Red-breasted Nuthatch (female) | Saanich, BC | June 21, 2014
Since I’ve been away from these pages for a couple of weeks, I figured I would drop by for a few minutes and show you a few pictures I took during my trip to Vancouver Island last weekend. Thanks to the Victoria Natural History Society (Twitter: @VictoriaNHS), Cathy O’Connor (@DustypupVI) and Erin Bayus (@Erin_WFT) for the great birding suggestions! Although I did not have enough time to check these places out, I have noted them all down and will check them out when I have more time to do some serious birding on the Island.
Although short, this was a great excursion with my family, except for the fact that my camera fell to the ground and must now be repaired. If you wish to see more pictures on these pages, let’s hope Nikon can: a) actually repair it and b) does not charge too much to do the work!
BTW, who can tell me which of these five species are not native to the Island (hint: One of them is not a bird)?
Glaucus-winged Gulls (attacking a crab) | Victoria, BC | June 22, 2014
Black Oystercatchers | Victoria, BC | June 22, 2014
California Quail (male) | Saanich, BC | June 20, 2014
Common Wall Lizard | Saanich_BC | June 21, 2014
As I was enjoying the lovely day yesterday with my family, this odd looking “Red-shafted” Northern Flicker landed on a tree nearby…
And then a bigger, male Northern Flicker landed next to it and I understood: This was a young juvenile waiting for its parent to give it some badly needed food! This lasted for less than a minute and then both were on their way, presumably to get and obtain their next meal…
I took this photo of a singing male Red-winged Blackbird a few days ago, next to the pond in Devonian Park in Vancouver (not far from Stanley Park). This individual is quite impressive with its jet-black plumage. And as you can see, it was quite a beautiful day (the weather is still fine!).
I found this Douglas Squirrel yesterday morning as it was busily munching away at a large fallen tree in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. It was clearly busy making a hole in it, but to what purpose I am not sure. What I was not able to capture was that this individual was constantly fighting off one of its colleagues who was quite agressively trying to claim the new hole as its own.
I photographed this lovely Mallard duckling yesterday (May 31) on Murdo Frazer Duck Pond in the District of North Vancouver.
This Bald Eagle seemed to be having a bad hair day and it’s no wonder: It was pouring rain! I took this photo a few days ago in West Vancouver, not far from Weston Park.
I took this photo of a flying Glaucous-winged Gull with a purple/red starfish* in its mouth next to Stanley Park’s Seawall in Vancouver… I wish I hadn’t clipped off its left wing, but I still like the drama! Have a great week.
*According to an article in Wikipedia, this starfish may be the “Pisaster ochraceus, generally known as the purple sea star, ochre sea star or ochre starfish, … a common starfish found among the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Identified as a keystone species, Pisaster is considered an important indicator for the health of the intertidal zone.” Unfortunately, I just read an article in our local newspaper that these starfish may be falling prey to a mysterious disease, so our coasts may be less healthy than they should be. Climate change may once again be at issue…
Yesterday, I posted a photo of last year’s Vancouver City Bird (the feisty Northwestern Crow). Today, I am posting a photo of this year’s bird, the Black-capped Chickadee, taken in
on one of my favourite Vancouver green spaces, Jericho Park.
If you read this blog regularly, you probably already know that the Black-capped Chickadee was voted Vancouver’s City Bird a couple of weeks ago. But you may not know that last year’s City Bird was the Northwestern Crow, a species that is essentially only found in a very narrow band of land along the Pacific coast of British Columbia and Alaska. It is so close to its “first cousin” the American Crow, that many ornithologists believe they are in fact conspecific (the same species). I thought I would tip my hat to this remarkable bird with this photo I took last weekend on Stanley Park’s Third Beach in Vancouver.
I took this photo of a male Bushtit eating a green caterpillar (so it’s not a worm, but “wormy” not only sounds better that “caterpillary,” it’s actually a word) a few days ago in Jericho Park. The lighting was far from optimal and the focus of the eye is not perfect, but I like taking and showing these photos of birds going about their business.
I took this photo of a striking male Brewer’s Blackbird at Burnaby Lake Park (on the Piper Rd pier) in early April. I wish I could see these neat birds more often!
I took this photo of a female Mallard and her two ducklings a few days ago in the pond at Vanier Park in Vancouver. Perhaps you have already seen ducklings, goslings or other fledgling birds where you live?
