Rare Bird Madness!

September is traditionally known for rare birds in Vancouver and the province and this year was no exception. First off John Reynolds photographed a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper at Boundary Bay on August 28th and then 11 days later on Sept 8th, John Gordon found a juvenile (perhaps the same bird?) at Reifel. Luckily this bird stuck around and I was lucky to see it the first day John found it. This was my second Curlew Sandpiper for BC and the first juvenile I had seen, as the other bird was an adult. This was bird #250 for my Metro Vancouver year list too! A great bird to get 250 with!

Juvenile Curlew Sandpiper at Reifel - Photos: Melissa Hafting

A few days before this on Sept 5th a Bell’s Vireo was found by Aziza Cooper in Saanich. This was the first record for BC. It was bright yellow on the flanks and of the Eastern Susbpecies. The place was very birdy and it was nice to see so many friendly faces including young birders like Liam Singh who is now much taller than me!. The bird was very skulky and difficult to get views of and photograph. You can listen to a recording I got of the bird below, it is a really distinctive song. This was BC Bird #438 for me!

I went back with Ilya a few days later so he could see it. On my second visit I got some semi-decent photos of the bird. It was singing its heart out at Island View Beach and was moulting its tail (which may be what is keeping it here). Despite gorgeous weather, the bird is still hanging on 4 days later.

BC's first Bell's Vireo in Saanich - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Yesterday, my friend Kyle Fitzpatrick from Kelowna with Morgan Armstrong found an adult Snowy Plover in Campbell River at Shelter Point. Since this was a new BC Bird for Ilya we went to see it. It was my third time seeing a Snowy Plover in BC but man it’s always a treat because they are so darn cute!.

Adult Snowy Plover (or cute puffball) in Campbell River - Photos: Melissa Hafting

That same evening on Sept 9th Derek Isbister found a Curlew sandpiper in Parksville but we dipped because it flew off ten mins before we got there. We were getting too greedy anyways!. This means there were 4 Curlew Sandpipers present in the Pacific Northwest between Aug 28-Sept 9th (there was one recently in Eastern WA).

After dipping on the Curlew Sandpiper we did some stargazing with our friend Mark Wynja. He showed us Jupiter and its 4 moons and we got to see Saturn including the space between the ring and the planet. A lovely end to our evening.

Sunset at French Creek - Photo: Melissa Hafting

It was a nice whirlwind of rarities from Sept 5 to Sept 9th. If only every week could be so great! This just proves why September is my fave month to go birding. There is always something new to discover and you just never know what rarity will turn up next!.


  1. hi mel its raymond just saying your photos are spectacular and september is a great month to go birding!

    1. thank you so much raymond that is so sweet of you! I look forward to seeing you soon out birding :)

  2. mel you really are the rare bird queen. i love your positivity and that you are so passionate about birds and of course the rarities. beautiful photos especially of the snowy plover.


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