Thursday, July 14, 2016

Meanwhile: Some Bits and Bobs from the Birding World

Late June/Early July 2016

I'm back in Canada. I managed to find time for a few hours birding over the last two weeks, mostly to clear my thoughts and move on with life. It's good to be home.

I spent a day a few days near Walton-on-Thames where I was kindly shown around a few of the local reservoirs and gravel pits. I had a fleeting glance of a hobby and good views of a common whitethroat, both lifers.

Common Whitethroat (sylvia communis)
A summer visitor to Britain and Europe and winters in the southern Sahara.
The common whitethroat is one of the fourteen species of warbler that breed in the UK

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
A sparrow of heath , fields and moorland

A cool story!

July 16/17 2016 Back home on my local patch Brydon Lagoon

Juvenile Green Heron.

Common Yellowthroat carrying food to the nest.

Anna's Hummingbird nest building in July.

Brydon Lagoon Langley, Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, CA

Jul 13, 2016 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 kilometer(s)
Comments:     Includes wooded area
22 species

Canada Goose  40
Mallard  26
Green Heron  1
Bald Eagle  1
Anna's Hummingbird  1
Rufous Hummingbird  4
Belted Kingfisher  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Willow Flycatcher  2
Violet-green Swallow  4
Black-capped Chickadee  12
Bushtit  6
Bewick's Wren  2
Swainson's Thrush  3
American Robin  4
Common Yellowthroat  8     Numerous breeding pairs in the wetland area.
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  2
Black-headed Grosbeak  1
Red-winged Blackbird  12
House Sparrow  14

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Staying closer to home, catching up on the garden which is beginning to look beautiful. Put in a rockery, planted some new perennials and enjoying the BBQ.

John Gordon
BC Canada

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Species re-discovered

I haven't done much birding lately. I have had a couple of lifers while in the UK. A common whitethroat near Walton-on Thames and tonight a yellowhammer at Tidenham Chase in Gloucestershire. 
Meanwhile here is a good news story.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Birds and Fish

Join us this Sunday to learn about forage fish or for morning birding!

Sunday, June 26, 9am-4pm
Forage Fish Spawning Workshop
9am-1pm Classroom session st Beecher Place (12160 Beecher Street)
1:30pm-4pm Practical session on Crescent Beach

The purpose of this workshop is to train and develop teams to survey beaches around Boundary Bay for forage fish eggs. Forage fish are important prey species and fuel the coastal marine food chain.

Sea Watch Society Executive Director and Scientist, Ramona de Graaf, will be leading this technical workshop. Ramona is a marine biologist and oversees the province-wide research program to document and protect beach-spawning forage fish habitat.

No experience required, minimum volunteer commitment is two surveys over the next year.

To sign-up email Sarah at

Sunday, June 26, 9-11am
Birds on the Bay Morning Birding at the Little Campbell Hatchery

Walk with Lynn & Ron through the forest trails by the Little Campbell River. Look high in the trees, down through the shrubs, and along the river in search of wildlife - including a pair of barred owls with their chicks! 

Meet at the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club, 1284 184th St. Dress for the weather. Binoculars available to borrow if you don't have your own.

Check our website calendar for other upcoming events and activities.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spotted Owl Fundraider

The Northern Spotted Owl is Canada’s most endangered bird, with fewer than 30 individuals remaining in BC. At the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Centre we are working to keep this iconic West Coast species from being extirpated from Canada. As the only breeding program for the Spotted Owl in the world we are writing the book on captive breeding for this amazing bird. Our long term goals include producing up to 20 offspring per year for release into protected old growth forest around BC.

On Monday, June 27 at 6:30pm we will be holding a fundraiser at the Townhall Pub in Langley. Tickets are $25 each and include a burger (beef, chicken, or veggie), fries, and drink. There will be door prizes, and a silent auction which includes, but is not limited to, gift baskets, passes to local attractions, framed prints, and a couple of PRIVATE tours of the breeding facility.

Tickets can be bought from any one of the NSO Breeding Program team members. We are asking that tickets be bought in advance by making pick up or mailing arrangements. Message or email us for tickets. And please tell your friends!

This is the first time we've done something like this and would really appreciate your support and to help celebrate a successful 2016 breeding season. All funds generated will go towards the building of a website that will help keep people all around the world informed about the plight of the Northern Spotted Owl and the objectives of our program.

For more information, check out the event page on our Facebook Facebook page or email

If you would be able to attend, that would be great! And feel free to invite anyone you think may be interested.

Thank you again,
Captive Breeding Manager

Randy Walker - Abbotsford

Glen Valley Lazuli Bunting

June 15/16 Glen Valley BC Clouds/Rain Showers and Sun
Following the Glen Valley bird count last weekend when 53 species were noted I decided to re-visit Lefeuvre Rd to see if there were more than the one lazuli bunting. Sure enough at the bottom of the hill just where the road flattens out is a patch farmland that has been left to grow wild. Two birds. were feeding among the  blackberries and wild grasses, a favourite food for the lazuli. Along with the bunting were a pair of nesting common yellowthroat.

Lazuli Bunting

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Birds They Keep on Coming

June 1-14 2016 Various Lower Mainland Locations

Adult Cedar Waxwing

This house finch has what appears to be horns. Last year a similar bird came to our feeder with the very same 'horns'
I have heard that it is some kind of disease. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

Male Lazuli Bunting. Winters in Mexico
Like the colour it's named after, the lazuli bunting is one of the most colourful birds found anywhere in North America or that case, anywhere in the birding world.
I have taken this shot from a low angle to include the blue sky and as little of the tangled blackberry bush as possible to simplify the composition. The colours found in the sky and bird co-ordinate in a way that pleases the eye.


