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Monday, December 31, 2007

Black-throated Blue Warbler



This fantastic rare Black-throated Blue Warbler stuck around at a feeder in Nanoose long enough for me to see it! Not only a Vancouver Island bird, this was my lifer! I could have got a better photo had i'd been able to stop shaking. What a beauty. This is the 6th record, to my knowledge, of a Black-throated Blue Warbler in British Columbia.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cackling Goose


It is always worth scrutinizing the resident population of Canada Goose for anything different. Today there was a Cackling Goose feeding along-side the residents. Hundreds of these northern Cacklers are seen off Tofino in the fall and occasionally one or two will refuel or even winter here. Though similar in looks to the Canada, these Cackling Geese which been recently split from a subspecies of Canada Goose to a full species, they are much smaller with a rounder head, stubbier bill and shorter neck. There are four subspecies of Cackling Goose, this being minima, darker and the smallest of the subspecies and lacking the prominent white neck ring. This Cackling Goose (Minima) breeds in southwest Alaska.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Birding Washington


Us on the Port Angeles ferry

In June 2007 Lori Lynch and I went on our first birding trip together. We travelled 3000 kilometres in eight days. Our basic route was south along the west coast of Washington, across Astoria Bridge into Oregon. We then travelled down through Portland and back across into Washington and followed the Columbia River across the Cascades and up into Moses Lake. From here, we headed north into the U.S. Okanogan, then across the border and into Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. The diversity of habitats was amazing and the birds were fantastic. We tallied 205 species of birds, 16 of which were lifers for me and 55 for Lori.


22nd June 2007 (day 1)
            After spending a night with friends in Victoria, we took the Port Angeles ferry at 6:10 a.m. and by 7:40 a.m. we were on the road to Ocean Shores. After many stops and my first ever speeding ticket, we arrived at Ocean Shores, about 3:30 p.m. Though windy and cold we did get out on the beach and Lori got her first two lifers: Heermann's Gull and Brown Pelican. We arrived in Westport at 5:30 p.m. and had some dinner at the hotel restaurant. We checked the docks to make sure we new where to go for the Pelagic trip in the morning, then headed back to our room. That was when I discovered I had forgotten my pants and boots!
            Sheepishly, I told Lori and we went back out on the road to Walmart, which was 20 miles away in Aberdeen. Luckily, we were back in time to hit the hay at a reasonable hour.

The old bill get some birders...
23rd June 2007 (day2)
            After a good night sleep we awoke to a 4:15 a.m. alarm call. With ear patches in place; for motion sickness, we headed for the boat. We departed Westport on our first pelagic at 5:45 a.m. It was an amazing day, and we got to see so many great birds and marine mammals: Black-footed Albatross, Pink-footed Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Northern Fulmar, Black-legged Kittiwake, Tufted Puffin, Leach's Storm-Petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Pomarine Jaeger, South Polar Skua and Pacific White-sided Dolphin, Dall's Porpoise, Harbour Porpoise and Northern Fur Seal! The seas were calm and our hosts were knowlegeable, welcoming and made sure eveyone was seeing all the birds. Thanks to all at Westport Pelagic:Phil Anderson (captain), Bruce La Bar, Gene Revelas and Bill Shelmerdine. We had an incedible day, and can't wait to go again! After a coffee back on dry land we headed across the Astoria Bridge into Oregon, where we stayed at the Sea Ranch RV Park in Cannon Beach.

Hmmm..This is what I looked like before the pelagic. See, you don't need weed. Just put on a frickin ear patch!
Westport Seabirds..they are awesome!

Black-footed Albatross
24th June 2007 (day 3)
            The 24th was one of the most memorable days on the trip for Lori and I. A wet start did not dampen our spirits as we searched for Tufted Puffin from Cannon Beach. Haystack Rock dominates the skyline here and is the third largest free-standing rock in the world-235 ft. This huge monolith is home to many pairs of Tufted Puffin and with a break in the weather, we were afforded good looks at these unique birds. En-route to Forest Grove, Portland, we stopped at Saddle Mountain for one of my most sought after birds: The Hermit Warbler! With lots of effort and some luck, we got nice long looks at one individual that investigated my mimic pygmy-owl tooting. Back on the road brought another lifer for both of us: Western Scrub Jay. We continued on to the Pacific University in Forest Grove where there is a known granary for Acorn Woodpecker. After 20 minutes of searching at the university, we finally tracked down the call, the bird and the nest of an Acorn Woodpecker!
Lori checking out the Tufted Puffin on Haystack Rock, Oregon

Acorn Woodpecker
            We travelled over the bridge in Portland onto the Washington side of the Columbia River and straight east to Lyle. Here we added many more species including Western Bluebird, Bullock's Oriole, Golden Eagle, White-breasted Nuthatch and Ash-throated Flycatcher! We camped in the chilly Simcoe Mountains at Brooks Memorial, just north of Goldendale.



Ash-throated Flycatcher in Lyle
25th June 2007 (day 4)
            We departed Brooks Memorial at 8:45 a.m., after birding the campground. Here, Lori got her first look at a very cooperative Nashville Warbler. Though we made several stops, along the way, we were headed for Toppenish and the Bobolink fields of lateral C Road. There were lots of good birds around including Gray Catbird and Loggerhead Shrike. We dipped out on the Bobolink, mainly due to finding three abandoned puppies! After Lori fed them some milk from our cooler, we took them into Yakima to the Humane Society. It was very upsetting, but at least they stood a chance now. The remainder of the day was spent around the Columbia National Wildlife area, west of Othello, where we added Rock Wren,  Canyon Wren, Clark's Grebe, Swainson's Hawk and American White Pelican, to name a few!

Puppy love

Loggerhead Shrike
26th June 2007 (day 5)
            Our day started at 8:00 a.m. as we made our way out towards Vantage. En-route we stopped at a massive canyon where White-throated Swift were flying at head height! We spent an hour in the Quilomene area searching for sparrows. Our efforts were rewarded with Lark, Brewer's, Vesper and, our first, Sage Sparrow! Along the main road were Mountain Bluebird and American Kestrel. Our next move proved very worthwhile! After referring to Hal Oppermans guide we headed down Huntzinger Road to a natural bowl of shrub steppe. On arrival we heard a Black-throated Sparrow singing; we scanned the scrub and located it perched on top of a bush! This is one of the only known spots for this species, as described in the book, and a real  highlight on our trip. Next, we headed along Lower Crab Creek, which was extremely dry and unbirdy. With the day slipping by, we headed for our final destination of the day: The Potholes Rookery. Here we had lots of time to enjoy seeing Great Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Western Grebe and Cinnamon Teal, at close quarters. Making a quick stop on the grassy slopes off the dirt road into the rookery, gave us our first and only Grasshopper Sparrow.

Black-throated Sparrow

Eastern Kingbird
27th June 2007 (day 6)
            This was our last planned day in the area, so we had our final attempt at finding a Burrowing Owl, and came up blank. We took a very long route to Wilson Creek heading east on Highway 26 until we joined the 395, up to Lind and then west and north on Highway 21. From Odessa to Wilson Creek, we followed Highway 28. We ticked lots of good birds along the way including Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Swainson's Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk and Common Nighthawk. In Wilson Creek we were greeted by Prairie Falcons and Rock Wrens; and down on the marsh there were great numbers of Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, American White Pelican, and another lifer for us both: Tri-colored Blackbird. We continued on highway 28 to Soap Lake where we got to see Eared Grebe in breeding plumage. From here we headed west to Wenatchee then north on I-97 to Omak. The weather was ridiculously hot and we were drained and delirious at the end of the day.

Prairie Falcon
Common Nighthawk

Ferruginous Hawk
28th June 2007 (day 7)
            We departed from Omak at 6:52 a.m. and headed northwest, toward Conconully State Park. We continued along this route toward Loomis, travelling through the Sinlahekin Wildlife area. There were many places to stop along the gravel road including Sugar Loaf Mountain, Blue Lake and Palmer Lake, plus many more. Highlights included: Black-chinned Hummingbird, Calliope Hummingbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bobolink, Gray Catbird, Clark's Nutcracker, Nashville Warbler, Lewis's Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker and Veery. Lori also spotted a Black Bear on the hillside on the east side of Blue Lake. After setting up camp at Osoyoos State Park, we headed out on an evening road trip. We didn't add any new species but enjoyed the fantastic scenery around the Okanogan highlands. We also found a Great Basin Gopher Snake on the road.

