Young Birders Make The World Go 'Round And Read The CBC News Story On The Abbotsford Peregrines

Young birder Bridget wanted to go birding together again before she goes back to Uni in the US. So we decided to go get her the Northern Mockingbird on Westham Island. This is a BC bird she needed.  We had so much fun and waited and waited for the little Mocker to make his appearance on the holly. While we waited we got American Pipits, Least Sandpipers, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers, Trumpeter Swans, Western Meadowlarks, Flickers and several Rough-legged Hawks. It was so birdy. The trees were filled with sparrows White-crowned, Golden-crowned and Juncos. Finally we spotted the Mocker on top of the holly bush and he sat there giving us all great views. I spied my friend Monica way down the road and we yelled at her to get on the holly tree and she did and we all had good views. I was so happy for Bridge too. We were enjoying watching a River Otter role over on his back and play in the field like a little dog.  Suddenly a Peregrine came swooping down and chased a single Black-bellied Plover around high up in the sky. We thought the plover would get exhausted as the Peregrine was relentless. However, the little Plover would always stay above the Peregrine and would circle around and around him going higher and higher and this went on for over 5 mins before the Peregrine gave up. Now that is one smart Plover!!

As we were packing up our scopes as we were quite chilled, 2 Lapland Longspurs flew right over our heads calling their rattling and tseew call. This was cool because we don't often see them here in the winter. We were reminiscing how I took her and her sister to see the Siberian Accentor when they were so tiny. My how she has grown and what an accomplished birder she has turned out to be. Time flies when you are having fun.

Bridget scoping a Northern Mockingbird in Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Next we went birding all over Westham Island to see what we could get. We went down a road and saw more swans and found a Mourning Dove that was near a dog with 4 legs but had only 3 paws. It shows just how resilient animals are. We found lots of species to add to our list including little mixed flocks with brown creepers, nuthatches and the like, it was super fun. When all was said and done we had 54 species on Westham Island.

At Canoe Pass on our way out we stopped at the bridge and got 2 Common Teals that have been there for awhile. Friends Wayne and Brent Diakow and Peter Candido stopped to say "Hi" and to let us know about their success with the Mocker.

1 of 2 Common Teals in Delta - Photo: Bridget Spencer

We had a nice lunch of warm Pho while my company spent most of it laughing at me over one ridiculous thing I said or the other. We discussed some happy news I had to share. I have been working hard with Team eBird over several years to get them to hide Long-eared Owls as sensitive in BC and that request was finally granted a couple days ago. I hope it will help out these extremely nocturnal owls that are subject to so much harassment, especially in the Metro Vancouver area. Now in BC, Long-eared Owls, Burrowing and Barn along with Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owl are automatically deemed sensitive and hidden by eBird. Bridget also showed me some nice photos of a Red-tailed Hawk she found near her home, which I told her was a Harlan's. This was a first for her! Congrats B!.

Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk in Vancouver - Photo: Bridget Spencer

We drove around Delta and found 2 Great Horned Owls and no Tundra Swans but we did see some Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Sharpie that Bridget's laser sharp eyes picked out. As we were driving near to 112th St Bridget said "Mel I think I had a Mallard x Northern Pintail in that ditch." I don't know how she did it as we whizzed by but when I reversed the car of course she had!!. This girl is so talented... I am still not sure how she spotted it but she did. It was a beautiful hybrid drake that I rarely get to see.

Mallard X Northern Pintail Drake in Delta - Photo: Bridget Spencer

We searched the many large blackbird flocks in Delta to no avail, despite finding one with hundreds of birds. We were trying to find a Grackle or Rusty Blackbird but failed. However, it was still a great day and one made the more special by this young birder. I sure miss her every time she goes back to University. I just know she's going to have the best environmental career going forward. Just like all the young birders I've mentored, they make me so proud and always will till my dying day.  As these youth have now become young adults we have developed a lasting bond of friendship that can never be undone.

When I got home I had a beautiful painting from another one of my young birders Cedar Forest in my inbox. Because we all communicate often, the young birders know I have been very sad about the Peregrine nest that the government granted a permit to destroy in violation of the BC Wildlife Act in Abbotsford. So what did 16 year old Cedar in Tofino do? She painted this gorgeous portrait of one of the adult Peregrines to make me feel better. Also to bring awareness to their plight and let everyone know that so many people like her care about them.

Adult Peregrine Falcon in Abbotsford - Original Painting by Cedar Forest

By the way CBC News did a story about the Peregrine situation in Abbotsford. You can read it HERE I am convinced as ever that the province needs and Endangered Species Law to help prevent this tragedy again.

These youth really make this world a better place don't they?! In this very dreary world, especially when it comes to environmental policies, they give me so much hope. 

I feel in these difficult times I need to say that whatever you do in life especially when you feel down, just remember all that really matters is to spend your days with those who love and care about you and vice versa. Life is just too short for anything else. Focus on positivity, not the negativity from others, who may not wish you well and get out there and enjoy the birds and wildlife. Being in nature is the best thing we can do for self-care. If you are so inclined, please read this new, timely and beautifully written piece by Ornithologist Dr. Drew Lanham on Patagonia's website called "Everyone's Wildernesss."


  1. Thrilling day and just the tonic of friendship and appreciation needed after a grueling month of advocacy for the Abbotsford peregrines. You have a rich life of birding fueled experience and community, Mel!

  2. Awesome report!
    I envy your mallard x pintail find, in the best way!!

    1. thanks shou but that was bridget's find I probably would never have picked it up at that speed ;)


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