Showing posts from 2015

"Queen" Eider in Tacoma!

Today I went down with my friend Blair Bernson to twitch the female King Eider found by Bruce La Bar in Tacoma. This "Queen Eider", was eating so many crabs right in close to the shore. She was really beautiful and fun to watch as she filled her gullet with tiny crabs. These sea ducks are normally found in Alaska.
I also twitched some other rare birds down there at Gog-le-hi-te Wetlands and got to successfully see a female Black-throated Warbler found by Mike Charest (dipped yet again on the Slaty-backed Gull), a lovely Red-shouldered Hawk at Nisqually, and a Northern Mockingbird in Olympia. Other good birds today I saw were a Short-eared Owl, an American Bittern (which flew right over my head), Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons, Northern Shrikes and many Western-Scrub Jays. A truly awesome day!


Ilya and I drove up to Summerland to twitch BC's first Wood thrush and boy were we lucky to get him because the next day he was never seen again. This is a Eastern Bird that normally doesn't travel west of Ontario. When we made it up there we were met by Dick Cannings, Chris Siddle, Chris Charlesworth and many others.

While we were waiting fot the bird to show up at the front yard of a private home a few Snow Buntings flew over (uncommon for the Okanagan). When it finally showed up it gave great but brief views and sang its beautiful sweet song. I was able to obtain a record shot.

You can read more about this sighting at my other blog the BC RBA HERE

 After we saw the bird we birded White Lake where we saw a Short-eared Owl and Rock Wren which was rare for the time of year there, which was cool. As we drove along the road we came across many Mountain Bluebirds and later in the day I spotted this cute Western Screech Owl as it roosted in the day. They truly blemd into their su…

Saskatchewan's Whooping Cranes!

I went to Saskatchewan for four days and just got back!I got to do some birding and got to see some Whooping Cranes! I won't publicly disclose the exact location of these cranes as they are too critically endangered.I found two adults and one Juvenile. The juvenile is the one with the cinnamon head to the left. It is extremely rare to find them this late in the year first of all and second in Canada you usually don't get close to them like you do in Texas usually you get distant scope views. This family group let me approach within 200m. I did not push it further than that in order not to flush them as they have a long journey ahead. I was in awe when they started to vocalize which is extremely rare to hear! You can hear that bugle across SK! They are usually silent up here! I have never been this close to Whooping Cranes in my life!  I was very lucky as they should be leaving by next week at the latest! This was a day I will never ever forget! Being so close to th…

Male Hooded Warbler in Revy!

I was invited to see this rare bird found by Darlene Cancelliere in Revelstoke, so I made the 7 hour journey and boy was it worth it. We have only about 9 records in the province and I believe we haven't had a male in the province in 26 years. Even though this little bird never sat still for any good quality photos it was one of the most fulfilling twitches I have been on. The yard that had this bird also had a female BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER and Harris's Sparrow at the same time!. In years previous it has produced other good birds like Bramblings.

Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain Young Birder Trip!

Well our youth birding trip was a fantastic success. We had such a great time in gorgeous sunshine! We had eight kids and they all got many lifers!

These are some of the highlights we saw today during our 11.9km hike!

450 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches (both the coastal and interior species!) It was an amazing sight to see such large flocks in swarms like that!
Northern Pygmy-Owl (perched 6 metres away from us!)
1 Hoary marmot
Pine Siskins
Evening Grosbeak
Varied thrush
Steller's Jays
Mountain chickadees
Chestnut-backed chickadees
Red breasted Nuthatches
Red-tailed Hawks
3 American Pipits
Golden-crowned Kinglets
8 Sharp-shinned Hawks
4 Clark's Nutcrackers
Eurasian-Collared Dove
1 Townsend's Solitaire
2 Merlins
50 Gray Jays (that loved to feed from our head and hands)

We dipped on a Ptarmigan but we couldn't complain could we?! It was so wonderful seeing our first Rosy finch from the "Peak to Peak" gondola, having lunch by such a beautiful lake hiking in th…

Black-throated Sparrow in Sooke!

