Sunday 23 October 2016

Forest Bathing and Misc Birds/Locations

Oct 3-24 2016 Various Locations
Lower Mainland BC.

Forest Scenes

"Bathed in Sunlight"

                              How the forest around Brydon Lagoon had changed in a few weeks. 

The brilliant sunshine which had lit up the leaves of the vine maples had been replaced by autumn rainfall and even a few frosty nights. The leaves that had been so colourful had now curled and fallen to the ground. 

On the plus side, the ruby-crowned kinglets and black-capped chickadees were now far easier to see.
A ruby-crowned kinglet picking off insects.

Ruby-crowned kinglet.

A Pacific wren sat on its favourite perch, then as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone.

High ISO camera setting made this shot possible.


  "Forest Bathing"....Really!

"A recent article in the Vancouver Sun by Marc and Craig Kielburger claim the trend of "forest bathing" has been popular in Japan for the past decade and has now spread to North America where some doctors, holistic and traditional are now prescribing 90 minute walks in the forest to reduce blood pressure etc.
In my opinion it's something that has been around for millennia, it's just that some have just lost the ability to interact with nature and need a doctor's permission to commune with nature. What a crazy world!

I'm always amazed about how many people complain about the weather here in BC. According to my journal there were so far, only three days in 2016 that weren't birdable due to inclement weather. 

A flock of bushtits suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Full of character they'll brighten up anyone's day. I waited for a catchlight in the bushtit's eye before pressing the shutter.

On recent visits to Brydon Lagoon I was surprised to see a very large flock of cackling geese. Most of the geese were only slightly larger than mallards. Some but not all had a rufous breast while many were charcoal coloured. Some had a plain breast, others had a white ring around the neck. Adding to the confusion there are several sub-species of cackling geese, some of which might have been present. 
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)

The birds have been hanging around for most of October, flying in and out several times during the day. They spent their evenings resting and feeding on nearby farmland. Amongst the cackling geese (Ridgeway's) were some larger cacklers but still too small to be Canada Geese.
The larger Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) weren't that impressed by having "their"lagoon taken over by their smaller cousins and spent most of their days in a nearby backwater.

Cackling Geese Nikon P900

Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) at Reifel
My favourite place to find Amanita Muscaria is along the inner first paths at Reifel.

On the shoreline

 Meanwhile down at the Tsawwassen FerryTerminal the birding has been very good with a great variety of species.

Common Loon
Photographed in the pouring rain at a low angle the large bill and the white eye ring are tell tale signs that this is a juvenile common loon. This species spend their winters on the coast and return to inland lakes to nest in the spring.

 Always a joy to photograph, Lapland Longspurs are quite tolerant to humans and left their own devices will continue to feed if given enough space. Best approached and photographed from a car or by a low angled approach.
Non-breeding male Lapland Longspur.
Lapland longspur.
Lapland longspur
Black oystercatcher.
Black turnstone.

Safety in numbers

Whimbrel and black oystercatcher.
A lone whimbrel find companionship with a flock of black oystercatchers. The whimbrel feeds on small crabs and the oystercatchers shellfish. I'm sure the whimbrel finds shelter amongst the oystercatchers especially with predators like peregrine falcons and bald eagles patrolling the shoreline.

White Rock Pier

This surf scoter has learnt to pluck mussels off the White Rock pier stanctions at low tide.

Female surf scoter.

Male surf scoter

A walk around Stokes Pit with Cos and Carlo produced some good birds. The extensive trails produced some good views of ruby-crowned kinglets and at the very end of the walk, a pileated woodpecker.
Pileated Woodpecker

The following day we went back to Latimer Pond with a plastic bag to pick up garbage and while walking the woods my wife and I were surrounded by a mixed flock of bushtits, chestnut-backed chickadees, golden-and ruby-crowned kinglets and a lone downy woodpecker. We spent an amazing ten minutes standing motionless while the flock of about thirty birds fed around us..truly a magical moment.
Golden-crowned kinglet.
Downy Woodpecker

Finally but not least a hermit thrush feeding on mountain ash or rowan berries in Richmond at end of Blundell Rd. Originally I was looking for the Townsend's Solitaire but i'll settle for this beauty. 

