Friday, October 30, 2009

The Sandhill Crane in British Columbia

The Sandhill Crane has a widespread breeding distribution in British Columbia. Known breeding areas include much of the central Interior, the Queen Charlotte Islands, the central mainland coast, Mara Meadows near Enderby, East Kootenay, northeastern British Columbia near Fort Nelson, and at Pitt Meadows and Burns Bog in the Lower Mainland.

Diet and foraging behaviour:
Sandhill Cranes are opportunistic foragers, feeding on both animal (primarily invertebrates) and plant foods. Invertebrates consumed by cranes include earthworms, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, cutworms, and snails. Other foods taken by Sandhill Cranes include crayfish, voles, mice, frogs, toads, snakes, nestling birds, bird eggs, berries, and carrion.

Movements and dispersal:
Three migration routes are known in British Columbia, each of which is used in spring and autumn: coastal, central Interior, and northeastern Interior. Cranes migrating along the coastal route enter British Columbia over Juan de Fuca Strait and are occasionally seen in the Barkley Sound and Johnstone Strait regions.

The main passage of migrants occurs in early April, whereas the autumn movement peaks in October. Birds using the coastal route (~3500) are suspected of nesting in the coastal islands of British Columbia and southeast Alaska.

View a short video of a nesting Sandhill Crane [from the
B.C. Coastal Sandhill Crane Project]

After hatching, young leave the nest and forage with their parents around the perimeter of the natal wetland, primarily in sedge meadows. Once young have fledged, localized congregations occur in premigration staging areas. In the fall at Burns Bog (North Delta), cranes moved from roosting areas within the Bog to agricultural fields for foraging each day, moving distances of 2–4 km with the average distance of flight movements between feeding and roosting areas to range from 2 to 16 km.

Habitats and Habitat Features - Nesting:
Typical breeding habitats include isolated bogs, marshes, swamps and meadows, and other secluded shallow freshwater wetlands surrounded by forest cover. Emergent vegetation such as sedges, Cattail, bulrush, Hardhack, willows, and Labrador Tea are important for nesting and brood rearing.

Nesting wetlands are usually secluded, free from disturbance, and surrounded by forest. In coastal areas, brackish estuaries are used for rearing broods. Nests consist of large heaps of surrounding dominant vegetation, usually built in emergent vegetation or on raised hummocks over water.

One of the most important habitat characteristics for Sandhill Cranes is an unobstructed view of surrounding areas and isolation from disturbance. Typical foraging habitat includes shallow wetlands, marshes, swamps, fens, bogs, ponds, meadows, estuarine marshes, intertidal areas, and dry upland areas such as grasslands and agricultural fields. In the Interior, flooded meadows and agricultural fields provide good roosting habitat.

Conservation and Management Status:
Most breeding populations of Sandhill Crane are on the provincial Blue List in British Columbia; however, the Georgia Depression population is on the provincial Red List. The Greater Sandhill Crane is considered 'Not at Risk' in Canada. Other subspecies have not been assessed.

Legal Protection and Habitat Conservation:
The Sandhill Crane, its nests, and its eggs are protected in Canada and the United States under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and the provincial Wildlife Act. Sandhill Cranes are hunted in other jurisdictions but are closed to hunting in British Columbia.

All photographs taken at The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary by Kimberley Wakelin (LadyWoodpecker)
Information Source: The British Columbia Ministry of Environment - Status of the Sandhill Crane in British Columbia [PDF]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Cloverdale Autumn

The skies over Cloverdale, British Columbia may be overcast and gray, but color is everywhere. Here are just a few shots I took during a walk in my neighborhood, this morning. First stop, my own backyard:

... and then we took it beyond the fence....

I love the misty mountain tops of the North Shore. In Summer, this lawn was brown and brittle. Thanks to the seemingly endless days of rainfall, here in the Pacific Northwest, the grass has returned to a deep, velvety green, adding a lovely contrast to the red, yellow and orange leaves.