I drove all the way to Whiffin Spit in Sooke, BC to see this little beauty. It was a BC bird for me. It is one of the birds I have wanted to see most in BC. He had a tick on the other side of his face so I focused on his "good side". He was feeding heavily all day so I am not sure how long he will stay, so I was glad I went right away. This is a very rare bird for the area and prefers desert and sagebrush! There hasn't been one on the island in 22 years! Thanks to Kim and Roger Beardmore for finding him!You can read more about this sighting at my other blog the BC RBA HERE

BOAT TRIP for our Vancouver Big Year!

My good friend John Reynolds took the gang out on his boat. Peter Candido, Ilya Povalyaev, George Clulow, Hilary Maguire and Quentin Brown set out to find a Heermann's Gull and Wandering Tattler for our Vancouver Big Year. We left Port Moody and boated out around Stanley Park towards Iona and soon saw a 3 Parastic Jaegers, including this one perched on a log.

We saw quite a few Common Terns that the Jaegers were harrasing. This juvenile Common Tern allowed the boat to come right up to him without batting an eye. The boat seemed to act as a blind and they were calm around us. It's rare to get that close to skittish Common Terns. We went to Sands Heads (near Steveston) and along the jetty saw many Black-bellied Plovers and 2 Red Knots! Many Caspian and Common terns and 3000 Western Sandpipers. We then saw our prize 2 Heermann's Gulls! Vancouver Island residents will be laughing at us but Heermann's Gulls are not common on the lower mainland. Point Roberts, the Ferry Jet…

Lifer Mountain Quail

My friend Brian Stech and I have been talking about going to Belfair, WA to find Mountain Quail for a really long time! So we finally decided to go ahead and do it. We combined it with the Tacoma Slaty-backed Gull but unfortunately we dipped on him but we did get our quail! We had a whole Covey of them! A family of ten quails, including  a mother and her young. We camped out in the spot we heard they had shown up a week ago and after three hours they appeared literally out of nowhere. While we waited for the Quail we saw a beautiful Sharp-shinned hawk trying to eat some Steller's Jays and about 30 Band-tailed pigeons and 30 Mourning doves.

This beautiful and very skittish and elusive quail was a lifer for me! Brian had never photographed them before and only had brief glimpses of them in California.

Boy are they dashing. This one here is an adult female, they make very cute little sounds.

All 3 Jaegers on a Young Birder Pelagic to Race Rocks!

15 kids and 5 parents went on a pelagic on "The Fantasea" vessel to Race Rocks Marine reserve near Victoria. We had a fantastic trip! We couldn't have asked for a better bunch of kids or better weather or a nicer boat or frankly a better guide! Thanks to Guy Monty for all his hard work spotting birds for us and for bringing the chum that brought in the gull and jaegers. Your help was invaluable to us and the kids and I appreciate it so much!!!!

Thank you to all the parent volunteers for helping me out Rob Lyske, Daniel Donnecke, Cathy Reader-Lee and Warren Lee, it really meant a lot to me and I am truly grateful!

Our  highlights were getting all 3 Jaegers species (Long-tailed, Parasitic and Pomarine) and  Red-Phalaropes  which is a bit unexpected so near to mainland Victoria.Some mammals we saw were: Humpback Whales, Stellar's and California Sea Lions.

Other great birds we saw were: Pacific and Common Loons, Red-necked Phalarope, Western Gulls, Rhino Auklets, C…

A grouse big day with 44 Grouse of 4 different species!

Liron and I did a Grouse Big Day today we got 16 Sooty Grouse in Manning Park and 12 Ruffed Grouse in Merritt (5 being on the road to Peter Hope Lake and the rest on two Forest Service Roads out of Merritt on our way home!). We got 15 Dusky Grouse including one beautiful displaying (late for season) Male Dusky Grouse on the same forest service road!. Liron got some great photos of him and all the grouse. I got some great Sooty shots especially of one little sooty chick who was so curious he walked right up to me with his head cocked, so close I could touch him! We got 4 Spruce Grouse (a female with chicks) on the Forest Service Road from Merritt! Total count for the day was 44 grouse!!! I've never seen so many grouse in one day in my life!
We drove from Vancouver to Manning Park to Princeton to Merritt and then to Boston Bar and back to Vancouver! A long but great and successful day. 

