Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The morning started off at 2am with a hard thunping on the car-window... apparently it's "not cool" to camp out beside the airport runway on the road to Iona. I retreated to South Van to catch a couple more hours of sleep, then returned to Iona for some dawn birding. After not finding much I decided it was high time to head over to Reifel to search for the reported Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

Once there it was clear that no Sharp-tailed was present, but since the tide was out... it was time for the waiting game. Mark Wynja, Ilya Povalayev, Larry Cowan, Cathie Barron, Mike and Sharon Toochin and several others showed up, and watched as 4 juvenile PEREGRINE FALCONS took turns diving on the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER flock. This was hardly an invitation for a wayward shorebird! Things eventually settled down, but suddenly the silence was broken when ILya shouted "KINGBIRD-- FAR CORNER!!!" Apparently he had overheard Cathy talking on the phone with Larry who was on the other side of the ponds, and immediately spotted what they were looking at. An Australian birder by the name of Daniel Mantle had apparently seen it first... YES... a TROPICAL KINGBIRD!!! Greenish back, greeny-brown and somewhat forked tail... Vavoom!

I had the record tied! Or did I? Mike Toochin (record holder) broke news that his record was in fact 364 and not 365... meaning that the kingbird was the breaker, not the "tie-er." After not having seen Mike since early January (at Reifel to boot), here I was standing right beside him after over a week of nervous doldrums, looking at the bird to put me over. Clearly, the "Bird Gods" exist. Poetic right? Haha, I can only thank Mike and Sharon for setting the bar so high; now it's my turn to keep pushing for more...

A few hours later, we managed to see not 1 but 2 SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS in the ponds (thanks to help from Rick Wright and Brian Self respectively). Seems like the high-tide was key! A single AMERICAN TREE-SPARROW and a NORTHERN SHRIKE capped off the day nicely.

Wow. Finally I'm here The pressure is off.

Time to go birding.

Russell Cannings
South Surrey, BC


  1. Way to go! And over with a flycatcher, after all!

  2. Congrats Russ! That is an awesome achievement. Glad Mike was there to see it, I am sure he was too. You've got about 11 weeks to go, so though the pressure is off, you have to keep going dood!

    Well done again, and well done to Mike who set a pretty high bar to beat!

    Rich Mooney

  3. We love the blog and are really pumped for your success. EPIC!

    Anna and Ryan

  4. Way to go Russell! I've enjoyed reading your adventures... Run that total up!
    -Kevin Jones, Agassiz

  5. Congratulations Russell. I've been following with interest for the whole year and now you have it in the bag with 3 months to spare. In the summer I came out to work in Kuwait for a couple of years so it is a good way to feel homesick by reading your posts. Good Luck with the run-in.

    Mike Newey

  6. Congratulations from UBC Alumni Affairs!

    We've given you a plug on our homepage this week: http://www.alumni.ubc.ca/

  7. Congratulations, Russell. Trust you will continue in the same manner....getting more birds and enjoying the great outdoors. Maybe we'll see you back in Victoria over the next couple of months. Meanwhile have fun -- Donna