Sunday, October 29, 2017

October 29 Part 1 - Sailboats and Sanderlings at Point Roberts

Maybe I should just change the title of my blog to Point Roberts birding. Lighthouse Marine Park is one of my favourite places, and it's hard to resist the cheap gas across the border.

On this Sunday, this first thing I saw on arrival were a bunch of sailboats quite close to shore. I think these were sailing classes but I could be mistaken.

Sailboats at Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

On the birding front, I got a nice shot of a cluster of female Red-breasted Mergansers. I think the bird in the background is a Grebe.

Red-breasted Merganser - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Suddenly a flock of Sanderlings flew past heading south east.

Sanderling - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

There wasn't much else to see other than the sailboats and I was preparing to leave when the Sanderlings reappeared, now heading north-west.

They settled down quite close to where I was standing. I believe that the brownish birds are Dunlin, another bird that is usually with a flock.

It looked like the flock was here for a daytime nap.

However some of the birds remained alert in case trouble came their way.

Here's a short movie of them:

As I was returning to the parking lot, I spotted this loon accompanied by a pair of guillemots.

Common Loon and Pigeon Guillemots - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I returned to my car and headed over to Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta.

October 29 Part 2 - Brief Visit to Reifel

I made my way over to Reifel Bird Sanctuary hoping to see some Common Redpolls that had been reported. There were none to be seen on this day, but I spent some time photographing the usual inhabitants.

There's a number of resident Sandhill Cranes that wander around. These ones were just off the main trail.

Sandhill Crane - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

Wood Ducks are very common this time of year, and they aren't shy about begging for bird seed. This female is hoping someone comes along soon to replenish the supply.

Wood Duck (F) - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

I made my way to the blind in the north west corner of the Sanctuary. Out on the large pond was a Pied-billed Grebe and a number of Hooded Mergansers.

Pied-billed Grebe - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

This pond is quite deep and attracts the diving species.

Hooded Mergansers (3 males and 1 female)  - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

The shallower ponds are where the dabbling ducks hang out, including Northern Pintails.

Northern Pintail - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

In the fall it's time for the Snow Geese to arrive from the north, there can be thousands on Westham Island at this time. There were quite a few flying overhead, first heard with their loud honking and then seen.

Snow Goose - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC

That ended my day, it was time to go home and help my wife Edith celebrate her birthday. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 22 - Life and Death in Point Roberts

Another Sunday trip for gas and birding at Lighthouse Marine Park. It was a sunny day with enough wind to create a good surf.

Close to shore were the usual Horned Grebes.

Horned Grebe - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

This lucky Grebe caught some lunch, and I got a great photo!

Horned Grebe - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

I noticed something floating close to shore and as it came closer I realized it was a Red-breasted Merganser that had succumbed to something fatal, perhaps it was hit by a boat.

The last bird of the day was this crow, demonstrating how windy it was.

Northwestern Crow - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October 15 - Iona Jetty visitor

The bird alerts had reports of both Snow Buntings and Horned Larks being seen at various locations on the Iona South Jetty. Chasing down these birds would be a commitment as the end of the jetty is a 4 KM walk from the start. Of course, the sightings were reported closer to the end.

However, today was my lucky day. Just after I was halfway out, a small bird landed right in front of me. It was a Horned Lark. The absence of any dark on the chin indicates a female.

Horned Lark (F) - South Jetty, Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2017 Bird # 210

These birds are not shy. I remember in Saskatchewan driving on some back roads and almost stepping on the birds as I got out of the car.

Horned Lark (F) - South Jetty, Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

I continued towards the end of the Jetty, no point in turning back after one success. Out in the open water was a large group of Surf Scoters.

Surf Scoter - South Jetty, Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

It's quite common to see Horned Grebes in salt water in winter anywhere in the Lower Mainland.

Horned Grebe - South Jetty, Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

The same applies to Common Loons.

Common Loon - South Jetty, Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

On my way back I encountered the Horned Lark again.

Horned Lark - South Jetty, Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

I did not see the Snow Buntings but there had been reports from other places and I might get lucky on a  future outing.

Monday, October 9, 2017

October 9 - Elgin Heritage Park and Blackie's Spit

This was my first local outing after returning from the San Francisco area. I saw in the BC rare bird alert that there had been an American Avocet seen at Elgin Park which is located in Surrey on Crescent Beach Road.

It's a nice area with some boardwalks along the Nikomekl River, but all I saw on this Sunday morning was a Song Sparrow.

Song Sparrow - Elgin Heritage Park, Surrey BC

I continued west to Blackie's Spit, hoping to see a Eurasian Wigeon, a bird I wanted for my 2017 list. I met up with some birders from the Delta Naturalists and looked for birds together. They were looking for a Long-billed Curlew, a frequent winter resident on the spit.

I had my spotting scope and was able to locate the Curlew in with a bunch of ducks. One of those ducks happened to be a Eurasian Wigeon. This was the best I could manage for the Wigeon, it's the bird with the reddish head in the background. The Curlew is in the foreground.

Long-billed Curlew (Left) and Eurasian Wigeon (2017 Bird #209) - Blackie Spit, Surrey BC

As we were watching a Bald Eagle flew overhead and caused all the birds on the shore to scatter. I captured a shot of the Curlew as it flew overhead.

Long-billed Curlew - Blackie Spit, Surrey BC

The Curlew landed near the end of the spit:

It was visible and alert for a short while allowing me to get this zoomed closeup.

Eventually it resumed sleeping, while remaining alert for any disturbance.

This was not the most prolific outing, but I love the shot of the Curlew in flight.