Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap day?

So what do you call February 29th?  If it makes a ‘leap year’ than this must be the ‘leap’ day!

Sunny morning

What ever it is called, it certainly started out with beautiful clear blue skies and sunshine, that tempted me out for an early ‘dog less’ walk.

Heron on top



Spotted this Great Blue Heron perched at the very top of this broken off top of a large native broad-leaf Maple tree.

This is the first heron I’ve seen in a couple of weeks and for some reason herons tend to congregate in this tree every spring.  Every spring I hope they might be thinking of creating a new ‘heronry’ in this tree – but they never do.


Feb. 29 '12 005

and it must be spring because this male Red-shafted Northern Flicker was busy doing his territorial drumming on this street lamp this morning.  Unfortunately my camera battery died right after I took this and by the time I got the old one out and the new one in, he’d had enough of drumming and flew off.  In the next month we can expect an influx of Flickers as they migrate through our area – watch for yellow shafted and hybrids among them.

Cloudy afternoon

by afternoon the clouds had moved in and the mountain tops were disappearing, in fact showers were starting by the time we were heading home. 

Red-wing Blackbirds

This area was full of that flock of male Red-wing Blackbirds that have been wintering with us….

Red-wings drinking and bathing

many were down bathing while others were busy with their incessant calling… Even through the din I could hear a Hairy Woodpecker drumming.

Individual Red-wing

here is an individual Red-wing.  I was wanting to capture the brilliant ‘red’ that is getting brighter and brighter as breeding season approaches.  Didn’t quite get the picture I wanted this time.

Fox Sparrow

The bushes along the trail were busier than they have been for some time.  Here a Fox Sparrow…viewed from the rear..

Fox Sparrow

and a front view of another that shows the inverted ‘check’ marks on the breast, also the bi-coloured bill that are identifying features of this chunky sparrow.  There were also Junco, House Finch, Black-cap Chickadee, Steller’s Jay, Golden crowned Kinglets and a pair of Flicker….oh, and Towhee as well.

Varied Thrush

the last few days with the cooler weather, Varied Thrush have been much in evidence…even if you don’t actually see them you can certainly hear their haunting ‘trill’, especially in the morning….


and as we move towards the month of March, the American Robins are now here to stay.  Not quite in the numbers they will be in a week or two, but enough to hear their welcoming call in the morning and their evening song at dusk.

And since I have other commitments tomorrow, the first of March, I’ll briefly mention what we have to look forward to in the coming month.  Turn your ears skyward the first nice sunny day we get as Tree Swallows should be showing up – they’ve been seen as early as the 1st of the month in the past.  By mid-month Rufous Hummingbirds should be back and if we are going to see Mountain Bluebirds, the time to look for them is about mid-month, Western Meadowlark have occasionally been spotted about the same time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Boring Birding….

It is a good job this month is drawing to a close because it has been pretty boring for birding…

February 28, 2012

Today wasn’t a bad day for weather, although cloud was moving in and their still talking about the possibility of a little bit of snow before it switches to rain for the foreseeable future.  There was absolutely nothing at the log bay today – I took this picture in hopes the pussy willows would show up..

Male House Finch

when you stood and were completely quiet, a few birds started to show up like this male House Finch..

Female House Finch

and then a female.  There were also some Towhee and Junco – so much depends on who and how someone has walked through just before you…often the birds are in hiding but start to appear once the perceived‘danger’ is past.

bare estuary

looks pretty barren out there, but sometimes looks are deceiving…


there were quite a few Mallards scattered along the shorelines…

Green Wing Teal

and at first glance there wasn’t anything here…but there are at least a dozen Green-Wing Teal and one Mallard.

first bay

thought I’d check back and see what was happening the last day of February last year – apparently we had snow….

Friday, February 24, 2012

Just plain nasty!

I could also title this entry as ‘what a difference a day makes!’  I took a few pictures yesterday, but didn’t post them since there was really nothing different to report on….but those pictures were still on my memory card…so

Thursday the 23rd

here is the first bay, yesterday, Feb. 23rd ‘12 and….

The next day

here it is….24 hours later!

Thursday the 23rd

the log bay yesterday….

What a difference a day makes

and the log day today.  Just snow would be OK, but as we walked, although the temperature dropped, the snow turned to rain….

bashed down bushes

all the bushes that had been gradually straightening after the heavy snowfall the end of January….are all flattened again.

Siskens in the snow

Bird wise, it was pretty much the same.  Virtually nothing down along the trail, a few ducks in the water, a couple of Bald Eagles today….Pine Siskin and Red-wing Blackbirds up wherever there are bird feeders and that is about it.  I’ve also had the usual, Towhee, Song Sparrow, and Junco at the feeders and one Varied Thrush.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blustery Day

Weather today is more reminiscent of March than February….

