Posts Tagged 'Greater Yellowlegs'

Maplewood: November 7th 2010

Sunday afternoon proved to be sunny with some clouds so I put aside my schoolwork and went birding at Maplewood Conservation Area. The tide was coming in when I arrived at the mudflats and the birds were positioned perfectly for observation with my scope; not too far out so as to strain the resolving power of ones eye, but distant enough such that a human presence doesn’t alter their behaviour or movements.

Right in front of the log where I was seated a group of Greater Yellowlegs foraged in the shallows. They hung around long enough for me to attempt some video by handholding my camera up to my scope’s eyepiece.

Also present at the mudflats was at least one drake Eurasian Widgeon. I didn’t have time to scan the entire flock for others as a Bald eagle flushed the group; they didn’t settle back down but instead continued flying west. Luckily the gulls decided not to flee the area entirely; interspersed amongst the Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls were a handful of California Gulls.

On my way out I had the pleasure of watching a very late male Black-throated Gray Warbler flitting about in the trees nearby the bird feeders. Looking at eBird, I see that my sighting is the only one ever reported in November for the province! It’s also clear that the fall migration for this species appears to have petered out by mid October. I wonder what held this little guy up?

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Maplewood: December 27th 2009

On Saturday the city was covered in a thick blanket of fog which, in my case, led to some less than stellar birding. On Sunday, however, the skies were clear. I arrived at Maplewood Conservation Area an hour or so after high tide which left a small group of birds congregating on a patch of exposed mudflats to the north of the viewing area.

I managed to slowly creep up to the northernmost viewpoint at the mudflats where two Killdeer were resting only eight or so meters away. One of them opened his eyes and looked me over before going back to sleep…

Killdeer are frequently found in habitat that has been created or modified by humans and this puts them at an increased risk of exposure from chemicals and pesticides (1). Over the summer the District of North Vancouver adopted a “cosmetic pesticide” ban (i.e. pesticides used on residential properties). For the most part this sounds like good news for Killdeer and other urban bird species on the North Shore but there does appear to be a bit of a loop hole in that a permit can be obtained to use pesticides when there is a “threat to health or to physical structures” (couldn’t one just remove the problem plant manually?). Ultimately the success of this pesticide ban will be determined by people’s willingness to put the health of the community ahead of their lawn.

Three Greater Yellowlegs were also in the same area; two of which were resting while the other was foraging in the shallows, nearby a small group of Green-winged Teal were preening and sleeping.

Reference:

  1. Jackson, Bette J. and Jerome A. Jackson. 2000. Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), 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/517doi:10.2173/bna.517

Maplewood: December 6th 2009

Last weekend I took advantage of the clear skies and managed to get out birding before the end of term exam period began. The sun may have been out but cold temperatures combined with a stiff northerly wind led to an absolutely freezing outing… at least by Vancouver standards.

Upon arriving at the mudflats I noticed a Spotted Sandpiper foraging not far from the viewing area; it took flight shortly after and retreated to the northern corner of the mudflats preventing me from getting any pictures. Over at the Birding in BC forums there are some excellent photos taken by revs of what is undoubtedly the very same bird I observed. The checklist for Maplewood Flats (which can be found on the WBT’s website) lists the Spotted Sandpiper as “accidental; out of range” for the winter months making this an interesting and noteworthy sighting. Typically these birds begin moving south in mid-July and by the end of October this species has moved out of the province (Campbell et al 1990). I wonder why this particular sandpiper decided to stick around. Perhaps, it was a bird that bred further south and migrated north?

Also of note were twelve Greater Yellowlegs; a personal high count for Maplewood, and several Killdeer were foraging close to the viewing area.

It was nice to have the sun out while birding but I’m not used to it being that cold. How did the arctic front affect your birding?

References:

Campbell, R. W., N. K. Dame, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J. M. Cooper, G. W. Kaiser, and M. C. E. McNall. 1990. The birds of British Columbia Vol. 2. Diurnal birds of prey through woodpeckers. R. Br. Columbia Mus. Victoria.

