Birding, September 30, 2023: Hello fall

Where: Centennial Beach (Delta), Boundary Bay Dyke Trail (Delta), Crescent Beach (Surrey), and Piper Spit (Burnaby)
Weather: Sunny, 12-17C

The Outing

We hit four sites on our first official fall bird outing and the weather, though sunny, was indeed fall-like, with it starting at only 12C at Centennial Beach, along with a brisk wind. It warmed up to around 17C by late in the afternoon.

Centennial Beach: Raptors on Raptor Trail once again failed to materialize, but we did see a bald eagle out on the tidal flats. Shorebirds were also scarce, possibly due to the tide being way out, as it often is when we visit. We saw gulls, a Brewer’s blackbird couple, a wigeon or two, plus a bunch of goldfinches that would not stop flitting about.

Boundary Bay Dyke Trail: Planes were plentiful, and birds were, too, but much like earlier, they were flitting like mad from tree to tree and branch to branch, making good shots a fun (?) challenge! We did see a Northern harrier or two, as well. As always, the view was nice.

Crescent Beach/Blackie Spit: Seagulls were flying around in abundance, as were some herons, but no loons, alas. We did see some more yellowlegs and a few cormorants. The beach and park were fairly busy, which surprised me a little. Apparently everyone wanted to be outside on the first nice Saturday of fall. By now it was warm enough to doff jackets, if desired.

Piper Spit: This place was crawling with people and children (not that children aren’t people, but you know what I mean). Coots were croaking, but all the shorebirds were in one tight group, snoozing. Golden hour was setting in, so light was rather harsh. We shot a heron grooming up in a tree. They always look weird up in trees. I did not notice any pigeons or seagulls, and the land mass seems to be continuing to expand, so I assume they are letting more water flow out of the lake, Or maybe it’s magic.

Overall, it was a good day of birding, even if we didn’t see anything super exotic, and even though a lot of the birds were even more uncooperative than usual. Don’t they know we just want to capture them in all their pretty glory?

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • American robin
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Brewer’s blackbird
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • Goldfinch
  • Northern flicker
  • Savannah sparrow
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • Steller’s jay
  • Yellow-rumped warbler

Waterfowl:

  • American coot
  • American wigeon
  • Canada goose
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Green-winged teal
  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail (possibly)
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • American crow
  • Glaucous-winged gull
  • Ring-billed gull
  • Pacific gull (?)

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle
  • Northern harrier

Non-birds:

  • Douglas and gray squirrels
  • Dragonflies
  • Grasshoppers
  • A fuzzy little caterpillar dude (or dudette, who can tell?)
  • Various aircraft

Birding, September 22, 2023: Farewell to summer, with bonus raptors

Where: Piper Spit (Burnaby) and Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Sunny, 21-23C

The Outing

Today was an unplanned outing, but the weather was nice, it’s the last official day of summer and the 10-day forecast starting tomorrow looks like poo in the form of clouds and showers pretty much every day.

And so off we went for an abbreviated tour of Piper Spit and Tlahutum’s community gardens.

Piper Spit featured an increase in the coot count, as the croaking critters are cavorting in copious quantities now. The mallards are catching up to the wood ducks with their breeding plumage, and shorebirds are still present in decent numbers.

The highlights were a pair of killdeer that were bobbing and bathing and hopping and looking forlorn, as they do, plus a rare sighting–a merlin, just like the bird app, but instead an actual bird. These are small raptors and this one would perch atop nearby trees, then dive across the spit, spooking the shorebirds, before finding another spot to perch, sometimes high, and sometimes right down on a log in the water. At one point it took a bath, because you should wash your, uh, appendages, before eating.

Interestingly, the shorebirds (mainly yellowlegs, from what I saw) were indifferent to the merlin when it was grounded. In fact, a large gang/flock of them all seemed to saunter en masse quite close to it, as if they were trying to show they weren’t afraid of no raptor. Until it took to the air again.