Having just celebrated International Migratory Bird Day on May 10th, I thought I would post a photo of a White-crowned Sparrow, which nests in greater Vancouver (I can hear one signing outside as I write these lines), but winters in nearby Washington and Oregon states. I realize this is not a perfect photo, because of the visual noise created by the branches and leaves, but I like the level of detail that can be seen in this bird. And I like that this was a chance photo, since I took it at the end of my work day as I was going from the office to the bus loop at UBC’s Point Grey Campus.
After taking a one day break from my “blogging blitz” for Vancouver Bird Week 2014, I would like to take this occasion to congratulate the species that was elected this weekend to be the Vancouver City Bird for 2014-2015: The Black-capped Chickadee! (I guess that explains the photo, which I took in Stanley Park in late March).
Congratulations and best of luck also go to the other five candidates: Anna’s Hummingbird, Northern Flicker, Pacific Wren, Pileated Woodpecker and Varied Thrush.
Today is the last day of my “bird photo blitz” for Vancouver Bird Week 2014 and for the Vancouver City Bird competition, for the simple reason that today, May 10th, is the final day of this special week and competition. So if you haven’t done so, take a moment to vote for you favourite Vancouver bird.
Today also happens to be International Migratory Bird Day 2014 - if you haven’t done so yet, I would strongly encourage you to explore this website.
I have chosen to finish my blitz with this beautiful pair of Tree Swallows checking out a tree house in Delta, BC’s George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. I chose this photo to make an important point about this week and day: Many migratory birds around the world are in great difficulty, especially if they eat insects on the fly. Although the Chimney Swift and Barn Swallow are doing far worse, Tree Swallows are also declining.
There are probably many reasons for the decline in flying insects and the flying birds that eat them, but the use of certain pesticides, the decreasing number of family farms and climate change are probably the three leading causes. This decline has been going on for some time (for three decades or maybe more) and is quite alarming; you can find out more here, here and here (and this is only a very small sample, by the way).
I’m still blitzing away for Vancouver Bird Week 2014, with a shot of a Pigeon Guillemot splashing down a few days ago next to Burrard Dry Dock Pier in North Vancouver.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I’m somewhat obsessed with these slightly goofy birds. I was lucky to get this shot that shows how they “land” (crash, really) in water. On a more serious note, this is a bellwether species whose presence (or absence) indicates how well (or how poorly) an ecosystem is doing. Remains to be seen what the big plans put forward by the City of North Vancouver will do to this small PIGU colony.
I took this photo of a lovely Northern Saw-whet Owl in March at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC. I will let the image do the talking, but will point out that this post continues my “bird photo blitz” for Vancouver Bird Week 2014.
For today’s instalment of my “bird photo blitz” in honour of Vancouver’s Bird Week 2014, I will post two photos of a Mew Gull, in part because they allow you to admire their beautiful wings. These birds were doing something intriguing when I took these shots: As the photo below shows, they were repeatedly skimming the surface of the water, seemingly for no reason. Perhaps someone can tell me what was going on?
I took these photos in North Vancouver on April 20, along the North Shore Spirit Trail in Kings Mill Walk Park (not far from the foot of Fell Avenue).
I took these pictures with a fantastic borrowed lens (if you like to photograph wildlife): Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR.
For today’s instalment of my “bird photo blitz” in honour of Vancouver’s Bird Week 2014, I will simply post a photo of a female Common Goldeneye flapping away on Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
I took this picture with a borrowed lens: Nikon’s massive AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, with a 1.7 teleconverter.
Today’s “bird photo blitz” in honour of Vancouver’s Bird Week 2014 features two life-long enemies: The majestic Bald Eagle and the feisty – some might use the word “insane,” instead – Northwestern Crow.
I won’t say much about the relationship between these two species, except to point out that the best way to spot an eagle – aside from the fact that its hugeness makes it hard to miss, of course - is to follow the crows, especially if they are screaming bloody murder (pun intended)!
As this picture makes clear, eagles might get slightly annoyed by the attention, but they never seem overly concerned. This may be explained by the fact that an eagle’s body is as long as the crow’s outstretched wings and that the attacker could easily be transformed into a snack by the “attackee.” But the persistence (insanity?) of the crows can be truly awe-inspiring. Both birds reside in the greater Vancouver region all year long, by the way.
I was lucky enough to get this photo a few days ago along West Vancouver’s Centennial Seawalk, a few steps west of Weston Park.