As I approached my backyard gate, I heard a fuss. It was a Northern Flicker and a European Starling, fighting over the Suet Feeder. Guess who won!

Oh yes. The Starling was giving the Flicker the evil eyeball...but it didn't phase her one bit. She continued to peck...and peck....and peck.

Soon, the Northern Flicker flew off...leaving the Starling to feed. She didn't fly far; watching from a nearby rooftop.

She will soon return and I will be waiting....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Follow Friday: Who I Follow and Why

As some of you may already know, I'm a birdwatcher. My love of birds started HERE The people I follow on Twitter share the same passion for birds, wildlife, nature, and the environment.

Here's a short list of people (in alphabetical order) that I have had the pleasure of following - people that add to my life and inspire me to be a better birdwatcher, photographer, and lover of nature. These people are engaging, kind, and knowledgeable. Please consider following each and every one of them (if you're not already!):

A kind birdwatcher from London, England

A talented birdwatcher from New Jersey that works and travels all over the world.
Find her blog HERE

One of the first birdwatchers I started to follow on Twitter. A truly kind, talented gentleman from New York. If you need an ID on a shorebird, he's your guy!
Find his blog HERE

A ringer from the U.K.
Find her blog HERE with links to photos found HERE

A fantastic birdwatcher that tweets valuable information about birds

A wonderful bird and butterfly watcher from Pennsylvania that specializes in eco-gardening.
Follow her blog HERE

A fantastic birdwatcher/nature lover from Kansas
Follow her blog HERE

A link to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Great protectors of our magnificent wilderness!
Read about them HERE

A gifted photographer and nature lover from Longwood, Florida. I always look forward to #CraigsPick of the day
Follow his blog HERE

A wonderful, kind lady that tweets from the road while travelling across the USA in a motorhome.
Her blog can be found HERE

A terrific, warm and kind birdwatcher from Chicago, Illinois

A wonderful blogger from Washington, D.C.
Follow his blog HERE

A gifted photograpger from Naperville, Illinois
Her blog can be found HERE

A kind birdwatcher from Connecticut
His blog can be found HERE

A kind birdwatcher from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Check out his photography gallery HERE

A remarkable photographer from Orlando, Florida
Check out his bird gallery HERE

A wonderful birdwatcher, nature lover, and bug photographer from Chicago, Illinois

A lovely birdwatcher with a great sense of humour. She's from the Great Lakes area, NY

A kind and warm treehugger/birder from Long Island, New York

A great birdwatcher/photographer from the UK
Follow his blog HERE

A gifted photographer and cardmaker from Dekalb, Illinois
Her blog can be found HERE

A warm, kind, and gifted bird photographer from Chicago, Illinois

Brilliant bird and nature photographer from Michigan
Check out her amazing Flickr Gallery HERE
Her blog can be found HERE

A kind wildlife advocate from Antioch, CA
Follow his blog HERE

A kind birdwatcher and nature lover from Blacksburg, Virgina
Follow her blog HERE

An extremely kind birdwatcher from beautiful Peru. Also creator of the Bird Bloggers Tweet Club
Follow his blog HERE

A kind gentleman and farmer from Kansas
His blog can be found HERE

She's a gifted wildlife photographer from Estonia (love her winking fawn photo!)
Check out her work HERE

A funny, beautiful, and witty lawyer from lovely New Mexico
Check out her outstanding videos on Youtube HERE

A gifted photographer from gorgeous Maine
His blog can be found HERE

A very kind and warm birdwatcher from O'Fallon, Illinois

A knowledgeable and kind animal and wildlife enthusiast from Orlando, Florida

A friendly and kind fellow westcoaster living in Seattle, Washington

He's a friendly, warm and kind park ranger that also happens to be a great bird and wildlife photographer from Utah.
Check out his blog HERE

