Showing posts from May, 2018

Cassia Crossbills, Himalayan Snowcocks and more Flams than the eyes can see!

I was able to get down to Idaho, Nevada and Utah on an incredibly cheap flight/hotel deal this past week. It was a nice trip. I started off in Nevada and near Wells I saw several Pronghorn (antelope) which was cool to see. My first destination was Cassia County near Twin Falls for the Cassia Crossbill. It was a beautiful lush green drive in Idaho. I went from barren desolate sagebrush where I saw the Antelope to beautiful tall Lodgepole Pine where I ended up seeing 6 Cassia Crossbills. When I arrived at Diamondfield Jack Campground it was really cold I was glad to have my sweater and jacket. The park was full of bird song especially from Juniper Titmice. I walked up past the group picnic area on a short hike where I saw a Hairy Woodpecker and then a small flock of Cassia Crossbills flew in . They made their distinctive calls I practiced learning before I got there. I also noted the females and males but especially the males looked more muted than our Red Crossbills. I was glad I lear…

A magical moment with a Red-throated Loon

I had an incredible magic moment today when a Red-throated Loon swam up to me while I lay on a dock. It's never happened before to me.... even in Nome, AK I never got this close to this species. Wonder if it was the perfume I was wearing? ;). He was so close I had no choice but to take a portrait...but you can't really complain when you are in that situation. These loons are so beautiful and elegant. I felt sorry for him since he didn't have a mate and was calling his beautiful haunting call. He should be up north by now nesting I hope he finds what he seeks.

He backed off finally and I was able to get him doing a brief shake then he swam right back to me. I'll never forget this special day.

I made a video of the Loon as well which you can watch below:

You can see how close he was to me:

Days like this don't happen everyday and I'll treasure this one forever to come. Thanks to my friends Chris and Heather for giving me this I really needed the pick me up. Some…

Birds can cure sadness and COSEWIC update

First off COSEWIC just released some good and bad news about the status of birds in Canada.

Common Nighthawks and Olive-sided Flycatchers have been downgraded from "Threatened" to "Special Concern." Unfortunately, Red-headed Woodpeckers have been up-listed to "Endangered".  The Coastal Vesper Sparrow (which I've seen in San Juan Island) is still "Endangered" as is the Streaked Horned Lark in Canada. There is no evidence that a breeding population of either subspecies remains in Canada, but there is a slim chance for recolonization from the U.S. To read the full list from COSEWIC click HERE.

Speaking about threatened birds Birdlife International made a new animated video about the plight of Red Knots and other migrating shorebirds; the video is below.

Also if you are passionate about wildlife conservation you will do yourself a great service by reading this refreshing take by Dr. Marc Bekoff about how important it is to have COMPASSION, whe…

The Gray Jay is no longer....

It is now called the "Canada Jay"

Do you like the English name change? do you care one way or another?

Read about it HEREandHERE

The original name of this bird was never the Canada Jay but (Wìsakedjàk in Algonquin, Wīhsakecāhkw in Cree and Wiisagejaak in Oji-cree).

That's why sometimes you hear people call it by the anglicized name form: "Whisky Jack."

- Photos above of the 2 Canada Jays by Melissa Hafting*

Congratulations to Bridget Spencer and Isaac Nelson & another YB book donation!

Congratulations to Bridget Spencer (Vancouver) and Isaac Nelson (Kamloops) who just found out they got into the Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists Workshop in Long Point in Ontario. It's highly competitive and allows 6 youth from across Canada. It was a pleasure writing references for them both. Other young birders in the BCFO young birder program have done it already Liron Gerstman, Joshua Brown, Cole Gaerber and Logan Lalonde.

This is so exciting for Bridget and Isaac and especially nice to see a young female birder from BC going! Bridget is an incredible birder who is very skilled at bird identification and finding rarities including her best find yet a Redwing in Vancouver! Isaac is incredible as well with bird identification and is truly passionate about bird conservation.

Congrats Bridget and Issac you make us all proud!

