Birding, August 26, 2023: Still on P, plus raptors, brewers and more

Where: Blackie Spit (Surrey), Centennial Beach (Delta), Boundary Bay Dyke Trail (Delta), Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Smoke haze and sun, 23-26C

The Outing

Two bits of good news to start:

  • Despite the return of the smoke haze after a brief respite, it wasn’t as bad as previously. The main change is it was no longer causing a distinct yellow cast to the lighting. Today it mainly affected the visibility of distant scenery (no shots of Mt. Baker) and the sky looked whitish-blue instead of just blue.
  • I never had any of the shenanigans that happened last week with my camera. I set it to P (Program) mode before heading out, and it stayed there the entire day. Woo. All lousy photos were my own fault, just as nature intended.

We hit four places today. It was kind of crazy, but the good kind of crazy. Mostly.

We started at Blackie Spit and at first the birds were as scarce as the water (it was low tide). Once we moved away from the beach, our luck improved with some house finches, purple martins, a northern flicker, distant herons, a gaggle of ducks in a creek huddled against the shady side (smart ducks–it was hot!) but best of all, a group of greater yellowlegs hanging out on a couple of logs, most of them initially snoozing. They were eventually joined by others, along with a pair of short-billed dowitchers, and began feeding and bobbing and doing the things they do.

We moved onto Centennial Beach next and there we saw some Brewer’s blackbirds, a couple of waxwings, some raptors (not on the Raptor Trail but technically above it), herons and more shorebirds, including a variety of gulls, some terns, more yellowlegs and the ever-cute and weird killdeer. We also saw a very shiny beetle, which ended with Nic taking a photo of his own foot. Nic got some really nice shots of a red-tailed hawk and was able to crop out all the weird stuff that showed up in multiple images, then mysteriously went away on its own. We agree that my dial of doom curse had somehow transferred over to his camera, at least for today.

From there, we moved on to fill our tummies with lunch, then headed for an unplanned trip to the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail. We saw many grasshoppers, though Nic has declared he is done with them, but they remain a freaky favourite of mine. Birds were a bit scarcer here, but we did see some more finches, chickadees (however fleetingly) and a trio of red-necked pharalopes, which I’d never shot before. They were not especially close, but I did get some shots that were good enough for Merlin to ID. I also got some extreme close-ups of planes landing at Boundary Bay Airport, of course. We also saw a male and female harrier and were able to get some of our best shots ever. Even I got a decent shot, woo.

After this, we were still not done, and headed to Tlahutum Regional Park for a quick check of the community gardens. We saw more flickers, white crowns, but best of all, hummingbirds that cooperatively supped at flowers nearby. We both got good shots of these pointy-beaked birbs when they weren’t chasing each other in a territorial dispute..

We each also drank our own weight in fluids. Did I mention it was hot?

Overall, a very respectable outing, with enough birb surprises to almost make up for no Savannah sparrows.

The Shots

This gallery has everything. Birds! Bugs! Boats! Black and white! Yes, I indulged myself and converted three photos to black and white, but I kept the originals for comparison.

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Brewer’s blackbird
  • Cedar waxwing
  • Goldfinch
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Northern flicker
  • Purple martin
  • White-crowned sparrow


  • Canada goose
  • Caspian tern
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Killdeer
  • Mallard
  • Red-necked pharalope
  • Short-billed dowitcher


  • Crow
  • Seagull


  • Harrier
  • Red-tailed hawk


  • Grasshoppers and a beetle
  • Butterflies and things
  • A few squirrels

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