Archive for August, 2010

Wandering Tattler at Iona

On Saturday evening I drifted into Iona Beach Regional Park after spending most of the day birding Boundary Bay and Reifel Bird Sanctuary. A pair of juvenile Wandering Tattler had been reported throughout the week on the south jetty and despite my dislike for “target birding”, with its potential for creating an air of disappointment at the end of an outing when certain birds have not been seen, I couldn’t help but want to track this species down.

Not long after starting the lengthy, and quite frankly somewhat boring, walk down the south jetty I ran into a birder/photographer who kindly informed me that both the Tattlers were just past the second storm shelter on the south and leeward side of the jetty. This information saved me from stopping every few hundred meters to scan the rocky shoreline for two indistinct grey shorebirds. Near the second storm shelter I met another birder/photographer who directed me towards the precise position of the birds; finding them couldn’t have been much easier than if someone had pointed my binoculars straight at the pair.

Both juvenile Wandering Tattlers were sleeping, or at least trying to, when I found them. I had to balance my spotting scope in a pretty precarious position on the rocks to get some photos and a good look…

These birds could have been born in dwarf shrub upland or montane tundra in Alaska, the Yukon, northwest BC, a small section of western Northwest Territories, or possibly north eastern Russia (1). Their non breeding habitat is much like that of Iona’s south jetty; rocky shorelines, both natural and man made (1).

Iona’s checklist states that Wandering Tattler is rare in fall (which includes fall migration). Both juveniles were well worth the walk down the jetty and to top an already spectacular day off I also spotted a Wilson’s Phalarope along with three Red-necked Phalarope foraging on the southeast sewage lagoon.


  1. Gill, Robert E., Brian J. Mccaffery and Pavel S. Tomkovich. 2002. Wandering Tattler (Tringa incana), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Reifel: August 21st 2010

With my exams finished and the summer semester all wrapped up I was free to head out birding on Saturday. After checking out the tide and finding it to be suitably out ‘till around six pm, it was an easy decision to head to Reifel Bird Sanctuary in an attempt to catch some shorebird activity on the westernmost ponds where the low water level would attract them to feed.

The action kicked off in the parking lot with two Peregrine Falcons arriving from the south. I later caught up with one of them perched atop a tree inside the sanctuary…

Undoubtedly the falcons were here for the shorebirds as well, though I’m sure they weren’t here just to watch them. These birds often sit in a location with a good field of view and wait for an injured or sometimes overtly conspicuous bird to make itself known; most other birds are allowed to continue without contest (1). I did not get to witness either of the falcons attempt a capture but the shorebirds and waterfowl were quite skittish and frequently took flight to change location within the ponds.

Lesser Yellowlegs were the predominant species of shorebird at the tidal ponds. Greater Yellowlegs, Long and Short-billed Dowitchers, Stilt Sandpipers, and Red-necked Phalarope were also present; all actively engaged in finding food.

The three Stilt Sandpipers spent most of their time foraging with the Dowitchers where their rapid “stitching” feeding motions could be directly compared with the slower “sewing machine” action of the Dowitchers. Both species would often associate in a loose, line abreast formation and proceed forward together. As the line moved ahead each bird would slowly begin to break formation as, I assume, they each attempted to find a larger concentration of prey. After the flock was flushed into flight the birds would resettle, form the line again, and continue.

Another great day of birding at Reifel Bird Sanctuary; the fall shorebird migration seems to be well underway.


  1. White, Clayton M., Nancy J. Clum, Tom J. Cade and W. Grainger Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Marbled Murrelet at Maplewood (14/08/10)

I’m currently in the midst of final exams but I really needed a break; or rather, an escape from the sheer boredom that is word for word memorization. I decided to head to my local patch, Maplewood Conservation Area, where I was rewarded with the sight of a juvenile Marbled Murrelet at Otter Point (south west corner of the property). Although this is not really a rare bird for the Vancouver area, it is for Maplewood; the WBT’s checklist lists the species as casual.

The bird was sleeping most of the time and unfortunately I didn’t have my spotting scope or camera with me so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was there!