Birding, February 16, 2024: All the owls we never see

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Centennial Beach (Delta), Piper Spit, Burnaby Lake (Burnaby)
Weather: Sunny, cloudy late, 7-11°C

The Outing

A rare-ish weekday round of birding, thanks to sunny weather. We hit Reifel first and soon discovered that school was out today, as the place was chock-full of kids. They were fairly well-behaved, though.

We got off to a nice start with a pair of Anna’s hummingbirds sharing a drink at a feeder.

Surprisingly, there was a thin patina of ice on a lot of the ponds. I suspect most of it melted by mid-afternoon, but we did see one wigeon land on the ice, then sink into it as it waddled forth. This apparently displeased it, as it then flew just enough to land ahead where the water was clear. We also saw some shovelers hanging out like cool kids on the ice (geddit?)

And speaking of shovelers, they were all over the place and in large numbers, save, oddly enough, in one of the spots they usually hang out. We saw what seemed to be a couple of scruffy-looking juveniles.

And speaking of juveniles (I am master of segues in this post), we saw a bunch of juvenile bald eagles circling overhead multiple times. One pass apparently spooked some of the shovelers and they took off, only to land back where they’d flown from a minute later.

The Chickadee Empire was somewhat in retreat, as we saw fewer than normal, and the ones we did see seemed even less interested in sitting still for a moment.

Herons were dotting the landscape like broody sentinels, and we got to see the Sandhill cranes before exiting. Several of them even flew overhead, giving us a chance to behold their gangly forms in the air.

We even saw a common goldeneye, which I don’t think we’ve spotted at Reifel before, though I only got a single shot of it, as it flew away almost as soon as we saw it.

On the way out, an older man told Nic about all the owls we never see. He was still going on and adjusting the onion on his belt as we left. We did not see any owls, alas.

Next up was Centennial Beach. We actually didn’t see many birds here, but the tide was out, so we strolled offshore and took photos of Mt. Baker. We did some gadwalls, more herons and golden crowns. And Nic got a lot of heart points.

With the sun setting at the late hour of 5:34 p.m. we had enough time to visit Piper Spit. By this time the clouds had moved in, so the light went from good to so-so, but you work with what you’re given. Fortunately, the bufflehead was back and diving all over the place. The seagulls that have been occupying the land mass near the pier were completely gone, replaced by hundreds of crows, preparing for their nightly mini-migration. There were making a lot of crow noises, which complemented (?) the blackbird noises.

After seeing no wood ducks at Reifel and only a single coot (or two? It was only one or two), we saw plenty of both at Piper Spit. But mostly it was crows, crows and more crows. And the bufflehead. And actually, a lot more scaups than I remember normally seeing here.

In all, a good outing, even if the clouds made the shots at Piper Spit a bit more challenging at the end.

The Shots
Soon™. But here’s a shot of two hummingbirds as a start:

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Fox sparrow
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • House sparrow
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee

Waterfowl:

  • American coot
  • American wigeon
  • Bufflehead duck
  • Canada goose
  • Common goldeneye
  • Dowitcher
  • Gadwall
  • Great blue heron
  • Green-winged teal
  • Mallard
  • Night heron (sort of)
  • Northern pintail
  • Northern shoveler
  • Ring-necked duck
  • Sandhill crane
  • Scaup (Lesser and Greater)
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • American crow (a billion or so)
  • Rock pigeon
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle
  • Northern harrier

Non-birds:

  • Assorted and somewhat chonky squirrels

Birding, January 6, 2024: New year, strange birds

Where: Centennial Beach (Delta), Piper Spit (Burnaby) and Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Partly sunny, 3-8°C

The Outing

Our first birding outing for 2024 started at a rather chilly Centennial Beach, with a brisk wind and the tide in, so shorebirds, while present, were not nearby for good photo opportunities.

