Friday, February 5, 2010

A Penny Found...

My friend, Robbie, and I decided to make the most out of my last day off [until mid-March] by visiting several of the local birding hotspots. The weather forecast called for overcast skies with a good chance of sun by late morning - perfect conditions for birdwatching.

As Robbie and I were loading our gear into my car, Robbie noticed something on the ground and bent down to pick it up. Once we were in the car, she opened up her hand to reveal a penny. She smiled and said, "Look, a penny. A lucky penny." She placed it in her pocket as we drove to our first stop ~ the Serpentine Fen Wildlife Area.

We had only managed to reach the footpath when we saw our first bird of the morning - A Great Blue Heron, perched high up on the cement railing, overlooking the winding Serpentine River. He looked perfect, with the snow-capped north shore mountains behind him...

A little further down the path, perched high up in a tree, was this majestic Adult American Bald Eagle.

The river and ponds were swelling over their banks, thanks in no small part to all of the rainfall we have had over the last few weeks. In the river, we saw Common Mergansers, Wigeons, Mallards, and American Coots. Along the grassy banks were Benwick's and Marsh Wrens. The trees alive with Dark-eyed Juncos, American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Gold and House finches. Song Sparrows were singing from their secluded hiding spots; away from the prying eyes of lurking predators.

Once we were satisfied that we had seen everthing there was to see at the Fen, we drove out to my favorite birding hotspot ~ Blackie Spit. Recently, I made a commitment to eBird to conduct weekly area counts at the Spit. Every time I head out there, I see atleast one or two new birds. Today was no exception. We arrived early enough in the morning to see many Juvenile and Adult Bald Eagles in the surrounding trees [clearly there to take advantage of the jumping fish!].

We decided, rather than head out to the Spit right away, we would follow the footpath out to the eastern shoreline [where I saw the LB Curlew and Marbled Godwits the last time]. The tide was in so the chances of seeing a Curlew or Godwit were slim.

We were about midway from the entrance and the shoreline when we crossed an area lined with Cherry Trees and Blackberry bushes. A Downy Woodpecker flew across the path, in front of us, and quickly started hammering away on a thorny branch...

The berry trees were full of American Robins...

...and Cedar Waxwings...

We continued out to the shoreline, where we saw 25-30 Double-crested Cormorants perched on the pilings - many, drying their wings in the unseasonably warm air. They were being babysat by a Great Blue Heron...

We spent a good chunk of time at this location before heading back over to the Spit. Once at the spit, I noticed an odd shape in the water - it was life bird #1: A Horned Grebe.

We were busy snapping photos of the Grebe and the Common Loons that were wading in the Bay, when a photographer came over and began to set-up his rather impressive equipment beside us on the beach. We exchanged details on what we had seen that morning, when he turned to us and casually asked, "Have you gals been out to the White Rock Pier lately? There's plenty of Scoters out there".

Neither Robbie or I had been out there in years so we did what any fairly normal person would do...we high-tailed it outta there, bidding adieu to our new friend.

We had barely reached the base of the Pier before I noticed the Scoters in the water. I could hardly contain myself. I started to a child to an ice cream truck on a hot Summer Day, with a bloated pocket full of spare change. There they were, as promised...a flock of White-Winged Scoters.. and life bird #2.

Here's a pair of handsome males...

...and a female...

Mixed in with the Scoters were a pair of inconspicuous Common bird #3

IMO, both male and female Common Goldeneyes are beautiful!

I was so busy photographing the Scoters and Goldeneyes when something popped up from below the surface almost directly in front of me...A Common Loon. This little guy had personality. He looked up at me with curious eyes..and for a moment, we had a connection.

There were many pairs of Buffleheads but this female caught my eye...

So, after 3 life birds, I couldn't help but think about that penny, found. Was it a lucky penny, like Robbie had said? Yes. Yes it was...and then some!


  1. Awesome post the title!!!

  2. What a wonderful two make a great birding Duo! I am still looking for a name for you both.. Birding, blogging babes...

  3. Wow, you had a terrific day! Congrats on the extraordinary day!

  4. What a great post and photos! I would love to get Cedar Waxwings here! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  5. What a super day! Congratulations on the "lifers" and thanks for sharing.