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Shorebirds at Boundary Bay - July 31 and August 3 2013

Posted by birder on Monday, August 5, 2013
The shorebird migration is one of my favorite times of year. During this time of year, I love to visit Boundary Bay to see what shorebirds are on the mudflats.

I went for a very short visit to 104th street at Boundary Bay on the 31st of July. There were many Black-bellied Plovers and some peeps, but photos were hard due to the haze that built up after a month without rain. I got down on my belly anyways and crawled through the mud a little closer and took some distant shots of the Black-bellied Plovers.


As the tide came in, more and more birds arrived, but I had to leave then...

On August 2nd, I picked up Canon's 1.4x teleconverter III. I played with it a bit and decided that it was a keeper. In bright, good light, even the autofocus with the pins taped is good, but in other light situations I will use manual focus if I have the extender on (and I'm fine with that).

The next day, the 3rd, I went back to 104th street for some more "shorebirding". I had the teleconverter on my lens giving me a 560mm f8. 

When I arrived the tide was very low, and it took a while to locate the first group of shorebirds of the day, a group of 30-40 Semipalmated Plovers. They came fairly close to me allowing for some shots like this one of a bird stretching.


I now headed to the pilings between 104th and 96th street, and all that was there was a lone Spotted Sandpiper. I took some pics then moved on.


More walking didn't turn up much, but as the tide came in, lots of sandpipers arrived, and soon there were many of small flocks on the mudflats, and a few large flocks (1000+ birds) in the distance.

I got a bit closer to one of the flocks to see what species were in it.


There were mainly Western Sandpipers with a few Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. The flock came closer and some Semipalmated Sandpipers wandered by me:


Things really started picking up and flocks were flying around all over the place. One flock came right by me, and I picked out two Baird's Sandpipers, many Semipalmated Sandpipers, and tons of Western Sandpipers. In this shot you can see one Baird's Sandpiper which is the largest one in the very center.


I hated to leave as things were picking up, but I had to.

As I left, a Black-bellied Plover flock with some sandpipers in it arrived. This Bald Eagle also came as I left:



Over the two visits I learned something that I will keep in mind for my next visits: high tide is the best! Both times I visited there were many more birds at high tide. I assume this is always the case unless the tide comes up too close to the dyke.

I'll pay some more visits soon to see what else I can get. The teleconverter that I used on my second visit was really helpful because I didn't have to approach the shorebirds nearly as much, I could just get a little closer to the flocks and then wait for them to wander towards me.

Thanks for looking!




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