Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Another grey day......

Woke up to what seemed like a hopeful day in the weather department, but that didn't last long....

it soon turned grey and showery.  Water levels seem difference one way or the other.  That Loon was out there, way out and could hear some Canada Geese but nothing visible.  Speaking of 'hearing' I heard the sweet call of the Swainson's Thrush today, coming from the direction of the park.  That made we realize that I hadn't seen a Varied Thrush for sometime now.  They are one of the species that just quietly disappear when it comes time for them to migrate to their nesting areas.

The only bird I actually saw at the boat launch today was this little female Wilson's Warbler.  Noticed quite a few Robins today, strange that no young ones have shown up yet.  I imagine that should change pretty soon....and speaking of strange....

while I was standing there, I happened to look up and saw this 'lace work' - it is one of our native Red-Osier Dogwood shrubs and I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this!  especially this early in the season.  I have no idea what is creating the lace work, a bug or a caterpillar but something has sure been busy!

Here is a closer look...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Part of the park.....

The last few days haven't been very conducive to bird watching....I did spot a female Wood Duck in our boat launch yesterday but she took off in alarm before I could get a camera out, and today I noticed the Common Loon out there but he too disappeared.

Being disgusted that yet another beautiful mature tree in our complex was coming down, for no good reason and at the height of nesting season....I couldn't stand the thought of walking around in here, so ventured over to the park.  I had thought that the water had dropped enough to be able to walk the path.....

but I was wrong.  Here is the path heading to the log bay....

and that is the way to the viewing platform.  So with no way to get to the log bay other than through the subdivision with the 'keep out' signs on their gate - we just came back home.  I could hear all sorts of bird chatter, including a lot of alarm chirps as a Turkey Vulture chose that moment to circle over head and although he would have no interest at all in little live birds, they don't know that and immediately go into alarm mode when ever a raptor shape is over head.

This male Bullock's Oriole had been down low when we went through the gate, but flew up to the top of this cedar tree before I got to where I had a clear line of sight.  There were also some very noisy Raven, I don't know if they were a pair, they seemed to be gathering nesting materials or if they were young ones that didn't know the difference between sticks and food!

I also noticed that there are a couple of very sad, dead or dying Douglas Fir trees over there.  It seems that a couple of years of a prolonged high water table is taking it's toll on this particular tree species.  Our complex lost a beautiful one last year....which makes it even more annoying when a perfectly healthy tree is removed for no reason other than some humans don't want to have to occasionally clean up after it!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Western Swallowtail Butterfly

Not an exciting day for birds today - at least not like yesterday - but I did manage to spot a co-operative.....

Western Swallowtail Butterfly.

Before going back to yesterday's photos to bring us up to date....

will show that we had another lovely day, a bit on the cool side, especially near the water.  Levels remained stable since yesterday.

so to get back to showing some of the species around right now...Brown Headed Cowbirds - LOTS of Brown Headed Cowbirds - in fact I swear 30 or 40 of them flew out from under the feeders yesterday evening.  This is not necessarily a good thing as these are parasitic birds that lay their eggs in other birds nests, usually to the detriment of the other species.  All birds in the photo are males.

Band-tail Pigeons are still with us as well.....

as are the Evening Grosbeaks.

I keep expecting to spot a young Spotted Towhee, but so far only adults are seen and they are very quiet and sneaky.  Haven't seen a Song Sparrow for sometime, they are no doubt nesting as well.

I did spot a young American Robin yesterday but couldn't get a good picture, I think this is one of the parents.  Also know where there is a nest with very vocal youngsters in it...I'll attempt a photo one of these days.

last, but by no means 'least' are the Bullock's Orioles, this one a young male (last years).  A neighbour has the market cornered on Orioles.  Yesterday I went and sat there for a while in hopes of getting pictures but this was the only one to appear while I was there and he wasn't happy with me.  I will have to go sit there more often so they get as used to me as they are with my friend.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Loon and Sapsucker

When you download 64 pictures for just one day you know it was a good day, bird wise!

a walk down to the water (which is still dropping), reveled a Common Loon just off from the boat launch.

It actually came in closer for a better look!  I could hear Canada Geese and even a Mallard....most likely the Mallard had ducklings but I couldn't spot them.  Right now with the water up in the bush there are all kinds of hiding places....which of course is the way nature designed things to be!  While watching the loon I heard a scrabbling behind me and turned around to see this....

Red-breasted Sapsucker working over the tree trunks in the boat launch.  I think there must be a pair breeding in the area as I've often seen or heard them while at the boat launch.

earlier in the morning, back in my own yard, I finally managed to get some decent photos of a female Black-headed Grosbeak.

The Evening Grosbeaks were busy on the other side of the park model.

