Thursday 1 September 2016

Boundary Bay Bird Bonanza

Aug 30 2016  2106 Boundary Bay, Delta British Columbia. Sun/clouds 19c

Yesterday's birding had been magical. The confluence of an evening tide, some fine late summer weather and the chance of more good birds would draw me back to the mudflats of Boundary Bay.

 This time I had the opportunity to catch up with a flock of Baird's Sandpipers (see below) 
Many sandpipers, including Baird's, least, pectoral buff-breasted and western can often be found along the high tide line. On the ebb tide they continue to feed in the pools left by the receding water, hunkering down when predators like the peregrine falcon are on the prowl. Generally the best time to go looking is early morning before too many people are around or during the afternoon or high evening tides. Higher water pushes flocks closer to land. August through October is the best time for shorebirds although spring and winter can be productive for overwintering dunlin, marbled goodwill and occasional long-billed curlew.

Baird's Sandpiper. Note the blackish legs.
Every year I have to delve back into the bird books to remind myself about the subtle differences between the many sandpipers species. I had totally forgotten that the Baird's have black legs.

However there is no mistaking the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. They seem to have a certain regal elegance about them. Less frenetic than most sandpipers, they appear more composed, more graceful.
Most of all they are a beautiful bird and quite rare with only a handful visiting our region each year. To see a small flock of four individuals is a very special treat.
I wanted to re-shoot the Buff-breasted Sandpiper in better light and came up with these two images. 

A  buff-breasted looks around just as a flock of sanderling flew over. There were four of the birds in a small area just east of 104.
(Below) This shot below is a too little tight in the frame for my satisfaction. The bird, perhaps unaware of my presence came so close to me that I couldn't back-off. Ideally it is better to leave a little more space for the subject to move into or even try to include a bit more of the environment. If I hadn't had my 1.4x converter on my 500mm lens I could have included more background.
Pectoral Sandpiper. Note the yellow legs.

The Ruff again but from a lower angle than yesterday where there was just too much clutter in the background.

A savannah sparrow came to check me out while I was photographing the sandpipers.

Semi-palmated sandpiper

It was another splendid day in paradise and it wasn't just the birds. I bumped into a number of birding acquaintances as well as a number of young birders like Logan and Liron whose knowledge and enthusiasm for birding is incredibly inspiring. Thanks to Logan who pointed out the pectoral and Liron for biking up and down the dyke with the latest birding news. I saw Birdergirl Mel who was with Cole and some other young birders, her encouragement for young birders deserves plenty of kudos. Then there was a young family who when shown the sandpipers were so engrossed that they decided to go and buy a camera and return the next day. Then there was a good friend and mentor, he of Welsh extraction, who came down and saw two lifers and to the many others I stopped and talked with. Actually when I think about it I spent more time chatting than actual photography but that's what makes being part of the birding community so rewarding, that and the fresh air!

Until next time.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't get better than now at boundary bay congrats John and lovely shots