After Piper Spit, we took a quick tour around the community gardens at Tlahutum. Initially there was a lot of birb activity, but in the end we didn’t actually shoot too many, mainly some white-crowned sparrows, an Anna’s hummingbird (too fast for me) and a goldfinch. Also, much like at Piper Spit, squirrels were everywhere, like they had all been instructed to start gathering food for the winter RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

It was a gorgeous last day of summer, and I am sad that I now have to wait eight months for summer to come around again. But for now, we have the coots.

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • American robin
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Goldfinch
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow

Waterfowl:

  • American coot
  • Canada goose
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Mallard
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • American crow
  • Rock pigeon

Raptors:

  • Merlin (rare–for me, anyway)

Non-birds:

  • Douglas, black and gray squirrels
  • Bees ‘n dragonflies

Birding, September 16, 2023: Hail to the Leaf

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Delta), Terra Nova (Richmond), Piper Spit (Burnaby) and Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Sunny, 17-25C

The Outing

We hit five places today, one for each finger!

Reifel Bird Sanctuary: It was about 17C when we arrived in the morning, but it actually never felt cool and ended rather warm, which was a nice wrap-up for our last visit to the sanctuary for this summer.

More winter migrants are arriving, with northern shovelers joining the coots. We also saw two rare birds, which was spiffy: a white-fronted goose, and four avocets. Unlike when we saw a single avocet here last fall, these four were close to one of the bird blinds, allowing us to get much better shots. There were also chickadees everywhere, right from the parking lot on forward. The wood ducks were also seen in increasing numbers and seem to be racing ahead of the mallards in getting their full breeding plumage back. Pretty boys everywhere. The geese were acting strange and weird, as always.

It was here that I made a discovery about my camera issues. A small leaf landed on the camera and I started blowing on it to get it off. Nic advised me that I could also use my hands to, you know, just lift it off. I didn’t want to do that, lest I touch something I didn’t want to touch (on the camera, that is, though I also don’t know where that leaf had been, either). It was then that the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. I regularly turn my camera off to save on battery when I am not expecting to be shooting photos for at least a few minutes. The on/off switch is right next to the dial that selects shooting modes. With the leaf gone, I looked down and thought, THIS is how I had changed modes without realizing it, by pushing on the dial when I was moving the on/off switch (they are very close together).

Now that I know this, it should happen less often. I am also experimenting with leaving the camera on all the time once I start shooting, to see how quickly I go through the batteries (I start each bird outing with three fully charged, which should always be more than I need). We’ll see how it goes!

Richmond Nature House: The feeders were still empty, so we saw no birds here, but Nic’s curiosity was sated.

Terra Nova: We did not see many birds here, but did shoot a distant heron, some gulls, a few song sparrows and I shot a bunch of planes, or fixed-wing birds, as I call them. We also shot a grebe, but it was not close and not in great light.

Piper Spit: The land mass at the spit is back, and it’s actually quite large. I expect it will grow in size as long as the dry weather holds out. Again, we saw oodles of pretty wood ducks, some coots, lots of geese, and many greater yellowlegs. Several ducks were having baths, making for some great action shots. Today, it felt like Piper Spit was coming out of its sleepy summer state, with more birds coming in and general birdiness all around.

Tlahutum Regional Park: We only visited the community garden here and observed two hummingbirds battling again), spotted some newly-returned golden-crown sparrows, some white crowns and a fleeting flicker. There was also a squirrel eating the head of a giant sunflower. And speaking of eating, three deer were helping themselves to an all-you-can-eat buffet (though we only directly saw two). Deer have freakishly giant tongues. And no manners.

By this time (closing in on 6 p.m.) we were in the golden hour, high clouds were moving in and Nic only had room for a few more dozen photos on his SD card, so we wrapped up. Still, we saw a bounty of birds, I actually got some of my best shots in a while and the weather was pleasant throughout the day.

Also, I decided to experiment and shot in both JPG and RAW. My total file size ended up being just over 21 GB. Yikes.

