Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 25 - Surrey and Langley Ducks and Grebes

Surrey Lake

A common theme in my blog posts is that I'll read an alert about some bird(s) at some location(s) and will decide to try my luck to see them.

So it was this weekend. There were reports of Canvasback and Redhead Ducks at Surrey Lake, a small city operated wildlife and nature area. The actual lake is quite small, but it is an attractive location for wintering ducks.

 I had seen a Redhead duck last year on a small lake on the neighbouring Coyote Creek Golf Course. Upon arrival  I checked out the golf course but only saw Mallards and Wigeon. 

I made my way along the path until Surrey Lake came into view. There were many ducks present and I started scoping the inaccessible southwest side of the lake. I did see a flash of red and managed one mediocre photo. It was a male Canvasback duck. It's possible that the Redhead report had been mistaken, but a Canvasback is just as good of a sighting.

Canvasback - Surrey Lake, Surrey BC - 2017 Bird #72

I made my way around to the east side of the lake and found a group of birders taking photographs. This side has much better lake access and the ducks tend to swim quite close in. A darker brown headed duck appeared and I got to play the expert for once. I identified it as a female Canvasback. My first shot included a male Bufflehead in the same vicinity.

Canvasback (F) and Bufflehead - Surrey Lake, Surrey BC

Over the next 20 to 30 minutes she came closer to shore, diving and surfacing frequently. It was a sunny day and the light was good and the bird kept coming closer.

Canvasback (F) - Surrey Lake, Surrey BC

This is just after she surfaced with a drop of water hanging off her beak.

And one last shot as she prepares to dive.

Another species that was quite close to shore was a Pied-billed Grebe. I'd seen one in January at Blackie's Spit, but at long distance. This one was as close as the Canvasback, and was in full breeding plumage. Since male and females have the same plumage, it could be either sex.

Pied-billed Grebe - Surrey Lake, Surrey BC

Always fun to get a head-on shot.

Pied-billed Grebe - Surrey Lake, Surrey BC

I was done here and decided to venture out to Brydon Lagoon again in the never-ending quest for the Green Heron.

Brydon Lagoon, Langley

I might as well say right away that there was no sign of the Heron once again. However, I did see a new 2017 bird just after arriving. 

There's always a group of Mallards near the lagoon entrance, today there was also a single female Common Goldeneye. This is a diving duck that likes both fresh and salt water (mostly in the bays). I believe that the female plumage is more attractive than the black and white male. 

The female features a chocolate brown head and large black bill with yellow tip. And of course the yellowish/golden eye. The head shape and bill size distinguish it from the related Barrow's Goldeneye. 

Common Goldeneye (F) - Brydon Lagoon, Langley BC - 2017 Bird #73

There were still Common Merganser families on the lake, here's a nice shot of a first winter juvenile.

Common Merganser (Imm) - Brydon Lagoon, Langley BC 

And a not so good shot of a female.

Common Merganser (F) - Brydon Lagoon, Langley BC 

There is a large undeveloped area around the lake and I went for a walk to see what might be present. One person had seen some Wilson's Snipe out in the fields a few weeks ago. For me it was quiet. The only bird I noticed was a Robin, so I took a few shots of it. 

When I reviewed my 2017 spreadsheet, I realized it was my first recorded sighting for the year.

American Robin - Brydon Lagoon, Langley BC - 2017 Bird #74

On my way out, I stopped by the Lagoon entrance again and got a nice close-up of the Goldeneye.

Common Goldeneye (F) - Brydon Lagoon, Langley BC 

That ended my Saturday, there be some more ducks on Sunday.  

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