But we did see a bunch of golden-crowned sparrows, a northern harrier we didn’t have time to get shots of, and a bald eagle in a tree by the parking lot. Unfortunately, the perspective meant all I could do was catch a shot of its butt. I also got a shot of a robin’s butt. It was a butt kind of day.

After rounding out our trip there with shots of some good peeps (wigeons), we headed off to Richmond Nature House, where there was no parking at all, and two other cars waiting for a spot. Sadly, we had to move on, and went next to Piper Spit.

As compensation, we got a visit from a handsome Steller’s jay, and also a bufflehead that, rather than hanging back like they usually do, actually came in close to the pier, allowing us to get our best bufflehead shots ever. There were also a lot of gulls hanging around, trying to pull unspeakable things out of the water when they were not strutting around, proudly showing off the golf balls and other spherical objects clutched in their bills. Gulls are weird. We also saw our first Canad geese in a while. They are also weird and we have the pictures to prove it.

Even though it was already golden hour-y by the time we finished up at Piper Spit, we still went to Tlahutum, where we did see more golden crowns, some mergansers and another bufflehead (!) Generally the number of birds was small, so we mostly took shots showing off the setting sun.

In all, a decent outing to start the year, with cool but mostly sunny weather.

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee (briefly seen)
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • European starling
  • Fox sparrow
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • Steller’s jay

Waterfowl:

  • American coot
  • American wigeon
  • Bufflehead duck
  • Canada goose
  • Gadwall
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Green-winged teal
  • Hooded merganser
  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail
  • Northern shoveler (seen but not shot)
  • Ring-necked duck
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • American crow
  • Rock pigeon
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle
  • Northern harrier (seen but not shot)

Non-birds:

  • None! Unless you count people and dogs.

Birding, December 2, 2023: The sun also sets

Where: Centennial Beach and Boundary Bay Dyke Trail (Tsawwassen)
Weather: Sunny, 8-11°C

The Outing

The first birding of December was pleasantly sunny and mild, though we got a late start, due to me having an appointment to get stabbed multiple times in my left arm.

After the stabbings, we headed to Centennial Beach, and we saw an actual raptor in the vicinity of Raptor Trail. We also saw various bald eagles, some in trees, some flying too high to really get good shots of. I got probably my best eagle butt shots ever (it was sitting above us in a rather tall tree).

Sparrows proved to be surprisingly plentiful here, as well later along the Boundary Bay Dyke trail. The light was low and a bit golden even from the start, but we made due. We skipped the usual journey onto the mudflats, as the tide was in, but spied numerous shorebirds further out, including dunlins that kept flying about, dwarfed by the occasional seagull towering over them. There were even rarely-seen surf scoters, but they were far enough out that they just looked like duck-shaped blobs through my telephoto lens. Too bad, because they are seriously freaky looking.

By the time we arrived at the dyke trail, the sun was quite low, but we pressed on to The Big Pond™ near a private residence…that proved to be waterfowl-free. Bummer! The adjacent and smaller pond on the western side of the property was populated prodigiously with perpetually propelling and peeping wigeons, mallard and others, however. The wigeons, as in our previous outing, were constantly nipping at and chasing each other. Maybe they are going through the wigeon equivalent of Pon Farr.

By the time we reached the pond, the sun was already sinking over the distant trees, but it did mean we got our first set of sunset shots in a while. We got back to the car three minutes after sunset and returned for dinner in darkness…at 5 p.m.

