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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Rapturous Day/Man in the Moon/Sunburn

March 10/2014 Brunswick Point Ladner B.C.  Sunny and first sunburn of the winter.

I wasn't until I arrived home Monday evening that I realized I had sunburn. I had been birding all day, so engrossed by all the activity around me I had completely forgot the sunscreen. Sunscreen in March, who would have thought it, eat your hearts out Winnipeg! It was cloudy in the morning but by midday the light was fantastic for photography. Blue skies allowed the use of fast shutter speeds, just enough to catch up with the speedy Prairie Falcon. I had photographed the bird before but I wasn't quite happy with the results. 
The first signs of Spring were everywhere. The trees are filing out, buds waiting to explode for the soon to arrive waves of warblers and flycatchers. A Turkey Vulture circled overhead, a pair of Lincoln Sparrows looked to be staking out a nest site, even the Tree Swallows have arrived, what a time to be a birder!
The day began with a trip to 104 St and Hornby in Ladner to see if I could re-locate the Leusistic Red-winged Blackbird (see previous blog) but the bird could not be found. From 104 to 72 I counted forty or so Bald Eagles, six Red-tailed Hawks, and a smattering of Northern Harriers. I couldn't find the Glaucous Gull. 
At Tsawwassen kite surfers took up much of the real estate but a small flock of twenty Brant bobbed about on the waves, Common Goldeneye dove for shellfish but the wind made photography difficult.  Then on through the Indian reserve and onto Brunswick Point which is where the real fun began.
The first picture in this series came about when I observed what I thought might be a hawk in a hedge. The bird turned out to be the Prairie Falcon. It normally perches high up on poles or trees so to see it so close was quite a surprise. I stopped the car and grabbed my camera. Unfortunately the bird was flushed by a passing pickup but as it flew into the air and away from the tangle of branches I was able to get this clean shot with the blue sky as background. Finally a half decent shot .

Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) chasing off a Coopers Hawk that had wandered into its domain. I estimate this birds territory to be 400-500 acres of open farmland. For those who know the area, that is from River Road to the Container Port. While I watched the falcon it not only bullied the Cooper's Hawk (below) but also had a run in with several Northern Harriers, a Bald Eagle and an American Kestrel.  

This Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) was hunting songbirds when it was set upon by the Prairie Falcon.


The Prairie Falcon then flew along over a fallow field chasing a Norther Harrier.
The Prairie Falcon glides at incredible speeds often snatching prey from other raptors but occasionally catching its own.


Red-tailed Hawk N2. Anyone know anything about the markings or who I should report to?



Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) was about the only raptor not to be bothered by the Prairie Falcon. I think the bird has the long beak syndrome. Anyone have an opinion.


A distant grainy, greatly cropped shot of a mid air tussle between Northern Harrier (top) and
a Red-tailed Hawk. Both birds were fighting over territory. On one stretch of road alone five species of raptors
fought over territory. Note the setting sun and the golden glow on the birds.


A  female American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) tears apart a hapless Townsend's Vole. A bone from the rodent is stuck in the telephone wire although it looks quite large, possibly from a previous kill. The bird first skinned the animal before feasting on the juicy meat. The setting sun also gave this image the orange hue.

At the End of the Day
             Can you see the 'Man in the Moon' The two distinct eyes, a nose and puckered mouth.

What can I say. Another great day out of the house, not a care in the world except making sure that I didn't get run over by farm traffic. As I mentioned the weather is changing here in B.C.and soon we can all expect a flood of migrants including the sandpipers and warblers. I for one can't wait.

Good Birding 
John Gordon 

5 comments:

  1. Great shots, especially the Prairie Falcon!

    Wing-tagged raptors in southwestern British Columbia and northwestern Washington are part of a program for airport safety and raptor conservation. Many species and high numbers have been caught, but the species seen with tags the most often is the Red-tailed Hawk.

    If you see any wing-tagged raptors in southwestern BC or northwestern Washingon, you can report the sighting to Bud Anderson (falconresearch@gmail.com) and Gary Searing (gfs@airportwildlife.ca), who likely tagged the bird that you saw. Include the tag number, date, location (coordinates help), and photos if you have any. They will get back to you and tell you also sorts of cool facts about the bird that you saw including where and when it was caught, where and when it was released, where it has been recently seen, and more.

    Near Iona Island about two months ago I saw a Red-tailed Hawk tagged "N7". I reported this tagged bird and got lots of info back about her. She was banded as a third year bird at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on 17 November 2013 and was released the next day in Chilliwack, BC, as part of a program to prevent raptors from being struck by aircrafts. This hawk returned almost immediately back to YVR. She had been seen 6 times since on the airport in a relatively small area south of the north runway and west of the new post office. My sighting of her along the Iona Island Causeway was surprise because she hadn't been seen at that location before.

    The data we get from things like this is very cool! It's also great that it is a win-win situation for the birds and aircraft safety. :)

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  2. Wow one of your best posts! I love the rough legged hawk as I don't see them that often.

    Regarding the tagged birds it's part of an airport safety program for raptors.

    You can report them here and they will give you info about the bird.

    Bud Anderson (falconresearch@gmail.com) and Gary Searing (gfs@airportwildlife.ca).
    Include the tag number, date, location (coordinates help), and photos if you have any.

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  3. For the Red-tailed Hawk, you can report it a number of ways:

    Report encounters and recoveries online at www.reportband.gov.

    Report your observations by calling the Bird Banding Office toll-free 1-800-327-2263 (1-800-327-BAND),

    By sending an e-mail message or by writing a letter to:

    Bird Banding Office
    National Wildlife Research Centre
    Environment Canada
    Ottawa ON K1A 0H3
    Canada

    Email: BBO_CWS@ec.gc.ca

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  4. The wing tags are from birds captured from the YVR airport and released elsewhere to relocation them.

    This taken from the Birding.bc.ca Forum
    "If you see any wing-tagged raptors in southwestern BC or northwestern Washingon, you can report the sighting to Bud Anderson (falconresearch at gmail.com) and Gary Searing (gfs at airportwildlife.ca), who likely tagged the bird that you saw. Include the tag number, date, location (coordinates help), and photos if you have any. They will get back to you and tell you also sorts of cool facts about the bird that you saw including where and when it was caught, where and when it was released, where it has been recently seen, and more."

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  5. John, you had a great day! Wonderful images!

    ReplyDelete