Sunday, July 30, 2017

End of July at Point Roberts and Iona

This Sunday was my last outing of the month. I visited Lighthouse Marine Park in Point Roberts, and then made a quick stop at Iona Regional Park to check out the settling ponds for shorebirds.

Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts

I experience more anticipation when visiting this site than any other local birding location. I think only Frank Lake in Alberta compares, and I only visit there in peak breeding season.

One of the species likely to be seen is a Belted Kingfisher, usually near the Pilings on the Northwest side of the park. Today it was a female, sometimes I see a male in the same area.

Belted Kingfisher (F) - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts

Also near the pilings was a Pigeon Guillemot. It appeared to be molting into it's Basic (non-breeding) plumage.

Pigeon Guillemot - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts

Back by the parking lot I caught sight of a small bird on a perch. I believe this is a female House Finch.

House Finch (F) - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts

I headed south towards the small lighthouse, a location where many birders scope the ocean for seabirds. On my way, I took a shot of a pair of gulls on the shoreline. The one on the left is a California Gull, told by the yellow legs and the red tipped bill (often with black as well). The other bird is a Glaucous-winged Gull, told by the pink legs, overall gray wings and tail and the bill markings.

California Gull and Glaucous-winged Gull - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts

Another birder pointed out some Rhinoceros Auklets, quite far out from shore. I took this shot with the Nikon, zoomed out as far as it could go. Of course, this greatly reduces the quality of the shot, but at least it's a record for the year.

Rhinoceros Auklet - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts - 2017 Bird # 186

There wasn't much else to see, so I decided to head north to Iona Regional Park.

Iona Regional Park

I only had time here for a quick check of the sewage (or settling) ponds. Only the Southwest pond had a substantial amount of water at this time. Water levels in the four ponds at the Sewage plant are raised and lowered as needed by the plant.

There were a few small shorebirds working the pond and I noticed one that was larger. It was a Spotted Sandpiper. The bird appears to be misnamed, but if you refer back to earlier posts from June, I had some photos of the bird in its spotted breeding plumage. The smaller bird on the right is a Least Sandpiper.

Spotted Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

Here's a somewhat blurry photo of a Least Sandpiper:

Least Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

There were some young Mallard Ducklings out for a swim with their mother.

Mallards - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

Here's a close-up of one of the youngsters.

Mallard (Imm) - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

Finally, here's a photo with some Least and a Western Sandpiper. The Least have yellow legs and a short-ish bill. The Western has a much longer bill and black legs.

Least and Western Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

This was my last stop for the day and for the month of July. The birding slows down considerably in August, except for the migrating shorebirds arriving at Boundary Bay.

Monday, July 24, 2017

July Birding - Part 3

This post includes a three day stretch near the end of July.

July 24 - Kings Links Golf Course

This golf course is close to the Boundary Bay Dike by 72 St in South Delta. I've seen some good birds on this course in the past. I had my camera with me, just in case.

The was nothing out of the ordinary, but there were some cute mallard ducklings on a couple of the ponds on the course.

Mallard (Imm) - Kings Links Golf Course, Delta BC

Mallard (Imm) - Kings Links Golf Course, Delta BC

The only other bird seen was a Savannah Sparrow near the 17th tee box.

Savannah Sparrow - Kings Links Golf Course, Delta BC

July 25 - Birthday Walk in Burns Bog

I decided to celebrate my 63rd birthday with an outing on the Boardwalk Trail in Burns Bog. It's close to our house, although I cheat and park on the street below us.

The birds are usually sparse in the bog, but I've had the occasional good outing. These fist two shots show the contrast that can occur in a hundred or so meters in the bog.

The first shot is just after entering the boardwalk trail.

A bit further on, the area is dark and lifeless looking. There may have been a fire in this area sometime in the past.

I did see a few birds on my outing but had trouble taking any good photos. I should have brought the Canon SLR in addition to the Nikon Coolpix.

Here's a barely acceptable photo of a male American Goldfinch.

American Goldfinch - Burns Bog, Delta BC

Further along the trail I noticed movement on a tree and spotted a Brown Creeper. I could not keep up with the bird. Every time I got it in the viewfinder, I could not focus in time. This is my best (and only) shot.

Brown Creeper - Burns Bog, Delta BC

I also played hide and seek with a Yellow-rumped Warbler, with another unsatisfactory photo. This is either a female or an immature bird.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Burns Bog, Delta BC

Thus ended my birthday outing.

July 26 - Backyard Bushtit

I had much better luck the following evening on my back deck. I noticed some bird activity nearby and spotted a small flock of Bushtits in the trees. There was one in particular that was very cooperative. I had my Canon SLR nearby and was able to focus and take a few good quality shots.