Below I have photographed the same bird and when it flew to a nearby fencepost. I noticed a barn in the background so I re-positioned my tripod to work with the contrasting colours. The 'feel' of this picture is quite different from the one above. I also used the 8x10 frame rather than the 8x12. I can always go back my raw files and re-crop if a magazine comes looking for a cover shot. When shooting stock, always leave room for the magazine editors to place their title and inside contents.

Lazuli Bunting
I used a D500 and 500 F4 with a 1.4 converter to compress the background resulting in a gentle tradition from the barn in at the top of the background to the green grass at the bottom of the image. There has be no manipulation except for cropping and sharpening.
Red-breasted Sapsucker
I have been waiting for this shot of a red-breasted sapsucker for years. Finally I was able to find a location where the background was uncluttered and the bird was in the classic feeding position. The red, black and white of the bird set against the green leaves is for me at least, perfect colour co-ordination as nature intended it and as an added bonus the image appears pleasing on the eye.

Female red-breasted sapsucker
This illustrates a sapsucker gathering food. The bird has drilled hundreds of holes in a weeping birch tree where insects including red ants are attracted to feast on the sap. Red ants make up most of the sapsucker diet.  The sapsucker then returns on a regular basis to pick off insects. While photographing the sapsucker a rufous hummingbird also came to feed on the sap.
Red-breasted sapsuckers can be found year round in BC.

Ruffed Grouse
This ruffed grouse waits to cross a logging road, note the raised crest.
Ruffed grouse winter in BC.

Rufous Hummingbirds breed in BC and winter in Mexico.

The Reifel Sandhill Crane colt at 17 days old.
The Reifel sandhills are resident year round, unlike most sandhills which migrate to the USA for the winter.

Willow flycatcher.
The only way to distinguish a willow flycatcher from a least flycatcher is by voice.
Winters in Central and South America 
It never amazes me each time I go out bird in the British Columbia. My friends and relatives in the UK tell me how beautiful our Canadian birds are and when I visit them I tell them how beautiful their birds are. Anyone who has seen a goldfinch or bullfinch would readily agree. It just goes to show there ar beautiful birds everywhere, we only have to open eyes and listen to the birds!

"It's never too late to start birding" 
John Gordon
BC Canada

Saturday, June 11, 2016

BCFO Birding Walks

May 27-29 2016 Cranbrook BC
 British Columbia Field Ornithologists (BCFO)
 Annual Conference Field Trips 
Day 1

There were plenty of field trip choices available on both Saturday and Sunday so I blindly put my name on the Wycliffe Rambler walk led by Ruth Goodwin. My choice turned out to be a good one.
We began on Porteous Road where we scoped long-billed curlew searching for food in the hayfield, while all around us snow capped mountains stood out against the cloudless blue sky.
On the way to our next stop we made a brief stop at a house where the owners had a feeder. In a tree a black-chinned hummingbird kindly posed for me. A lifer and the day had just begun!

Black-chinned Hummingbird.
 We left there and made our way to Twin Buttes for a three kilometre hike. We were soon into the birds, mountain bluebirds first then as we climbed the butte clay-coloured sparrows. A dusky flycatcher was a lifer for a few on the trip then a flock of six red crossbills flew overhead, we would catch up with them later on in the walk.
Clay-coloured sparrow with food for the brood.
 This clay-coloured sparrow was bringing food to the nest and singing at the same time or perhaps it was telling me I was to close and that it was time to move on...which I did!

Pine Siskin
I took three shots of this pine siskin feeding on the yellow balsam seeds, this one I prefer over the others as the bird balances under its own weight.

Red Crossbill

The flock of crossbills just wouldn't keep still but of the six shots I rattled off I did manage to catch the one above.

Twin Buttes.
Our last stop of the day was at Pine Butte Ranch where there were again plenty of birds including this gorgeous Northern Waterthrush, again a lifer for some of our group. There were high fives all around.
Out of a tangle of thickets and dead branches and from some distance I and others managed to photograph this beauty. I think it is one of my favourite shots of the weekend.

Northern Waterthrush.
Due to the distance from the bird I was able to compose a shot which includes branches, creating what photographers term a frame within a frame.

I know what your thinking, but I have never been so close to a turkey vulture. I had our chauffeur (who happened to be thesoon to be BCFO past president) slap on the brakes so I could take this quick shot from the car window. I was initially attracted by the contrast of the red head and the blue sky then I noticed the wing patterns. Had I not zoomed in so close I would have had a flight shot too but moments after I pressed the shutter the bird flew off and I was left with half a flight shot.

It was on this drive we saw a pair of American kestrels, a red-breasted nuthatch and Lewis's woodpecker nesting in the same tree. Quite possibly there may have been a starling nest too, making it a veritable bird condo. 

Day 2 Sunday May 29
Last day of the convention. 

Field Trip leader Dean Nicholson'

The weather had changed and a cold wind whipped across the spray Irrigation ponds. The birds were still around but hunkered down. Dean, our leader  had a good ear and could pick out a birds from a hundred yard away. If we didn't know how a clay-coloured sparrow sounded we sure do now!

Around one corner we came across a bank swallow colony. They seemed to making a living although the cold weather kept insects to a minimum.
Bank Swallow colony.

A bank swallow takes break from hunting insects.
Another clay-coloured sparrow because we rarely see them in the Lower Mainland and I like clean background.

Finally I would like to congratulate all those involved in organizing the BCFO conference and those who volunteered their time to make us all welcome in Cranbrook. The city and surrounding area offers some great birding, magnificent scenery and great hospitality. Try it out, you won't be disappointed.

So until the next post
"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada