Archive for September, 2010

Lark Sparrow at Colony Farm

I got up fairly early this morning (30/09/10) and made my way to Colony Farm where a Lark sparrow has been reported since Monday. It was fairly foggy and a little chilly upon my arrival at the north parking lot by the start of Colony Farm Road but I could hear plenty of sparrows which gave me some small measure of hope; at least there was a lot of activity. I strolled down the Mundy Creek Trail to the T-junction with the Sheep Paddocks Trail and the Home Farm Dyke Trail (If you’re unfamiliar with this location here is a map). The bird had been reported in this area but after checking it out for about twenty minutes I wasn’t seeing anything other than the regular species. From here I made my way down the Sheep Paddocks Trail which dead ends at a gate about 170m along the path; it was here that I located the Lark Sparrow.

Initially I sighted the bird on a log about ten metres from one of the gates but it was too distant for me to be 100% sure. Luckily, for me at least, a Song Sparrow began chasing the Lark Sparrow who eventually got the message that this log was the Song Sparrows’. The bird flew towards me but ducked into the grass and out of sight. After a tense five minutes it took off and landed on the trail way where it began foraging nearby a Dark-eyed Junco.

The first winter bird continued to provide excellent looks for a further half an hour or so before flying into the brush along the side of the trail where I lost track of it. While there I also couldn’t help but notice the way in which the rising sun looked filtered through the tree line and the fog. A great sunrise and a great bird, is there any better way to start the day!

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A Gull Feeding Frenzy

On Saturday evening I was once again at Iona Beach and while scanning the area between the south and north jetty got to witness quite a few gulls feeding on flying termites. When I first arrived on scene there were just a couple of Ring-billed Gulls hanging about and no sign of termites but after twenty or so minutes the flying insects started emerging from the ground and the gulls quickly took notice. Within a matter of minutes gulls were flying in from all over the area and they hurriedly took to some pretty spectacular aerial acrobatics in the pursuit of their quarry.

The flock was mostly made up of Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of Glaucous-winged Gulls; two California Gulls also made an appearance. Besides the feeding frenzy the effect of the setting sun combined with the approaching rain clouds made for quite a picturesque scene.

The Good Kind of Off-Leash Dog

While scoping the mudflats between the north and south jetty at Iona this past Saturday I was somewhat surprised to see this coyote trotting along the shoreline towards my position…

As the wild dog got closer he (or she) picked up speed a little and veered further out onto the flats to give me a wide berth.  The coyote dashed off into the grass and brush as it approached the north jetty and within a few seconds it was gone.

Unsurprisingly there were quite a few off leash pets at Iona as well; including one dog whose owners let it rampage through several groups of gulls. I briefly entertained the thought of rounding a bend and coming across the coyote tearing someone’s unleashed lap dog to pieces as the ignorant owner stood by crying helplessly but quickly banished such negative notions to the back of my head as I sighted a group of Sanderling feeding on a sandbar.

The birding was pretty decent at Iona with the highlight being a Lapland Longspur just past the 1km mark on the south jetty. At the sewage lagoons good numbers of shorebirds were feeding on the north east pond and several species of raptors made brief flyovers as well. Luckily the weather cooperated whilst birding and the forecasted rain held off until the sun had almost set.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Boundary Bay

My schedule this semester is such that I have Tuesdays off, so what better thing is there to do on a free day than go birding! I arrived at the south end of 104th street where I met another birder who informed me that there was not one, but two Buff-breasted Sandpipers west of the pylons along the dyke between 104th and 96th.

I hurried out there, only stopping once to watch a female American Kestrel being chased by a group of five Savannah Sparrows, and found a few birders observing the pair forage along the foreshore close to the dyke.

This species breeds along the arctic coastline of central Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (1). During spring migration birds take a direct route across the Gulf of Mexico and move through central North America, but during fall migration the southward movement of the species across Canada and the United States is much more spread out (1). Buff-breasted Sandpiper can be observed right across Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia from about late July to late September or early October (1, 2).

After having my full of the two sandpipers I continued on to 96th street where I witnessed a Parasitic Jaeger chasing a young gull. On my return walk to the parking lot at 104th I picked up a couple of Red Knots in a group of Black-bellied Plover as well as a Merlin on a utility pole; another fantastic outing at Boundary Bay.

References:

  1. Lanctot, R. B. and C. D. Laredo. 1994. Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/091doi:10.2173/bna.91
  2. Campbell, R. W. and P. T. Gregory. 1976. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper in British Columbia, with notes on its migration in North America. Syesis 9:123-130.

Nashville Warbler at Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve

Today (11/09/10) I decided to head into the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in the hopes that the cloudy/rainy weather forecasted would ground a lot of migrants in the forest along the Seymour River. The weather turned out to be a lot more partly cloudy than mostly cloudy and I was concerned that the day was going to be a bust when the first fifteen minutes of my hike produced not a single bird (I did hear Common Raven from the parking lot though).

My route from the car took me along the Twin Bridges Trail and then down Homestead Trail. Upon reaching Fisherman’s Trail I turned south to check out the Homestead Fisheries Enhancement area; which is basically a collection of ponds and streams suitable for salmon to lay their eggs in. It was along the path at the enhancement area’s southern end that I spotted a Nashville Warbler amongst a flock comprised of several species. The bird allowed for some excellent and close views over a period of ten minutes or so before moving deeper into the bush with the rest of the flock.

After the Nashville Warbler and I parted ways I continued north up Fisherman’s Trail to the Mid Valley Fisheries Enhancement area before joining up with the Seymour Valley Trailway via the Hydraulic Connector trail; it was a longish walk, often with bouts of little to no bird activity, but well worth it in the end.