Sunday 29 March 2020

Stay Safe, We'll Get Through This Together

Mar 26 2020
Lower Mainland

Since I took these pictures the world has changed unmeasurably.
  Somethings however remain the same.  Outside my window a pair of crows break off twigs to build a nest. In the garden a Bewick's Wren has survived the winter and the neighbourhood cats. The Yellow-rumped Warblers have returned to the woodlot and swallows swoop over ponds. That part of our collective experience hasn't changed.

Some of you I know are holed up at home because of underlying health conditions or just worried about going out except for groceries. Please stay safe and guard your health.
If that is the case here are some miscellaneous images to hopefully cheer you up.
Boundary Bay access points like 104 St (above) are now closed to visitors.
Nikon Coolpix P1000 at 3000mm
 When I went birding in the first ten weeks of 2020 the world was a very different place. My plan to go birding in Arizona seems so far fetched now it's ridiculous, had I gone I would have been caught up in dodgy travel arrangements and all the other complications that would have entailed. Considering what has transpired that's a mere inconvenience and little comfort to my daughter and thousands of others who may lose their jobs or worst those who have contacted or succumbed to Covid-19. In the scheme of things it seems rather selfish to be out birding but we know that being outdoors will keep us healthy in mind, body and spirit. In these times I keep thinking of the words of the late Leonard Cohen.

"There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That's how the light gets in"
(Leonard Cohen)

A Ray of Light

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
Iona Regional Park
Nikon Coolpix P1000
A ray of light came in the form of a beautifully coloured finch at Iona Regional Park Wednesday morning.  It was a magical feeling, somewhat of a rare commodity lately. Thanks to Gillian Mitchell for letting all us share their find.
At the twitch we all kept a very respectful distance from each other and from other park visitors. We were very aware of not touching objects such as washroom doors, park benches and leaving no traces whatsoever. After a walk along the beach I drove straight home making sure I didn't come into contact with others.


Patch birds

I have as much as possible begun to seek out places to bird locally where I might avoid others or at least give them a wide berth.
I either bird within walking distance from home or drive within 5 kms.

Pacific Wren from Brydon Lagoon
Nikon Coolpix P1000

My patch is Brydon Lagoon in Langley City. I have been birding there for decade and had never seen a White-throated Sparrow until this year. There are actually two, both are very timid, often bullied by the Song Sparrows seeing them takes a little patience and stealth, it's good to see they have survived the winter.

White-throated Sparrow
Nikon Coolpix P1000

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Latimer Lake, Surrey
Nikon Coolpix P1000

Brown Creeper
Nikon Coolpix P1000
Arbour Ribbon Trail-Township of Langley

The Migration

 Meanwhile the migration is beginning with Mountain Bluebirds turning up all over the Lower Mainland and beyond.

It may seem selfish in these dire times to be posting photographs but I hope they might bring a little smile to those who might not be able to get out. These were mostly taken while shooting video on my Nikon Coolpix P1000. However with plenty of time on my hands it seems like a good time to update the blog.
 I have been shooting video for an upcoming project so my still photography is mostly taking a back seat for the moment. I am really exited about shooting video. I am having to learn new skills and terminology but it's all part of the lifelong learning experience. 

Mountain Bluebird
A small flock of Mountain Bluebirds turned up at Centennial Beach on the very same date in 2019, how uncanny is that.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 Centennial Beach (now closed to the public)

Canada Geese
Surrey Lake
Nikon Coolpix P1000

Nikon Coolpix P1000
I can't remember where I took this particular shot.

Some Images from Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary 

A semi tame Red-breasted Nuthatch comes for a hand-out.
Reifel Bird Sanctuary (now closed)
Nikon Coolpix P1000


Mallard wing pattern.

Sandhill Crane
Nikon Coolpix P1000 (Handheld)

I love the 3000mm zoom on the P1000, no way I am going to use a macro mode on a bird with a spear for a beak.


I don't photograph humans anymore so when a thin wisp of cloud covered the sun and created some  great light I started to focus in on a couple of confiding Wood Ducks. I noticed how visitors were admiring their beauty and being a regular visitor to Reifel I have fallen in to a pattern of walking right past these beautiful birds as I ventured forth to find the latest and greatest arrival. That's one of the pitfalls of listing, it's easy to overlook the obvious in the mad dash for a tick. The 24mm-3000mm P1000 allows to shoot from a great distance, the bokeh is amazing.
Wood Duck

Wood Duck

 I have enjoyed putting this smorgasbord of images together, something I have been putting off for months. I thought it might be therapeutic for myself and hopefully brings a smile to anyone else who has been affected by the recent events. Safer times will undoubtedly return. Time will be the healer.

