Sunday, December 31, 2017

December 31 - Best of the Year - Part 1

I've rounded up my best photos/experiences of 2017. Most of these are covered in this blog, but some of them were from my  2017 Vacation/Birding Blog .

I've tried to contain it to one or two photos for each month, but some months were more productive than others.

January 2017

Two photos stood out from January. The first was taken on a frigid New Year's day when I got a tip from Monica, a birding acquaintance, that there was a Harris's Sparrow at the foot of 96 St on Boundary Bay. It took a while to find it while shivering in the cold, but the photo made it worthwhile.

Harris's Sparrow - Boundary Bay, Delta BC - January 1, 2017

The other highlight was a Rock Wren at Brunswick Point about 3 weeks later. At one point, this bird walked between my legs as I was taking photos. This was my second ever Rock Wren, the lifer was in 2016.

Rock Wren - Brunswick Point, Delta BC - January 22, 2017

February 2017

Only one bird made the cut this month, a female Canvasback Duck at Surrey Lake. She was diving fairly close to shore and the light was good.

Canvasback (F) - Surrey Lake, Surrey BC - February 25, 2017

March 2017

Just one shot for March as well, this was my first ever of an American Bittern. I was wandering the trails at Reifel Bird Sanctuary when I met the group on the Sunday bird walk. They told me there was an Bittern further up the trail. I'd seen my lifer in 2016, but it was just a flyby with no photo. The Bittern was still there when I arrived and I took a number of good shots.

American Bittern - Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Dalta BC - March 19, 2017

April 2017

I saw my first Yellow-rumpled Warblers for 2017 on April 1st at Iona Regional Park in Richmond. This photo captures the beauty of this species and Warblers in general.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler - Iona Regional Park, Richmod BC - April 1, 2017

Since 2013, I've been participating in an Okanagan birding tour with Avocet Tours. I've picked up quite a few lifers on this tour including Western Screech-Owl in  2016. I didn't get much of a photo of it that year, but I did in 2017.

This photo was taken through a guide's spotting scope with my IPhone.

Western Screech-Owl - Kelowna BC - April 7, 2017

After the tour was over, my friend Mary-Jean and I revisited the McIntyre Bluffs that overlook Vaseux Lake near Oliver. There were numerous Mountain Bluebirds migrating through the area. We caught a male and female close together on a fallen tree.

Mountain Bluebirds - McIntyre Bluffs, Oliver BC - April 9, 2017

One more April shot that I took in White Rock on a Sunday afternoon. We see Horned Grebes all through the winter in their black and white Basic (non-breeding) plumage. It's rare to see them in their Alternate (breeding) plumage as they head inland for mating season.

Horned Grebe - White Rock Pier, White Rock BC - April 16, 2017

May 2017

May is migration month with many birds returning from the south to either stop over before heading north, or to stay here for breeding.

Early in the month I visited the North 40 Dog Park in Delta. This is an abandoned Air Force base that has been left to go back to natural conditions. A pleasant surprise on my only visit here was a Lincoln's Sparrow in very fresh plumage.

Lincoln's Sparrow - North 40 Dog Park, Delta BC - May 6, 2017

Near the end of the month Mary-Jean and I visited Pitt Lake Regional Park where we saw Gray Catbirds, Eastern Kingbirds and other spring migrants. As we were approaching the entrance to the Nature Trail, I saw a small bird and realized it was not a Sparrow. This was the very secretive Swainson's Thrush. I only got a couple of quick shots away, the best seen below. In almost 30 years of birding, I've only photographed this species three or four times.

Swainson's Thrush - Pitt Lake Regional Park, Pitt Meadows BC - May 29, 2017

June 2017

Early in June I made a solo trip to the Okanagan. One of the areas I try to visit is the Swan Lake Conservation area, just outside Princeton. I saw a good collection of birds on this stop. Just before leaving a large bird flew by and landed. It was a Great Horned Owl perched about 30 feet away wondering why I was invading its territory. I took a few shots and skulked back to the car.

Great Horned Owl - Swan Lake Conservation Area, Princeton BC - June 4, 2017.

Near the end of the month, my wife Edith and I travelled to Alberta for our annual family visit in Calgary. We took the southern route this year and visited Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. After leaving the park, we saw this hawk just off the roadside on a fence post.

Swainson's Hawk - near Foremost Alberta - June 27, 2017

That's the end of part 1 of my best of 2017. Second half of the year should be right below this post soon.

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