Liron's Nature Photography- Blog



 

Recent Boundary Bay Shorebirds

September 13, 2014
During the past few weeks I have taken literally thousands upon thousands of shorebird photos at Boundary Bay, so many it is hard to go through all of them! I am still processing most but for now here are a few:

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Lifer, #645! :D ABA Code 3.
Every year a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are seen in the Vancouver BC area. On September 4 2014 at Boundary Bay, BC, Canada, a flock of Pectoral Sandpipers flew in, and in among them I was really excited to spot this guy, a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper! A beautiful bird!

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1250 | ISO 320 | f/5.6

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Stilt Sandpiper
These birds are fairly easy to see at Reifel, but this was the first time I had seen one at Boundary Bay.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1600 | ISO 320 | f/5.6

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Least Sandpiper
Often when you use an aperture like f/5.6 that creates lots of depth of field on a bird that is very close you end up with not all of the bird in sharp focus. For this reason it is sometimes worth stopping down a bit to something like f/9. The only issue with this is that you will lose a bit of depth of field in the background, even though your whole subject will be in better focus. For this shot I used f/5.6 and it worked out very well because the bird was exactly horizontal to me, so the whole bird was in sharp focus even at f/5.6.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1000 | ISO 250 | f/5.6

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Short-billed Dowitcher
Feeding with Long-billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs and a Stilt Sandpiper were a few Short-billed Dowitchers. Note the striped tertials which area good way to separate juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers from juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers. I am very happy with this shot, my best so far of a Short-billed Dowitcher. :) 

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1600 | ISO 320 | f/5.6

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Pectoral Sandpiper
Over the years I have spent a lot of time at Boundary Bay during shorebird migration, and I have learned how to find and photograph these birds very well. One of the steps that comes with getting a good photograph of the migrating shorebirds is being able to get close enough for a photo. This takes a variety of things on your part, but it also takes a cooperative bird. On many occasions, especially in the more recent couple of years, I have photographed birds at the bay that end up coming too close for me to focus. While leading a shorebird photography workshop on September 7th, we got a very cooperative Pectoral Sandpiper that allowed for close photos like this one.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/800 | ISO 200 | f/5.6

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Semipalmated Plover
Although not recent, I did not process this photo from July until recently. Semipalmated Plovers are hard birds to get close to so I was very happy with this shot. :) 

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/800 | ISO 200 | f/5.6

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Baird's Sandpipers
It was late afternoon and the tide was high, so high that it came all the way up to the dike. There was a group of Baird's Sandpipers that was flying back and forth along the dike looking for a place to land, and two of them decided to land on this log that was one of the few places left to land on. I went in for a photo, but the water around the log was deep so for this shot I was almost entirely underwater except for my head, arms and camera. It was worth it though! The water was as still as it possibly could have been so I wasn't worried about a wave splashing my camera. After taking a few quick shots I went to dry off in the sun.

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1/1250 | ISO 200 | f/5.6

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It has been a great past while of shorebirding! :) I will hopefully upload some more shots onto my Flickr or maybe here soon, so stay tuned!

If you would like to join me for a shorebird photography workshop at Boundary Bay, visit:http://lironswildlifephotography.yolasite.com/workshops.php

"I had a great afternoon birding in the Boundary Bay with Liron last weekend. Liron knows exactly where to go, find and photograph shorebirds along the vast bay area without wasting time. His knowledge of the area and bird species was very impressive. He is also a great photographer and helped locate good shooting locations and angles, as well as the right way to approach birds. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is interested in capturing fantastic shots of migratory shorebirds that are moving through Boundary Bay at this time."

Thanks for looking! :)


 

Iona South Jetty - September 1 2014

September 3, 2014
On September 1st, I took public transit into Richmond and then biked to Iona Island. I pulled into the parking lot at around 9:00 AM, and then right away began biking the 4km (8km round trip) south jetty. On the way out I spoke to a few birders who were on their walk back in, and I was informed that 144 Surfbirds had been seen at the tip of the jetty earlier in the morning! Awesome! That would be a lifer! Unfortunately the birds had apparently flown off and had not come back yet.

After a 15 minute bike out to the tip of the jetty, I was a greeted by a few birders who also had gotten out to the tip that morning. After a fairly short wait at the tip, 5 shorebirds flew in to join the Western Sandpipers that were sitting on the rocks. They were much larger than the sandpipers. Surfbirds!! I got some nice photos and killer views of these birds. They were a life bird, #644. Awesome!!:D 

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The Surfbirds did not stay for very long because the tide was rising very quickly and soon the rocks they were on began to get splashed. The Surfbirds did not like this and soon took off:

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Also being impacted by the tide were some Common Terns. They had been on some rocks a bit too far off for photos, but the rising tide caused those to be submerged so they came and landed much closer:

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A birding friend of mine, Mel, who was already at the tip when I got out there now took me to where she had seen the Wandering Tattler earlier on. This was only my second BC Wandering Tattler, the other being on the south jetty last year. This bird was a juvenile so it is definitely not the same bird from last year. I got lots of shots including this one of it stretching a wing:

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I now went back to the tip where the terns were still present. The wind was blowing at the perfect angle for flight shots. Birds will 99% of the time land into the wind, and that is exactly what the terns were doing:

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I spent the next 6 or 7 hours at Iona, most of that at the tip. I walked the last kilometer of the tip a couple times, biked back to shore once, checked out the ponds, went back out, ect. It was a fun day! I spent a lot of time photographing the terns, and it was so much fun to watch their interactions as they came and landed. Notice how they are all landing away from me in these shots, that is because the wind had shifted.

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It was also fun to get some portrait shots of the closer birds:

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It was a great day at Iona! I biked around 40 kilometers in total, so in addition to lots of birding I had a great time on my bike. Here is one last shot of the Wandering Tattler:

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Thanks for looking! :)


 

Photographing Steller's Jays

August 28, 2014
Firstly, sorry for the absence to this blog! I have been away for much of the past month. If you ever want to see some photos during long blog absences (with less of a back story though), be sure to check out my Flickr page: http://flickr.com/photos/lirons-nature-photography/

Every year I get Steller's Jays in my backyard, particularly in late summer and fall, when they come to feast on and stash the nuts from our hazelnut tree. Starting last year I put out peanuts for them as well as some perches in order to do a perch setup. This was inspired by a blog post done by a fellow nature photographer, Alfredo Fernadez:
http://alfredofernandez.ca/blog/2012/10/photo-tips-photographing-stellers-jays

Last year it took weeks before I successfully got a jay on the perch. This year, it has been much easier, and there have been birds coming to the yard and to the perch literally all day, rarely ever leaving the yard unless they are going to stash a nut somewhere to eat later on. They take as many nuts as they can carry but they eat very few; almost all the nuts they go and stash somewhere so they have food in the winter. They are stashing them all over the yard, and they are all hidden extremely well.

It is amazing to see how intelligent these birds are, in many ways. Firstly, in the way they hide the nuts, not only how they tuck them away in all sorts of places but also how they cover most of them with leaves and dirt. Secondly, they pick up every nut the see and weigh each one so they always take the largest and heaviest nuts first. Thirdly, they are fantastic mimics and almost fooled me by mimicking a crow.

I look forward to spending more time photographing these birds soon! :) 

Canon EOS 60D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | f/5.6 | 1/250 | ISO 100 | pop-up fill flash and separate off-camera fill flash

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My favorite:
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Behind the scenes video of the setup:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je5sAwUw6pU&feature=youtu.be&list=UUHJsuToncE2kbInUZ6cxtsg


Thanks for looking! :)


 

Bears!

July 25, 2014
I had a chance to photograph some bears yesterday, all from a vehicle thankfully! It was raining and there wasn't tons of light (shooting at ISO 1000 and fairly low shutter speeds) but I am still very happy with the results. This was the first time I have had a good opportunity to photograph these amazing animals.

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Boundary Bay Shorebirds again - July 7 2014

July 18, 2014
On July 7 2014, I spent another awesome day at Boundary Bay! After almost 8 hours of lying in the mud, I left with some shots that I am very happy with!