The Shots

Soon™

An Anna’s hummingbird to start:

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Bewick’s wren (possibly heard, but not seen)
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • Northern flicker
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow
  • Yellow-rumped warbler

Waterfowl:

  • American coot
  • Avocet (rare)
  • Canada goose
  • Gadwall
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Hooded merganser
  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail
  • Northern shoveler
  • Sandhill cranes (briefly, flying overhead)
  • White-fronted goose (rare)
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • American crow
  • Ring-billed seagull
  • Rock pigeon

Raptors:

  • Northern harrier

Non-birds:

  • Douglas, black and gray squirrels
  • Deer
  • Western painted turtle
  • Grasshopper
  • Bees ‘n dragonflies
  • Various helicopters, passenger jets and seaplanes in and around YVR

Spooky mountain

I updated the gallery for September 9th’s birdingpalooza. You can view the gallery in its original post, or at the bottom of this very post.

Not included is this black and white variant of a local peak. It looks kind of spooky. I like it.

And the gallery for September 9th:

Birding, September 9, 2023: Broken boats, bewildering bridges and barely birds

Where: Trans Canada Trail, Shoreline Trail (Pitt Meadows)
Weather: Sunny, 25C

The Outing

It was not overly hot today, but with very little shade on the long trails next to the Pitt and Alouette Rivers, it felt hot. I ended the day with over 28,000 steps!

This was mostly new scenery for us, save for one part we’d been to before, and we were curious to see what sort of birds we’d behold.

As it turned out, not many, alas. They probably hid away due to a combination of the sun and us being out around nappy time.

But we did see some, including white crown and Savannah sparrows, various robins, towhees and ducks, including some common mergansers. We saw a few more birds along the Shoreline Trail, which is, unsurprisingly, in a place called Shoreline Park in south Pitt Meadows, along the Fraser River, including a Bewick’s wren.

We also saw probably the most horses ever. With people riding them. And the horses pooping. Nic stepped in horse poop twice (but it was the dry kind).

With fewer birds, we had to rely on the scenery for most of our shots. Fortunately, with the rivers and coastal mountains, the scenery was very nice. The Alouette River is kind of weird. It’s not very wide, it’s also quite calm, so we saw many people kayaking or on paddle boards. Apparently due to a mix of federal and provincial jurisdiction, the river is also a bit of a dumping ground for old abandoned boats, of which we saw more than a few.

It is also, improbably, home to a floating bridge from Washington State that is moored just east of the Pitt River Bridge.

Overall, it was a good day for shooting scenery (for a change), with just enough birds to make it not a washout as a bird outing. But more birds next time will be welcome.

Also, all of my robin shots came out grainy and blurry. I officially hate robins again. For now.

The Shots

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Bewick’s wren
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Cedar waxwing
  • Northern flicker
  • Savannah sparrow
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow

Waterfowl:

  • Canada goose
  • Common merganser
  • Great blue heron
  • Mallard

Common:

  • Crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Turkey vulture

Non-birds:

  • Foul-mouthed children
  • Bees ‘n dragonflies

They call him Flicker

We’ve had a northern flicker come bug-hunting outside our condo for a little while now, and today it seemed like it would stay long enough for me to grab a few shots, so I did. I had to shoot through a dirty living room window, so I did what I could to clean up the shots (they are grainy if you zoom in, alas). And it was almost too close at times to keep in frame. Shot with my Canon EOS M50.

Right side:

Left side:

Minor redemption on lazy updates to photo galleries

I have uploaded the full set of photos I deem acceptable from the August 26th birbing extravaganza. The link to the gallery is below. I’ll work on the other photo-less galleries soon™.

This gallery has a bit of everything: bugs, birds, boats. I also indulged and converted three photos to black and white, but kept the originals, so people can argue over which is better.

Birding, September 2, 2023: Return of the coot

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Delta), Piper Spit (Burnaby), Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Sunny, 18-28C

The Outing

It was actually kind of hot, which was somewhat unexpected, even though it is technically summer for a few more weeks. It was warm at Reifel even mid-morning, but it never got uncomfortably hot. The heat may have affected how many birds we saw, though, as some were no doubt seeking to keep cool in the shade.

