Posts Tagged 'Northern Pintail'

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.

Reference:

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

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Maplewood: September 26th 2009

I was at Maplewood again around midday today. As soon as I arrived at the mudflats I heard the call of an American Pipit (a low series of high, clear or jingling phrases tseewl-tseewl-tseewl . . . or pleetrr-pleetrr-pleetrr and other variations; given in flight for up to 15 seconds according to Sibley’s). There were three present foraging on the mudflat about a metre from the water’s edge. About five minutes after I arrived, however, they took flight to the South. Scanning the ducks present revealed the usual mix of American Widgeon, Northern Pintail, and a few Mallards that have been here for the past couple of weeks.

Two ducks soon caught my attention though. My instinct told me they were Blue-winged Teal but I decided to consult my field guide before positively identifying the two birds as they were in non-breeding plumage and my confidence at ascertaining the correct ID in this state is still a little sketchy. They were indeed Blue-winged Teal. The ducks were on the water close to shore about twenty metres north of the viewing area. Early August into mid October is when this species migrates through British Columbia (Cambell et al 1990). For many their final destination for the winter is northern South America although a larger proportion of birds banded in western provinces and states tend to be found in Mexico (Rohwer et al 2002).

Once again I didn’t have enough time to see what was going on the western side of the area so I went straight for the bird feeders near the entrance. Their wasn’t as much activity as I had seen yesterday evening but several species including Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch and Song Sparrow visited the seed while I was there. A male Downy Woodpecker also ate some suet before flying off into the trees.

I often feel that I learn far more about the world when out birding than I do while reading a textbook or attending a lecture…

References:

Campbell, R. W., N. K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J. M. Cooper, G. W. Kaiser and M. C. E. McNall. 1990. The birds of British Columbia. Vol. 1: introduction and loons through waterfowl. R. Br. Columbia Mus., Victoria.

Rohwer, Frank C., William P. Johnson and Elizabeth R. Loos. 2002. Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), 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/625doi:10.2173/bna.625

Maplewood: September 25th 2009

I was able to find the time to visit Maplewood Conservation Area this Friday evening. The bird feeders in the fenced off maintenance/gardening area near the entrance had been stocked full of seed so there was a fair bit of activity occurring. Black-capped Chickadees, Song Sparrows, and a few Spotted Towhees were, of course, present. A male and juvenile Downy Woodpecker was also there feeding on peanuts. This is the first time I’ve seen a juvenile Downy Woodpecker at Maplewood this year. I wonder if it is the offspring of a resident pair? This seems likely as young birds will remain within their parent’s territory for several weeks and adults are known to drive young other than their own form their territory (Lawrence 1967). Also present near the entrance were several Yellow-rumped Warblers (all in first winter plumage), Ruby-crowned Kinglets, juvenile Cedar Waxwings and American Robins, as well as a Red-breasted Sapsucker.

I didn’t have enough time to walk the paths on the western side of the property so instead I made my way to the mudflats. Northern Pintail, American Widgeon, Mallard, and Canada Goose were all accounted for.

References:

Lawrence, L. de K. 1967. A comparative life-history study of four species of woodpeckers. Ornithol. Monogr. 5: 1–156.

Maplewood: September 19th 2009

I was at Maplewood Conservation area for about two hours during the evening and just like last weekend there wasn’t much happening.

The best bird of the day was a group of four Yellow-rumped Warblers; all in first winter plumage. They were busy gleaning insects off of the branches and leaves of several trees near the shoreline approximately 25m west along the path once you’re across the bridge. I am particularly pleased with this sighting as I was able to identify them from their call (“a dry, husky chwit with slightly rising inflection” according to Sibley’s) before they came closer to the path and visual observation could be made. This has personally reaffirmed my commitment towards studying bird songs (I use the “Stokes Filed Guide to Bird Songs-Western Region” as well as Cornell’s “Bird’s of North America”) in addition to reviewing the field guide. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any pictures as the birds could not sit still long enough for me to line up my camera with my binoculars.

Nearby where I sighted the warblers this deer, a common occurrence at Maplewood, was busy grazing close to the waterline:

It was high tide when I checked out the mudflats and once again there was a group of American Widgeon, Northern Pintail, and some Mallard out on the water. Most appeared to be resting and a few were preening.

An Osprey was also present on one of the pylons busy eating a fish.

All in all it was a pleasant evening.