It did not take long for me to spot some shorebirds from up on the dike. It was a group of Western Sandpipers, and I went down on the mudflats to try for some shots. The morning light made for some really nice reflection shots:

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Of course, as usual at Boundary Bay, there was a Peregrine Falcon around. It made a pass, causing shorebirds from all directions to take flight. Although the falcons often ruin your close up shots, they make for great flight shots of the sandpipers:

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After a while the shorebirds settled down, though many disappeared in the distance. Next up was a group of Least Sandpipers that were feeding:

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While photographing the Least Sandpipers I heard a Killdeer calling and sure enough this chick was walking around with its parents:

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Check out the camouflage!
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I then went back to the migrant shorebirds. Another group had arrived, and this flock had three species in it: Western, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Most were Western Sandpipers, so I started off photographing them:

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Next, I got some nice shot of a Semipalmated Sandpiper that was in the flock:

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The third species, Least Sandpipers, also posed for shots:

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After getting tons of shots, I left the group to feed, and continued walking. It wasn't long before I spotted another small flock land nearby:

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These were all Western Sandpipers except for one Semipalmated Sandpiper. I decided to focus on getting shots of the Semipalmated Sandpiper. I ended up getting very close shots that I am very happy with!

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The Semipalmated Sandpiper soon wandered off so I went back to shooting the Western Sandpipers:

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These sandpipers were nice and close, which meant lots of good shots. It is hard to get them with their beaks up as they are constantly moving them in and out of the mud! While photographing them I noticed another sandpiper flock flying around:

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What happened next was amazing, and it has only happened to me a few times before. The flock landed all around me. I was surrounded by sandpipers and many were way to close for me to focus! If this bird was one centimetre closer it would have been out of focus:

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They soon realized they had just landed close to a human and after staring at me for a minute they hustled off to some sea grass for cover. I backed away and began looking for more shorebirds. To my delight nearby there was a large flock of Western and Least Sandpipers bathing in a deeper tidal pool:

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After they finished bathing, they went up onto some rocks to rest and preen:

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Cool feet!
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Though the flock had mainly Western Sandpipers, as I mentioned there were a few Least Sandpipers. One of them came up on the rock as well:

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By spending so much time at the bay I have learned the shorebirds behavior cycles after doing things like bathing and preening, so I was ready for this shot:

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It was getting late now so I decided to call it a day. It had been another great day!

Here is are some video clips I filmed of Western Sandpipers on the 7th. Be sure to set quality to HD!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rccVIpCwYdM&list=UUHJsuToncE2kbInUZ6cxtsg


I am now running private shorebird photography workshops out at Boundary Bay. These birds are very difficult to photograph and it has taken me years to come up with strategies to allow me to get close to these amazing but shy birds and to get good shots. To join me for a day of shooting at the bay, visit:http://lironsnaturephotogalleries.yolasite.com/workshops.php


Thanks for looking! :) 
Coming soon: more shots from the bay that I took on the 16th, including my best shots yet of Semipalmated Plovers.
 

More shorebirding at the bay

July 8, 2014
On July 4 2014 I biked all around Delta, covering about 45 kilometers. The highlight was my stop at Boundary Bay, where the shorebird migration had definitely picked up since my last visit! My last visit on June 24 turned up 5 migratory shorebirds, Western Sandpipers and a Dunlin. This visit turned up well over 2,000 migratory shorebirds, Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, a Dunlin, and a Semipalmated Plover. It was awesome!

It did not take me long to spot some Least Sandpipers feeding while riding my bike, so I locked it up and down on the mudflats I went! The mud crawling began and I got closer than I have ever been before to these birds:

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After a while I left the Least Sandpipers behind, and went out farther on the mudflats. I soon spotted a Dunlin feeding. This bird was almost completely still in breeding plumage, something we don't see often with Dunlins around here, so it made for some really nice shots!

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At one point a Northern Harrier flew over, and the Dunlin ran towards the nearest cover. Not a great shot but a very interesting behavior to see! I knew something was up when it ran for cover, but I did not see the harrier coming until long after the Dunlin did!

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To see a video of the Dunlin feeding, go to this link (make sure to set quality to HD): 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nNa7ac ... InUZ6cxtsg


I continued walking out on the mudflats, and I ran into my first large sandpiper flock of the season! There were at least 1,500 Western Sandpipers with other species mixed in such as a Semipalmated Plover and multiple Semipalmated Sandpipers.

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The flock disappeared in the distance, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't see them again. To my luck later on they came back and landed not too far from where I was, so I began some more mud crawling! At first they were very shy but eventually they got used to my presence, and some even came too close for me to focus!

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You know if they don't mind having you around if they start to sleep right in front of you!

