Tuesday 21 August 2018

Birds on Parade

    Monday Aug 20 2018 Harbour Green Park to Vancouver Convention Centre.

Two years in the making, the Vancouver International Festival of Birds parade was billed as "A Great Murmuration" of bird puppets. A great gathering it was, a flock of two hundred visual artists, closet birders and musicians gathered at Vancouver's Harbour Green Park for the spectacle.
Great Gray Owl.

Blue Heron

         The assorted flock began their migration by gleaning, pecking, mobbing (mostly dastardly crows and one Raven) flexing and fluffing their feathers. Overhead Glaucous-winged Gulls swooped and glided effortlessly over the parade, a reminder of their avian grace and agility. 
Just for a brief moment there seemed to be something special in the air and of course on the ground too. 

Whopping Crane

The flock prepares to take off.

Northwestern Crow and Tufted Puffin.

Bald Eagle 

Long-billed Curlew.

Black Oystercatcher.

 I should have brought my Sibley's, any misidentifications are my fault entirely. Here are some pictures for those who couldn't attend either because of work, distance or those unable to breath in the sooty atmosphere that had descended on Vancouver.

Ladies on a roll. 

 Made from toilets rolls, string and tape. Swarovski Optiks watch out!
Birders and  Twitchers (Birdus Twitchus)

Various species were represented by flag bearers. 

A Bald Eagle followed by Anna's Hummingbird.

Baldy the Eagle.
The majority of masks were made with papier mache, some from other household materials, many of the flock had even taken the trouble to learn bird song and calls. 

Red-tailed Hawk.

Whopping Crane close-up.

Following the march to the Vancouver Convention Centre for the opening of the Vancouver Bird Festival/Artists for Conservation Festival participants gathered to witness the unveiling of five new Canadian Post stamps featuring birds.
Opening ceremonies.

Steller's Jay and Canada Goose share the stage.

Canada Post was on site.

The Vancouver Bird Festival runs Aug19-26 in conjunction with the 2018 International Ornithological Congress 
for more information 

Thursday 2 August 2018

Puffins and Auklets/San Juan Cruises

July 2018

San Juan Puffin watching cruises depart from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal / Alaska Ferry Terminal in Bellingham, WA.

The weather couldn't have been better. A high pressure system had stalled off the British Columbia and Washington coastline. Conditions were perfect for a boat trip, the ocean was calm and the sky cobalt blue.

Pelagic Cormorant "condo"

 Plenty of sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat were mandatory. On board the San Juan Cruise Puffin watching trip were a dozen members of the Langley Field Naturalists as well naturalists from White Rock and Delta. 

Double-crested Cormorants.
What surprised me most were the large numbers of Rhinoceros Auklets.

Most auklets were too far out of range for photography but as we neared Smith Island the boat slowed to view harbour seals making it easier to snap a few shots. 

Harbour Seal and pup.

 Rhinoceros Auklet

Most auklets were seen flying away from the boat which gave the photographers on board the opportunity to snag some flight shots, albeit from a distance. These images are highly cropped but does include a nice reflection in the water.

Heermann's Gulls out numbered Glaucous-winged and Ring-billed. During lulls in the action we looked for the odd  California Gulls that mingled with the other gull species

Heermann's Gull

         Two hours into the trip we reached Smith Island but not before viewing several colonies of         Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants. Also present albeit in lesser numbers were Brandt's Cormorant.

Double-crested Cormorant colony

Smith Island is one of few areas left that Tufted Puffins are regularly seen in the San Juan Islands. Historically, these birds had many nesting colonies throughout the islands. However, due to population declines they have become rare and are listed as a “species of concern”.
(Courtesy San Juan Cruise website)

At Smith Island the tide was low and the Tufted Puffins were feeding in and around the kelp beds. Some young puffins were present but they stayed well away from the boat, at least it speaks of a successful breeding season. The skipper cut the motor and we drifted while we were served a delicious pasta meal.

Common Murre
The crew then decided to look for a lone male Killer Whale that had been spotted nearby. Shortly we came across a whale watching boat and from a good distance were able to observe a single male Orca  sending spray skyward. What better way to spend a day.

5 Harlequin Duck 
1 Common Loon 
5 Brandt's Cormorant 
30 Pelagic Cormorant 
50 Double-crested Cormorant 
5 Turkey Vulture 
3 Black Oystercatcher 
6 peep sp.
4 Common Murre 
30 Pigeon Guillemot 
6 Marbled Murrelet 
60 Rhinoceros Auklet 
8Tufted Puffin

More info
Puffin and Auklet watching

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

                                                                 Bird watching cruise