Sunday, January 31, 2010

Loon with a Snack

While at Blackie Spit today, conducting my Survey Area Count, this Common Loon caught my eye. He was struggling with something...



I soon discovered it was a crab...



He dropped it several times...but managed to dive and grip it again, in his bill...



He made short work of that crab, eating the entire thing...whole! Notice the lump in his throat?



Amazing to watch...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Sandwich in the Park

Today, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and eat my lunch at a park near my workplace - The Richmond Nature Park.

I found myself thoroughly entertained by this Douglas Squirrel and the 'Squirrel-proof' bird feeder [The Eliminator]. The Eliminator uses Squirrel Buster™ technology to keep squirrels and nuisance birds off the feeder. It’s weight-activated, so as a squirrel or nuisance bird accesses the feeding area, the weight forces the shroud down and closes the seed ports. Squirrels and nuisance birds are foiled from eating at the feeder but not harmed in any way.

Umm, it appears that THIS squirrel has figured out a loop hole in the system...





Nom..nom...nom....













The squirrel had an accomplice...stationed below the 'Squirrel-proof' feeder. Plenty of seed there too...



This little Black-capped Chickadee was so incredibly patient while he waited for the squirrel to finish up! You know, for a little Chickadee, he sure had an intimidating stare.



This little Downy Woodpecker waited patiently on the feeder post. His pecking on the post sounded a little like the ticking of hands on a clock. Tick! Tock!



Finally, the Black-capped Chickadee and Downy Woodpecker gave up...and flew to other nearby feeders.

I'm sure that if this Chickadee had fists, he'd ball them up and shake them at that squirrel.







The Richmond Nature Park offers a wide variety of wild bird seed, suet, and nuts for many different species of birds. The Dark-eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees, House Finches, American Goldfinches, and American Robins all dined with me while we listened to the beautiful Song Sparrows belt out a tune in nearby trees.

I could not think of a better way to spend a lunch hour. Can you?

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, January 25, 2010

A Day at Blackie Spit

This past weekend, I came across an exciting post on the Birding in BC Community Forum. It was a post about Blackie Spit, one of my favorite places to birdwatch. It seemed the Marbled Godwit and Long-Billed Curlew were still in town [View the post HERE] I did see the pair last Fall [View that post HERE] but I wanted to see them in their Winter plumage. So, today, I drove out to Blackie Spit.

The first bird I found was this rather handsome Common Loon...



Next was these sleek Greater Yellowlegs...





The tide was in and there were many ducks wading in the shallow marsh - Northern Pintails, American Wigeons, and a few Mallards. The Wigeons were the most abundant of all the ducks...







I followed the trail to the far eastern edge. The pilings were decorated nicely with Double-crested Cormorants...



Many drying their wings in the cool Winter air...



I saw many Great Blue Herons along the way...





As the tide pulled out to the Bay, I noticed an odd shape among the ducks, meandering along the shoreline. It was the Long-billed Curlew I sought!



The Marbled Godwits were present [4 in all] but they were farther out and I was unable to get a good photo of them [there is always next time]. I did notice that the LB Curlews plumage was much darker now. He was a very distinguished looking fellow and a treat to observe.



I couldn't help but notice this stunner high up in a tree, watching me -- A Peregrine Falcon. Not a great photo but you get the idea. He wasn't in the least bit intimidated by me.



Since daylight was dwindling, I decided to head home. As I approached the gate, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Perched, silently, on a dead tree branch, was a Northern Harrier...waiting for dusk.





What would a trip to Blackie Spit be without a few shots of the Ring-billed Gulls? I loved how they were perched all in a neat, tidy row...and I could not resist them.



All of that wonderful fresh air was so relaxing. I could not think of a better way to start the week. Can you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Raptor Round-Up!

We drove out to O.W.L. [The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society] to see the owls but it was the drive out there that took our breath away!

With Boundary Bay only a stones throw away from O.W.L., we expected to see an Eagle or two. Boy were we surprised when we saw the sheer numbers of Bald Eagles waiting for us! Almost every tree had a majestic Bald Eagle perched in it!







This tree was a lucky host to two generations!





I noticed a nest high up in a tree and was very surprised to see a pair of Bald Eagles in it! I was careful not to get too close, preferring to shoot from a distance so as not to disturb them.



The many waterways were brimming with a good variety of ducks: Mallards, Wigeons, Teals...







Many Great Blue Herons were hunting out in the farmer's fields...





Finally, we arrived at O.W.L.



We saw Peregrine Falcons, Merlins, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles [a pair dining on rats when we arrived], and many different species of owls, including: Great Horned Owls, Eastern and Western Screech Owls, and these gorgeous Snowy Owls...





Sadly, all of the raptors we saw today are permanent residents of the center. All injured either in battle, by window strike, or by car.

There is another larger section of the center that is NOT open to the public. This is where the majority of the raptors reside. Those are the lucky ones. Those are the ones that have been rehabilitated and are nearing release.

Soon, they too will fly among the Eagles...



Saturday, January 23, 2010

For the Birds...

Robbie and I started our day, on Westham Island, the usual way; by hand feeding the Black-capped Chickadees along the outer trail of the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.



Black-capped Chickadees are among the most trusting of all song birds. As we fed them, other birds crept out from the brush or ventured down from the treetops, watching as one Chickadee after another landed in our hand.

Many considered doing the same...




Like this chubby little Golden-crowned Sparrow...



Like this beautiful singer, the Song Sparrow...



Like this handsome Red-winged Blackbird....



Only the Black-capped Chickadees were trusting enough, though.



After a few minutes, I noticed that the Golden-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbirds I was admiring had all but disappeared into the brush. Moments later, a large bird buzzed through the trees, past us, and snagged a bird in its talons along the way. After Robbie and I got over the initial shock, we crept down the path until we discovered the offender in a nearby tree -- a Cooper's Hawk...



As we made our way down the path, we started to realize that a number of these Cooper's were working their territory, looking for unsuspecting, well fed songbirds. Songbirds fed by us!

Although we were looking for owls, we did see many other birds like this one, a Northern Flicker, perched high up in the tree..



In the display ponds, we saw many different species of waterfowl, including a pair of these gorgeous Mergansers [with a Gull to keep them company]...



This beauty was drifting silently along the surface with only her reflection to keep her company...



This handsome Northern Pintail was sunning himself on the waters edge...



While the ponds were filled with Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, Greater and Lesser Scaups, American Wigeons, and the occasional wondering American Coot...













As we were leaving, Robbie and I scoped out the distand brush along the waters edge. We often see Black-crowned Night Herons at rest, and today was no exception. We saw one Juvy and one Adult...





It was a great day on Westham Island but...we decided not to end the day there. We drove across the Westham Island swing bridge out to Brunswick Point. After a short walk along the trail, we saw them - Double-crested Cormorants and lots of 'em, resting on the pilings along the waters edge.





These birds are fun to watch, as they dry their wings in the cool Winter air...



As Robbie and I made our way back to the car, we reflected on our day. The birds of Westham Island and Brunswick point were doing what they do every day, rain or shine, whether we are here to observe them or not. What will you find in your nearby trees, ponds, or rivers...along your shorelines?