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While photographing the Western Sandpipers I had my eyes open for any other species, and soon this Semipalmated Sandpiper stepped out right in front of me. Unfortunately I did not get the head in focus in this shot:

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This Semipalmated Plover, one of my favorite shorebird species, made a brief appearance as well before disappearing back among all the sandpipers:

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Later, back on my bike, I stopped to take some photos of this Merlin that was perched in a tree:

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It was a great day of shorebirding! :) 


Today (July 7) I was out there again and got more good shots including my best ever of Semipalmated Sandpipers and also some more nice ones of Western and Least Sandpipers.


I am happy to announce that I am now running private shorebird photography workshops out at Boundary Bay! Migratory shorebirds are very difficult to photograph well, and it is taken me multiple years to develop techniques to allow me to get close to these amazing but shy birds. If you would like to join me for a day of shooting at the bay, visit:http://lironsnaturephotogalleries.yolas ... kshops.php


Thanks for looking! :)

 

Red-eyed Vireo at last!

June 30, 2014
On June 20 2014, I went to finally track down one of my nemesis birds: the Red-eyed Vireo. Seeing Mike's photos the day before made me want to give it a go, so I got some great directions from him and set off to Burnaby Lake.

Within minutes after arriving (at the Avalon entrance), I heard what I was 99% certain was a Red-eyed Vireo singing. I heard it singing non stop from the top of a tree that was right into the sun. I tried to spot it, but I didn't have any luck.

After staring up in the treetops for a long time, a bird flew down to the other side of the trail fairly low in the tree. It was the Red-eyed Vireo! I snapped away, and got a nice shot of it singing:

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The vireo then came even closer and lower down, and it caught an insect for breakfast:

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I was very happy with the shots I had gotten! That was good because after that, though I heard and got brief glimpses of 5 more Red-eyed Vireos, the birds just didn't wan't their photos taken.

It was a great morning! Later on the other side of the lake at Piper Spit I ran into Nick, and we walked together and got to see many other good birds like Western Tanager, Pileated Woodpecker, Cinnamon Teal and more.

Thanks for looking! :)

 

Boundary Bay - the shorebird migration begins!

June 26, 2014
Or in other words, the mud crawling begins! :lol: 

Well I have to admit that if you head down there now (like I did) you are rushing the shorebird season a bit. I saw very few migratory shorebirds when I was there yesterday (June 24), but it was still a fun day!

The goal of the day was to see if I could find any of the first migrant shorebirds. Because I had the whole day, I arrived on my bike at 10:35 when the tide was at its lowest point for the day at about 1 metre (about 3.3 feet). The tide wouldn't be high enough for ideal shorebird finding conditions for about 5 and a half hours though, so I had lots of time to kill! The mudflats when I arrived were as far out as I could see, and the ocean was probably multiple kilometers away from the dike.

At low tide it is hard to find shorebirds because they are spread out across a huge expanse of tidal mudflats. This early in the shorebird migration there are very few shorebirds to begin with, so after biking along the dike and wandering far out on the mudflats covering everywhere from the mansion between 88th and 96th all the way to 112th street, it was not too surprising that I had not seen even one migratory shorebird. It was still very interesting out on the mudflats to see what sort of stuff had been washed up from interesting sea sponges and other sea creatures to car tires to small jars.

After a while on the mudflats I decided it would be best to ride my bike along the dike and see what birds I could find in the bushes alongside it. First up was this Common Yellowthroat. At first he wasn't very cooperative but he ended up perching out in the open and singing after a few minutes!

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There were many birds along the dike including many other Common Yellowthroats that I heard singing, a couple fly-by Caspian Tern, a male American Wigeon (good for this time of year), Eurasian Collared-Doves, an American Kestrel and many singing Savannah Sparrows including this one:

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I continued to cover more and more area on foot and on bike. Still no migratory shorebirds. The tide was now beginning to rise at a fast pace, but the mudflats still went a couple kilometers out. As I was biking, I spotted a pair of Killdeer on the rocks beside the dike and I slowed down, hopped off my bike and pulled my camera out of my backpack. I crept over to the rocks and lay down for a low angle. Then something weird happened. The Killdeers (there were two) started walking TOWARDS me. What?!? Killdeer are supposed to be very shy birds! As one bird got closer, it began to limp and wave around its wing, doing a distraction display where the male Killdeer attempts to lure away a predator from its nest by faking that it has a broken wing. I took a few shots than backed off, not wanting to disturb them any further!