The Shots

Soon™

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American bushtit
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • European starling
  • Fox sparrow
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • Northern flicker
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow

Waterfowl:

  • American wigeon
  • Eurasian wigeon
  • Dunlin
  • Great blue heron
  • Green-winged teal
  • Long-billed dowitcher
  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail
  • Northern shoveler
  • Surf scoter

Common:

  • American crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle (adult and juvenile)
  • Northern harrier

Non-birds:

  • Black squirrel

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, 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, July 29, 2023: Beach, beach, scum

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Delta), Centennial Beach (Surrey), Tsawwassen Beach (Tsawwassen)
Weather: Partly cloudy and Sunny, 17-25C

The Outing

Reifel: We arrived a bit early, and it was somewhat busy at the start, with lots of families out feeding the ducks and such. The kids were generally not terrorizing the birds. Near the first slough, we caught sight of a goose that was both banded and had some kind of module around its neck, with the designation C19. C19 did not seem to mind the thing. We later saw two geese (one of them was possibly C19) and they were clearly not concerned with the tracking (?) devices, as they were snoozing. And speaking of terrorizing and geese, one of them was going full-on berserk by the aforementioned slough. We didn’t encounter too many others on the trails directly, though they were ever-present.

The ponds are continuing to see a lot of bloom and one particularly slimy and had a group of ducks swimming and dunking in it, which led to them being covered, seaweed-like, in the stuff. Scum ducks. Like C19, they didn’t seem to mind their particular condition.

The blackbirds were gathered around the tower as usual, and one juvenile was especially insistent that he be fed. His dad was totally not having it, constantly flying off a short distance, only to be followed by the demanding youngster, its maw open in that FEED ME NOW pose. I got some good shots on that particularly bird. I imagine it eventually got some seed on its own. Or maybe it ran away from home, to guilt-trip its parents.

We heard but never saw any chickadees (or at least I never caught a glimpse of one). But there was a marsh wren and some waxwings and a harrier, which has been absent for quite some time. Finally, we saw oodles of shorebirds (mainly dowitchers), which have been scarce of late, and made good use of the bird blind we rarely visit on the east side of the main pond to better observe them.

Centennial Beach: Raptor Trail once again failed to live up to its name, but we saw some herons, a few somewhat distant killdeer and a new lifer for both of us–a Bonaparte seagull (named after a cousin of the emperor, who apparently contributed a lot to ornithology back in the 1830s). We also had a Savannah sparrow handily land on a rope fence right in front of us, just long enough to get a few photos. Nic was pleased. The tide was in, making the beach look rather ordinary, and it was also very windy. Kites were flying, and I watched someone’s beach umbrella get loose and start tumbling. Amazingly, it managed to avoid hitting anything before getting stuck in the sand.

We also discussed art and AI here, which has nothing to do with birds. Overall, not a great amount of birds here, but it’s always a nice visit when you’re not getting assaulted by driving hail.

Tsawwassen Beach: After making the semi-treacherous sprint across the highway to the ferry terminal, we walked along the beach until I noticed a proper trail running next to it. We got all civilized by moving onto it and headed off, spotting herons, terns, tons of geese and near a pedestrian bridge, a lot of barn swallows (and possibly others) that were nesting underneath the bridge and hunting in the river and waterways nearby. There were also sandpipers and killdeer and–baby killdeer! They’re fluffy and adorable. We also came across a spot where dozens of seagulls were hanging out on a couple of pseudo-islands near the shore. The trail goes on for quite a way, so we made a note to return and park further up and not on the opposite side of the highway. We shall return!

We ended by getting dinner at the nearby Tsawwassen Mills mega-mall. This has nothing to do with birding, but I’d never been before. The place is so big you can rent out vehicles to drive around inside the mall. You could probably hang glide in there, like a bird.

The Shots

I made Nic pick photos from my batch to go into this gallery. He was openly uncomfortable doing this, which kind of delighted me. He selected 32 photos in total, which I further narrowed down to 10. I may add in a few more later. It’s my first “curated” gallery!

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Barn swallow
  • Blackbird
  • Brown-headed cowbird
  • Black-capped chickadee (heard, but not seen)
  • Goldfinch
  • House finch
  • Savannah sparrow
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee

Waterfowl:

  • Canada goose
  • Caspian tern
  • Dowitcher
  • Killdeer
  • Mallard
  • Great blue heron
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • Crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle
  • Harrier (!)

