Posts Tagged 'Peregrine Falcon'

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.

Reference:

  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: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/660doi:10.2173/bna.660
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Reifel: May 1st 2010

With my exams finally over and having had a bit of a break, which involved two Chipping Sparrows at Stanley Park, I managed to get out to Reifel Bird Sanctuary. It seems my exams were perfectly timed to coincide with the main push of the spring migration; sufficed to say it was quite difficult trying to study while all of this was going on outside but I’m glad they’re over and done with so that now I can focus on what really matters…birding!

The weather was fairly pleasant, though a touch breezy, and it was not as busy as I had expected it to be; the parking lot was only three quarters full. Frankly, it could have been below zero and hailing and I still would’ve had a good time.

In the pond nearby the entrance a pair of Blue-winged Teals were busy feeding on any invertebrates, seeds, or aquatic plants present there (1). I had some excellent looks at the two but frustratingly as I was about to take some pictures they took flight. This did, however, provide the opportunity to observe the species’ namesake; its blue wing coverts.

Along the easternmost trail I came across a splendid Common Yellowthroat in full song. You can listen to a number of recordings for this species at xeno-canto. Further along both Myrtle and Audubon’s variety of Yellow-rumped Warbler were active in the trees along the path.

Looking west across the marsh and out towards the Georgia Straight there didn’t appear to be much going on besides swallows, mostly tree with a couple of Barn, and Red-winged Blackbirds. I decided to wait it out a bit and after ten minutes or so a Peregrine Falcon surprisingly took flight from a clump of brush. I didn’t notice him land there so I wonder if it wasn’t feeding on something. The falcon caused a bit of a panic with the other birds and it managed to flush out a small flock of Western Sandpiper and an American Bittern. It’s amazing that, with a little bit of patience, a seemingly deserted marsh can hold so many great birds!

Reference:

  1. 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