Sunday, December 6, 2009

Westham Island Wildlife

After several weeks of rain in Vancouver, British Columbia, the blue sky I woke to was a pleasant surprise. A day without rain means a day spent out in the field with my fine feathered friends - the birds of Westham Island.

As we crossed from No#10 hwy to Ladner Trunk Road, I couldn't help but glance up at the bare treetops, in hopes of spotting something grand. It wasn't long before I spotted him -- the most gorgeous American Bald Eagle, just perched there, waiting for me. I slammed on my brakes, pulled over with camera in hand, and crossed two busy lanes of traffic to the tree line. He glanced over at me and remained just long enough for this....



I really should get myself a bumper sticker that reads: I brake for Eagles!

Once we arrived at the Migratory Bird Sanctuary, we were barely in the gate before a flock of Mallards waddled to our ankles. We did notice something a little different among them, though - a little white duck.



After feeding, the Mallards remained but the white duck took to the water...



Once we were satisfied that we could identify all of the ducks in the main display pond, we continued down the path. I noticed this cute little migrant, perched on a branch - a Golden-crowned Sparrow...





If there is one problem the Migratory Bird Sanctuary has, it's keeping these little critters out of the feeders...





We found that the Black-Capped Chickadees were very hungry, since almost every hopper and tube feeder had a squirrel in or around it....

Check out my earlier blog post about hand-feeding Black-capped Chickadees HERE

Some squirrels were busy plotting while we fed the chickadees. Notice the folded hands and the smile on this one? I found this one a little creepy, actually.



There are always plenty of Black-capped Chickadees willing to feed from your hand. Next to the Mallard Duck, the Black-capped Chickadees are the most trusting bird of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary.











Here's a sweet singer, the Song Sparrow...



One thing I resolved to do this visit was take more scenic pictures. The Sanctuary offers breathtaking views and often, I'm so busy taking photos of the birds, that I forget about the beautiful surroundings. Sadly, this is the only scenic shot I managed....



..because, no sooner did I shoot this...that I saw this....



...and this...



This one was trying to hide behind a single blade of grass.







Looking back at the path...an entire family of Sandhill Cranes...



We walked over to where the photographers were set-up...and there were even more. A few more flew in shortly after we moved on...



We continued on to one of the many display ponds. We saw a few more Buffleheads than we had last visit. This one was keeping company with a Male Northern Pintail...





I find the Buffleheads difficult to photograph because they're almost always diving. This one still had a small water droplet sparkling in the morning sunshine...



We saw more Lesser Scaups this time around, as well...





Here's a life bird we picked up today -- the Northern Shoveler. The female...



...and the male Northern Shoveler.

It probably took me 20 minutes to get a single shot of this Shoveler. They spend a tremendous amount of time with their bills below the surface, skimming for plankton.




Our final stop was the look-out tower, where I spent a little time with my favorite Mallard, Harvey...



On the way out, we spotted this male Black-crowned Night Heron. We saw him last time, but on this occasion, he was perched a little closer. He wasn't alone either. He was with 3 others, 1 of which was a juvenile perched high up in the tree, but covered in brush. Here are a few of the Herons that were awake and in view...







Another great day birding and one more life bird to add to my list. Until next time...

6 comments:

  1. What a treasure of bird photos--every single one a masterpiece. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I am so jealous of your Bald Eagle shot.

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  3. Love these photos! I need to get back to the bird sanctuary soon (before our weather gets drizzly again!)

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  4. I think your bumper sticker should read: "Caution birder on board. Will brake for any bird!" It looks like you had a fabulous time. And as always, your photos are excellent! @CB4wildlife

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  5. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!! You should use the 2 chicadees "snuggling" as a Valentine's Day card. Love them!

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  6. It's a bird photo bonanza! The sandhills looked like they were standing right next to you...how great.

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