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.

Eurasian Skylarks in Sannich  - Photos: Melissa Hafting

After seeing  singing Male Lazuli Bunting we had lunch at the Flying Otter Pub where we had some yummy fish and chips. After dipping on the reported Dusky Flycatcher and Tennessee Warbler and disembarking off the ferry in Delta; I headed straight to Point Roberts, WA.

I headed here because I wanted to see the huge numbers of Pacific Loons that Ken Klimko and Brian Self had been reporting since May 10th. The morning of May 15th, Ken told me he had at least 1400 Pacific Loons in full breeding plumage with a Parasitic Jaeger. He also found 2 House Wrens.

Well it was a gorgeous night and as soon as I got to the lighthouse I saw thousands of Pacific Loons. Many were close into shore but most of them were streaming by I counted 1500+ birds. I also had a Parasitic Jaeger and found Ken's House Wrens in the overflow campground. I put maps to the exact location on the RBA for those interested. I also got a new bird at the point which was a Band-tailed Pigeon. I have seen them in Delta but never at Point Roberts. Many Steller's Sea Lions and Harbour Porpoises were also active and I later found a Great Horned Owl family.

Anyways, getting back to the Loons, after speaking to those in the know in WA, I discovered that huge movements of Pacific Loons is very unusual in this county but is seen frequently off Westport on pelagics and in Grays county and Pacific County.

I wonder why this synchronized movement is coming through Metro Vancouver right now. What a lucky treat for us seeing all these loons in breeding plumage in those incredible numbers. I highly encourage birders to go see this spectacle while it lasts.

Ken Klimko and I wonder what the finally tally will be for a week. If someone stayed there all day God only knows how many Pacific Loons they would count.

After spending time a Point Bob (Point Roberts) and seeing many good birds including the House Wrens, Parasitic Jaeger and some Great Horned Owls, I went to 96th St at Boundary Bay to see what was going on. The tide was wayyy too high but I did see a Bald Eagle killing a Green-winged Teal and fly right by me. Hard to watch but what an impressive animal. Bald Eagles are highly underrated by most who live on the south coast but are one stunning bird.

Bald Eagle at Boundary Bay in Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting

The next afternoon (today), Neil MacLeod found a male Common Grackle. This was a new Vancouver bird for me bringing my total to 313. Unfortunately 2.5 hours after I viewed it a photographer went inside the inner ponds trying to shoot the bird and flushed it and it has not been seen since. This poor behavior can affect us all if access gets off to the site and of course stresses out birds that have migrated a long way and need to rest and feed. Let's hope it returns. This is the 9th record for the Metro Vancouver area.

A poor record shot of a young male Common Grackle in Richmond - Photo: Melissa Hafting

And on a final note I had some good fun photographing a Northern Flicker intergrade in my backyard. Black-capped Chickadees took their rightful spot back from the Red-breasted Nuthatches that sadly abandoned their nest in my yard. Now the Chickadees are in their nest box and while watching them I watched a Northern Flicker intergrade (red shafted x yellow-shafted) eating ants on the ground he left me lie right up close to him and I was able to do a photo study on him which was fun as I had no decent shots of this species. Another beautiful bird I took for granted since they are so common.


Male Northern Flicker intergrade - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Also, if you didn't hear the Canadian Government has vowed to protect the Boreal Forest, this is a huge conservation milestone. Read bout it HERE.

Till next time.

Comments

  1. I’m glad the chickadees returned. It’s very unfortunate that the grackle was scared off. Beautiful photos and sounds like a very full birding day

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