A great day of shorebirding with 2 of my fave people!

Mike Tabak, Peter Candido and I went shorebirding yesterday. We met up with some other friends at the dyke about 20 people we knew came out that night to see the reported 5 Bar-tailed Godwits and 1 Hudwit that Mike Tabak found yesterday. The Bar-tailed Godwits were first found in May by Ilya Povalyaev (I assume they are the same adult birds) and relocated Aug 4th by Dave Beeke at 104th St at Boundary Bay. When Ilya found the 5 Bar-tailed Godwits it was (and still is) a BC record for the all time high count of number of Barwits seen at once.

I am pretty sure that the 5 Bar-tailed Godwits Mike refound yesterday are the same ones Ilya Povalyaev found in the spring, the only question is where did they go for the past 2 months?

We went to the mansion at 96th St and saw 1 Stilt Sandpiper and 2 Solitary Sandpipers.  There was tons of birds out there that day. 11 Red-necked Phalaropes were present at 96th St, tons of Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, 1 possible Hudwit (too far to identify), and several other shorebirds like 1 Pectoral Sandpiper in front of the mansion with Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Baird's, Least and Western Sandpipers and Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers, just to name a few...

We spent five hours walking the dykes looking for the Godwits in the harsh light. We put in the time and got rewarded. Eventually, Cole Gaerber and Liron Gerstman refound the 5 adult Bar-tailed Godwits at the foot of 88th St. We had to walk out on the mudflats to get some good views of them. It was great to see them and put my toes in the sand. One young birder Katya got a lifer tonight when she saw them which was cool and my friend John Vooys from Abbotsford was also successful in seeing all 5 after the long drive.

It was nice photographing the shorebirds tonight in the evening light. I got my best Stilt Sandpipers shots (which I haven't processed yet). It was really peaceful and relaxing with the shorebirds. If you approach very gingerly and quietly as not to flush the birds they really don't mind your presence. It is important not to flush shorebirds because they are migrating at this time and need to rest and forage (eat) before departing on their long journey to their wintering grounds.

The tides look really great this weekend, meaning more than the 20 people we saw yesterday will be out. Hopefully someone finds a mega rarity, a Curlew Sandpiper, Dotteral or Little Stint would do just fine.

Sometimes it is nice just being alone and at one with the birds but other times it is really good to be with your friends. Seeing great birds together and the camaraderie is what I love about birding. I have met so many good people and friends through birding in British Columbia. The lifelong friends and memories we create together from twitches we do or just general birding days at places like Boundary Bay make life really worthwhile.

You gotta love Fall shorebird migration... Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are coming, Pacific and American Golden-Plovers should be here soon as well. After a relatively quiet few months in Vancouver it is nice to get some excitement.

We saw Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers at the Bay tonight. If you are interested in learning more about Dowitcher identification I wrote up a detailed post on it HERE. 

Juvenile Stilt Sandpiper at Boundary Bay, Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Long-billed Dowitcher at Boundary Bay, Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting

One of 5 Barwits in Delta - Photo: Mike Tabak

Here is a nice comparison shot Mike got of both Godwits the day before we went out (note the black and white rump on the Hudwit in comparison to the barred tail of the Barwit). - Photo: Mike Tabak


  1. Wow, that is awesome. Congrats! I was there in late afternoon but didn't go all the way out to the mudflats. I brought my lens but without my camera. Just one of those days that I should have kicked myself before I even head out the door. Sigh! Looking forward to seeing your pictures!

    1. Don't worry Mario the birds were all present today with the hudsonian godwit and this weekend the tides look great so you will have multiple chances!!! good luck!

  2. Wow! Sounds like an awesome day! I have never seen that many shorebirds in a day! Still need to get Barwit and Hudwit, even a Solitary Sandpiper isn't on my list yet, lol! Stilt sandpiper views looked amazing! Those guys are always far for me. I may head down on the weekend if I can - i'll hope there still there! Can't wait to see more photos!

    1. Hi Adam you should have a great chance this weekend with the good tides to see the godwits and all the shorebirds you need!! I hope you get the solitary sandpiper and a close stilt sandpiper ! have fun and good luck!

  3. Great summary of the day, mel! It was really fun watching the stilt sandpiper and bar-tailed godwits with everyone.

    1. It was so much fun Cole and we are just getting started!!

  4. your stilt sandpiper is the best i've seen.


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