Monday 2 April 2018

March Birding in the Lower Mainland

March 2018 

Lower Mainland BC Canada

March can be a slow time for birding. Sometimes the whole day can blissfully pass away with little more than a few Song Sparrows or the ever present Dark-eyed Junco. Some days my camera stays in the bag, my bins are all I need to enjoy the forest, shoreline or park. Lately I have been birding with some really knowledgable birders who have helped me become a better birder. I even have a scope now, a small Hummingbird that I can slip in my pocket and handhold.  

American Bittern
Terra Nova, Richmond
 BirdingPal and good friend Michael visits Vancouver on a regular basis. Together we have visited most of the popular Metro Vancouver spots and it's usually me finding the birds. Watching someone get lifer after lifer is very satisfying but this time he was the one who came up trumps with an American Bittern. Had he not pointed it out I would have walked right by, as it turned out it was a  lifer for him and a 2018 year bird for me.

Boundary Bay
Thousands of over-wintering Dunlin and snow capped mountains create quite the spectacle on Boundary Bay. Eventually I found the Willet (below) but not without the help of master birder Dale Jensen.


Bush Tit nest building

The bushtits were already building their nests in early March.

Eurasian (Common) Teal
I had just returned from my Yucatan trip and on my first outing at Elgin Park I spotted a Common Teal with Green-winged version in the background for comparison.

Northern Pygmy Owl
Earlier in the month I had been to Maplewood looking for the Northern Goshawk but instead stumbled on this co-operative Northern Pygmy Owl. It took absolutely no notice of me at all, more intent on hunting. A few shots and I was off on my travels, besides how many more NOPO pictures
do I need anyway. Let the birds carry on with its business, for us it's a pastime, for them life or death.

Surrey Bend Regional Park 176 Street Surrey
Mountain Bluebird (Female)
I hadn't visited Surrey Bend Regional Park for a few years but many things have changed including the upgrading of trails opening up access to the marshland, riverbank and forest. The court is out if it benefits humans or animals best but as it turned out it did provide the opportunity to photograph a flock of four Mountain Bluebirds. The birds will stay for several days before making their way up the Fraser Valley to the Interior where they will breed.

Mountain Bluebird (Male)

Being at the right place at the right time..
Male White-winged Crossbill

I was driving through Richmond on my way back from Iona following a fruitless morning searching for the Say's Phoebe when a rare bird alert came in on my phone. The message 'WWCR posing for pix in the fir trees across the street from Richmond Nature Park'. I was there two minutes later.

I originally was so focused on the stunning males that I realized that I didn't have any shots of the female. She was a challenge being much more camouflaged but I eventually everything lined up for the shot below.

Female White-winged Crossbill
This is my favourite image from the thirty minutes I spent with the WWCR. The male though much more obvious and colourful got most of my attention until I noticed the subtle colouration on the mantle of the female. I spent most of my time waiting for her to feed on the cones. This is my favourite bird photograph for several years.

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


  1. Quite enjoyable series of images. I particularly like the female Crossbill blending in with the conifer cones. Your Bluebird image reminded me of the first one I saw in North Langley/Abbotsford you pointed it out to me a new bird photographer.

  2. Stunning pics love the ambi, wwcr and mobl

  3. Hi Nick and Mel,
    Thanks for the comments about the WWCR, much appreciated. It was a magical moment observing the WWCR.