cold blasts just like the UK. The rest of Canada is as you imagine Canada to be....cold in winter and hot in summer.
Some Anna's will try for a second clutch if the soon to arrive and more aggressive Rufous Hummingbirds leave them alone. This particular nest was within feet of a very busy pathway so staying any length of time would attract attention from passersby.
When the female was away from the nest we would point our lenses in another direction so as not to draw attention to the nest.
Ethical birding practices includes not disclosing the location of nesting birds so therefore I have left their location out of this blog just to say that this series of pictures were taken in three different locations. 


Barred Owls hunt mainly at night or early in the morning. They choose a handy perch and sleep most of the day sometimes waking up for a shake of the head or perhaps when mobbed by crows. They can be easily disturbed by humans and dogs so care must be taken not to flush them. Many owls including Northern Saw-whet and Great Horned often perch very close to human activity when they might have acres of forest to choose from. Go figure! 
"Head Shake" Barred Owl (Strix varia)
This Barred Owl awoke when a squirrel ran within inches of its gaze. Once the squirrel realized its folly it froze, eventually moving away very slowly until out of danger. After opening its eyes for a few seconds the owl then rubbed its head on a branch and then shook its head in a circular motion, the slow shutter speed was used catch the motion.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Usually the Night Herons at Reifel are hidden in a tangle of branches but this one was almost in the open so why not rattle off a few frames.
The Sandhill Cranes were in an frisky mood with more than one pair going through the courtship rituals.

Common Loon (Gavia immer)
Next stop was Blackie Spit. In the past I have found some interesting birds including a Solitary Sandpiper and Horned Lark, there is always something interesting. On Thursday afternoon Gareth Pugh and his group counted 42 species in a few hours, a Red-necked Grebe being the best sighting. Before they arrived I photographed this Common Loon diving for crabs. I waited for the bird to dive before approaching closer. Despite my low angle the bird knew I was there all the time, eventually it moved away and I moved on.
Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)
 This is a heavily cropped shot of one of my favourite forest birds. the Varied Thrush. I actually heard it before eventually spotting it high up in a tree. I alway remember sound recorder and birder John Neville calling the bird the 'tone deaf thrush' very apt as its call is not that melodious making it easy to pick out from the rest of the Spring chorus.
Varied Thrush
Other birders keep telling me they have Varied Thrush come to their feeders but I've yet to find one that tame so for now I will have to be content with shooting them from a distance. There's no great rush, much of the fun is in the waiting and searching.

Pacific Wren formally Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Finally this Pacific Wren was heard long before I almost tripped over it. I must have been very close to its lair. These diminutive forest birds make any walk in the forest that more interesting with their noisy antics. I have a dozen good shots but I like that this shot has motion in the wings, exactly as I remember the scene.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon


  1. Gorgeous shots wow! I especially love the Anna's feeding her babies. I have found four nests this year and following them all just love this time of year! Gorgeous Pacific Wren shot too!

  2. Wonderful shots John! I agree with the disclosure of nest sites. I really enjoy in your blog how you include the ethical side of birding. Well done. Great shots of the Thrush; beautiful bird.

  3. Hi Tony,
    Thanks for the feedback. I am having the best time photographing birds, more than any other facet of photography I have ever been involved in. Part of that joy is the amazing people I have met in the field, both photographers and birders alike.