Lewis's Woodpecker
29th June 2007 (day 8)
            After a wet start from the Osoyoos State Park we packed up our wet gear and made our way to the border. We crossed with no line up or delay. From here we drove on the Hope/Princeton Highway and onto Highway 1 through to Departure Bay in Vancouver, to catch our ferry back to Vancouver Island. En-route we got a new species for the trip; Eurasian Collared Dove, in the town of Keremeos and two Black Bear in Manning Park.
Black Bear

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Caspian Tern


This morning Lori and I headed out for a slow paced birding day! Our route took us to The Little Qualicum Estuary, Riverside Resort, Qualicum Beach, Parker Road, The Englishman River Estuary and Rivers Edge Road in Parksville. Though we didn't plan it that way we were trying for some year birds en-route. Our target birds were; Willow Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black Swift and Caspian Tern! We lucked out and got them all, with lots of other great birds as well! (Species list below). The weather was great for birding. Nice and warm and a little cloud cover. It was refreshing to really take our time and enjoy each moment! Ok, we did occasionally say "what else can we get today?"..but all in all, very casual.

Species List for Saturday 26th May 2007: (72)
Common Loon 1
Pacific Loon 2
Canada Goose
Mallard
Harlequin Duck 2
White-winged Scoter 10
Bufflehead 1
Hooded Merganser 1 (female)
Ring-necked Pheasant 1
Ruffed Grouse 1
California Quail 3
Great Blue Heron 5
Turkey Vulture 15ish
Bald Eagle yes
Merlin 1
Killdeer 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Spotted Sandpiper 2
Mew Gull 5
Califonia Gull 3
Glaucous-winged Gull yes
Caspian Tern 10
Rock Pigeon 2
Black Swift 11
Rufous Hummingbird lots
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-breasted Sapsucker 4
Downy Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1 (female)
Northern Flicker yes
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Olive-sided Flycatcher 2
Willow Flycatcher 10
Hammond's Flycatcher 15+
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 20+
Warbling Vireo lots!
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven 2
Purple Martin 1 (female)
Violet-green Swallow 50
Barn Swallow 2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee lots
Red-breasted Nuthatch-2
Winter Wren-4
Golden-crowned Kinglet-8
Swainson's Thrush-everywhere
American Robin-yes
European Starling-yep
Cedar Waxwing-20+
Orange-crowned Warbler 8+
Yellow Warbler-lots
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 (male Audubon's)
Black-throated Gray Warbler-5
Townsend's Warbler-2
MacGillivray's Warbler-6
Wilson's Warbler-2
CommonYellowthroat-1
Western Tanager-4
Spotted Towhee-lots
Chipping Sparrow-2+
Savannah Sparrow-1
Song Sparrow-10
White-crowned Sparrow-yep
Dark-eyed Junco-5
Black-headed Grosbeak-2
Red-winged Blackbird-some
Brewer's Blackbird-ummm..a few
Brown-headed Cowbird-8ish
Purple Finch-6
House Finch-10? dunno
American Goldfinch-12
House Sparrow-4

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sage Thrasher



What a treat to see this fantastic bird! Guy Monty and Nolan were birding the Nanaimo River Estuary when they found it. Lori and I were there within the hour and didn't have to wait long until it popped up in a bush. We followed at a safe distance for an hour and enjoyed watching it preen and feed. There were also 2 Mountain Bluebird (female) and a Say's Phoebe in the immediate vacinity and a flyover Osprey. Not a bad twitch!
Say's Phoebe

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Brant Festival Big Day Challenge 2007

At 04:50am on the 1st April Lori and I waited for the arrival of our other team (The Bush Pishing Pirates) members, Ryan and Andrew Cathers of Nanaimo. Our big day challenge was to start at 05:00 and I was feeling anxious that the Great Horned Owl that was calling would stop before we could count it. And it did! Luckily, we waited only a few anxious minutes until it called again. With only about two hours until dawn we ziz-zagged our we through Parksville and Errington to pick-up another three species of Owl. We then headed to Legacy Marsh and spent the next eight hours birding, ending our day at 15:00 at Columbia Beach. We fell short of the winning team who managed to get 117 species but were all very happy with our efforts. We ended the day with 93 species and an award. For the biggest miss!! Yes, we dipped on Belted Kingfisher! Oh well. There's always next year!

