Friday 11 November 2016

Coming Up Trumps

 Nov 8-10 2016 

Various Lower Mainland Locations

Rain, rain and then finally some sunshine.

White Rock Pier
Black turnstone White Rock pier.
White Rock pier was the place to be this week especially on the flood tide. Large congregations of smelt hung in and around the pier where hundreds of western grebe and one Clarke's grebe joined the hundreds of Bonaparte gulls in a veritable feeding frenzy. Red-necked loons, American coots, horned grebe, surf and white winged scoters and a female kingfisher also joined in the feast.

White-winged scoter.
Not the best photograph or the best way to photograph a bird. Normally the  eye usually goes to the brightest part the photo which in this case is the distracting sheen on the water. There's way too much going on to make this anymore than an ID shot but it being a year bird I thought it worth including.
A Bonaparte gull creates an interesting reflection. There's much to explore here on future visits.
Bonaparte gull.
Thank goodness for auto-focus of the Nikon D500. 

As many as fifty harbour seals herded shoals of smelt and probably a few herring into balls setting off a feeding frenzy that has been continuing all week.

Blackie Spit

A sanderling walks along riprap at the end of White Rock pier.

Lapland Longspur

I then went down to nearby Blackie Spit where five snow buntings had been reported. My first bird was this lone Lapland longspur.

Male Snow Bunting.
There were two groups of snow buntings at different locations. They were quite tolerant of photographers and passersby.
Female Snow Bunting
 The morning had started off with a heavy dew but by midday temperatures had hit a record 18c, T-shirt weather in November, even a stiff breeze coming off the ocean didn't cool things down.
Apparently the Pineapple_Express had arrived in BC and is still here as I write a week later. Although the warmth might be good of humans, the warming ocean in the Pacific is causing havoc with fish stocks displaced and many species, especially alcids are suffering from depleted food resources.

Boundary Bay

Yellow-rumped Warbler.

The fascination with owls is understandable. They conjure up memories from childhood, to some they have a cultural significance. Some associate them with wisdom and to others the owl is a companion in the afterlife. 

Long-eared Owl.

No wonder owl draw crowds. The long-eared is especially stunning. Once the word got out where this ever so co-operative owl was the internet lit up. Soon car loads of photographers began arriving on scene. What made things a little more circus-like was the arrival of a birding group from Bellingham. Soon thirty people were watching the bird. A group of us stood hundred metres away and hopes everyone behaved, they did. A few days later I was told the bird was gone from its almost perfect perch, here's hoping it had had enough and found a quieter location.

Note: I have always been of the understanding not to post the exact location of owls and I have waited to post this picture for the very reason outlined above. I was lucky to have taken this shot, one of 15 frames before the crowds came but I have to wonder why one photographer had to take hundred and hundreds of pictures of a bird that ever barely moved.



Parting Shot

Brown creeper
I hope you have enjoyed these images as I continue to enjoy the local birding experience. It never ceases to amaze me the generosity of other birders who share their finds and impart their knowledge so freely, it wouldn't be so much fun without you all. Thanks everyone and see you in the field.

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


  1. After that awful election we all needed to get out and clear the mind and do some good birding was nice to have the rain part for a little bit. Looks like you had some great days of birding and good shots. I sure hope that long-eared owl was able to rest in peace that's way too many people around a nocturnal bird that needs to sleep in the day but very glad to hear everyone behaved well.

    1. Thanks, I thing the owl was OK, but I agree too many people. Good luck with the Lucy's Warbler.