The King Eider Twitch, Memories from Nome and a Documentary on a Falcon named "Spirit."

1.Today I went and saw the King Eider that Mike Klotz found back on Oct 24th. The bird disappeared 3 days later for a month and was refound by Mike Cranny at the same spot on Nov 23rd. The Eider goes away (to God knows where?) for a few days and comes back to the same spot. However, when he is there, he sits right inside the ferry berth #5; so unfortunately you have to pay to go inside the terminal or onto the ferry to see him but he's worth the price of admission.  We rarely get adult males in breeding plumage in the province so it's worth it!

The bird was out over 500m from where I was standing at the walk on passenger waiting room. I got good scope views of him (I watched him for an hour) and this poor heavily cropped hand-held record shot using a teleconverter :).

This is the 258th bird I have seen in Metro Vancouver this year, the 308th for my Metro Vancouver life list and the 414th bird I have seen in the province of BC.

King Eider (R) with Surf Scoters in Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting

2. I was thinking about Nome yesterday just being nostalgic. I have decided it is definitely my most favourite birding trip I have ever done and I did it alone. Sometimes, especially in birding it nice to just be one with the birds and no distractions. I truly can't wait to go back there and explore Barrow and St. Paul Island as well I just love Alaska.  Since I was a little girl my dad took me to Southern Alaska and I love it but my heart is in the North. I definitely want to go explore Churchill, Manitoba now and Nunavut and more of the Yukon.  There just is so much to love about the arctic tundra and the richness of bird life that is so active in a short window.

Here is a photo I recently found in my archives that sparked a funny memory that I wanted to share.

Male Willow Ptarmigan in Nome - Photo: Melissa Hafting

This scene may look calm and tranquil but it was anything but. I was exhausted and barely able to stand after being awake for about 18 hours straight. I spotted this tiny head in the distance....what seemed like miles away in the open tundra. So I began walking out there around 1:30am.

Let me tell you, it is not easy walking through the tundra (looks dry on top but wet on the bottom and your feet sink in) what is really a short distance becomes a long arduous one especially when you have a camera and tripod and don't want to break an ankle.
Well when I got out there I began to be eaten alive by mosquitoes that seemed to have been starving to death. There was a Whimbrel and a Long-tailed Jaeger out there, tons of Lapland Longspurs singing their heads off. This grouse that was making the most hilarious sounds (if you haven't heard what they sound like watch this video:

I honestly can't help laughing when I hear them. He was being dive-bombed by a Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaeger... I was screaming out in agony from the little vipers. I left one of the buggers in the photo for nostalgia. I could not see out of my bug net and hat to take a bloody picture. So I ended up having to lift up the net to get the camera to my eye and the only part of my body not bitten got covered in bites from my neck up. The Jaegers were now no longer bugging the grouse. He was shaking his head off trying to rid himself of the same fate as I. I felt sorry for him at least I had a net.... not that it did me any good when I wanted to take a photo. The Repellent with Deet I sprayed only seemed to attract them. I'm still amazed these killer mosquitoes can bite through gortex! Well I had to retreat and got bitten all the way back to the car. I itched for about 2 weeks after getting back from Nome. Good times... would I do it again? For sure, it was worth it. However, next time, I'm wearing a full body bug suit, no matter how crazy I look. :)

One more shot of this gorgeous Ptarmigan. I saw Rock Ptarmigan there too but I preferred the Willow for their funny calls and stunning colours.

Willow Ptarmigan in Nome - Photo: Melissa Hafting

The Willow Ptarmigan is the most numerous of the Ptarmigan species and is the state bird of Alaska.

3. To read about the story and watch the CBC short documentary called "Saving Spirit" about the Peregrine Falcon named "Spirit" who almost got killed by another falcon in the wild but was rescued and rehabilitated and released click HERE

To watch the full CBC documentary called "Algo, Polly and Turncot" about Spirit's 2 offspring "Algo" and "Polly" who are two resilient peregrine falcons who make their home amidst the chaos of urban development and gentrification in Saint-Henri in Montreal click HERE


  1. Stunning photos! That king eider is gorgeous!

    1. He really is Viktor! I hope you get to see him soon.

  2. Thanks for all the trip reports. They are always entertaining and informative. Congrats on your year's finding! That is impressive!

    1. Thanks so much Mario! I hope to see 260 birds in vancouver this year which would be a new personal record if I get 261 I would beat the all time record held by ilya haha friendly competition :). Hope you are well and thanks again for the kind comments hope you get to see the eider.

  3. what beautiful photos and quite an amazing bird the king eider


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