The Bush Pishers Species List: 93

Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Mute Swan
Trumpeter Swan
Canada Goose
Brant
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Merganser
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Merlin
Ruffed Grouse
California Quail
Ring-necked Pheasant
Virginia Rail
American Coot
Black Oystercatcher
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Dunlin
Mew Gull
California Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull
Thayer's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Pigeon Guillemot
Rock Pigeon
Western Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Rufous Hummingbird
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Bewick's Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Bushtit
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Steller's Jay
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven
European Starling
House Sparrow
Hutton's Vireo
Purple Finch
House Finch
Pine Siskin
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Brant



I slipped out for a few hours today mainly to see the Brant but also to check on a few areas. There were about 80 Brant at Rathtrevor Beach. So great to see them again! After that I did a quick stop at the following; The Englishman River Estuary, Columbia Beach, Qualicum Beach, Little Qualicum Fish Hatchery and Blower Road, Parksville.

Species List: 62
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Canada Goose
Brant
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Black Scoter
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Merganser
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Merlin
California Quail
Ring-necked Pheasant
Black Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
Black Turnstone
Dunlin
Mew Gull
California Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Thayer's Gull
Pigeon Guillemot
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Bewick's Wren
Winter Wren
American Robin
Varied Thrush
Bushtit
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Steller's Jay
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven
European Starling
House Sparrow
Purple Finch
House Finch
Pine Siskin
Spotted Towhee
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Tufted Duck

On Saturday 3rd February 2007 Lori and I headed south for the Tufted Duck. After a quick stop at Parksville Park we hit the road. Our trip took us to Kings Pond, Swan Lake, Elk Lake,Islands View Beach, Clover Point,Oak Bay and Peterson Road, Parksville....It was a great day with some nice surprises. Species of interest listed below:
Parksville Park:
Snow Goose-1
Cackling Goose-1
Kings Pond:
TUFTED DUCK (the bird at the back)
Swan Lake:
Lincoln's Sparrow-2
Marsh Wren-2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-1
Cedar Waxwing-7
Yellow-rumped Warbler-2
Anna's Hummingbird-1 (female)
Elk Lake:
Canvasback-40ish (mostly males)
Redhead-1 (male) mixed in with the Canvasback
Clover Point:
Surfbird-5
Dunlin-3
Sanderling 11 (Oak Bay)
Duncan:
Great Horned Owl-1 (on wire)
Peterson Road, Parksville:
Northern Saw-Whet Owl-1

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Evening Grosbeak

Lori, Nolan I headed out to Campbell River on Saturday morning as we had decided to walk the Ripple Rock trail. We made a few stops en-route including Miracle Beach. There were lots of scoters, grebes, loons and ducks.
The 3.5km walk-in to Ripple Rock was fairly quite with only the occasional flock of kinglets, creepers and chickadees. We did however get a Spotted Sandpiper at the first beach and on inspecting the view across the log booms from the cliffs we were delighted to find a Northern Pygmy-Owl enjoying the same view.
On Sunday Lori and I checked the Nanaimo River Estuary for Short-eared Owl but with no luck. The Northern Shrike was still hanging around and there was a male Eurasian Wigeon seen from the viewing at the mouth of the river.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Trumpeter Swan

After a busy New Year Lori and I finally got out birding. On Saturday 06th we traveled down to Victoria to take my kids to the airport then birded back to Parksville. A Northern Shrike at the airport started us off..we made a quick stop in Sidney then headed for Cowichan Bay. There were at least 300 Trumpeter Swans and 2 had neck bands. I managed to read one and will report this and post any information I receive. (BANDED 08/03/2006 20 miles NW of Galena Alaska)  We made stops at Somenos Marsh where we got Canvasback and Mount Sicker Road railway tracks where a Peregrine Falcon was harassing a flock of American Wigeon. Finally we arrived in Parksville where Lori called out "Great Horned Owl" which flew across the road..
Today I slipped out for a few hours and birded my way from The Englishman River Estuary up to the Brant viewing tower in Qualicum Beach. There was a nice groups of shorebirds at Columbia Beach, Black-bellied Plover, Black Turnstone, Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Black Oystercatcher and a single Sanderling......another treat was a Western Meadowlark!