Non-birds:

  • Bees, bees, bees
  • Dragonfly (several types)
  • Grasshopper
  • Ladybug
  • Some kind of beetle thinger

Birding June 24, 2023: Cool, windy and full of cowbirds

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary and Centennial Beach, both in Delta
Weather: Cloudy, 17C

The Outing

I’ve actually done several bird outings between this one and the last one I wrote about on May 24, but for some reason never put together write-ups or galleries. Lazy? Bad? Who can say! I may eventually put up at least galleries for each later.

For now, though, on to the most recent birding, which was also the first outing of Summer 2023. The weather was not particularly summer-like, as it was cloudy, windy and around 17C, but no rain, no hail and no risk of sunburn, so it was fine.

We started out early at Reifel I opted to keep my hoodie on. This was a wise choice.

We got some quick pics of the sandhill crane family adjacent to the parking lot to start, but the main pond was unusually quiet. We headed off toward the bird blinds, where Nic had seen an owl last week when I was in Kamloops, but alas, no owls on this day. Also, the left bird blind was closed due to birds nesting in it. They clearly do not understand what a bird blind is for.

The theme at Reifel was cowbirds, and plenty of them. We only saw a couple of chickadees, no squirrels at all, but plenty of ducks, geese, and the cowbirds, who were spread out across nearly the entire sanctuary. It was kind of weird.

As befits summer, the marshland is starting to look appropriately lush and green, besmirched only by that now abandoned sailboat, which is badly listing to port now and has been there for many weeks.

The outer trails were especially breezy and cool, but some workers pointed out an oriole nest we’ll keep an eye on in future visits. The inner trails were warmer, but festooned with giant swarms of flying bugs. Fortunately, they are not the biting kind. The swallows were very well supplied.

The oddest sight may have been a small group of Northern pintails. They should have migrated weeks ago, but they either got lost, lazy or just like it here.

Centennial Beach proved a bit lacking for raptors and killdeer (we saw the latter, but only flying overhead and away from the beach), but we did see Savannah sparrows and house finches. A few others, like goldfinches, teased with their presence, but never made for good shots. The weather improved enough that the sun almost came out a few times, and it was almost warm enough to doff the hoodie.

It’s warm and sunny as I type this the day after. 😛

Overall, it was nice to be out, and I got some of my best cowbird shots ever because a) they were plentiful and b) some of them stopped frantically jumping around and stood still for several moments.

The Shots

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Barn swallow
  • Blackbird
  • Brown-headed cowbird
  • Chickadee
  • European starling
  • Goldfinch
  • House sparrow
  • Savannah sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • Tree swallow

Waterfowl:

  • Blue-winged teal
  • Canada goose
  • Great blue heron
  • Killdeer
  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail
  • Wood duck

Common:

  • Crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle

Non-birds:

  • Some giant freaky catfish (?) in a slough at Reifel
  • Cows in a field

Birding May 22, 2023: Killdeer peeps and diving swallows

Where: Centennial Beach, Delta
Weather: Cloudy, 15C

The Outing

Nic and I headed out for the first time in three weeks, now that he is back in the Pacific time zone, in body, if not in mind. Alas, after two weeks of warm, summer-like weather, the clouds have returned. It actually wasn’t that cold overall, but the wind coming over the bay was a little chilly. Shorts weather, but without the chance of sunburn.

We did technically see two raptors, way up high–an eagle and what Merlin says was a northern harrier. I’ve never seen them fly in proximity before.

The birding turned out to be a bit better than expected, especially as we returned along the trails, with a goldfinch proving elusive, then somewhat more cooperative. All of my shots of it were poo. I did get one when it was up closer, but didn’t have time to properly focus. If it had sat still for two more seconds, I would have gotten a great shot.

I consoled myself by getting a bunch of shots of a positively adorable rabbit. While the first one dashed into the undergrowth before we could get any shots, the next proved suitably chill. And adorable. I’m going to assume there were about a thousand others we didn’t see, just out of sight.