"It's never to late too practice social distancing"
John Gordon
BC Canada

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Saturday Birding Walk


JOHN GORDON Time: 9:00 am to noon. 
Join John to explore Latimer Lake and walk to Stokes Pit. Enjoy the natural world coming to life in the spring: early flowers, catkins and possibly the first swallows. Meet at the Park, 19258 – 28th Avenue. Park along 28th Avenue. Phone 604-533-7171 for more information and to let us know to expect you


Brown Creeper
Pacific Wren

A Langley Field Naturalists Walk

Brydon Lagoon/Less is More

The Garden Wild
or whatever that means

When your patch comes under the scrutiny of planners the knee jerk reaction is to question where, what, when, and why and how. 
Dear Friends of Brydon Lagoon, especially those who can attend might want to raise objections (or not) to the idea of an observation deck in the middle of the pond (goodbye mergansers and buffleheads) as well as children's playground (goodbye birdsong)
 Personally I think things are just fine at the lagoon and the best thing is to do little more than leave it to the birds, beavers, coyotes and deer.

Please forward this link 
to anyone who may be interested and if you can attend the meeting (see below) make your thoughts known.

An excerpt from the Langley Advance News

"Next Wednesday, March 4th, Langley City residents will have another opportunity to shape the future development of the Nicomekl River District.

Scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Nicomekl School multi-purpose room, at 20050 53rd Ave., the event will see City staff present a “draft concept” of a plan that would create a four-zone district along both sides of the Nicomekl River corridor between 196th Street and 208th Street.

Zones would include the “Garden Wild” on the western end, which would see the area around Brydon Lagoon kept as natural as possible, the “Living Room” for residential development, the “Library,” where educational and interpretive programs would operate, and the “Front Porch,” on the eastern end, which would aim to encourage use of the corridor trails and other amenities"

"Less is More"
John Gordon
BC Canada

Anchovies:Bounty of the Ocean

White Rock Pier
February 3 2020 

*I have been so busy lately I never got round to posting these images and video. 

In December 2018 a severe winter storm cut White Rock pier in two. Almost nine months later it re-opened to much fanfare. The long anticipated opening was greeted with much anticipation by the public but especially birders. Finally we could "get out to sea"
The timing could not have been better as it coincided with perhaps the largest congregation of Northern Anchovy ever witnessed in Boundary Bay. As of February 3 the anchovies were still hanging around the pier. An important food source, anchovies have been described as the 'Bounty of the Ocean' 
Many species including salmon, Brown Pelicans and sea lions depend on them to maintain healthy populations. A recent die-off of Brown Pelicans and California Sea lions has been tied directly to the collapse in anchovy stocks.

The iconic White" Rock"

 The pier which re-opened just before Christmas was the perfect vantage point to watch the spectacle. California Sea Lions, Harbours Seals and countless species of birds put on a show. Many, even the locals had never witnessed anything like it. The event made the national news drawing even more visitors, a boon for the local restauranteurs who had hit hard times when the pier was shut down following the storm. 

Thousands and thousands of Northern Anchovies washed up on shore. 

The wintering bird population have been taking full advantage of the situation. Normally the phenomena takes place out at sea and out of sight. Thousands of visitors have been drawn to experience perhaps a once in a lifetime spectacle.

A beachcomber walks along the beach in White Rock.
Above: Note the Glaucous Gull( the all white gull) with black tipped bill on the shoreline.
This Black Turnstone was seen feasting on the anchovies at the base of the pier.

Some of the more savvy were seen hauling away bags of the nutritious little fish for dinner. The anchovy is similar and related to the sardine, albeit the meat is darker.

Glaucous-winged Gulls and Red-breasted Mergansers on the look-out for a meal.
Although seal lions eat mostly fish they will take seabirds during time of shortage.

Everyday was different at the pier. Some days there were hardly any gulls as was the case February 2, 2020.

Other days most of the gulls were Glaucous-winged or hybrids sometimes referred to as "Olympia Gulls"
The exception was dark chocolate brown Western Gull in the foreground. 
California Sea Lions herding anchovies into a bait ball.
Impossible to accurately count, just a portion of one thousand-two thousand birds or more birds at the pier.

More about Anchovies

Anchovy Frenzy Video

"It's never NOW too late to see the anchovies
but who knows, they might return"

John Gordon 
BC Canada