October 2016 Stanley Park Ecology Society Bird Count

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Hermit Thrush | Grive solitaire | Catharus guttatus

After a month-long absence from my blog, I’m posting a few pictures taken during Stanley Park Ecology Society‘s most recent monthly bird count, which took place this weekend, on October 9, 2016. It was once again very ably led by Else Mikkelsen and features about 15 dedicated volunteers!

This was an unusually calm count, especially since none of the winter ducks have yet arrived on Lost Lagoon… the flock (or raft, if you prefer) of Surf Scoters featured below was taken on the ocean before the count even began, near Stanley Park’s Ferguson Point. But we still saw many birds rather well, including Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped Chickadees and Northern Flickers. But the highlight for me was not doubt the Hermit Thrushes seen at the western edge of Lost Lagoon, especially since I was able to get several good photos of it, including the one featured above.

All photos taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. To see more pictures, please visit (and like, too!) my Facebook photography page and my Instagram account.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet at SFU

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Golden-crowned Kinglet | Roitelet à couronne dorée | Regulus satrapa: Taken on November 9, 2015, a few steps away from Simon Fraser University on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 800 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/640, cropped). Not baited, called in or set up.

Another Golden-crowned Kinglet at UBC Vancouver

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Golden-crowned Kinglet / Roitelet à couronne dorée / Regulus satrapa: Taken on the the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 1400, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/500). Not baited, called in or set up.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Jericho Beach Park

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet / Roitelet à couronne rubis / Regulus calendula: Although I would have liked this bird’s head to be turned more towards the camera, I like the fact that you can see just a bit of the red on its head. Taken in Jericho Beach Park in Vancouver, BC, Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 450, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/1000). Not baited, called in or set up.

Golden-crowned Kinglet at UBC

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Golden-crowned Kinglet / Roitelet à couronne dorée / Regulus satrapa: This group of kinglets were so unconcerned about my presence that I actually had to back up so that my lens would auto-focus (it can only focus down to a minimum distance of 1.5m). It always amazes me when birds mob the photographer (or the birder)! Taken on the the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 1600, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/80). Not baited, called in or set up.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet among the cherry blossoms at UBC

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet / Roitelet à couronne rubis / Regulus calendula: Taken on the the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 640, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/1000). Not baited, called in or set up.

Golden-crowned Kinglet at UBC Vancouver

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Golden-crowned Kinglet / Roitelet à couronne dorée / Regulus satrapa: Taken at the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia on January 27, 2015 with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 1600, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/320).

Ruby-crowned Kinglets

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University of British Columbia (Vancouver campus), Canada | December 2, 2014 | Handheld Nikon 5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED | ISO 1600, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/160 | Not baited, called in or set up

These two photos of Ruby-crowned Kinglets show the role of chance in bird photography:

The photo at the top was taken in a spot where I do not usually see many birds on UBC’s Vancouver campus, but this particular individual gave me many opportunities to photograph it. Unfortunately, lighting conditions were not terrific, so although I took many photos, I only got a few usable shots and all of them, like the one above, had to be tweaked quite a bit to be “presentable.”

The picture at the bottom was also taken in an unusual spot, namely a tree on a busy walkway between the Lonsdale SeaBus (ferry) terminal and Waterfront Park. In this case, I only got a single useable shot, but I thought it was fairly good (in spite of the out of focus branches in the background) and I did relatively little to tweak this photo. In fact, I actually had to tone down the sky in the background, because it was almost too blue in the original shot.

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North Vancouver (between Lonsdale SeaBus terminal and Waterfront Park) | December 3, 2014 | Handheld Nikon 5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED | ISO 800, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 | Not baited, called in or set up

The ever present, but still elusive, kinglets!

