Posts Tagged 'Eurasian Widgeon'

Easter at Iona

End of semester projects and tests kept me from writing a trip report last weekend but I did manage to get in some decent birding so I thought I’d talk about what I got up to before discussing this weekends outings. On Saturday I managed to get out to Iona Beach near the airport.

Iona was incredibly windy on Saturday but the weather was otherwise quite nice. At one point I almost had my tripod and scope blown over by a strong gust but luckily I managed to grab it just in time. The wind also made digiscoping very difficult as my camera had trouble focusing through all the atmospheric turbulence. Despite this I find something enjoyable about birding in adverse conditions; I think a good bird or a difficult ID is a little more special when you’ve been through hell to get it.

At the pond by the parking lot Tree and Violet-green Swallows were having rough time of it in the wind. They would frequently come down to rest on the railing of the boardwalk and many of them appeared to be breathing quite heavily. The wind was a bit of a blessing for the observer as the swallows were practically stationary when flying into the wind; this allowed for some excellent looks of the birds in flight.

Over by the washrooms I managed to locate a group of four Savannah Sparrows taking shelter in the brush.

Just past the gate that heads out onto the North Arm Jetty a Northern Shrike was flying from bush top to bush top. The bird would barely rest on a high perch for a few seconds before lifting off and flying, seemingly in slow motion due to the wind, to the next one.

Not long after spotting the shrike an American Tree Sparrow made a brief appearance from the depths of the nearby brush. After patiently observing the area for a quarter of an hour I was able to discern at least two birds but more have been reported by other birders.

On the northern bank of the North Arm of the Fraser River I managed to pick out these two Eurasian Widgeon:

I had a great time at Iona but I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of off leash dogs. Dogs are supposed to be leashed throughout the park yet I counted eighteen running about compared to three whose owners had the decency to follow the rules and, more importantly, respect the environment. It seemed as though some of the birds were already having a bit of a rough time in the strong wind, the last thing they needed was for some dog to come tearing through the brush where they’re trying to take shelter.

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Maplewood: January 23rd 2010

This Saturday I was again out at Maplewood Conservation Area. The tide was in when I visited the mudflats and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of activity. A scan of the area produced a few Bufflehead, two Pelagic Cormorants, a Common Loon, and the usual compliment of gulls. However, when I checked out the northern section of mudflats I found two birds of note…

Upon scanning the salt marsh I spotted a male Eurasian Widgeon among a group of American Widgeon. The ducks were milling in and amongst the flooded marsh plants with a couple of Green-winged Teals. Unfortunately the birds were too far away to get any recognizable photo when I held my camera up to my bins but this picture shows the characteristic bright russet-red head of the Eurasian Widgeon… or at least I think it does.

After ten minutes or so of observing the Eurasian Widgeon I noticed a group of Northwestern Crows making a bit of a racket. One of them made a swooping pass at something perched in one of the conifer trees near the McCartney Creek outflow. It turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk; a familiar bird of the street lights of Highway One but uncommon at Maplewood according to the WBT’s checklist. I wonder if it wasn’t contemplating making a meal of the ducks directly below in the salt marsh; waterfowl are occasionally prey for Red-tailed Hawk, among many other animals (1). At least in this photo you can see the hawk and the reddish tail that gives the species its name.

It was nice to get out from behind the desk and do some birding even if it was only for a short time.

Reference:

  1. Preston, C. R. and R. D. Beane. 2009. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), 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/052doi:10.2173/bna.52