Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Godwit & Curlew

recently i headed out to a spot called Blackie Spit and as soon as i drove up i knew the long drive would be worth it.
There on an empty beach were a pair of large shorebirds i knew instantly as Long-billed Curlew and Marbled Godwit.

I have seen both birds at that location before but never together.
It was pretty early and there were not a lot of people about but the lighting was a bit tricky, getting the sun behind me and still staying close enough to the action was a challenge but i'm happy with the results anyways.
The morning sun really lit things up.

I'm especially glad to get the Curlew because since a tragic mishap last year while photographing my first Curlew at that location i had been shut-out a number of times afterwards.
The tragic mishap was me falling into the water with scope and digiscoping setup resulting in the loss of not only camera (but not SD card which survived) but also my cell phone and Ipod Nano which were also in my pockets.
Add to that a dislocated knee (that happened just before falling into the water) when i tripped while maneuvering into a better viewing location.
Anyways, the "curse of the Curlew" was lifted yesterday and i have these shots to share with you today.

Lapland Longspur

went out the the local jetty with my gear early Saturday morning to look for Lapland Longspurs.
These pretty birds come through about this time of year and like to hang out on the jetty for some reason.
The walk itself is over 4km and with the 500mm F4 and tripod etc. it took me 3 hours to walk to the end and back.
My shoulders were aching a bit and my feet were dead beat but I came back with some pics of the target bird so all is good

thanks for looking

Cooper's Hawk

went out to the Iona Jetty on Sunday with my setup and after the long walk to the tip was rewarded with this Smile

wish the light had been better but I'll take any close look I can get.

A Maplewood Week

while I didn't originally plan on it, I ended up going to Maplewood after work for a couple of hours every day this past week.

Here are some of the highlights.


I decided to start working on my BIF techinique.
The Mew gulls would fly by the point quite close but the trick was tracking them in-focus against a blue sky. Much more practice is required Smile

one of the many Yellow-rumped Warblers I've encountered the last little while.

I initially ID'd this as Chipping Sparrow but later learned that it was indeed a White-crowned Sparrow.


Glaucus-winged Gull.


Y-R Warbler.
The birds were numerous and gave excellent opportunities for photography.


terrible shot of a very handsome White-throated Sparrow.
My bad luck with this species continues - briefest of looks before it disappeared into the bushes and my light levels are off for all 6 shots.
lightened a very dark shot (too dark) for ID record purposes only.


Savannah Sparrow

Y-R Warbler

and finally a long-range shot.

I waited over two hours for this bird to take flight so I could get some wing-spread action.
As luck would have it my head was turned when it suddenly took aim (unsuccessfully) at a female Red-breasted Merganser who seemed quite surprised by it all.
Before all that a Belted Kingfisher flew right up to the Osprey like it wanted it's perch or something and I missed that shot as well Smile

I saw a lot of birds during the week, lots more than I was able to get shots of.

Pipit Hurrah!

after work I went out to Maplewood and found a lone American Pipit wandering around on the mud flats.
As luck would have it it came close enough to the beach for me to get some close shots.
I set up my new Gitzo tripod low to the ground and fired off a bunch.

Best day ever at Maplewood

I went out to Maplewood Flats after work but before all that i had to get a flat tire fixed, grr, hate it when that happens..

Anyways, it seemed really quiet when I first arrived.
Another photographer, Peter Holmes happened to arrive at the same time as I so we ventured off in the same direction and both shared in the birding joy to come.
We didn't get further than the mudflats though as the trees and bushes there suddenly came alive with birdy goodness.
I didn't move much more than 10 feet in either direction and at times it was hard to decide what to shoot at.
Birds were flying around like crazy, all fly-catching what look to be termites (shiny red bodies and wings).
There seems to be an infestation of them right now at the mudflats and there birds are taking advantage.
Even the Pipit shot from the other day was feeding on them.

I'm not sure of a couple of the ID's but this is what I saw earlier.

Warbling Vireo


Black-throated Grey Warbler

Black-throated Grey Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Warbling Vireo

Black-capped Chickadee

Yellow Warbler - juvenile?


Yellow-rumped Warbler

and finally

Townsend's Warbler (a BC lifer for me)

there were a few more species I didn't bother posting though like a Flycatcher species,
The variety of birds in that small area for such an extended time was a magical moment, thanks Maplewood Smile

Okanagan Birding

To celebrate Audy's birthday we decided to make the best of the last long weekend of the summer and go on a birding trip.
My original plan was to maybe drive to Oregon to check out the birds down there (thanks Glenn for the info, I'll go there one day for sure) but the thought of long weekend borders and the fact that it was an American long weekend as well nixed that plan.
Our old friend the Okanagon was the destination again and this time I wanted to check out some info I had been given about a reliable spot for Lewis's Woodpecker in the Vaseux Lake area.
I was also hoping to check out some of the banding that was being done at the Vaseux lake bird observatory and boardwalk.
I also wanted to check out some of the spots Chris Charlesworth had talked about in his recent inspirational birding reports from the region on the BCIntbirds message board.

