Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tri-City Photography Club Presentation

Mar 23 2015 Port Moody 7p.m.

I was honoured to speak to the Tri-City Photography Club Monday evening. Below is a brief description what was covered during my presentation entitled "Where to Find Birds in the Lower Mainland"
The group consisted of photographers of varying levels of expertise so I was kept in line with a variety of interesting questions, all of which led to a very interactive presentation.
I would like to thank Diane Belyk for adding this link to the club's website and Harry Vose for making sure the presentation went off flawlessly.

Honey Bear Okanagan

Bullock's Oriolle

Mallards on Shushap Lake

Check this link for a review of the presentation. 

To book a presentation or workshop contact me through my website.

John Gordon
Langley /Cloverdale
BC Canada

The Weasel and Woodpecker

For those of you who haven't seen this.

Why do some Geese have rust coloured markings ?

March 20 2015 Ladner BC Overcast with sunny breaks 11c

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)
The rufous heads are the result of these birds foraging in the iron rich soils of Washington State. This flock of about three hundred birds were photographed in Ladner.

The bird in the foreground has far less colouring, perhaps feeding in a different area and then joining this flock for the northward migration.

A hungry Coyote (Canus latrans) contemplates his next move.
I have included a shot below taken on their southward migration to show the Blue morph variety of the Snow Goose.

Adult dark morph Snow Goose with 'regulars'
This shows a large congregation of Snow Geese preparing to leave on their northward flight to Wrangel Island, Alaska.

Since this last picture (below) was taken in 2009 their population has almost doubled and their breeding grounds are not going to able to support their presence. A population crash is inevitable at some time. I recently returned from Churchill Manitoba where research group say large swaths of tundra have stripped bare by the geese.
Thousands of Snow Geese and Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary just outside Vancouver.
       Around Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary winter crops are sown to provide migrating Geese and other birds access to forage on their migration.

If anyone can provide a detailed explanation about the rust coloured stains on the Snow Geese I will gladly publish it here with a full credit, thanks.

Follow the link

"It's never too late too start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Whooping Crane Tours/Bad Idea!

Mar 25th 2014

Try out this link. The feedback from those who have responded to the news is mainly negative. What do you think?
I'm in two minds about the whole process myself. I would love to sees Whooping Crane but for those with the knowledge can see them during migration without entering Saskatchewan's Wood Buffalo Park. My cousin who worked on a community farm for many years saw them on numerous occasions.

                                                   "It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lower Mainland Birding

                         March 12-13 2015 Various Lower Mainland Locations Sunny 19c

Ann'a Hummingbird (Calypte anna) feeding one of two nestlings. 
A female Anna's Hummingbird feeds one of her two chicks. The nestlings are about two weeks old and still have short beaks. Anna's hummingbirds live year round in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland area. For the UK readers I would describe Vancouver's weather as something like Devon and Cornwall with occasional cold blasts just like the UK. The rest of Canada is as you imagine Canada to be....cold in winter and hot in summer.
Some Anna's will try for a second clutch if the soon to arrive and more aggressive Rufous Hummingbirds leave them alone. This particular nest was within feet of a very busy pathway so staying any length of time would attract attention from passersby.
When the female was away from the nest we would point our lenses in another direction so as not to draw attention to the nest.
Ethical birding practices includes not disclosing the location of nesting birds so therefore I have left their location out of this blog just to say that this series of pictures were taken in three different locations. 


Barred Owls hunt mainly at night or early in the morning. They choose a handy perch and sleep most of the day sometimes waking up for a shake of the head or perhaps when mobbed by crows. They can be easily disturbed by humans and dogs so care must be taken not to flush them. Many owls including Northern Saw-whet and Great Horned often perch very close to human activity when they might have acres of forest to choose from. Go figure! 
"Head Shake" Barred Owl (Strix varia)
This Barred Owl awoke when a squirrel ran within inches of its gaze. Once the squirrel realized its folly it froze, eventually moving away very slowly until out of danger. After opening its eyes for a few seconds the owl then rubbed its head on a branch and then shook its head in a circular motion, the slow shutter speed was used catch the motion.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Usually the Night Herons at Reifel are hidden in a tangle of branches but this one was almost in the open so why not rattle off a few frames.
The Sandhill Cranes were in an frisky mood with more than one pair going through the courtship rituals.

Common Loon (Gavia immer)
Next stop was Blackie Spit. In the past I have found some interesting birds including a Solitary Sandpiper and Horned Lark, there is always something interesting. On Thursday afternoon Gareth Pugh and his group counted 42 species in a few hours, a Red-necked Grebe being the best sighting. Before they arrived I photographed this Common Loon diving for crabs. I waited for the bird to dive before approaching closer. Despite my low angle the bird knew I was there all the time, eventually it moved away and I moved on.
Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)
 This is a heavily cropped shot of one of my favourite forest birds. the Varied Thrush. I actually heard it before eventually spotting it high up in a tree. I alway remember sound recorder and birder John Neville calling the bird the 'tone deaf thrush' very apt as its call is not that melodious making it easy to pick out from the rest of the Spring chorus.
Varied Thrush
Other birders keep telling me they have Varied Thrush come to their feeders but I've yet to find one that tame so for now I will have to be content with shooting them from a distance. There's no great rush, much of the fun is in the waiting and searching.

Pacific Wren formally Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Finally this Pacific Wren was heard long before I almost tripped over it. I must have been very close to its lair. These diminutive forest birds make any walk in the forest that more interesting with their noisy antics. I have a dozen good shots but I like that this shot has motion in the wings, exactly as I remember the scene.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blossom Birds

Dec 6 2015 Tynehead Park, Dog Park 72nd Ave BC Sunny 12c

How perfectly this House Finch blends into the cherry blossom. As it fed on protein rich stamens an unleashed dog ran by frightening the bird and ending the photo session. It took me thirty minutes to win its trust and in seconds it was all over. Golden-crowned and Song Sparrows HAD also been busily munching away but they too had gone too ground thanks to rampaging hound. The owner asked me what I was looking at, tongue in cheek I replied, Nothing! He still didn't get why I would be looking at nothing and left.

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

The finch plucks the flower from the branch, twists it around, feasts on the stamen and discards the petals.

Frustrating as it may be to photograph at the dog park, it still can be a very rewarding place to spend a few hours, especially now as the catkins, butterflies and insects are beginning to emerge. Soon the warblers and grosbeaks will be back, adding their songs to the proceeding. Above me I counted a kettle of 45 Bald Eagles effortlessly using the thermals to glide, dive and swoop. Occasionally the courtship displays of the Red-tailed Hawk drew my eye away, light fighter jets, the hawks would appear and be gone, only to re-appear way off in the distance.
...Oops! I forgot to mention the Golden Eagle, Short-eared Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Harrier I saw just saw a few hundred metres down the road.

Birding can't get much better than this and it's all in our own backyard. Who said March was a quiet time for birding!

                                                        "It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
Vancouver BC

Monday, March 9, 2015

Flower Photography Workshop

 Flower Photography Workshop
April 17 2015
Langley BC

We will be meeting at the Houston Barn on Allard Crescent at 10 a.m.