Maplewood: February 6th 2010

Another weekend, another opportunity to get out birding; this past Saturday I went to Maplewood Conservation Area. The weather was fantastic and a fair number of birds were out singing.

At the mudflats I was lucky enough to watch a flock of at least 150 Mallards all landing on the water at the same time; it was quite a spectacle. Mixed in with the Mallards were several Northern Pintails…

At the McCartney Creek outflow I managed to find a California Gull mixed in with the regular Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls.

A few Great Blue Heron were resting on some of the pylons that dot the mudflats. At one point another Heron flew in from the north and gave a single “Frawnk” call as it forced a gull off of a pylon (1). You can listen to a recording of a Great Blue Heron at UBC over at xeno-canto.

Over at the western side of Maplewood I spotted a Cooper’s Hawk perched in one of the trees. Typically when I see one of these birds I’ll get it sighted in my spotting scope and then it’ll look right at me and fly off. I’ve never been closer to one than about 25-30m and I’ve always stopped and looked at the bird as soon as I’ve seen it; never approaching or making any attempt to reposition myself for a better view, yet every time it’ll take flight as soon as it sees me looking at it. Today I paused and thought about the consequences of my actions. I’m almost positive that the bird knows I’m watching it before it leaves its perch and so I feel responsible for forcing it to move to a new location. By simply looking at the bird from a distance am I compelling it to waste energy in search of a new position? Would it have taken flight even if I had not seen it but it had seen me? It’s terrible to think that I may be having a negative effect on these birds just by looking at them.

On my way out I was approaching the bird feeders at the entrance when there was a sudden commotion. I raised my binoculars just in time to watch a Sharp-shinned Hawk chase a group of House Finches into the bushes. It was just as exciting as the last time I witnessed a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunting at this location and, like my previous encounter, the hawk was unsuccessful at getting a meal.

Sufficed to say I had a great outing; it’s not often that one sees two species of hawk during a single trip to Maplewood, in fact I think this may be the first time I’ve witnessed such an occurrence.


Bayer, R. 1984a. Vocalizations of Great Blue Herons at Yaquina Estuary, Oregon. Colonial Waterbirds 7:35-44.


0 Responses to “Maplewood: February 6th 2010”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: