Showing posts from December, 2017

Bird #264

Well today I got Bird 264# for my Metro Vancouver Year List. I was sitting at home on a very dreary and typical rainy winter Vancouver day when Joachim Bertrands texted me that he had a pure Western Gull in Delta.  You must be wondering why on Dec 28th I still didn't have a Western Gull for my Metro Vancouver year list. Well that is because I'm extremely picky. If I see a sign of hybridism I won't count it and I didn't see a pure one until this day. I know there were pure ones around this year but I just didn't put in the effort to look and when I did, I never saw one. So I asked him to send me a screen shot because most gulls that people call Westerns here are hybrids. This is not a slight on anyone, it's just realism. Most birds up north here are hybrids "Olympic Gulls" (Glaucous-winged x Western) and some people count "mostly pure" birds but ones that still show signs of Hybridism. That is not ok for me personally. So what

A Special Wish Granted...

Seeing the owl below was special, for I took a child who is ill to see him. He got flown out by the wonderful people at the Make-A-Wish foundation. I was contacted via the BC Rare Bird Alert Blog I run. His wish was to see a Long-eared Owl and he unfortunately has a terminal illness. What a beautiful wish to have. We found this owl and they are one of the most nocturnal owls in our region and oddly enough he was placed just in the forefront of the brambles and was peacefully roosting. His mate was nearby but deep in the brambles. However, this owl opened his eyes and connected with the child and it brought tears to my and his parents eyes. The child's happiness was palpable. A magic moment that one rarely gets but one that made all the difference to this boy that day. I feel the owl came out just for him, I really do. Nature is beautiful and works in mysterious ways. I felt blessed to be part of this special moment. I wish everyone Seasons Greeting and all good


I made it to Triangle Island once in 2014. I was on a pelagic tour there and we were one of the few boats that ever actually made it to the island from Port Hardy. Most boats turn around due to rough weather but on that April day we had sunshine and calm waters, Leach's Storm-Petrels, Cassin's and Rhino Auklets, Sooty Shearwaters, Gray Whales and Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions on the way out; until we reached our destination with the Tufted Puffins who nest on the island. We did see the Tufted Puffins but not the rarer species that nest on it like the Horned Puffins and Thick-billed Murray. Well the CBC put out this amazing news report called "Forbidden Island" about Triangle Island. You can read all about it,why it's crucial for seabirds, the effect of climate change on seabirds there, the difficulty in getting there, what research goes on there and see the fantastic pictures HERE . Below is a video that Liron Gertsman made from the trip I went on, that he plan

Bird # 263

Today Tom Plath called me to let me know his wife Linda Koch found a Blue Jay at Woodward's Landing in Richmond. It is a Girl Guides Camp located at Horseshoe Slough on Dyke Rd near #5 Rd in Richmond. I actually used to camp there as a child. This is the exact same spot that Tom Plath found a Blue Jay, 12 years ago! The bird was right behind George, the caretaker's home and he was so bemused by us there. He was a really nice guy and even threw out peanuts for the Blue Jay and the Steller's Jays to come in and feed. He wanted me to send him a photo of the bird when I got home, which I did. This photo was taken through a chain link fence. Even though that is his private home, he is very welcoming to any birders who want to come see it. Blue Jay in Richmond - Photo: Melissa Hafting The Blue Jay would take a peanut and then dash off as fast as he could (usually before I could get my camera up to my eye). There was at least 12 Steller's Jays with it; who would just

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Christmas is almost here and I wish everyone who reads this blog and in the BC Birding Community a very happy and healthy Christmas. I wish those celebrating Hanukkah and other Holidays, my best wishes of the season. I wish everyone many rare birds in 2018 and lots of love, good health, joy and peace. I chose to share this photo of a Common Loon because it was a very happy memory from a trip with my friend Roy Priest. It was taken in the middle of the lake at Lac Le Jeune. The day was rainy and we thought it would be awful for photography since we wanted sun and were a bit disappointed. It turned out to be quite the opposite! It was wonderful and the rain added a moody effect  in the company of a family of Loons. It was so peaceful listening to their wailing cries, watching the chicks ride on the parents' backs and having an adult Northern Goshawk fly low over us. We also found a female Loon on the nest. It was a magic day and one that makes me really happy just thinking ab

Birds in the News

2018 is the Year of The Bird Birds They Truly Bind Our Communities Together  The interesting and sad plight of Alaska's declining Black Guillemots Safety is paramount for Female Birders! The dark side of birding "Racism in our Hobby." Read what an African American ornithologist had to say about his racist encounter in the field. Being a person of colour myself, I have experienced the same in all aspects of  my life including birding. Review of the new Nat Geo Field Guide The world's largest concentration of Bald Eagles is threatened by mining. Victoria, BC had a great Christmas Bird Count Migrating Waterfowl at the Canadian Border are dying from toxins. Read about the efforts to save them. Snowy Owls are being shot at airports. Yes it happens right here at YVR in Vancouver as well. We need to find humane methods of removal. Snowy Owls and Seabirds are declining due to climate change  New bird-like dinosaur discovered Aftermath of the Hurrican

Getting a photo of a Prairie Falcon and Duck Photography

Went out to Pitt Meadows to see the Prairie Falcon and Gyrfalcon in the area because they are two birds I admire. I have a decent shot of a juvenile Gyrfalcon but wanted one of the adult. There is an adult Gyrfalcon in Pitt Meadows. Yesterday, sadly I could not get a photo of her. The people who saw her earlier that day said she was scope views only, so I'll have to try her again. This feisty Prairie Falcon shares the same hunting range with the Gyrfalcon. She has defeated the odds and stands her ground which I didn't think would happen when the Gyr came to town last year. I thought for sure the Prairie Falcon would be pushed out by the more powerful Gyrfalcon but this wasn't the case. Even though I didn't get my Gyrfalcon photo, I did accomplish one of my goals; which was to photograph a Prairie Falcon. I have seen many in my life in the Canadian Prairies and in BC, WA, OR and AZ but my photos have always been blurry or distant record shots. Yesterday, the Prairie

All forms of Grizzly Bear Hunting is Banned in BC, Effective TODAY!

Finally, this day has come I and many others have been filling out petitions for years and writing letters to the federal and provincial governments to end the hunt. First Nations, Conservation Groups, Animal and Wildlife Advocates and Scientists, like my friend Dr. John Reynolds, have been working tirelessly to get the word out and to end the hunt. This is why citizens have to protest for change because if enough voices join together a change will happen. Finally, after Christy Clark's government and conservative liberals were unseated; the NDP government followed through and has banned all forms of grizzly bear hunting in the province. Initially, they only banned trophy hunting, which would have become effective April 1, 2018 but there was a huge public outcry from all, including from First Nations communities. Voices were heard and the government listened and effective today Dec 18, 2017 GRIZZLY BEAR HUNTING IS ILLEGAL IN ALL FORMS. You cannot hunt them for meat, medicinal

Christmas Bird Count for Kids in Delta!

Youth at the CBC4Kids - Delta: Photo: Melissa Hafting We had a great turnout yesterday for the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (aged 12-18) in Delta. We had 15 kids turn up and 2 came from Seattle and Bellingham, WA and 2 from Tofino on Vancouver Island. We also had 3 from the Fraser Valley (Agassiz and Chilliwack). It was really cool to have so many new youth come out from such great distances for the count! I was happy to see Cedar again, as I haven't seen her since May at the Ucluelet pelagic. Cedar's dad, Cedar and her friend Maizzy were sweet to come all this way for our count. Cedar even baked me some delicious baked treats and painted me this beautiful card of a Hooded Merganser in a cool winter scarf! I was touched by the kind words inside. She, like so many of the youth in my young birder program are such talented artists! My hand-painted Christmas Card from Cedar - "Hooded Merganser with Scarf" - Painting by Cedar Forest It was nice to finally m

A process to make listing Birds under SARA faster, Christmas Bird Counts and Local Bird Events, Birds in the News and more

1. I've often talked about how long it takes the federal government to uplist and protect species designated threatened and endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). See my recent post on this topic including a press release with all the species that COSEWIC recommended the government uplist HERE . However, now you can read how this long process is affecting birds while the Federal government waits up to ten years to list birds appropriately under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Even after the government finally lists birds to the COSEWIC recommendation it can take another 5 years for a recovery and habitat management plan to be completed. While this ridiculous bureaucracy goes on the species continues to further decline. In the link I will share you can also read that MP and bird biologist Richard Cannings put forth a private member's bill to speed up this process. He wants the federal government to make a decision on COSEWIC reco

"A Birder's Guide to Washington" is now online!

If you like to bird in Washington State as much as I do, you will like the news that the fantastic ABA birdfinding guidebook "A Birder's Guide To Washington" is now available online in its entirety. Sometimes, you forget to bring the book in your car, so this is great and free. Plus the best part is that this online edition will be continuously updated! You can read it HERE

The Bald Eagles of Brackendale and a Summer Tanager

On Saturday I went to Brackendale and went on a Bald Eagle Viewing Float Tour. Brackendale is famously called "The Eagle Capital of the World." In 1994 it did hold the world-record count of 3,769 eagles. However, due to the lack of returning Salmon, the Eagle numbers have decreased. This is why it is vital to conserve our natural resource of Salmon. Salmon affects so many animals in the food chain from Orcas to Bears and Eagles. It is even needed as fertilizer for the trees to grow in the forest. I went on this raft tour with the Squamish Rafting Company . The whole trip was beautiful from beginning to end. We started off in the town of Squamish at the office on 2nd Ave and then we were chauffeured in a van to the base camp. The base camp was "Mountain Fun Base Camp", a charming little place where people can stay in cabins or campsites. The lodge is located on the confluence of the Cheakamus and Cheekye Rivers. When we got there we met the guide named Ash. He had

Snowy Owls have been uplisted by IUCN to Vulnerable. Large Population Declines in Canada

All the more reason why this and all species of owls should be left off the public view on eBird; which attracts more people and photographers to disturb a species. Canada and the US have seen their population decline at a rate of 64%! So if you see a Snowy Owl in a highly populated area, enjoy it to yourself and eBird it when it leaves the area or hide the checklist. Keep it off listserves too, not everyone is as ethical as you would hope them to be. I wrote a whole blog post on this recently, you can read HERE . Also, the blog "10,000 birds" wrote a good post on this as well, see that  HERE . To read more about the decline of this Vulnerable owl and why it was uplisted by the IUCN, click HERE .

Plastic Oceans are killing our Seabirds and Whales!

The United Nations published this short documentary video (an adaptation from the feature film "A Plastic Ocean") about how single use Plastics in our oceans is killing our Seabirds. This is nothing new we have known this for awhile but the problem is only getting worse. This alarming documentary is an eye opener and sad and hard to watch as an ornithologist opens up albatross and shearwater carcasses to see stomachs full of plastic. The adults are feeding it to their chicks as well which can destroy whole colonies. It is a scary thought that the UN predicts that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fishes in the sea! Pinnipeds and Whales are also dying from plastic stuck around their necks and bodies which drown and suffocate the animals. We must stop that from happening. Please use reusable plastics, reusable shopping bags and try to recycle all of your plastic so it doesn't end up in the landfills, ocean and environment. The Governments around the who

COSEWIC Dec 4/17 Press Release and upcoming Ucluelet Pelagic Sept 18/18

1.This is well worth a read the Federal Govt is always slow to upgrade the status of birds that were recommended to be endangered and threatened by the Committee on the status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Sofi Hindmarch a Barn Owl biologist that specializes in the Western Barn Owl population wrote an editorial in BC Nature Magazine this month that talks about her frustration with SARA and the government's refusal and slow action to uplist so many species in need of saving and protection. Her article is definitely worth a read. COSEWIC whom my friend John Reynolds is on the committee works tirelessly to evaluate and make recommendations about the status of many species in Canada. Their press release came out yesterday and the biggest story is that Peregrine Falcons globally are no longer at risk for extinction. However, this is not all roses and lollipops the Pacific Subspecies is still at risk of extinction and is now listed as "Special Concern." There

The Northern Cardinal Twitch and the 2017 Metro Vancouver Year List Record

On Saturday I drove 10 hours to see the Northern Cardinal in Cranbook. I have been itching to do this since the bird was first reported by Greg Ross and Katrin Powell on Nov 7th. I was waiting for a safe driving window because I know how bad Kootenay Pass can be and when my friend Danny Tyson went it was closed for 4 hours! Well I checked Drive BC for Hwy 3 conditions and was pleased to see all the roads were clear with some snow in Kootenay Pass and Manning Park. Manning Park had not been plowed when I went through early in the morning but was nothing that my mud and snow tires couldn't get through easily. The snow was only at the summit. The snow dissipated as I pulled into Princeton and the roads were bare with hardly any snow at the sides of the road. I sailed through and stopped at Nighthawk to look for Grey Partridge. I did not see any Grey Patridge but there was 12 Chukar feeding beside the road which was a nice consolation prize. The roads were clear but snow was accum