2:45am Saturday and i jump (stumble) out of bed as the alarm goes off.
It takes Audy a bit longer to get up but it's her day and she can take her time, to a certain extent.
Coffee is brewed and i'm content knowing (or hoping anyways) that the organic shade-grown beans i was using were helping birds in Latin America.

Ipod plugged in and Audy asleep we begin the trip a little after 3:45am.

I decided to take the #3 Crowsnest down and cut across to Vaseux Lake at Keremeos.
Highlights of the trip down include a small Black Bear along the side of the road in Manning and a family of Deer climbing up a hill just outside Priceton.
Audy woke up briefly in Princeton and saw what she thought was a Lewis's Woodpecker but as I was driving I couldn't confirm it. Still, it boded well for the trip.

We arrived at Vaseux Lake boardwalk some time after 8am I think and were amazed at the amount of birdy action in that small patch of trees.

among the highlights were numerous Gray Catbirds, a couple of flycatchers, numerous Cedar Waxwings with juveniles.
they were feasting on the berries and quite active.
A few warblers including Yellow and Yellow-rumped, Swainson's Thrush, juvenile Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, House Finch and Warbling Vireo.
Never saw any banding or mist-netting activity however.

After surviving the Mosquitoes that were quite hungry at the boardwalk we drove to Mctyner road (across from the campground) to search for Lewis's Woodpecker.
There was a pile of rocks near the entrance and i stopped the car to take a look for Canyon Wren. While searching for the wren at least 20 -30 grouse-like birds suddenly appeared from the rocks and scampered up the hill.
It was a great moment since we had been hoping to finally see Chukar, the quail-like introduced species that has established itself in the drier parts of the interior.

So, after the great success at the rock pile the main event and the bird we had come to see was all that remained to have a really good day.
Not long into our drive up the road we came across a pair of them in a tree.
I was never able to get close to the Lewis's woodpeckers however as they would fly off whenever you paid too much attention to them.
I only need one good shot to check it off my lists and i'm happy to say i got a couple but i know a trip back one day for a re-shoot is in order.

there were loads of other birds around like Northern Flicker, Clark's Nutcracker, Western Meadowlark, Say's Phoebe, Brewer's Blackbird, American Kestrel and Mourning Dove.

Well, after all that i wanted to check out some more spots.
We drove down the #97 and checked out Inakeep Park.
I got the feeling one wasn't encouraged to park their car and walk around as a large No Picnicking sign attested.
In the same vicinity was the River Road loop which we imagined would have been much birdier in the morning as opposed to just before noon.
It was decied to keep driving south past Oliver to check out Deadman's Lake (pond?) and the shorebirds we were hoping for just weren't there, wrong time of day perhaps.
Chris had mentioned another spot called Kilpoola Lake road outside of Osoyoos I think (I google-mapped the name and found what i believe was the road in question).
Anyways, we found this dirt road up a mountain and drove up to a little lake but the birds were quiet and we decided then to head back up to Penticton and the Sandman Hotel we would spend the night in.

It had been a long day and I had done a fair bit of driving.
We passed out in the Hotel and woke up for dinner at Denny's before watching Simpsons on TV and sleep....

The wake-up call came at 5:45am and we had more birding planned before making the long drive back down to the coast later.
Kelowna was decided on and we drove up and checked out a few familiar spots.
Robert lake produced a Coyote, California Quail, Black-billed Magpie, a bunch of Killdeer and not much in the actual dry lakebed.
A trip through the Landfill later produced not much as well unfortunately.

A drive up Beaver Lake road was in order next and while we didn't see the Western Bluebirds we did see a lot of others.
Numerous Western Meadowlarks, a friendly Yellow-rumped Warbler, numerous Northern Flickers, Western Tanager, Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbird, a Barn Swallow, numerous Swainson's Warblers, Mountain Bluebird (1), American Kestrel and a cool bonus bird in Red-naped Sapsucker.
The sapsucker is a BC Lifer for us although we saw one last year at Cerro San Juan, Tepic Mexico.

After all that it was around 11am and we figured it was time to head back.
Ride back was uneventful and thankfully no speeding tickets either Smile

The Waiting Area

The Waiting Area