Maplewood: November 21st 2009

Last weekend I managed to get in a rather quick hour of birding during the early afternoon in the eastern section of Maplewood Conservation Area. The tide was coming in when I viewed the mudflats and so I was able to get some excellent views of the lone Greater Yellowlegs feeding in the shallows close to the viewing area. Interestingly; the bird paid no attention to an adult Bald Eagle that flew across the mudflats at one point, despite it being considered a prey species of Bald Eagles (Elphick et al 1998). The bird must have noticed that a predator was nearby as just about every gull present took flight while giving alarm calls. I must admit, however, that my observations of Greater Yellowlegs’ response to birds of prey is limited to just two other occasions but in both instances the birds took flight before setting down not far from their original location while giving alarm calls.

While looking south across the Second Narrows I watched three Common Loon diving and occasionally preening themselves. Several Pelagic Cormorants, a single Double-crested Cormorant, and a Harbour Seal were also feeding in the same area.

At this point it started to rain and within a few minutes it had turned into a bit of a downpour so I was forced to cut the day short; I still had an excellent time though.

References:

Elphick, Chris S. and T. Lee Tibbitts. 1998. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), 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/355doi:10.2173/bna.355

Maplewood: October 17th 2009

As soon as I saw a break in the rain I grabbed my gear and headed out. The forecast was for rain the entire day but thankfully the weather network was wrong. When I arrived at Maplewood Conservation Area there was quite a bit of activity going on in the general area of the bird feeders as many of the birds were singing and drying themselves off in the sunshine. Black-capped Chickadee, Fox and Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Flicker, Downy Wood Pecker, and a single male American Goldfinch were all present and in splendid form. The birds seemed just as happy as I did that the rain let up for a while.

Out on the mudflats a lone Greater Yellowlegs was foraging in the shallows close to the viewing area. Despite being one of the more familiar shorebirds wintering in the Greater Vancouver area little is known about its breeding biology. Part of the reason for this lack of information is the fact that the species breeds in “muskeg, wet bogs with small wooded islands, and forests (usually coniferous) with abundant clearings” and small ponds or lakes nearby (Elphick et al 1998 and Peck and James 1983). The resulting swarms of insects in the summer are enough to keep most people away.

At the duck pond on the west side of Maplewood five American Coot were actively foraging and many Mallards were resting or preening. Within several minutes of scanning the pond it started to rain again, initially quite heavily, and I was forced to retreat to the car.

References:

Elphick, Chris S. and T. Lee Tibbitts. 1998. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), 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/355doi:10.2173/bna.355

Peck, G. K. and R. D. James. 1983. Breeding birds of Ontario: nidiology and distribution, Vol. 1: Non-passerines. R. Ont. Mus. Life Sci. Misc. Publ. Toronto.

Maplewood: October 13th 2009

I was not in the mood for homework today and so I decided to head out birding for an hour or two. When I arrived at Maplewood the tide was out so I decided to check out the western area first. Nothing much was going on until I got to the largest of the ponds (the one that usually has ducks). I spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk flying above the trees to the east; it was being chased by two Northwestern Crows who managed to get a few swipes in before the hawk ducked into the treetops.

The two Long-billed Dowitchers and three of the Greater Yellowlegs that I observed on October 10th and 11th were still present on the mudflats and actively engaged in foraging for food.

On my way out I had a look at the birdfeeders hanging in the fenced off maintenance area and immediately noticed a single Evening Grosbeak. Unfortunately it flew off before I could get any pictures. Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, House Finches, and a few Spotted Towhees were also at the feeders.

Maplewood: October 11th 2009

Thanks to the long weekend I was able to get out birding for the second day in a row. The tide was just beginning to recede when I arrived at Maplewood flats and so I was able to get some excellent views at the four Greater Yellowlegs and one of the Long-billed Dowitchers present.

It was quite amazing to watch the Greater Yellowlegs in action. They were very efficient at capturing prey. I observed one of them pull some sort of worm out of the mud and then a couple seconds later another had a small fish in its bill and shortly after that a different individual captured a crab.

Well I definitely have something to be thankful for. I hope your thanksgiving was as good as mine!