Wednesday 27 February 2019

Car Birding and Further Adventures

Version 2

February 2019.
Various Locations

I knew there was something wrong when during the Ladner Christmas Bird Count my left foot starting acting up. At the end of the day I could hardly stand, to add insult to injury my car broke down and had to be towed back to Langley. I first thought the pain was from an older lingering  injury. That night I searched the internet for a diagnosis and soon discovered I had contracted Planta Faciitis. In the scheme of things it's a temporary inconvenience. The bottom line is that I have had to curtail my daily walks and my birding. Keeping off my feet for a few days quickly turned into two weeks and two weeks is now approaching almost two months and I'm still not fully mobile.
To continue birding and listing I had to come up with a cunning plan. The solution was simple. I would bird from my car or at a push not more than few hundred metres away.

First up was a Virginia Rail and then this Sora at Terra Nova, it was close enough to the parking lot for me to handle the walk.

This Sora was a short distance from the Terra Nova car park.

My limited mobility's meant planning places with easy access. White Rock Promenade is a good example. It's only a few steps from the car park to where I had no problems scoping for Long-tailed Ducks and White-winged Scoters and half a dozen other species. 
At Blackie Spit a Kildeer was close enough to be scoped from the car window. I even found a Willet on the foreshore at 104 St, again only a few steps from the car to the dyke overlooking Boundary Bay
 My longest trek so far was for the American Bittern at Terra Nova, a short jaunt of a few hundred metres but that was enough steps to send me back home with an aching foot. I even scored a few year birds including a Bonaparte's Gull at Ambleside, again only a few steps from the car park 

(Below) Wilson's Snipe taken within 100 metres from the car.

Wilson's Snipe

The American Bittern is a difficult bird to find at anytime of the year. This was only the third I had come across in a decade. There was snow on the ground and it was an unseasonably cold the day I went to Terra Nova in Richmond. I had the notion of settling down and watching the bird forage along the dyke. I sat on my haunches and kept a low profile. I figured that because of the direction the bird was heading it would eventually have to negotiate a small snow bank, it was just a question of hunkering down and being patient. Eventually when the foot traffic on the dyke had petered out the bird crossed the snow bank, all I needed was overexpose (because of the snow) one stop to get plenty of detail in the plumage.  

American Bittern (AMBI)

Some 'birder birders' with point and shoots have mentioned to me on numerous occasions that many images of birds taken by photographers are often so tightly cropped that they are bereft of any context. To answer that particular question or statement I am including a second picture of the AMBI which places it in a reed bed. Both have a value and elicit different reactions, you decide which image you prefer, if any. Personally I think both have validity, especially for a publication where too much detail won't fit into an editors requirements. The first shot in the snow would work as a cover or inside while the second image would not make a cover shot but would work well inside, it all depends on the layout. The solution then is to photograph for both eventualities or just shoot away and enjoy yourself.


White-fronted Gesse

My next car birding outing was for a flock White-fronted Geese that had been seen flying over the Serpentine Fen. Previous attempts to locate he flock had been unsuccessful. A text from birding buddy Mike Klotz led to the exact spot on 40th Ave in Surrey. I photographed the geese from the car with my favourite Nikon D500 and 200mm-500mm F5.6 Zoom. I beginning to like car birding. 

A Few More Images to put February to Bed

Peregrine Falcon flyover.

Northern Hawk Owl hunting for voles.

 (A Rare Bird)

A few weeks into my Planta Faciitis I felt that my foot was getting better. Against my better judgementI decided to go on walkabout with fellow birder Carlo Giovanella in search of a Northern Hawk Owl. The walk would entail a kilometre or two of walking on level ground, a cakewalk I thought.

I decided to keep the whole branch in the picture rather than crop tightly.

Our quarry was easy to spot, just look for photographers. At first the bird was way up in a tall snag with only one foray. I missed the action. We were about to leave after an hour of waiting when the owl suddenly flew toward us and into a tree close to the dyke. These images are from that magical moment. 

Thanks for looking.

Some interesting links

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


  1. Nice varieties and great effort to get these shots. Sorry to hear about your ailment. I have similar problem s and once or twice or more a year it would bother me, on top of gout near my big toe. I had an attack last year around August/September and it took about 3 to 5 weeks to go away, just in time for my planned trip to Japan and Malaysia. Unfortunately, no serious birding, just a regular tourist and hanging out with family. Hopefully next trip will reserve some time strictly for birding. Wishing you speedy recovery and back to walking and birding.

  2. Very sorry to hear that I suffer from the same. I hope your new orthotics will help you . In the beginning as you break them in they are a bit painful but it will be worth the 500$ you have to pay for them! lovely shots and write up here is to many more good days of birding free of foot pain!