The official Twitter account for the Nature Conservancy. Protectors of ecologically important lands and waters
They have protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide!!!!
Check out their organization HERE

The official Twitter account for Nature Canada - Great protectors of wildlife and habitats in Canada
Learn more about them by visiting HERE

In a nutshell, The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the country's leading land conservation organization, with more than 2 million acres protected since 1962.
Learn more about them by visiting HERE

A new follow for me, this guy is a fantastic wildlife photographer from the U.K.
Check out his amazing work HERE

A kind nature lover from N.E. Saskatchewan

One of my favorite people on Twitter. A fellow Canadian that shares her love for nature and birds. PS: The Flames suck!
Her blog can be found HERE

A knowledgeable bird and nature photographer from the U.K.
His blog can be found HERE

A gifted birdwatcher/photographer from Morehead, KY
Follow her blog HERE

Humorous fellow I discovered on twitter by chance. He tweets from Knoxville, TN
See what he's been up to by going HERE

Truly one of the best wildlife photographers I've come across. He's kind too!
His amazing photography website can be found HERE

A gifted photographer and nature lover from Tucson, Arizona

A wonderful wildlife rehabber from North Carolina.

A wonderful photographer from Down Under (Newcastle, Australia)
Check out some of his latest work HERE

A great photographer from Estero, Florida
Check out her blog HERE

An engaging nature lover and environmental advocate from Colorado

A close personal friend that creates works of art using wood and a scroll saw. She's from Delta, B.C.
Check her out HERE

A close personal friend and birdwatching partner from Mission, B.C.
Her blog can be found HERE

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn at the Serpentine Fen

The Vancouver forecast called for heavy rainfall so I resolved to stay in and birdwatch from my kitchen window. I have 2 tube feeders, 1 finch feeder, 1 Suet feeder, and an Insta-Feeder. The day brought the usual suspects: American Goldfinches (at various stages of molt), House finches, House Sparrows and Black-Capped Chickadees. Those that chose to forage on the ground were European Starlings (gobbling up earth worms), and Dark-Eyed Juncos.

Here, a beautiful female Northern Flicker enjoys some WBU PB&J Suet:

Around noon, the clouds broke apart and the sun came out. I took it as a window of opportunity, no matter how small.
First up - Surrey Lake.

Sadly, there wasn't a whole lot of activity there. It was already noon and many of the birds and waterfowl had moved on. I did see a small family of American Coots, though, and pair of Common Loons.

Next, I drove to the Serpentine Fen. There was a little more activity there:
Ducks were coming and going:

Some just floating about:

While others were getting their second wind of the day:

While I was watching the ducks, I noticed this hawk, circling me from above. I honestly think he was considering me for lunch:

After the hawk flew off, I stopped at a nearby hedge to look for the frogs I heard croaking. I never did find the frogs, but I did find this little beauty - a black-capped chickadee:

I noticed that the wind was picking up and the clouds were rolling in - it was time for me to go. Before heading down the path to the car, I looked back at one of the 3 observation towers:

The autumn foliage is slowly appearing - adding color and contrast to the landscape

The rain stayed away for a little over two hours. It was just long enough...

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Day at the Pumpkin Patch

Today, we took the kids out to Rondriso Farms on 172nd Street in Surrey, B.C. It is a nearby working farm that not only handles cattle, but offers that largest pumpkin patches in our area.

We enjoyed a hayride out to the field to select our pumpkins:

There were many pumpkins to choose from:

My youngest son selected his:

My oldest selected his:

My good friend, Sherri, selected hers (apparently, she could not decide on which):

My husband spent the greatest amount of time...venturing deep into the patches to locate the ultimate pumpkin:

This afforded me time to carefully select mine -- isn't it pristine?

Before we delivered our bounty to the car, we stopped to pay our respects to this poor farmer:

Tune in next weekend...when we carve our pumpkins and decorate the house and yard for Halloween.