If you have reached this far I thank you and hope you continue too revel and bathe in nature as often as possible, 
Until next time.

"Its never to late to start getting outdoors"

John Gordon
BC Canada

Friday 21 October 2016

FYI Nikomekl clean-up


Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

DATE:  Sunday, October 30, 2016

TIME:  9:30 for organizers,  10:00 for volunteers

WHERE: 13800 block - 40th Avenue,  Surrey, B.C.
(Near 40th Ave. & 140th St.)

Hi Everyone, 
I am not sure If I can make this years clean-up but I have done so in the past. The work is not hard and you'll meet some of the nicest people ever. Here is the information if you decide to go. This from an email posted by Leona Breckenridge Oct 21/16

Please mark your calendars for our Sunday, October 30, 2016 Nicomekl cleanup which is just over a week away.  So far there does not appear to any large addition to the debris on the riverbank following recent storms but there is lots of garbage, styrofoam, etc. waiting to be picked up.    The October 21st edition of the Peace Arch News has a story on Page 3 about a yacht breaking lose at one of the marinas and causing a lot of damage.  It will be interesting to see what new and interesting things we find during our cleanup.

The cleanup is being held on only one day and the City of Surrey will be assisting by picking up anything that we are not able to remove.  All we have to do is get the items onto the dike.

We will not be doing a complete count of the items we find for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup on the day of the cleanup.  This has been very difficult to do in the past, so this time we are going to document and count only the larger items at the cleanup site.  We will take all the small items home with us and have a garbage counting party in my garage on another day. 

The cleanup will be done rain or shine, but we're sure hoping for good weather.

Please register by contacting Leona Breckenridge if you plan to participate so that we can provide further cleanup information, access details, get the paperwork done, and organize cleanup teams.  

Contact Info:
Phone: 604-531-5632

Note:  This cleanup of the northern bank of the Nicomekl is possible because the White Rock and Surrey Naturalists are allowed access to the privately owned dike across farmland.  For this reason we need to control access and the cleanup is for adults only.

You are receiving this message because you have volunteered for previous Nicomekl riverbank cleanups or have expressed an interest in doing so.  If you do not wish to be contacted in the future please let me know.

Monday 17 October 2016

Mexico Birding Talk Oct 20.2016

Earlier in the year my wife and I had the opportunity the visit Mexico. I travelled 'light' taking only my Nikon D500, a 200-500 F5.6 lens and a small Nikon P7100 point and shoot. I did a little research beforehand but found most of the birds around the hotel, the riverbanks and adjacent shoreline. I ended with 90 species without the use of a guide.

I was asked to put a show together for the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN) and the resulting presentation will be at the Langley Music School Thursday Oct 20/2016 following the business meeting of the (LFN). It should get underway around 7.30. Free of charge, everyone welcome. There will be coffee and goodies afterwards.

A five day trip may be arranged with renowned birder, guide and author Greg Homel is there is enough interest. 
Please contact me if you are interested.

If you know anyone who might be interested in attending please forward this link.

Address4899 207 St, Langley, BC, Canada


Saturday 15 October 2016

Ted Talk:How Small Birds and Global Warming and More.

How small birds enrich our view on global warming | Janne Ouwehand | TEDxUniversityofGroningen

Published on Oct 4, 2016
Janne Ouwehand studies the pied flycatcher, which is a small long-distance migrating bird that is affected by climate warming. As much as we feel the urge to simplify such big environmental problems, she emphasizes the value of thoroughly zooming in on small animals as well. Janne Ouwehand’s study on the pied flycatcher reveals, among other things, how their unbelievable flight capabilities connect different parts of the world, but also their problems. Large variation in life-style within this single species shows how truly diverse the impact of global warming is, and thereby highlights the potential resilience of nature to such major environmental changes.

Janne Ouwehand is currently a PhD candidate in Conservation Ecology at the University of Groningen. Janne performed three projects within well-known research institutes to explore various avenues to study behavioral variation in gulls and songbirds, e.g. field experiments, tracking techniques and genetics. A passion for nature, involvement, curiosity, perseverance and an exploring mind underlie her field research to understand how animals can adapt their behavior when environments change.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

More about the work done to protect raptors in the UK.