At Reifel, we got some early shots of yellowlegs as they were parked up front right in the main pond. There were also swallows still buzzing about, but we declined to try shooting them this time. We next moved on to the London Slough, which had some herons on the periphery and the logs replete with geese and gulls–and two western painted turtles hanging out at one end. There were also several wood ducks who were in their full breeding colours, and were strutting their stuff on the runway fence railing.

We saw a plenitude of chickadees, the usual ducks (wood and mallard), along with a few less seen but technically not migrant waterfowl: mergansers and a pair of Northern pintails.

We saw more numbered geese (wearing collars around their necks bearing numbers like C29) and, of course, goose drama, though perhaps the heat kept any of them from going truly berserk.

The highlight may have been right at the end, when we saw the young eagle that sometimes hangs out at the main pond, trying to catch prey. Apparently it’s not very good at flying or hunting yet, and the staff have dubbed him Doofus. Ouch. He looks appropriately menacing in that raptor way, sitting on the rooftop of the viewing area, though.

Next up was Piper Spit, where most of the landmass is now again submerged following the recent showers. The water is still quite shallow, so that meant more yellowlegs, yay.

There were also a lot of pigeons, who alternated between flying in a group around in circles and landing in a long line near the end of the pier. More importantly, we saw a winter migrant! Two, in fact, and it was our buddy the original weird bird, the American coot. Now we know for sure the season is changing.

We rounded out with an abbreviated trip to Tlahutum Regional Park, where we saw a heron hunting (we don’t see them often here) and, thanks to a couple on the lookout, a rare sighting of a Lewis’s woodpecker. They appear in BC, but very seldomly make it this far west. Unfortunately, it was atop a telephone pole quite far away. I got some shots, but they’re of the “Yes, there is a bird” variety.

Still, a nice lifer. And we also saw some of Nic’s favourites in the community garden, white-crowned sparrows, so we left on a chirpy note.

Also, did I mention it was hot?

The Shots

Full gallery soon (for real, I swear), but here’s a shot to get started.

Greater yellowlegs about to disturb the slumber of a fellow shorebird

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Cedar waxwing
  • House sparrow
  • Lewis’s woodpecker (lifer–seen at Tlahutum)
  • Northern flicker
  • Purple martin
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow

Waterfowl:

  • American coot (first sighting of the season)
  • Canada goose
  • Gadwall (?)
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Hooded merganser
  • Northern pintail
  • Mallard
  • Short-billed dowitcher
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • Crow
  • Rock pigeon
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle

Non-birds:

  • Douglas squirrel
  • Western painted turtle
  • Bees ‘n dragonflies

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

Waterfowl:

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

Common:

  • Crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Harrier
  • Red-tailed hawk

Non-birds:

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

Birding, August 19, 2023: Haze, wind and the dial of doom

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Delta) and Iona Beach (Richmond)
Weather: Smoke haze, 17-23C

The Outing

We started out bright and early, but with an ominous sign: Smoke haze from forest fires to the east was starting to turn the sky a white-gray. By the time we got to Reifel, the blue sky was all but gone.

Still, we saw birds!

It was windy as all heck, too, which made the first part of the morning a wee bit chilly, but not too bad overall.

We started by watching some geese go cuckoo over an apple, then moved on, slightly disappointed by the lack of winter migrants, but it’s still early. Mallards, geese and house sparrows were in abundance, with the latter two showing up in unusually large numbers at the London Slough.

From there, we didn’t see a lot for a while, but came across the proverbial jackpot, with a plethora of dowitchers and yellowlegs in a pond that is most often unoccupied. I suppose the lack of rain has created shallower conditions in this particular pond, just right for shorebirds.

We also finally lucked out in Chickadee Country with a bunch flitting around the viewing platform, after mostly just hearing them taunting us earlier on the trails.

