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Boundary Bay shorebirds - August 25 2013

Posted by Liron on Sunday, August 25, 2013
Fall shorebird migration is in full swing, and that meant that it was time to pay my fourth visit to Boundary Bay this year during the shorebird migration.

I looked at the tide table for this morning, and the tide looked great to go out for shorebirds! I arrived at 104th at 7:50 AM. On 104th (the road) itself, there were the usual Eurasian-collared Doves sitting on on the wires and also a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a dead tree.

As I got out of the car at the parking lot at the end of 104th, I noticed a Peregrine Falcon sitting in a tree. Shorebird migration at Boundary Bay is pretty much is the only time that I am not happy to see a Peregrine Falcon! Usually a falcon equals no shorebirds!

I snapped a few shots of the falcon, but I didn't take many because I wanted to see if there were any shorebirds around.

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In this shot the falcon is watching some crows coming by:

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When I went up to the dike, there were no shorebirds in sight. This wasn't surprsing given the Peregrine Falcon, but after a few mintues, three Black-bellied Plovers flew in, landing on the mudflats about 100m strait out from 104th. At about the same time, the falcon flew off, heading east.

Seeing the plovers made me excited, because when you have just a few plovers, it is a chance for some nice shots. The large flocks of Black-bellied Plovers are very difficult to approach, but with three birds it's easy!

I went on the mudflats, and tried to tell which direction the plovers were heading. If you can figure out which way the plovers are moving, you can position yourself in their path and sometimes they come really close and surround you. These birds however, were not moving in any direction, they were just wandering around, so I simply setup my camera and waited. I took some shots. Though distant, they were decent:

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After taking some shots, I looked up from the viewfinder, and to my surprise, there was a large flock of sandpipers that was about the same distance away as the plovers but farther to my right that had just flown in. Soon, the plovers and the sandpipers moved together. Note how much larger the Black-bellied Plover is than the Western Sandpipers around it!

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I was happy with the plover shots I had taken, but I stayed put for longer. To my luck, the sandpiper flock was moving right in my direction, and soon they were very close to me! I stayed crouched down and still, and soon some sandpipers were coming closer than I have ever been to a sandpiper before! The flock was made up of about 95-99% Western Sandpipers with maybe a few Semipalmated Sandpipers. The Westerns were the ones to wander near though, and I got some great shots:

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Here is a shot of the sandpipers as they flew closer to me:

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Soon the sandpipers wandered off, and I backed away. I went back up onto the dike, where I headed west towards 96th street. As I began walking, a young male Common Yellowthroat posed for me:

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A while after the yellowthroat, three other birders and I watched three Peregrine Falcons get into a spat. It was very cool to see! Unfortunately I didn't get very many good photos, but this one shows one of the falcons taking a dive at another:

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The falcons continued their fight until they were way off in the distance. Here is another shot of a falcon from the series:

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Not long after we saw the peregrines, this Northern Harrier came by:

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I continued walking and more birders began to arrive. About 100m passed the pilings, we stopped for a while to scan the large flocks of sandpipers and plovers:

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After some scanning, we had Western and and Least Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, a Sanderling or two, and Black-bellied Plovers. These were way too far out for good photos (other than the Least Sandpipers), but it was still really cool to watch all of the huge flocks! It was also fun to talk with other birders for a while.

After a while, we moved on. I stopped for a group of three Least Sandpipers right up against the dike. I went down onto the smelly seaweed just below the dike, set up, and waited. Soon, two of the three Least Sandpipers wandered off, but one stayed, and soon it worked its way very close to me! This one Least Sandpiper came even closer than the Western Sandpipers had earlier!

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While taking photos of the Least Sandpiper, another four of five Least Sandpipers flew in. They were strongly backlight by the sun however, making it hard for photos. While watching them, I noticed that one birds in their group was a Baird's Sandpiper:

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As I took photos of the Baird's Sandpiper, many more shorebirds flew in. This included many more Least Sandpipers as well as two Pectoral Sandpipers, one Killdeer, and one Black-bellied Plover.

The Pectoral Sandpipers were the closest, and they came closer and closer to me as I sat still, providing some great shots:

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I now focused on the other shorebirds that were feeding around me. The Baird's Sandpiper I had photographed earlier went to join the Killdeer. Even though they were farther away, I still managed some decent shots:

Killdeer in the heat (and Baird's Sandpiper behind it)

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Baird's Sandpiper

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The one Black-bellied Plover that was part of the flock was now moving in very close. As the plover came closer and closer, I took some shots:

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There were many juvenile Brown-headed Cowbirds feeding in groups as well:

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I now backed away from the shorebirds and went up on the dike, leaving the birds to feed. Once on the dike, I headed east back towards 104th. Many Least Sandpipers were right up against the dike like before, and as I passed the pilings, a couple Semipalmated Plovers were with some Least Sandpipers:

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It had been a great day of "shorebirding" at Boundary Bay! This visit was probably my best visit I have had shorebird-wise in the past two years that I have visited this area of Boundary Bay during shorebird migration. I saw 10 shorebird species and got some good shots of 7 species.


Thanks for looking! :)



 

 

 

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