Some terms you have to know to be cool!

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Sunny Day Birding

Oct 4/16 Westham Island/Brunswick Point/BC
I spent the morning at Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. As luck would have it I was only a five minute walk from where a sharp-tailed sandpiper had been spotted by Reifel manager Kathleen Fry. The light was good and the bird was not too far way, too bad I didn't have my big lens and teleconverter but the Nikon 200-500 F5.6 worked well enough. 

Juvenile Sharp-tailed sandpiper

The sharp-tailed, a juvenile bird was the second sighting of the year for me and made my morning. I also had to time to chat with Tottenham Hotspurs (Spurs) fan Nigel whose superb photography I have been following on Twitter. It's alway good to chat 'footy' with a fellow Brit. You might ask, what has that got to do with birding..absolutely nothing, except spinning yarns about birding and the beautiful game is an excellent ways to pass the time of day. 

Long-billed dowitcher and short-tailed sandpiper.

On the other hand the northern shrike was a ways off so I have had to enlarge it 300%. Add to that the sun was behind the bird. I had to overexpose to get any detail and then apply the shadow tool in Lightroom to bring out any breast markings. Anyway it was a year bird (#241 for Canada) so I was more than happy. Not so happy were a nearby flock of American pipits it was hunting.
Distant ID shot of northern shrike.


What owls are supposed to do in the daytime....Sleep!

Barred Owl
Most owls, except a few diurnal species like short-eared owls hunt mostly at dusk and night. During the day they have to sleep.
Recently I saw a series of barn owl shots in which every single shot the bird was fully alert and staring right in to the camera lens, it even looked ruffled and agitated.
I can't be certain but it looked like the bird had been disturbed purely to get a photograph. Studies have shown that owls that are disturbed and are deprived of sleep have a far higher mortality rate than normal. 

Owls are one of the most sought after species by photographers so putting their welfare first is paramount. In time you'll eventually find an owl out in the open feeding. Perhaps a long-eared owl preening on a fence post or a barn owl hunting over a field at dusk, that's the time to take all the photographs you want. If perhaps you haven't photographed too many owls and find a sleeping bird take a quick shot (like the barred owl above) and quietly move on. Let sleeping birds sleep. There will always be another opportunity.

"Let sleeping owls sleep"
John Gordon
Bc Canada

Friday 7 October 2016

FYI: Spotted Owl Tour

Oct 7 2016 Langley BC
I just received this from the Langley Field Naturalists. I have been on the tour myself and thought readers might be interested as it's the only time most of us will ever see a spotted owl, albeit in captivity. 
Captive spotted owl

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada

Sunday 2 October 2016

Avifauna: Stamps of Canada

Before the internet, e-mail and messaging humans used to communicate mostly face to face, by phone or letter. The art of letter writing has for most since become a thing of the past, not that there is anything wrong with that, it just has.

Back in the day, a letter would be carefully composed, popped into an envelope and a stamp affixed. I can still taste the glue arabic on my tongue. After being delivered stamps were often cut off the envelope, re-cycled for charity or collected into albums. The serious collectors called themselves philatelists, most of us grew out of it when family and associated bills came along, myself included. Even though I don't collect and haven't for forty years I do enjoy looking at stamps and appreciate them as miniature pieces of art.  I even sold my stamp collection to come to Canada.
Stamps would reveal much about foreign countries, their ways of life, their culture, their economy, even their wildlife. While some would collect world stamps others would choose a theme like fish, flowers or birds. To some, myself included stamps were portals into an exotic world in far off places. Through stamp collecting I learnt more about history and geography than sitting in any classroom and later it life piqued my interest in world travel. I have since visited many of the places depicted on the stamps I collected as a kid, the most memorable was Easter Island.

Recently I came across this link of Canadian bird stamps and some of the species found in Canada. I sent some of the links to fellow birders and they all enjoyed what they saw and couldn't believe how birds have been so well represented over the years. I thought I would share it with you. I hope you also enjoy their beauty.

At the bottom of the links page right is an arrow to take you more countries and their species. At least it was something interesting to look at on a rainy Saturday afternoon!

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