A thing we noticed among the birds and birbs at Reifel: Many were molting, so everyone was looking extra scruffy, sometimes adorably so. The mallards and wood ducks were starting to show signs of their handsome breeding colours returning, so the shift from summer to fall is underway in Birdville.

We wrapped up with some shots of sandhill cranes, one of whom was gorging itself on whatever was in a big plastic Rona bucket. Another actually sat down, something we’d never seen before (except when nesting). Sometimes you just want to get off your feet.

Our trip to Reifel was bracketed at the beginning and end by…cows! In an adjacent field, not in the actual sanctuary itself. I’ve now shot both cowbirds and cows. (We did not see any cowbirds.)

From there we went to the Richmond Nature House, which was a complete bust, as the feeders are still empty. We completed our tour with a tour of Iona Beach, though the wind and bugs (which caused us to retreat quickly from the pond area to apply bug spray as they were biting into us with relish) made us less adventurous than usual. The wind was so brisk I had to wear my cap in reverse to keep it from blowing off, and pretend I was hip. We walked onto the jetty to the point where you can move up or down on the stairs, then turned back. Along the way, we saw some gulls and distant herons, but not much else. Back on land, we caught sight of some cormorants near the barges, but really not much else in terms of birds.

It’s funny how the combination of the wind and the encroaching heat haze made the day feel a bit weird and off. I was expecting it to be quite warm originally, and at times it didn’t even feel like summer.

Overall, though, I was pleased with the shots I got, but unknown to me, disaster was waiting in the wings (bird joke): The dial of doom.

Like most cameras, mine has a dial that lets you switch shooting modes. Like most dials, it has notches and requires a little effort to switch modes, so you don’t do so easily and perhaps capriciously. Today, I observed several times that the mode had gone from P to something else, like AV. Looking through the EVF, I spotted nothing amiss. I am unsure how the dial got switched, though did note that my right thumb sits very close to it when I’m holding the camera. I would like to think I’d notice if my thumbs was clicking the dial to a new position, but maybe not! Maybe my thumb is cursed, or evil. Or my camera is. Or everything is.

What it mean is that I took a bunch of photos that were complete, utter garbage, along with even more than were unusable, blurry messes, but in which you could still at least identify objects, like ducks and trees. I ended up losing over 150 photos because of this. I was not pleased.

But I’m also unsure what to do. I’ll adjust my camera, so every mode should give me good shots, but I’m still baffled at how the dial seemed to so easily turn. If I can software lock it to P, I will do that. If I can’t, I’ll just cry into my pillow. Then I’ll just keep checking to insure the dial is set to P.

That is my new mantra: Still on P.

Overall, then, this was a real mixed bag. I did get some good shots, so it wasn’t a complete disaster, but oof, how can I have had probably my worst day of shooting ever over two and a half years after I got my camera? Bleah!

The Shots

The rest Soon™, but here’s an Anna’s hummingbird to get started.

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Cedar waxwing
  • Collared dove
  • Goldfinch
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Spotted towhee

Waterfowl:

  • Canada goose
  • Lesser scaup
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Long-billed dowitcher
  • Mallard
  • Great blue heron
  • Sandhill crane
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • Crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • None

Non-birds:

  • Cows

Birding, August 12, 2023: Vedder mind the herons

Where: Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve and Island 22 Regional Park (Chilliwack)
Weather: Sunny, 27-29C

The Outing

We finally made our trek to the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve near the Vedder River in Chilliwack.

We saw actual herons! Disappointingly, we only saw two, though one did the stabby fishy thing. Fortunately, the scenery and general area was quite nice, plus there were bird feeders near the entrance where we saw oodles of finches (house and gold), along with chickadees, a dove and a lifer (for me, though the photo was not great), a black-headed grosbeak. We also caught sight of a cedar waxwing as soon as we got out of the car, so that was nice, too.

After looping around a few times, we had lunch and pondered where to go next. Nic suggested Island 22 Regional Park, which would at the very least offer snazzy views of the Fraser River. We were surprised that it required payment to get in, but it was only $5, and they didn’t require physical money, which neither of us had. We’re not 20th century Luddites!