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I got back on my bike and had barely pedaled more than a few times when I saw a little shorebird on the mudflats close to the dike. I stopped and identified it through my binoculars as a Dunlin, who had just returned after its breeding season! The bird was still in breeding plumage so it was a great photography opportunity as they are in nonbreeding plumage most of the time when we see them around Vancouver. I opened my backpack to grab my camera again, and then quickly locked my bike up on a pole beside the dike. I went down onto the mudflats, and began to mud crawl, using small patches of sea grass as cover. I soon was quite close to the bird, so I stopped and got ready to shoot. The bird was behind a clump of sea grass, but it soon emerged and began feeding. I got lots of nice shots, and then after a while I backed away to let it continue feeding. At last, a migratory shorebird!

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After backing away I realized that a heron had flown in while I was photographing the Dunlin. I took some shots of it an then went back up on the dike.

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I got back on my bike and road it some more along the dike. Nothing new was around, so I parked it and went out on the mudflats again. The tide was coming in fast now, and the best time for shorebirds based on the tide was coming up. Still, there were no migratory shorebirds. After covering a large area again, I went back to my bike and road it to where I had spotted the Dunlin from the dike. Sure enough, the Dunlin was still there, but it now had been joined by four more shorebirds, which were Western Sandpipers! I parked my bike again and went down to the mudflats. I began mud crawling. The only problem was that with the rising tide a large deep tidal pool had formed and I had to photograph the birds from across the tidal pool. To my luck they came out into the pool as far as they could go and still stand, coming into my "good photo range". The Dunlin began take a bath:

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Once it was done bathing it got up and began feeding again:

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The four Western Sandpipers (including some that were also adults in breeding plumage) now came in and started bathing:

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After they finished this juvenile Western Sandpiper also came in for a photo:

Western Sandpiper


The juvenile shorebirds mainly come through later (late July through to early October for some species), and now is when most of the adults are going to begin passing through, but we will see them in much smaller numbers than the juveniles that come through later.

Despite the lack of migratory shorebirds it was still a great day at the bay! In addition to getting good shots I got some good exercise by biking and walking a total of about 32 kilometers. About half of those were on foot!

I am looking forward to more mud crawling as the migration picks up in a few weeks!

Thanks for looking! :)
 

Pileated Woodpecker nest

June 24, 2014
I've been doing so much birding lately that I haven't had time to write up posts. It's been a great few weeks with lots of birds, including my lifer Red-eyed Vireo! Other highlights including mud-crawling at Iona for Bonaparte's Gulls and Caspian Terns, a family of Barred Owls, and more. One highlight was visiting a Pileated Woodpecker nest, which is what this post is about.

When I arrived at the location of the woodpecker nest, there were already some other people there. According to them the adult woodpeckers hadn't come in to feed for about an hour, so they were due anytime soon! Sure enough it wasn't long before they came in, but the light was very bad for photos. Ten minutes later an adult came in again, but once again the light was not good. We waited and waited, and about an hour later I was looking at the nest and I commented on how good the light was now and if only a woodpecker would show up. Just as I said that the adult male flew in, and we all got great shots! 30-40 minutes later the light was still good and the female showed up to feed. It was a great morning! It was lots of fun to spend time with this family of woodpeckers!

Pileated Woodpecker nest

Pileated Woodpecker nest


Pileated Woodpecker nestlings
 

Chipping Sparrows in Richmond

June 16, 2014
Chipping Sparrows have been uncommon in the Vancouver area for a long time, with the last breeding occurring in the area about 20 years ago. The initial decline began to pick up in the 1970s, mainly due to parasitism by cowbirds. Since then they have been scarce and to see one is notable.

As many of you know from previous postings, I have a "secret spot" in the Steveston area of Richmond that gets breeding Chipping Sparrows every year. I first confirmed breeding here in 2010 when I saw a young bird following around an adult, but I did not know the significance of the sighting until I started using eBird. That was when I learned that there hadn't been confirmed breeding for 20 years in the Vancouver area!

I am now seeing increasing numbers of Chipping Sparrows at the location in the past few years. My high count in 2013 was of 13 birds, and my high count so far this year is of 21 birds. I am looking forward to hopefully seeing young birds soon, but for now I still love watching them singing and feeding, all over the place:


May 24

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June 1 (the day I counted a Vancouver area record, 21 Chipping Sparrows)

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June 15

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Thanks for looking! :)
 
 
 

 

 

 

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