Blustery day

some sun, some wind, some big black clouds….

bit of everything

we were ‘hailed’ on before we got back home.  Apart from the background calling of Red-wing Blackbirds, there wasn’t a sound of a bird anywhere.  I’d seen a small long tailed hawk, probably a Sharp-shin out over he grasslands and there had been a few Bufflehead and Green-wing Teal before an off leash dog showed up….but that was it for birds today…

So seemed a good time to point out some interesting statistics from the Backyard Bird Count.  I found the species that showed up on the most checklists – this is for all of North America – to be surprising – it was the Red Cardinal! showing up on 40,254 checklists!  This is a bird we don’t have much hope in seeing in our area, although you never know.  Mourning Doves were second, Junco 3rd (not surprising) and Downy Woodpeckers next…another surprise.  For sheer numbers, the most birds of any species counted were Snow Geese with a remarkable 2,965,391 counted.  Red-wing Blackbirds were next with 1,643,729 (at least a hundred of those here in our backyards!) and Canada Geese were 3rd with 771,999.

The state with the most species was California with 319 and Texas was a close second with 318 but it was Missouri with the most actual birds – 2,150,609 (maybe that is where the snow geese were).

In British Columbia there were 189 species with 1,675 checklists submitted.  Victoria had the most checklists at 139 but amazingly, the second highest participation was from Clearwater with 117 checklists submitted.  By comparison Agassiz had a pitiful 7 and 4 of those were mine!…with a total of 48 species so the other person counting found 10 different species that I didn’t get.  Anyone interested in checking into further statistics can do so by going to the Backyard Bird Count site.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quiet last day of the bird count

Another pretty quiet day.  Didn’t take any pictures, nothing different to take pictures of.  I did manage to add two more species to the areas count…saw a Brown Creeper and a small flock of Bushtits today, so we had 38 species over the 4 days with a lot of the fairly ‘regular’ ones not showing up.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Good day of birding

Today was the third day of the Backyard Bird Count and the weather co-operated somewhat.  Didn’t spend a whole lot of time at home although Ernie walked over to the park in the morning while I spent time closer to home….

Pine Sisken

There were hundreds of Pine Siskens in the area today.  I have never seen so many Pine Siskens at one time….large flocks would fly down and land and the ground would be moving with them…

Redpoll and sisken

but most exciting was the fact that there were Common Redpolls mixed in with them (the guy with the red cap on it’s head)

Redpoll and sisken

here is a closer look at one of the males – so seeing these on a count day was a real bonus!

It must be spring!

This Robin says that spring is on it’s way!

We actually saw a total of 25 species today including 8 species not seen the last two days so besides the ‘not so common’ Redpolls, we added a Varied Thrush, a couple of Trumpeter Swans, a Kingfisher, a couple of Red-tail Hawk, Ernie saw 3 Killdeer at the log bay and there were a number of Northern Pintail in a field by Kilby which is all part of the same area.

After that we headed to Nicomen  where we tallied 35 species…

Male Ring-neck Ducks

including a total of 46 Ring-neck Duck – a species we don’t see here which is actually strange because they like quiet secluded areas.

Trumpeter Swans on Nicomen

Trumpeter Swans numbered close to 300


and Great Blue Heron totaled 42….most concentrated in either this area…

Heron on the shore

or this one…

Female Belted Kingfisher

the high light of the day had to be this female Belted Kingfisher who sat and posed nicely for pictures.

Wing stretched

I have been trying to get good pictures of a kingfisher for years!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dismal second day of the bird count

What a dismal day!  We had to run into Mission to do some chores first thing but had hoped the weather would improve in the afternoon.  It hasn’t!  Have gone for a wet walk and have been watching the feeders but between the weather and the Cooper’s Hawk – hey it’s a bird and a species I didn’t get yesterday – there isn’t much around, except for well over a hundred Pine Sisken that show up when the hawk disappears.  I didn’t even attempt any pictures.

Yesterday we had 24 species (I know I said 22 – can’t count I guess)…today species seen are: Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, Bald Eagles, Green Wing Teal, Mallard, Steller’s Jay, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pine Sisken, Heron, Dark-eyed Junco, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-wing Blackbird, Black Cap Chickadee, Chestnut backed Chickadee, and a Towhee.  So that makes 16 species….BUT if you add the 4 species seen today that weren’t seen yesterday, that brings us to 28 species for the area so far….and we know there are a lot more than that!

Tomorrow we’ll be doing Kilby and Nicomen island – regardless of the weather!

Friday, February 17, 2012

First Backyard Bird Count Day

Well the weather for the first day of the four day Backyard Bird Count was much better than had been predicted! 

