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.
South Surrey, BC