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Now you may recall, gentle reader, that I spoke about those elusive owls. Today’s bird, the Golden-crowned Kinglet (and its close cousin, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet) can be readily heard and seen on Canada’s Wet Coast (this is not a typo). But this bird is elusive to a specific kind of creature, namely the wildlife photographer. The reason is quite simple: They almost never stop moving and they move quite fast. And as the picture above demonstrates, they live among the branches, which tends to throw off my camera’s autofocus, even though it is normally quite good at latching on to the right target. I hear that some of the better models (especially if they came out recently) can do far better.

In any event, I got an adequate photo of this one, but would very much like to get a shot one of these days that is much less cluttered.

Golden-crowned Kinglet (français, Roitelet à couronne dorée / scientific name, Regulus satrapa), Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada, November 21, 2014. Taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 1100, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/500). Not baited, called in or set up.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

If you are a wildlife photographer, you may be aware how difficult it can be to capture a Ruby-crowned Kinglet on film: They either reside in the very top branches of very tall trees or, if they come down to say hello, very rarely stay in the same location for more than a few seconds. The latter was the case with the individual pictured below, but I was lucky enough to get this shot yesterday in Vancouver’s Stanley Park — not perfect, but still acceptable!

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Avian cornucopia (part 1)!

The past couple of weeks have been quite interesting for me when it comes to capturing certain elusive species on camera. Perhaps the mild winter here, combined with the harsh conditions elsewhere, have pushed a larger number of birds than usual in our region. Or maybe I just forget each winter that there comes a time when we simply see a large quantity of birds in the Lower Mainland. Be that as it may, I have been fortunate to get some decent (not great, but good) photos of several small (and one very large) species.

My faithful readers have already seen some photos of one of the biggest (Bald Eagle – here), one of the smallest (Anna’s Hummingbird – here and here) and one of the most penguin-like (Pigeon Guillemot – here) birds in this part of the world, but I recorded a few other birds along the way and would like to share a few of these shots with you today.

This first shot is of one of my favourite passerines in British Columbia, the Varied Thrush (en français : Grive variable | Scientific name: Ixoreus naevius):

University of British Columbia (near Theology Mall) | January 27, 2014

University of British Columbia (near Theology Mall) | January 27, 2014

The next shot is of a bird that can be very difficult to get on film in this area because it is normally found close to the top of our very tall trees: The Ruby-crowned Kinglet (en français : Roitelet à couronne rubis | Scientific name: Regulus calendula). But this one agreed to hang around my camera just long enough for me to take a few pictures, including this one:

Mosquito Creek Park (North Vancouver, BC) | January 29, 2014

Mosquito Creek Park (North Vancouver, BC) | January 29, 2014

And here is its close cousin, the Golden-crowned Kinglet (en français : Roitelet à couronne dorée | Scientific name: Regulus satrapa):

Mosquito Creek Park (North Vancouver, BC) | January 26, 2014

Mosquito Creek Park (North Vancouver, BC) | January 26, 2014

The following bird might be hard to spot at first because it blends so well in the tree trunks that it creeps along in other to find a prodigious amount of insects, namely the Brown Creeper (en français : Grimpereau brun | Scientific name: Certhia americana):

UBC Vancouver (near the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts) | January 27, 2014

UBC Vancouver (near the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts) | January 27, 2014

I was also managed to capture a few Bushtits (en français : Mésange buissonnière | Scientific name: Psaltriparus minimus) in action, descending upon a few trees in flocks of 30-50 birds busily eating whatever they can find:

University of British Columbia (near Theology Mall) | January 27, 2014

University of British Columbia (near Theology Mall) | January 27, 2014

And finally, here is a bird that is barely bigger than the previously mentioned hummingbird, the Pacific Wren (en français : Troglodyte du Pacifique | Scientific name: Troglodytes pacific us), which makes up for it diminutive size by having an impressive call and song that make it sound much bigger than it is:

University of British Columbia (in front of the Asian Centre) | January 27, 2014

University of British Columbia (in front of the Asian Centre) | January 27, 2014

As the title suggests, I will publish a second posting with a few more photos. Please visit my blog on Tuesday morning…