The Band-tail Pigeon were out there too.  There are more photos but I see my battery is just about dead, so will continue on tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Two foot drop

This past long weekend we witnessed something we've never seen here before....water levels dropped and dropped substantially!  At least 2 feet!

we are used to the water levels rising and dropping a little bit, especially early in the 'flood' season...

but last Friday all of this, including all of the 'fill' was completely under yesterday it looked like this picture which I took about noon today.  Does this mean we've seen high water for this year?  Only time will tell, normally we don't see the high water point until mid-to late June.

Haven't had a chance to do much 'birding' the last few days, but the Evening Grosbeaks are still around in numbers....this being a female....

and this a male.  I also noticed a Western Tanager over the weekend (sorry, no photo) and everyone is commenting on the abundance of Hummingbirds....something we haven't experienced for a couple of years.  Also the Bullock's Orioles are definitely here in high numbers. (again no picture)

This Milbert's Tortoishell Butterfly was co-operative, feeding on the flower of a chive plant.  I've also seen a Western Swallowtail, but no picture yet.

Lastly, over the long weekend we took a drive to Cheam Wetlands Regional Park, just across the Agassiz - Rosedale bridge....had to post a picture, it was so beautiful with all the Yellow Flag Iris in flower.

Unfortunately these Iris are an invasive species and they have certainly invaded this wetland, but how can you get upset when it looks so nice!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Evening Grosbeaks! (and rising water)

You didn't need to look outside this morning to know that the Evening Grosbeaks hath arrived!!!  They are not the quietest of birds....

but they are now here in abundance   Just how long they'll stay is anybodies guess as these nomadic creatures 'go with the flow'.

but they are very welcome.  All winter I watched numerous photos of them being posted by birders on the east side of the continent - now it is our turn.  There are an even dozen in the above picture.

of course the Black-headed Grosbeak are still here as well, just slightly out-numbered at the moment!

Just wanted to note that the pair of Red-breasted Nuthatch are still around.  I'm hoping to seem some youngsters one of these days.

after water levels holding steady for a couple of days, they are once more on the rise...this European Starling was just one of a number of birds very interested in this tiny little bit of exposed dirt.  The Starlings have a nest nearby.

while the Steller's Jay's seemed to be more interested in bathing.

Went for a short drive around the area, we no longer have an 'estuary' we now have a 'lake'.  That is Mt. Woodside over there.

This could be an 'oh yuck' situation - when I got out to take the scenery photo I noticed a few of these Tent Caterpillar nests in the vegetation.  Remember that some birds, especially our beautiful Bullock's Orioles, love to eat these guys.

Over at the Kilby Campground on Harrison Bay, the bay is, for the second year in a row, encroaching into the campground itself.  Last year the entire campground was under water, it remains to be seen if the same thing will happen this year.

Some Canada Geese were happily feeding in this freshly planted cornfield, in the background you can see the ground water is oozing up.

Just a couple more photos for today....the view of the Harrison River as taken from the east end of the bridge.  The 2nd piling from the left....

holds an Osprey would appear that the eggs haven't yet hatched.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Band-tail Pigeons!

It would appear I was a bit premature in lamenting the lack of......

Band-tail Pigeons!  They are now here!  This was the scene at my place this afternoon and there are still some out there...

Here is a bit clearer photo of one of them.  Unfortunately the area was in shade and I didn't dare move from where I was as these birds are so 'spooky' they take off at the slightest disturbance.

This evening there have been a number of Evening Grosbeaks showing up as well, no pictures of them yet, but it would appear that rather than the hot weather speeding everyone up, it appears to have held them back so they are just a bit later than what we consider 'normal'.

While I was taking the pigeon pictures, this Steller's Jay was enjoying the sunshine, soaking up some rays - I know it looks like it is in distress, but it isn't, they just seem to like to do this sometimes.

the male Rufous Hummingbird was 'en garde' in his usual spot.  I'm pretty sure there is a hummingbird nesting in this of these days I'm going to see if I can spot it.

I've heard there is a female Rough-grouse in our complex with 5 young....haven't seen her as she is hanging out in the non-beautified vacant lot.

Also seen today for the first time in a while were a pair of Chestnut-backed Chickadees, so there are still a few of them around as well.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Well this is different!

Sometimes, when you least expect it, something unusual shows up!  Before I get into that though, just one quick picture of the rising water....

here it comes!

As I mentioned yesterday, the variety and numbers of birds has returned to normal with the more normal weather conditions.  This afternoon I took my camera out side to just sit for a while and take pictures of whom ever showed up.

Primary subjects were the Black-headed Grosbeak as there are so many of them.  The males seem to be more co-operative than the females at least as far as having their picture taken.

here are some more males....and then I spotted this guy....

look at that eye! and the one on the other side was just the same.  Have never seen anything like that before!

some other visitors...this female American Goldfinch....

a White-crowned Sparrow....

This male Rufous Hummingbird was perched in my neighbours willow, with his eye on my feeder chasing any intruders away - he was kept very busy because there are a lot of hummingbirds here at the moment.

this female was allowed to 'fill up'.