Nice day at the log bay

I was expecting to get very wet, but as it turns out it was quite nice, although clouding over now as the afternoon draws to a close.

I haven’t submitted my count yet because I’m hoping that another species or two might show up before the end of the day.  Haven’t seen a Purple Finch or a Varied Thrush yet…

So far have seen 22 species….I’ll list them at the end…

Canada Goose pair

Went for several walks, the walk ‘with the dog’ produced the most, at least in the way of picture opportunities – like this pair of Canada Geese that hadn’t been there earlier…

Great Blue Heron

and this Great Blue Heron…the first one I’ve seen here in weeks!


I really wish it had been there on my earlier ‘dog less’ walk as there is a Photo contest as well and I could have concentrated on getting some great shots…if I hadn’t had to hang on to a dog and shoot pictures one handed – as it was I got some good enough to send in.House Finch

Quite a few House Finch….here a pair…


This wind-blown juvenile Bald Eagle was the only eagle in sight!

Species seen so far today: Steller’s Jay, Red-wing Blackbirds (lots), Dark-eyed Junco – quite a few; Spotted Towhee; Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow; Pine Sisken; House Finch; Raven; Black Capped Chickadee; Chestnut-backed Chickadee; Starlings; Robins!!! – 2; Northern Flicker – 2; Golden-crowned Kinglets; Mallards; Green-wing Teal; Bufflehead; Gadwall; Canada Geese; Northern Harrier; Bald Eagle; Great Blue Heron; and Glaucous-wing Gull.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Damp day

Didn’t bother taking any scenery pictures today because it looks just like it has the last few days, only wetter….

Eagle pair

Nothing very note worthy to report either.  The Bald Eagle pair were back in the ‘eagle’ tree by the viewing platform.  Red-wing Blackbirds were calling from several large deciduous trees in the adjacent housing developments, there were a few ducks, primarily Green-wing Teal….and that was about it.

Earlier in the day I had spotted this….

Coopers Hawk

I believe, Cooper’s Hawk….which could explain the lack of small bird activity as they would all be in hiding.  I did catch a glimpse of two Pacific Wren this morning, (used to be called ‘Winter’ Wren)….which only made me realize that it had been a long time since I’d seen or heard one, unusual as this is usually one of our most reliable winter time sightings.  There have been a lot of Pine Sisken coming to the feeders the last few days.

Tomorrow is the first of the bird count days so I’m hoping for a bit better weather and a few more birds! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A triple Towhee day

What happened to those sunny days that was predicted for this week?!  Another chilly cool day – at least I remembered my gloves today!  Also another very, very quiet day….there were NO ducks at all, or any other birds over at my end…

Spotted Towhee

On the entire walk the only birds I saw were 3 Spotted Towhee - this one being the most vocal and most visible.  Very few ducks, perhaps a half dozen Mallard and that was it.  Day after tomorrow is the first day of the Backyard Bird Count, I sure hope things improve!  Mind you I will go out several times during the day because conditions can change dramatically within a short time frame when it comes to birds.

the first bay

for scenery, thought I’d show the first bay for a change, looking back towards the viewing platform.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Not so nice a day

Compared to yesterday, today wasn’t nearly so nice…

soggy Valentines day

it was down right chilly too – I was wishing I’d worn gloves! Another quiet day, some Mallard, Green-wing Teal, a few Bufflehead, a pair of American Wigeon and a few Common Merganser…one Bald Eagle

Golden-crowned Kinlet

attempted to get pictures of a little flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets – this was the best I managed.  Went back to compare how this Valentines day compared to last year and turns out they are pretty much identical.  When you get a day like yesterday everyone suddenly thinks it is spring – but if you look at the calendar there is 5 weeks of winter left – and last year…not too long after this date, we were back to being covered in snow!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Beautiful but very, very quiet

A stunningly beautiful day…

nice day

but oh, so quiet!  Some ducks, mainly Mallard and Green Wing Teal and that was it.  Not a single solitary Bald Eagle to be seen or heard.  I did have 3 Evening Grosbeak show up at my feeder early this morning, but haven’t seen or heard them since, in fact the feeders have been pretty much deserted for most of the day!

Eagle sculpture

a change of subject – this metal sculpture of a Bald Eagle has been erected at the edge of the Fraser River in Mission, B.C.  The sculpture came from an artist in the U.S.A. but the ‘nest’ was created by my husband and the company he works for were responsible for putting the whole thing together – the eagle with it’s fish, the nest, and attaching it to the pilings where it is mounted.

another view of the sturgeon

this, I think concrete sculpture, of a Sturgeon is also mounted at the same park.