I attempted to get some shots of diving swallows and managed a few that were surprisingly half-decent. Like, you can not just tell they’re swallows, you can see feathers and stuff. Neat!

Overall, it was nice to be back out. While better light would have been nice, at least we didn’t have to find the right spot to avoid the harsh glare of the sun. Yeah, that’s it!

The Shots

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Barn swallow
  • European starling
  • Goldfinch
  • House sparrow
  • Savannah sparrow
  • Spotted towhee
  • Tree swallow

Waterfowl:

  • Gadwall
  • Killdeer
  • Mallard

Common:

  • Crow
  • Seagull

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle
  • Northern harrier

Non-birds:

  • Rabbits
  • Some bugs if you squinted or were a swallow

Birding, March 25, 2023 (Centennial Beach and Crescent Beach)

In which I got mercilessly pelted by hail.

Where: Centennial Beach, Crescent Beach
Weather: Clouds, rain, hail, sun, 5-7ºC

The Outing

More like CentenniHAIL Beach, amirite? (I am right, see below.)

After last weekend’s lovely spring-like weather (it was technically still winter), this outing’s weather was decidedly less lovely and winter-like (it was technically now spring).

We expected the morning to be cool and cloudy, and it was. We headed out, with the usual low tide, capturing a few shots on the vast mud flats before moving up the trails. We neared the end, having spotted a few of the usual suspects–golden crowned sparrows, wigeons and others. It started to get drizzly, which was not ideal, then the drizzle turned into an assault of hail. This was totally not ideal.

Fortunately, we were close to the 12th Avenue pump house, which has a nice covered area to hide under in situations like this. I assured Nic that hail never lasts, so it wouldn’t be long before we could venture out from under cover.

Fifteen minutes later, we were still waiting, with the hail varying between relentless and slightly-less-relentless. I have never seen such persistent hail. It started piling up like snow. I finally made the call to head out when the worst of it seemed to have stopped, so we headed back at a brisk pace, getting pelted for most of the way. As expected, the storm pretty much stopped by the time we were back where we’d started, so we took the opportunity to shoot some ducks, robins and Brewer’s blackbirds.

Still soggy, we headed out to our Plan B backup, Crescent Beach, noting, ominously, that it appeared to be clearing up everywhere except precisely where we were heading.

When we got to Crescent Beach, it was showering, so we sat in the car and waited. About 15 minutes later, the last of the rain passed and the sun came out and I was all yay!

The tide was out here, too, which was the first time I’ve seen it here, so the usual boat shots were not to be had, as there was literally no water for them to run through. We did see lots of gulls and some wigeons and green-winged teals, along with a rare group of Northern flickers clustering in a stand of trees. It was just nice to have a bit of sun, though.

The Shots

Brewer’s blackbird poofing out
Northern flicker at Crescent Beach
Greater yellowlegs noodling in a creek
Gull flying over a gloomy Centennial Beach before the hailstorm
Yawning mallard
Crescent Beach, with storms in the distance

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American robin
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Blackbird
  • Brewer’s blackbird
  • European starling
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • Northern flicker
  • Song sparrow

Raptors:

  • Bald eagle
  • Northern shrike

Waterfowl:

  • American wigeon
  • Dunlins
  • Gadwall
  • Great blue heron
  • Green-winged teal
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Mallard
  • Sanderlings

Common:

  • Crow
  • Pigeon
  • Seagull

Non-birds:

  • Maybe a crab somewhere in the low tide?

Centennial Beach, March 4, 2023

A few shots from Centennial Beach taken today. It was super windy and started to rain not long after we arrived, so we bailed early. But I shot a few birds before we bailed.

Golden-crowned sparrow thinking about seeds.
Common goldeneye. Not to be confused with the Bond movie.
Mallard mulling.
A pair of goldeneyes. Or two pairs of golden eyes.