Friday, September 6, 2013

For "Wild Bird Wednesday" (on Friday)

Here are some of the birds spotted in my small corner of the world (Point Grey, Vancouver, BC) between August 13th and September 4th.  Thank you to Stewart for the excellent work he puts into maintaining  Wild Bird Wednesday, giving bird lovers around the world a chance to share their sightings.

August 13th
A seagull took off in the evening light over the ocean by Jericho Beach
 Light shone through fragile yet powerful wings.
 Seagulls are, for me, the inveterate flyers.
Imagine the stories they could tell, with access to just about anywhere they choose, even perhaps looking in apartment windows and ship portholes.

August 20th
The nuthatches seemed especially busy in the lane behind Bill's house.
They fed mostly from telephone poles and then took their loot to the nearby trees. 
Blue skies and lots of light brought out their complex colours and bright eyes.

August 21st
There are three ponds at Jericho, each connected by marsh-like areas of tall reeds that in the hotter weather become almost mud flats.  I liked the muted colours behind these ducks (of questionable identity) in the pond to the west. 
This feather was along the path to the second pond.
The easiest viewing spot.. from the little bridge that spans the third pond.
In that pond were some ducks with interesting changes of colour under their wings.  Young mallards?  American Wigeons?  In this shot, the predominate shades were white and grey.
The same duck with further wing extension..
..showed off some gorgeous blues.
And, a second later..  a quick flash of olive green replaced the blue.
As for flexibility..  quite impressive I thought.
Sometimes, there seemed to be just the brown tones with no hint of blues or greens.  They were most enjoyable to watch, whatever their identity.

August 22nd
Thanks to Henry Wong of Broadway Camera, I enjoyed some time with a Green Heron pair a few weeks ago. (A side note: Henry is a passionate birdwatcher, a most knowledgeable camera salesman and a wonderful person as well.  I have had my camera for close to six years and he continues to help me out with cleaning issues that I should be taking care of myself.)  
He was the one who told me about the Green Herons and their six babies at McCleery Golf Course.  He even pinpointed the spot on my little map where I would have a good chance of seeing them.  It was quite an adventure getting there on my bike, as Henry didn't account for my poor directional skills and he also didn't warn me that there are three golf courses in that part of Vancouver, each bordering the other.  I still can't tell you exactly how I got there, but I had to climb through a grove of trees and some thickets.  I never did find the babies but I had an amazing day  watching the adults and the bike ride was a lot of fun too. 
Intensely focused when they hunt, I gained huge appreciation for their speed and patience.  
It made me smile to see this one casually place a left foot much higher than the right, and then hang out like a teenager people-watching on a street corner.
At times, he (I think all of my shots here are of the male) let me get quite close. 
 A luckless frog (or toad?) was not quick enough to escape the heron's very sharp eyes and reflexes, so you may want to skip the next two photos if this sort of thing bothers you.  
It does make me sad to see anything suffer but I have made my peace with the facts of survival for many birds.  My very great thanks, once more, to Henry Wong for inspiring a full day adventure on a golf course in Vancouver.  I do have to add that the people playing golf were mostly helpful and polite though I did hear just a couple of "get off the course" comments here and there :)  

August 23rd
The previous post showing some Western Sandpipers may have misled some readers.  A birdwatcher at Jericho told me that they were in fact, mostly Least Sandpipers, although there were a few Western Sandpipers in the flock.  I was inspired to look up the differences between them but even my "Field guide to Advanced Birding" by Kaufman (a much appreciated gift from my niece) leaves me unable to identify the ones in my photos.  
I was happy to get these two pictures, though, since sandpipers really do move quickly!
The same day and in the same pond, I took a moment to admire the detail in this gorgeous mallard.  I continue to feel that the beauty and talents of the more common birds/ducks are sometimes under- appreciated.
Also the same day, but earlier in the morning, during our walk in Trimble Park, the Stellar Jay that I've been seeing around for a couple of weeks took a moment to assess my camera.  I think the verdict was that the camera was not a threat to the business at hand (finding food.)

August 24
Bill and I eat at our kitchen table, strategically placed to look out over our backyard and lane.  There are many pleasures provided by the gardens of our neighbours on either side, but this Pileated Woodpecker has to rate right up there as one that inspired much excitement.  Neither Bill nor I had ever seen one in this area.  In fact, I've only seen three or possibly four in my six years of birdwatching.  And, there it was!  Right on the telephone pole in line with our view from the  breakfast table.  With Bill keeping an eye in case the woodpecker changed location, I ran for the camera and fumbled to get the lens changed.  Thank you, Mr. Pileated, for hanging in until I could capture the moment!
And thank you, Bill, for your encouragement, and for the fun we had keeping up with this beauty.

August 25th
A fledgling House Finch (I'm guessing) sat on the wire checking out his new territory.
*Warning: some may want to skip the picture after this one.  It shows a hapless duckling in the beak of a large crow.

August 27th
Again, a sad sight, but crows have to eat too.  I'm wondering if this duckling may have already perished and was just picked up by the crow.

August 30th
A female finch, I think, perched on my neighbour's shed, but in such perfect light!

September 3rd
The sandpipers again.
Still the confusion as to whether they are Western or Least.
I'm including all of my shots, just in case.. 
there is a knowledgeable birding person in blogging land who.. 
has the time..
to give me a Western vs. Least lesson.
Whatever their official title,
they were most entertaining to watch.
One last one on the hunt.

September 4th
The same Stellar Jay, I think, was in a tree along 8th Avenue.  It was trying to crack a hazelnut.
I saw, for the first time, the red mouth lining that indicates a young bird.  I'm sure all birders know this, but for other bloggers, perhaps it will be of interest to know that the red lining helps parent birds aim when they are making food deliveries.
As with all juveniles, there is a difficult transition to make when going from fed and housed to learning to fend for oneself.  This jay was making quite a racket and flying rather frantically from roof to roof and then into the tree.
Its efforts to crack that nut were to no avail and its indignant expression seemed to say, 
"Give me a hand here, will you?"  No adult appeared and it disappeared shortly after this photo.  This is the conclusion to my August and early September bird sightings.
Just one more photo..  this one of a Shrike taken several years ago at Iona Island.  I include it for TexWisGirl, one of the most committed bloggers I know.  Check out her blog and leave a comment if you have the time.  Though I have fallen away from my blogging activities, I appreciate her not only as a blogger, but as a friend.  And, one more reminder.  If you enjoy information about birds from around the world, you will love the Wild Bird Wednesday meme. 


  1. LOL a few really look like they are posing so you can get them from all sides, especially the duck. As always, great shots.

  2. love that shrike! (thank you, dear carol!) really got a kick out of your stellar jay, too. i think the duck with the cool blue and green flashes is a blue-winged teal in eclipse phase (when in breeding phase, it has a half-moon stripe on its head). i can't offer any i.d. on the sandpipers at all. they sure are cute, though! loved this whole post!

  3. I do so enjoy visiting your blog. The photos are exceptional and help me with some identification. Wonderful wander among the birds! Still praying for Bill -- for health and strength and of course patience. It is always so hard for an active person to be side-lined. Missed Jack this time around.

  4. Absolutely fantastic photos of the birds! We sometimes have blue jays come and visit in our garden, but I'm never fast enough to catch them in a photo. How is Bill doing?

  5. Some fascinating shots, I do like the Sandpipers in flight, you captured the moment very well indeed, and good on you Mr Wong