The number of birds here was disappointingly few, but we did see a few, included another lifer for me, a Western Wood-Peewee, which I’ve technically seen but not gotten any photos of before. We got shots of the Fraser and the mountains, did a big ol’ loop around the park, then retraced much of our steps when Nic thought he had lost his car keys. They turned out to be in a secret inner pocket of his shorts the whole time, plus we got bonus walking and worked on our detective skills, so it was fine in the end. My watch did mildly chide me in the evening for too much activity, though.

We also saw a bird Merlin could not identify (possibly a kingbird or relative), plus some young robins, but not much else. You never know until you look, though, and it still beat the bust that was the birdless Burns Bog bummer.

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Black-headed grosbeak
  • Cedar waxwing
  • Collared dove
  • Eastern kingbird (maybe)
  • Goldfinch
  • House finch
  • Spotted towhee
  • Western wood-peewee

Waterfowl:

  • Hooded merganser
  • Mallard
  • Great blue heron

Common:

  • Crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Harrier (?)

Non-birds:

  • Bees
  • Dragonfly
  • Grasshopper
  • Screaming little kids

Birding, August 7, 2023: Sunburns and kingbirds

Where: Piper Spit (Burnaby) -- twice! and Tlahutum Regional Park1Formerly Colony Farm Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Partly sunny, 21-23C

The Outing

The forecast had called for mostly cloudy skies. Since you can easily get burned on non-sunny days in the summer (unless it’s raining) I don’t know why I wouldn’t need sunblock, but I didn’t put any on and got a good ol’ sunburn all over as a reward for my lack of common sense.

We started out just after 10 a.m. at Piper spit, which these days is mostly geese, mallards, wood ducks and blackbirds. However, the dowitchers were out again. Yay! But the light was bad. Boo! Nic, using his vast scientific knowledge, surmised that if we came back later, the sun (which was burning us) would have moved across the sky to where the light would then be good. Yay! We got our first round of shots and moved on to Tlahutum.

I finally got a decent shot of the sign on the way in, warning of wildlife (with googly eyes) crossings. Behold! (It’s not going in the gallery.)

Taken with my iPhone 12 from out the window of Nic’s sporty car

We checked out the community gardens first and saw goldfinches, some young punk white crowned sparrows, a couple of hummingbirds fighting, as they do, a northern flicker and a giant sign warning us that bears were in the garden. Well, not right when we were there, but in a general sense.

The trails weren’t as bird-rich, but what we did see was unique and zesty! The tide was up, and the Coquitlam River was back to its lush state (at least while we were there).

The zesty birds included:

  • Common mergansers (they have racing stripes!)
  • Eastern kingbirds (got my best shots ever thanks to one sitting unusually close to the trail)
  • Eastern wood-peewee (this was too far away for me, but Nic got some shots)

Non-bird interjection: On the way to lunch, the Google Maps app told Nic to make an (illegal) U-turn at least three different times. He did not. Google Maps really likes U-turns. Must be an American thing.

We returned to Piper Spit and got our better-lit shots of dowitchers, where my ratio of shots where the dowitcher was dunking its head vs. its head being up were something like 50 to 1. I also got some good shots of geese going berserk while bathing.

In all, it was a pleasant and not–too-hot outing. And now I know to always wear sunblock in the summer. Again.

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Blackbird
  • Brown-headed cowbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Chestnut-backed chickadee
  • Eastern kingbird
  • Eastern wood-peewee
  • Goldfinch
  • Northern flicker
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow

Waterfowl:

  • Canada goose
  • Common merganser
  • Dowitcher
  • Mallard
  • Great blue heron
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • Crow
  • Pigeon
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Harrier (!)

Non-birds:

  • Bees, bees, bees
  • Dragonfly (several types)
  • Fuzzy caterpillar
  • Grasshopper
  • Slug
  • Snake (briefly)