Twitch for the Washington Lesser Sand Plover

I went down to Ocean Shores, WA on Wednesday for the Lesser Sand Plover and went for the first time to Ocean Shores. I really loved it down there it was really peaceful! I saw tons of beautiful birds and did end up getting the main target the Lesser Sand Plover!

The drive was 4.5 hours and very little traffic which was nice. My friends told me that Elegant Terns were seen in Ocean Shores when I was there so I went out and got them too and I found some juveniles! They look very cute with their balding crested looking heads. They are much smaller (and elegant) looking than the Caspian Terns. They are a rare bird for Ocean Shores I asked them to fly up North hopefully they heed my request.

Unfortunately they were very far away and the photo is a very poor record shot 

I found 6 Red-throated loons and one in breeding plumage close to shore at the Ohyut Game range. They had moulted their flight feathers hence why they were so close into shore so I lay down on the beach and let th…

Wandering Tattler in or out of Metro Van?

A group of us (Jeremiah Kennedy, Yousif Attia and his cousin, Julian Heavysid, Ilya Povalyaev and I) went out to Pam Rocks after Julian Heavyside had reported a Wandering Tattler and Ruddy Turnstone. We departed Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Pam Rocks is near to Bowen Island and after briefly consulting maps it looked as if it was in the Metro Van checklists. We got out there and quickly found the Tattler but there was no sign of the Ruddy. We did see Black Turnstones, Surfbirds, Least and Western Sandpipers and  Pelagic Cormorant and Pigeon Guillemot colony.After we got back we had a delicious fish and chips lunch celebrating another Vancouver bird to add to our list. That year there was no Tattler at Iona where Tak Shibata usually finds them. Unfortunately that evening we figured out when Ilya tried submitting the sighting with his GPS coordinates that Pam Rocks was considered in the Sunshine Coast even though we could see Lions Bay in West Vancouver from the island. We circled …

My trip to The Blue Mountains of Washington

I've always wanted to see some Green-tailed Towhees in the Blue Mountains, which is an area of WA I've never been to before. I'm sure glad I went as it was beautiful!!!

So since I'm driving so far might as well stop at a few places before hitting your main goal right? Well I went to a special spot between Ellensburg and Selah for White-headed woodpeckers and got a lovely male!!  Also at this spot I found a Gray flycatcher and two Roosevelt Elk staring at me. In the night, 10pm, I had 3 common poorwill on a dirt road called Oak Creek nearby in Naches as well! In the daytime it was loaded with 6 Lewis' Woodpeckers by the way :).

Getting back to the Blue Mountains....  Some of the roads are pretty terrible to find the towhees but the views are stunning and the fields of garbanzo bean crops colours are beautiful. The area is full of wild turkeys, catbirds, CORDILLERAN flycatchers (only place to get them in WA just like the Green-tailed Towhees), yellow-brea…


Since I was going down to do some Washington birding (including to twitch the Caracara), I figured I would extend my time down there to see as much as possible in two days. It's a fantastic state to bird in with so many great birds that we don't regularly get in BC with their varied climates.

Here is some of the highlights I was able to see in two days:

Two loggerhead shrikes (one in Gingko State Park and one in Odessa)

Two Ferruginous hawks (who recently had 3 nestlings in Odessa).

Common Poorwills (Yakima)

Townsend's Solitaires and Red Crossbills (Cascade Mtns)

Lazuli Buntings, Pewees and House Wrens (Potholes State Park)

Northern-Rough winged swallow colony and bank swallow colony (in Othello)

Two Burrowing Owls (in Othello)

Says Phoebe's and Magpies everywhere in Central and Eastern WA

Western Kingbirds everywhere

TRI-COLORED BLACKBIRDS (we were thrilled to get 3 at McCain pond's near Othello!)

American White Pelican (1 at McCain pond's near Othello)