Secondly, I wanted to thank Vince Knight for donating volumes 1-4 of The Birds of British Columbia by Wayne Campbell and a signed copy of At Sea with the Mari…


I went down with my friend Blair on Friday to see Red Knots at Bottle Beach in WA. I ended up meeting scientific researchers from Alaska with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), who have banded and tagged them with radio transmitters. They were at the beach looking for their flagged birds.  To read more about why scientists are studying the Climate-endangered Red Knot click HERE. To read about the impact of the Canadian study click HERE, both the USA and Canada list the bird as Endangered.

During my visit we counted 500 breeding plumaged Red Knots and dozen of Ruddy Turnstones. It was incredible as I had never seen that number of Red Knots ever in one spot. Hearing them and watching them fly in the large flocks was breathtaking. I took off my shoes and walked barefoot onto the mudflats. Other shorebirds present were Whimbrel, Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Black Turnstones, Short-billed Dowitchers and Black-bellied Plovers. Had my FOY Brown Pelican too for WA!

The resea…

Eurasian Skylarks, mass movements of Pacific Loons and a new Vancouver bird: a Common Grackle!

Yesterday, I went to Victoria to show my friend Blair Bernson his Eurasian Skylark. He has tried 4 times before. As soon as we Brian Stech, Blair and I) stepped out of the car, the birds were singing and displaying. There was a total of at least 4 birds present. When they land on the dirt it's like they evaporate as they blend right in with the dirt. I got the best photo I could hope to expect as they are tough to photograph and my last photo was to be desired.

The days of wine and roses...

I got a call about a Phalarope discovered at the mansion at 96th St but the person couldn't identify it so I went down to nail it to species. It would be my first of year regardless the tide was awful and wasn't expecting to see much. I went down and it was 28 degrees harsh light and a sunny beautiful day. Before I even got to the mansion a small plover caught my eye I got my bins on it and could see it was a golden plover. I got the scope out and they started multiplying it was one, then 2 more appearing. My luck ran out at 3 birds now it was the hard task of identifying these guys in the harsh light haha. One was in full breeding plumage and they all had a short primary extension with 3 primaries visible past the tertials and white on the flanks they were all Pacific Golden-Plovers. I have never seen such a full breeding plumaged one in Vancouver before. I know my friend Kevin Louth found one when I was out of town so it was a cool sight to see. The bird were sitting at the…

Lapland Longspur, Franklin's Gulls and more good birding in Metro Van!

It felt like I was back in Nome on Sunday seeing this breeding plumaged Lapland Longspur! Ilya and I had a great day of birding.

At Iona we relocated the male breeding plumaged Lapland Longspur that Tak Shibata found. The bird was past the second shelter on the south jetty at Iona.In the inner ponds we had some nice shore birding with our FOY Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers. The inner ponds were loaded with Blue-winged Teal too. I wasn't able to show Ilya the Common Terns or Bank Swallow I saw when he was out of town.

After that, we went to Brunswick Point where we found 5 breeding plumaged Red Knots, 2 adult breeding plumaged Franklin's Gulls on the mudflats which was a cool rarity! We also saw 22 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 1 Semipalmated Plover, many Black-bellied Plovers, 13 Whimbrel and a FOY beautiful male Bullock's Oriole. We also had an American Bittern (pumping), Caspian Terns, a Yellow Warbler and so much more.

After dinner we didn't know where we should g…

Young Birder Overnight Trip to Cleland Island in Tofino

We started eagerly on Friday at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal en route to Tofino via Nanaimo for our pelagic. At the compensation lagoon in Tsawwassen, we saw one late female Long-tailed Duck, 1 Black Scoter and Greater White-fronted Goose, Semipalmated Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, Brant, Harlequins and many Black Oystercatchers. We got in to the "Whaler's on the Point Guesthouse" and met the others. We were all excited for the pelagic the next morning.

Well...our pelagic got cancelled at 6:15 am on Saturday; the same day we were supposed to be going out at 7 am. The disappointment by all was an understatement. On top of that, there was heavy fog in town making shorebirding impossible. My friend Mark Wynja had done some pre-scouting for us and when we tried to check it out ourselves an hour later, it was still socked in, we did see an Osprey and Blue-winged Teal, a few Whimbrel and Western Sandpipers through the heavy fog but that was it; so I decided to try for a plan B.

We …