Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 21 and 22 - Productive Weekend

Saturday Jan 21 - Iona Regional Park

I was back at Iona on Saturday to try again to see the Tufted Duck. On my way into the park, I saw a group of Snow Geese in the water. It was high tide, so they were quite close to the road. I pulled over and took a few shots.

Snow Geese - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2017 Bird # 40

There is a small stain on the cheek of this goose. This is from the iron compounds in the soil in local farmlands. The geese dig in the ground quite a lot for sedges and other grasses.

Snow Goose - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

I was joined by a married couple who were also looking for the Tufted Duck. This week the Southeast pond was not frozen, and there were a good number of ducks in scope distance. I described the difference between the back colouration of the Tufted Duck (black) and the Scaup (grayish white) and we stated scanning.

The lady found a likely candidate with her binoculars and we zoomed in with our scopes. It was about 100 meters away and it was hard to get a good shot, but I got this one for a record. The Tufted Duck is the one in the centre with head turned away.

Tufted Duck - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2017 Bird #41

After we all had a good look we tried to get closer to the bird. This next shot is from about 30 meters.

Tufted Duck - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

The Tufted Duck is classified as Rare by the American Ornithological Union (AOU), so this was my first rare bird of the year. As mentioned in last week's post, I have seen one before on three occasions.

The couple left and I crept closer again for one final set of shots.This clearly shows the similarities and differences between this bird and the Lesser Scaup. It's also obvious here how it got its name.

Tufted Duck - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

I made one more stop at the rest area in the park and met up with the couple again. They were looking at a large raptor that appeared to be having a swim (or a wade) in the large outer pond. We finally agreed it was an immature Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle (imm) - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

Saturday Jan 21 - Brunswick Point

After a Starbucks stop, I decided to try my luck at Brunswick Point. Some of the uncommon birds I had seen in December were still being reported and it would be nice to add Gyrfalcon and Rock Wren to my early 2017 list.

On arrival, I set out by myself on the long walk to the where I'd seen these two birds previously. I saw the usual Short-eared Owls and the photographers crowding their space too much. The first sighting I had was unexpected, a downy woodpecker out on the foreshore. It had found some stumps and branches to hang out on.

Downy Woodpecker - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

This was #1 on my year list on January 1st, but these were my first good photos of the year. The light was just right on this afternoon.

Downy Woodpecker - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

One more for good measure:

Downy Woodpecker - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

Another common bird that showed well in light was this White-crowned Sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow - Brunswick Point, Delta BC

I had no luck with the Gyrfalcon and headed back towards my car. About halfway back, I met up with some notable birders who were working on a big day. The man and his wife had been on a cruise off of South America looking for birds there. They recommend Cruise ships as the best way to do pelagic birding without getting seasick.

Twilight was setting in but we spotted a couple of year birds for me. I did not get photos of them due to the fading light and our fast pace.
  • A Fox Sparrow on the ground, 2017 Bird # 42
  • A single Barn Swallow, quite a treat to see in January 2017 Bird # 43.
I'm sure I'll get photos of these two species sometime this year.

We again had no luck with the Gyrfalcon and the Rock Wren. I picked up one more year bird on the way back, some Trumpeter Swans flying overhead.

Trumpeter Swan - Brunswick Point, Delta BC - 2017 Bird #44

Sunday Jan 22

The next day I decided to try for the rare Black-headed Gull that had been seen at the Turf Farm in Ladner. This is near the Boundary Bay Airport. 

On my way there I spotted an Eagle sitting on a large mound. I thought it could possibly be the Golden Eagle that had been seen in the area, but concluded it was an immature Bald Eagle when I studied the photos. I quite like this pose.

Bald Eagle (Imm) - near Boundary Bay Airport, Delta BC

At the turf farm I scanned through hundreds of Glaucous-winged and Ring-billed Gulls, but could not find the Black-headed. It was cold and windy, and there were football playoff games on TV, so I called it a day.

I did see one new species at home later that day, it will be detailed in a upcoming post for January backyard birds. 

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