Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter on Westham Island

After a two week battle with a nasty winter cold, I was eager to get out into the brisk sunshine to birdwatch. Sadly, we picked today [Sunday] to head out to Westham Island - the busiest day at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. I usually like to bird at this location during the week, when only the professional photographers are out. I had a temporarily lapse in judgement [I will blame it on cabin fever!]

Upon arrival, we stopped at the usual display pond, near the entrance. There were few ducks present as most were out on the trails, panhandling for seed -- oodles and oodles of Mallards, American Coots, and American Wigeons...

We continued down the East trail when we noticed a photographer pointing his extremely long lens up a large Pine tree. A small group had gathered near the base, all pointing their lenses of various lengths up the same tree. I casually asked the photographer, with the longest lens, what he had found. He kindly pointed to a 'Y' in the tree. It took me a few seconds to see it ... a gorgeous [and HUGE] Barred Owl...



A Life Bird...






From that moment on, we were scanning the treetops, and it's a good thing we were because we saw this...



...and this....a Juvenile Bald Eagle



The treetops were full of American Bald Eagles, both Juvenile and Adult.







There were a few smaller birds too, like Golden-crowned, White-crowned, and Song Sparrows, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees, and hundreds of the American Robins, like this one...





Red-Winged Blackbirds and these beautiful Cedar Waxwings...





Hundreds of Black-capped Chickadees, like these...



Back in the water, a gorgeous lone Bufflehead was swimming.



Oddly, the Wood Ducks were not in the water. They were on the seed table...



The Snow Geese were present out on the North Marsh, once again. There were several large raptors keeping them on the move...



Finally, one cannot visit the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary without seeing a squirrel or two. I liked the way this squirrel was using his own tail to keep his neck warm...





Although it was an extremely busy [and cold] day on Westham Island, the birds we did see made the trip worthwhile.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday





Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wordless Wednesday



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...