Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Vancouver birding

Over the last two days I've been patroling all the possible Sharp-tailed Sandpiper spots and hoping for some other rarities along the way. Nothing mind-blowing to report yet but here is a sumary of some of the things I've been seeing.

On Wednesday (Sept 29) I started off at Cecil Green near UBC where a few sparrows were in evidence including this nice WHITE-THROATED SPARROW--- an uncommon migrant on the coast.

I checked the sewage lagoons at Iona but only found 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and 40ish LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS. The highlights here were more of the waterFOWL variety. First I spotted this cute "minima" CACKLING GOOSE. My first of the Fall.

Then later, a single BLUE-WINGED TEAL was a somewhat late find... but weirdest of all was a PURPLE-WINGED TEAL! What is that you ask? Well while writing up some notes along the side of the road that overlooks the foreshore, I noticed that one of the "Green-winged Teals" hanging out with a swarm of pintails and wigeon had obvious PURPLE speculums. As many will know, mallards sometimes show purple instead of blue but I have never heard of any other duck with purple on the wings!!! (at least in North America). As I snuck around to the back of the car to get my camera out, I accidentally flushed the entire flock. UNfortunately I wasn't able to get a photo but I managed to refind the bird in flight and sure enough-- both wings had small purple speculums--- no green! Otherwise this was a "classic" female-type Green-winged Teal. Very odd!

Next up was Reifel where the 2 highlights were massive LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER numbers and close encounters with both the resident SANDHILL CRANES and a group of wild migrants. All together in the outer ponds, there were over 4500 dowitchers, by far the most I've ever seen anywhere in BC. They were all juveniles except for 1 lone adult, and 1 WESTERN SANDPIPER joined the mix.

Today (Sept 30) I returned and all the dowies were still there plus 1 juv SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER and 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS. It was interesting to watch a pair of PEREGRINE FALCONS dive-bomb the waders but with little effect. The dowitchers didn't seem too worried even when the peregrines swooped within a foot of their heads.

Other birds of note from today (Sept 30) include 4 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS at Iona, another WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at Terra Nova in Richmond, a RED KNOT at Boundary Bay, and a couple PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVERS (also at Boundary Bay). It was neat to spend 4 hours out on the BB mud and get close and personal with the waders and ducks.

Hoping for sharpies tomorrow!


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