Thursday, February 21, 2008

Late Afternoon delight

it was nice today (why couldn't it have been this nice yesterday, when i had the day off?) and i couldn't wait to jet out from work since i knew i was going scoping as soon as i could.

i had recently uploaded an album by a rapper named Birdman (who i previously knew nothing about) and tuned in the ipod in the car for the trip down to Maplewood.
it's pretty slamming stuff folks, hard-core beats and foul-mouthed lyrics mixed in such a way that you have to listen to it loud to fully appreciate it.

anyways, it turned into a productive walk through Maplewood as i spotted (and got shots of) Red Crossbill, Belted Kingfisher, Varied Thrush (one of my fav birds), Northern Pintail, Hooded Merganser, Brown Creeper, and Northern Flicker.
not too shabby for a quick afternoon walk.

American Robin

went out after work to Maplewood Flats last week and came across this American Robin.
the weather was cruddy and grey but the urge to bird is great in me and sometimes i can't help but head out scope in hand as soon as work is finished for the day.

with the winter sun, it's a small window of opportunity to get out before it gets too dark.

i was pushing the light a bit when i came across this handsome fella but i was able to get a few shots.

i posted this shot in a local birding forum and got zero response. i know the BG is spooky and it's not ideal lighting and maybe the perch isn't appealing enough but the bird is what it's about isn't it?

i like this shot.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Digi-day training

after work today i went to Maplewood Flats to do some scoping.
the weather was grey and i knew there might not be much to see as early afternoon is always pretty quiet. still, you have to go out you know?
early on i passed on taking shots of Bald Eagle and GBH because of lighting but soon realized if that was the case, i might as well just go home as it wasn't going to get any better.
so i decided to try and get a shot of every single species i saw on my walk around the area.

it would be good practice to get into the habit of really 'taking the shot first and asking questions later', no matter what.
i'm 99% certain that i will be going the the World Series of Birding - 24 hour Digi Day digiscoping competition (to be held this May in Cape May New Jersey) if i can find another able scoper to join forces (rules state 2 scopers minimum) with myself and Audy (who will be a more than capable spotter).
even if i don't actually end up competing though we will go anyways just for the eastern birds.
so this picture collage above is the first training session, heck if i can get 22 species (24 if i count the 2 i passed on) at Maplewood on a sleepy Friday afternoon i'm pretty sure i can rack up a few more than that over in one of the top birding spots in the USA during peak spring migration

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Iceland Gull

well, early this morning (Sun 03) i got up and started to think about which destination we would go bird today, the sun was coming up and it looked like a good day.
i checked out the Rare Bird alerts and came across a listing from Chilliwack about an Iceland Gull that had been sighted and photographed yesterday (Sat 02).
this was a hot bird and i didn't even think twice; our mission today would be Icelandic
i checked the maps to see how far away Chilliwack actually was from North Van and found out it was roughly 100 KM each way, in other words; a ways off.

still, i was determined and got Audy up and told her we were going to drive a long distance to see a seagull
Laughing She was game and finally we were off.
we found our way to the Salish pond (situated in the city core, next to the Rhombus hotel) at around 9:00am to find a big gathering of gulls lounging about on the ice.
we were the only ones there for a while and i searched harder than i had ever searched through gulls before looking for the Iceland Gull.
No dice.
Eventually a few more birders arrived and i knew i was in good company, if the Gull was around, one of these guys would probably find it.
the general consensus however was that the Gull was not here. it was then that i found out about a second pond down on the other side of #1 highway called Sardis pond that the Gull had also been seen at.
We all decided to go down and check it out even though a few had been there already this morning without sighting it.

Well we looked and looked and didn't see it there either.
It was cold and my clothes were kind of damp but it was all good because i was in the rare type of company that understood the passion of birding completely and it was refreshing to have to talk about nothing but birds for a change Smile suddenly, Mike Tabak spotted the Gull!
Great Success
Very Happy
it had flown in, and was now swimming in front of us, mixed in with the other gulls but sure enough, everyone agreed,
Iceland Gull.
I was able to get some shots thankfully before it flew off again (not even 10 minutes later) but of course, from the distance and conditions we were shooting in (white snow + white gulls = camera has problems with) i was lucky to get anything.

nonetheless, here are the fruits of our days labour.

I can't wait to tell the guys at work tomorrow that i drove 200 KM on Sunday to look for a seagull

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Harris's Sparrow

Saturday's (Jan 12 2008) mission was to locate the Harris's Sparrow that was among a mixed flock in South Surrey (188th & 8th).
it was raining when we left the house in the morning but we hoped that by the time we got out there we would get a break in the weather.
well we didn't, but the rain wasn't that bad so we carried on.
a bit of detective work led me down 188th towards the hill (south), just before a white posted sign (with Korean characters painted on it) and the gated entrance to a mansion (on a hill) we found the Sparrow.
it was a great moment.
it's always good to know beforehand where in general to look for your target bird but it's kind of cool when you are the only one there and you find it on your own


Rusty Blackbird

i had some time to kill after work today and went down to the local duck pond to do a bit of digiscoping.
i only had about 1/2 hour to spare but you only need 1 shot to make your day and you never know what you will find, kind of like this bird, i didn't recognize it from the regulars and recalled hearing a strange bird call earlier so figured i should pay it some attention.
At first i figured Brewer's Blackbird juvenile or female perhaps, not super exciting still, probably not that common a visitor to the spot because i couldn't recall seeing one there ever.

it was jumpy however and lining up a shot was a bit tricky, it knew i was interested in it and had a bit of fun with me before settling down briefly enough for me to squeeze off a series of shots.

got home and what do you know..

Rusty Blackbird

Ambleside duck pond, West Vancouver BC.
Jan 28 2008

that's a Lifer and a lucky find as it's listed as extremely rare in the west.
I read in Sibley's that it's population has declined 90% since the 60's.

Northern Goshawk

Jericho Park, Vancouver, BC. Feb 02 2008
this is a pretty well documented bird already (even has a youtube appearance) and we really should have gone to look for it last weekend like everyone else but we went today anyways in hopes it was still around.
i brought my secret weapon Audy along as her eyes are sharper than mine, sure enough, she spotted it almost right away high up in the trees above the pond keeping an eye on the ducks below.
i took some long-range shots and we decided to walk in a bit closer.
someone had been feeding the ducks and a large group of them had come onto shore pretty much right underneath the tree the juvenile Northern Goshawk was in.
suddenly it dropped from the tree in a graceful swoop and flushed a duck which proceeded to take flight.
a small chase ensued with it calling off the chase not long after.
as luck would have it the Goshawk came to rest even closer to us both than we had ever imagined and checked us out. the light was problematic but this opportunity couldn't be passed up.
happy to say this was a Lifer as well.

Very Happy

The Waiting Area

The Waiting Area