Bushtit - Backyard, North Delta BC

Bushtit - Backyard, North Delta BC

Bushtit - Backyard, North Delta BC

This almost concluded my July birding, but there was one more visit to Point Roberts and Iona before the month ended.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16 - Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Even though it's the slowest time of year at Reifel, the Sanctuary has more to offer than most other locations in the Lower Mainland. This Sunday was no exception.

After entering the Sanctuary, I noticed quite a few people looking into the Fuller Slough, quite close to the entrance. The attraction was not any bird species, but a teeming horde of Carp. Apparently, there is so much bird seed that flows into the slough, it sometimes attract these omnivorous fish in good numbers.

Common Carp - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

I'm trying to remember to take some landscape photos at the various sites I visit so that readers can get a feel for what the place is like. This shot was taken from the westernmost viewpoint of the Sanctuary.

Looking west from Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Further along the west dyke trail  I noticed what appeared to be an immature Tree Sparrow perched in a tree overlooking a pond in the West Field. After downloading the photos, I changed my identification to Cliff Swallow based on the red bib. Also, this species is known to breed at Reifel.

Cliff Swallow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

This shot's a bit fuzzier as I zoomed in with the Nikon. I think it also distorted the colouring of the bib at this distance.

Cliff Swallow - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

You can always count on a Great Blue Heron to pose for you in the southwest part of the Sanctuary.

Great Blue Heron - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

I caught the rare double sighting of a Greater Yellowlegs and a Western Painted Turtle in this shot:

Greater Yellowlegs and Western Painted Turtle - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Below is a photo of each individual. if anyone wants to argue that the Yellowlegs is a Lesser and not a Greater, I'm willing to listen. It seems to have the upturned, longer bill of the Greater.

Greater Yellowlegs - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

This is definitely a Western Painted Turtle, with a rare look at the rear legs.

Western Painted Turtle - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

The next shot is probably a pair of Greater Yellowlegs, perhaps at different depths in the pond.

Greater Yellowlegs - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Another shorebird complex that causes ID problems are the Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers. The Long-billed are more common in fresh water, and it's generally accepted that the ones that frequent the ponds at Reifel are Long-billed.

Long-billed Dowitchers Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Further along the West Dyke trail I saw another young looking Swallow. I believe this is a juvenile Tree Swallow with the clear demarcation between dark and light on the dace.

Tree Swallow Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

The next creature I saw was a member of the insect world, a Swallowtail Butterfly. I believe it is an Anise Swallowtail, a common one in the West. The butterfly looks quite worn, not sure if it's missing pieces on the underwing or if that's normal.

Anise Swallowtail Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Much healthier looking are these Mallards, probably taking a rest as their offspring may now be self sufficient.

Mallard Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

I left the Sanctuary but my birding was not quite done. As I was driving along Westham Island I noticed some Cedar Waxwings in the trees along the road. Traffic was sparse, so I was able to stop and get some shots out the window with the Nikon. This was the best one I took.

Cedar Waxwing - Westham Island, Delta BC

That was the end of another productive Sunday at Reifel Bird Sanctuary. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July Birding - Part 1

By the time July comes birding activity hits the summer doldrums. It's too early for fall migration and too late to see much new.

This post covers the birding activities in the first half of the month.

July 5 - Boundary Bay

I made a late evening visit to Boundary Bay to see if there were any early migrating shorebirds.There were none. I did manage the following two sightings:

White-crowned Sparrow - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

Bald Eagle - Boundary Bay, Delta BC

July 9 - Colony Farm Regional Park

This visit made the Boundary Bay one look good. I only saw one bird of note, a singing Common Yellowthroat. I imagine this will be my last one for the year.
Common Yellowthroat - Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam BC

July 15 - Iona Regional Park

I had a little more luck on this outing, picking up a couple of the early migrating shorebird species. These photos were all taken on the inner sewage ponds at Iona. I'd already seen a number of species in the year with the prefix Western including Screech-owl, Meadowlark, Bluebird, Wood-pewee, Tanager, Kingbird, and Grebe. 

I now added the common Western Sandpiper.

Western Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2017 Bird #184

The other common peep that migrates through in early summer is the Least Sandpiper. It can be told from the Western by its shorter beak and yellow legs (the Western has black).

Least Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2017 Bird #185

Here's another shot:

Least Sandpiper - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

It was still too early for some of the other migrating shorebirds. I did get a nice shot of a Killdeer, a bird that can be see year round at Iona.

Killdeer - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

My next July outing  would be the following day at Reifel. There were enough sightings there to warrant a separate post.