Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Spring Like

Savannah Sparrow
At last the sun shone over Vancouver and an opportunity once more to go further afield. After meeting up with Rob Catchpole we made the decision to have another go at Boundary Bay, this would be my third visit.

I like this area a lot, the fact that the bay is on the Pacific Flyway makes it an exciting birding destination. The spectacular setting of sand dunes, salt marshes, lagoons and tidal flats, plus it's reputation for hosting Canada's largest population of wintering raptors, makes for some excellent birding.

We began our birding day at the 12th Avenue Dyke Trail and had literally only taken a few steps before a Merlin flew low across our path, a terrific start to the day. Heading south along the trail it wasn't long before it became apparent that there had been a large influx of Savannah Sparrow, I stopped counting after the first two dozen. Most Savannah's migrate and spend the winter from the southern United States as far south as Central America, I find them quite attractive little birds and probably my favourite Sparrow.

Tree Swallow and Violet Green Swallow had also increased in numbers since my last visit and the usual hoards of Bald Eagle were also constantly in view. Unfortunately high tide wasn't until after dark but from a distance we did managed good numbers of Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin and Sanderling, there were also some small flocks of Brant just visible in the distance.

After a quick chat with a couple of local birders we moved into the interior where several Northern Harrier, including two stunning males, were constantly in sight. Northern Flicker were as vocal as ever and several Marsh Wren were constantly calling from the reeds, a few Golden-crowned Sparrow were also around. As we moved back across to return to the Dyke Trail some excellent views of Peregrine hunting overhead.

After lunch we moved off northwards, once again rejoining the Dyke Trail at 17th Avenue, in the hope of Mountain Bluebird which occasionally drop in here on migration. I was delighted to see my first two Butterflies of the spring, unfortunately too far out for species recognition, and we were lucky enough to watch two Coyote for a good while before we eventually moved on. Worth a mention too that at least five Eurasian Wigeon were mingled in with their American cousins near the greenhouse ponds.

By the time we'd reached the 72nd Street car park we'd decided to call it a day, but not before registering Red-Tailed Hawk and watching a Short-eared Owl quartering the tidal flats, looking absolutely stunning in the bright sunshine. We bombed on the Bluebirds but had an excellent birding day out, the good news is that the weather is set fine for my visit to Iona tomorrow.