Tuesday 14 June 2016

The Birds They Keep on Coming

June 1-14 2016 Various Lower Mainland Locations

Adult Cedar Waxwing

This house finch has what appears to be horns. Last year a similar bird came to our feeder with the very same 'horns'
I have heard that it is some kind of disease. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

Male Lazuli Bunting. Winters in Mexico
Like the colour it's named after, the lazuli bunting is one of the most colourful birds found anywhere in North America or that case, anywhere in the birding world.
I have taken this shot from a low angle to include the blue sky and as little of the tangled blackberry bush as possible to simplify the composition. The colours found in the sky and bird co-ordinate in a way that pleases the eye.


Below I have photographed the same bird and when it flew to a nearby fencepost. I noticed a barn in the background so I re-positioned my tripod to work with the contrasting colours. The 'feel' of this picture is quite different from the one above. I also used the 8x10 frame rather than the 8x12. I can always go back my raw files and re-crop if a magazine comes looking for a cover shot. When shooting stock, always leave room for the magazine editors to place their title and inside contents.

Lazuli Bunting
I used a D500 and 500 F4 with a 1.4 converter to compress the background resulting in a gentle tradition from the barn in at the top of the background to the green grass at the bottom of the image. There has be no manipulation except for cropping and sharpening.
Red-breasted Sapsucker
I have been waiting for this shot of a red-breasted sapsucker for years. Finally I was able to find a location where the background was uncluttered and the bird was in the classic feeding position. The red, black and white of the bird set against the green leaves is for me at least, perfect colour co-ordination as nature intended it and as an added bonus the image appears pleasing on the eye.

Female red-breasted sapsucker
This illustrates a sapsucker gathering food. The bird has drilled hundreds of holes in a weeping birch tree where insects including red ants are attracted to feast on the sap. Red ants make up most of the sapsucker diet.  The sapsucker then returns on a regular basis to pick off insects. While photographing the sapsucker a rufous hummingbird also came to feed on the sap.
Red-breasted sapsuckers can be found year round in BC.

Ruffed Grouse
This ruffed grouse waits to cross a logging road, note the raised crest.
Ruffed grouse winter in BC.

Rufous Hummingbirds breed in BC and winter in Mexico.

The Reifel Sandhill Crane colt at 17 days old.
The Reifel sandhills are resident year round, unlike most sandhills which migrate to the USA for the winter.

Willow flycatcher.
The only way to distinguish a willow flycatcher from a least flycatcher is by voice.
Winters in Central and South America 
It never amazes me each time I go out bird in the British Columbia. My friends and relatives in the UK tell me how beautiful our Canadian birds are and when I visit them I tell them how beautiful their birds are. Anyone who has seen a goldfinch or bullfinch would readily agree. It just goes to show there ar beautiful birds everywhere, we only have to open eyes and listen to the birds!

"It's never too late to start birding" 
John Gordon
BC Canada


  1. John, excellent images! I understood that the "horns" on the Finch are a process of it's attaining adult plumage. Over the years I have seen a number of them with the same feathers.
    Excellent Lazuli Bunting. We had one in our front garden in Aldergrove about a month ago. Never did manage a shot of him.
    I enjoy your blog very much!

  2. Wonderful series of photos with interesting bits of information. I moved to Abbotsford last summer and I am surprised just how many Lazuli Buntings there are in the valley. I had thought that they were only present at Colony Farm Park, I have come across them in several places and I have been told they have been seen in others. Things like that make me wonder just how much we do not see.

    1. Lazuli can be found in more places than I ever thought. The more I speak to other birders they are also saying they are more common than previously thought. This year I have seen more species in more places than I ever thought. This afternoon I birded Brydon Lagoon and adjoining forest and in the space of two hours I had horned owl, green heron, nesting kingfishers, three species of swallows, cackling goose and many others. Before I birded properly I just saw the mallards. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog.

  3. Great photos John! I especially like the buntings and the sapsucker shots. Nice find on the Ruffed Grouse, that bird is very scarce west of Hope! Where did you see it?

    1. Sorry about the late response as I am in the UK. The grouse was on the Skajit Valley Road about halfway to the cross border campground. We go every year so if you want to go ask Mel or come with our group, the Langley Field Naturalists.

  4. Great shots John, puts mine to shame but yours are just wonderful!! Anne G

    1. Thanks Anne.I hope you are having a wonderful summer.