Saturday, January 9, 2010
Jan 8: Birding the "South Coast"
Today was supposed to be all about gyrfalcons. The scrub-jay and owl had turned out to be a little too easy but I wasn't sure if my luck would hold for my other main coastal target... I was wrong! Wu Lee picked me up in East Van and we headed down to Blackie Spit whilst keeping our eyes on the gray skies. At Blackie I added 9 years birds, mostly easy stuff but it was neat to see several EURASIAN WIGEON so close (check out the photo with both male and female birds). The targets of course were the "screachers" as some call them: a single LONG-BILLED CURLEW hanging out with 6 MARBLED GODWITS. These big waders are often pretty tough birds in winter in BC but these guys seem pretty comfortable! (photos) In addition to the birds we ran into top Canadian lister Al McTavish! It's neat that the top 3 Canadian listers all live in BC... goes to show what a great place this is.
Next we headed to the foot of 96th street on Boundary Bay for out hoped-for Gyr and BINGO!!! There it was perched atop the big radio tower behind the Mansion! A lifer for Wu and my first since 2006! Also on Boundary Bay were my first Brants and amazing numbers of wigeon and pintail, tens of thousands (a lot for my interior standards!).
"Well that was pretty easy," I said. With the gyr in the bag, we decided to head to the Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty to see if Mr. Willet was around. He was! Apparently this bird has wintered here for 14 years, glad to see he's still going strong. A few other new birds here like BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, PELAGIC and BRANDT'S CORMORANTS were nice although unfortunately heightened security at the terminal makes turnstone and surfbird searching awkward so no luck with those birds.
Time for Reifel Refuge! More and more rain came down but the sactuary was packed with birds and we had a fantastic time turning up 50 species and finding many goodies. I was very happy to get great looks at 4 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS (photo of juvenile included) and a PEREGRINE FALCON, but the best birds for the location included an adult GLAUCOUS GULL, an adult male YELLOW-SHAFTED FLICKER (photo- note the black moustache, red nape, and yellow primary shafts), and a lone BOHEMIAN WAXWING (hanging out with Cedars). Other year-birds at Reifel: RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, PURPLE FINCH, SANDHILL CRANE, MARSH WREN, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, and GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW.
What a day (28 year-birds I think)! Still figuring out the new camera obviously son I'll blame the poor shots on low light and pouring rain!
Thanks Wu for the great day!