October 2016 Stanley Park Ecology Society Bird Count

heth_01-spes-2016_10_09

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.

Advertisements

Stanley Park March Bird Count

DSC_0055

Northern Shoveler (male) | Canard souchet | Anas clypeata (ISO 900 | 330mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped for composition)

I have decided to interrupt my usual posting schedule to present several photos taken during the monthly count organized by the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES). Although lighting conditions were somewhat challenging, I was still quite happy with many of the results.

Even though we were told a big storm was on its way from Oregon, I decided to join last Sunday’s (March 13, 2016) bird count in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada. It was led once again by Else Mikkelsen, who is a longtime SPES volunteer and is pursuing an undergraduate science degree at the University of British Columbia. And in spite of the threat of rain, about 20 volunteers signed up for this month’s count.

Although we did not see any truly rare species on this count, this time around, we got a really good look at some less common and interesting species such as Common Mergansers, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, Varied Thrushes and Barrow’s Goldeneyes. The latter were a particularly unexpected treat; even though they are quite common in the Vancouver area, they are pretty much exclusively seen on the ocean, not on a freshwater pond like Lost Lagoon.

All of the photos featured today were taken next to or on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. None of the birds were baited, called in or set up, even though some of the ducks were probably expecting (but did not receive) handouts from the crowd of eager birders.

In conclusion, I should mention two things: 1) We did not see the Surf Scoters on the count, but I thought I would add this photo, because it was taken from Stanley Park’s Second Beach a few minutes before the count; 2) I will be posting several other photos of these species over the next several days, so stay tuned!

Taken from Second Beach in Stanley Park in Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, on March 13, 2016, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. Not baited, called in or set up.

[I’ve not quite finished the captions, but will do so soon!] Done!

DSC_0980

Barrow’s Goldeneye (female) | Garrot d’Islande | Bucephala islandica (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/800, cropped)

DSC_0979

Barrow’s Goldeneye (male) | Garrot d’Islande | Bucephala islandica (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/800, cropped for composition)

DSC_0893

Common Goldeneye (male) | Garrot à œil d’or | Bucephala clangula (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped for composition)

DSC_0812

Common Merganser | Grand Harle | Mergus merganser: (ISO 1100 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped)

DSC_0736

Dark-eyed Junco (“Oregon”) | Junco ardoisé | Junco hyemalis (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/160, cropped)

DSC_0070

Glaucous-winged Gull (maybe hybrid?) | Goéland à ailes grises | Larus glaucescens (ISO 720 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped for composition)

DSC_0097

Pied-billed Grebe | Grèbe à bec bigarré | Podilymbus podiceps (ISO 450 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped)

DSC_0334

Bufflehead | Petit Garrot | Bucephala albeola (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/320, cropped for composition)

DSC_0355

Varied Thrush (male) | Grive à collier | Ixoreus naevius (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/60, cropped for composition)

DSC_0361

Song Sparrow | Bruant chanteur | Melospiza melodia (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/125, cropped for composition)

DSC_0378

American Coot | Foulque d’Amérique | Fulica americana (ISO 1600 | 350mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped for composition)

DSC_0666

Surf Scoter (two males) | Macreuse à front blanc | Melanitta perspicillata (ISO 640 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000)

Varied Thrush in Whistler

VATH_male_01-Whistler-2015_04_05

I found this beautiful male Varied Thrush as I was walking one of the trails in Whistler, BC, Canada. I was surprised it stayed so close to me as I was taking these pictures (this bird is usually quite shy and flies off as soon as you try to approach it).

Both photos taken April 5, 2015, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top: ISO 800, 300mm, f/6.3, 1/500
  • Bottom: ISO 800, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/640

VATH_male_02-Whistler-2015_04_05

Female Varied Thrush at UBC Vancouver

VATH_female-UBC-2015_01_26

Varied Thrush / Grive à collier / Ixoreus naevius (female): Taken at the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia on January 26, 2016 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, 1/1000).

Hermit Thrush, take 2

 

HETH_01-UBC-2014-11-07

As mentioned yesterday, my first photographic encounter with Hermit Thrushes took place at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus in late October 2014. As the photo above demonstrates, I was to get a much closer look just a week later, in a wooded area sandwiched between the Nitobe Memorial Garden (a beautiful Japanese garden) and the Liu Institute for Global Issues.

The photo below shows elements of what attracted them: Mushrooms! Now this may seem odd for a bird that is an insectivore, but they clearly were very attracted to them and I was quite happy about that.

HETH_02-UBC-2014-11-07

Back in the saddle… with a Hermit Thrush!

HETH-UBC-2014-10-29

Looking at my posts, I realized that I stopped posting any of my photos on a regular basis after late October 2014. This is quite ironic, since I have rarely if ever been as active with my camera, especially with regards to birds. To remedy this situation, I will try to publish one post every day as long as I can. Today, I will schedule several posts, each of which will contain at least one photo.

Today, I am going back to late October and to my first photographic encounter with the lovely (if understated) Hermit Thrush. This particular individual was taken not far from the Clock Tower of the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus, just outside of Vancouver. I was reasonably happy with the few shots I got on this day (even though they were far from perfect), but got much better ones only a few days later. I will post a few of these tomorrow!

And the winner is…

BCCH-Stanley_Park-2014-03-29

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.

@thevariedthrush: Varied Thrush

VATH-UBC_Vancouver-2014_01_21-01

The Varied Thrush is the fourth bird to be featured this week on my blog so that you, my dear reader, can make an informed choice when you vote in the 2014/2015 Vancouver City Bird contest — which you must do before May 10.

Aside from being an incredibly beautiful thrush with a rich orange coloration in the front and dark slate (almost blue) in the back, this bird has one of the most haunting and oddly almost-human whistles, which is quite beautiful in its simplicity.

Another interesting fact about this bird is that some individuals have an extremely rare variant plumage in which the orange parts are replaced by white. I thought this was quite interesting in light of the photo below: This bird had one mostly white eyebrow (the other was orange). Now this individual’s bill is clearly damaged — I wonder if there is a link?

VATH-UBC_Vancouver-2014_02_06-02

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…