Friday 3 April 2015

A Warbler, A Bluebird and an Owl.

Mar 31/15 Jericho Park Kitsilano Vancouver 12c Sun and Clouds

It was almost a week since a Mountain Bluebird and Say's Phoebe drew a number of birders to Locarno Beach in Vancouver. Due to my 'VERY busy birding schedule' I missed the Vancouver Say's Phoebe,
Back from the Okanagan (see previous blog) I made my way down to find the Palm Warbler, a species not often see in the Lower Mainland. I looked forward to seeing the Kitsilano bird. My only other sighting was a brilliant male palm in Richmond Park East. That same the day, April 22nd 2012 I also photographed a vagrant Ladner Dicksissel. Quite the day!

Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum) and cherry blossom.

Occasionally the palm would drop an insect and swoop to the ground to pick it up.

Trying to get a clear shot with sky proved quite a challenge, this shot was one of my favourite. 

A funny thing birding, especially whenever there's a twitch, there no need to look for the bird, just head for a crowd of people staring into a tree. Many I am told are frequent visitors to their chiropractors with the dreaded 'Warbler Neck'
The diminutive Palm Warbler, weighs in at just 7 grams would be much harder to find were it not for all those eyes to help. I am not too sure who first found the palm but a huge thanks for posting your find, allowing the rest of us the opportunity to add the bird to our list. I'm sure a few of the thirty  present took time off from work...or school to enjoy watching the bird!
Who would have thought to look in those particular trees in the first place, outside an apartment block when there are acres of parkland right next door! I suppose the profusion of flowers and the protein rich pollen was the attraction for the bird. Also in the tree were a number of Pine Siskin.

After the palm I made my way down to nearby Locarno Beach to catch up with a very accommodating Mountain Bluebird. I had never seen them in the Lower Mainland. After photographing the bird I think I discovered why it seemed to like this particular spot. Watching the bird feed on an plentiful supply of insects I sat back and watched it come to a nearby log, it paused looked at the other photographers and then began to drink out of a small crack where rainwater had gathered following recent rains.
Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
 Note the water drop reflecting off the bird's breast.

Occasional the bird would take flight to hawk insects and land on one of two bushes on the beach.

Locarno Beach taken with Nikon P900
See small patch of blue on the log on the right. The bluebird drank from the log and perched in these two trees before swooping down to the beach to feed on insects.

Later in the day I visited Queen Elizabeth Park, where Tulips and Daffodils and Cherry were in full bloom.  It was 20c and there wasn't much bird captivity. Bushtits making nests, Spotted Towhees, Pine Siskins, Rufous and Anna's Hummingbird were ALL I saw, very quiet indeed. I was looking for Hutton's Vireo so if anyone can help me in that endeavour, that would be greatly appreciated. There were however plenty of people enjoying the sunshine, peace and quiet. I had a picnic and watched the tourists photographing the flowers and then dozed off for a few moments.

Later in the day I spent an hour at Harbour Park before heading for sumptuous supper at the local Golden Arches. It had been a long day but more birding was ahead.


Boundary Bay at dusk 7.30 p.m

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
A strictly noctural hunter it was a privilege to see this Barn Owl land on a post preparing to hunt. It was 7.30 p.m and the light was fading fast. I had to shoot at ISO 3200 F4 1/500 sec. I used a Nikon D3s and a 500 F4 on a tripod to have any chance of a half decent flight shot. This is where the slower lens like the Tamron and Sigma 150mm-600mm lenses are just too slow. Newer Nikon and Canon cameras have incredible light gathering capabilities especially the full frame models but even when you get to 3200 ISO things begin to look a bit noisy. However, I would rather have something to show for my efforts rather than be fussy about noise and getting bogged down in technical issues. This not to say the slower lenses won't work but you are loosing 2-3 three stop min shutter speed using the above zooms and that can be critical to your success. 

The Hunter: Shot after sunset light from the sky illuminates the wings.

Another day's birding came to an end as darkness fell. With the Barn Owl my BC year list now stands at 120 species. It's my first attempt at a year list so I gives me impetus to search out new species and get know other parts of the province and when the snow melts, the rest of Canada.
It had been a long day and on the drive home the warmth from the car's heater nearly sent me to sleep and into a ditch. I must have been dreaming of that baked potato topped with melted butter  and cheese and the game of footy waiting for me on the PVR. 
At home memories of day flooded back into my mind, especially the moment earlier in the day when another birder mentioning to me how she cherished every moment of life especially when she birded, she then rambled off some Latin phrases, the only part I understood was the the bit about Carpe Diem, and on that I completely agree. 

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
Langley /Cloverdale

Management takes no responsibility wordiness and grammatical errors, the author was probably asleep in English class although to his credit did get an 'O' level in English literature.

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