Saturday, May 19, 2012

Squamish - Vancouver

Caspian Tern
Yesterday we spent our last full day on this years tour at Squamish Estuary and Spit, this time joined by local birder and friend Derek Killby. Despite the sun shining the wind was very nearly gale force and although the para-surfers were having a great time birding proved to be quite difficult at times.

Bordered by the Spit to the West which juts out into Howe Sound, the Squamish Estuary stretches across the bay to the backend of downtown Squamish. Providing the best views of the Stawamus Chief, a huge rock dome often claimed to be the largest granite monolith in the world and reaching a height of 2,297ft

Western-wood Pewee (Record Shot)
The first notables of the day were the Barn Swallows, a real taste of home and a reasonable number kept us company throughout our stay, completely at home in the strong wind. A few shore birds were present, but to be honest we'd really expected more, Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer and a bonus was my first Pectoral Sandpiper for Canada, when we discovered one after lunch. Also recorded during our morning stay were: Marsh Wren, Savannah Sparrow, Wilson's Warbler, Purple Finch and American Goldfinch.

We had lunch in the RV sheltering from the battering wind overlooking the estuary and I spent most of my time taking numerous photographs of a River Otter, which at one time took a huge flat fish! Several Caspian Tern were also battling the wind, along with a number of Glaucous-winged Gulls and we also managed a Hermit Thrush and Warbling Vireo during a walk of one of the trails.

Black-tailed Deer @ Maplewood
A few Butterflies were on the wing despite the conditions, Mourning Cloak, which has been by far the most common during our stay and my nemesis Anise Swallowtail, which I still failed to capture on camera! Also worth a mention were Turkey Vulture and Red-breasted Sapsucker, of which there were two just prior to Derek's departure back at the campground.

The RV was due to be returned to Delta on the south side of Vancouver by 3pm Saturday and so a bonus to our plan was to fit in a brief visit to Maplewood Bird Sanctuary on route. Maplewood is somewhere I'd spent a lot of time during my stay in Vancouver last year and it was fantastic to meet up with Derek once more, who'd just completed a dawn chorus walk.

Purple Finch Skulking In The Undergrowth
One of the main reasons for our visit was to see the nesting Purple Martins, Maplewood being one of the few places to see them in BC. Unfortunately, I'd left for home before their arrival last year and so we made straight for the nesting group. It wasn't long before we had several in view, North Americas largest Swallow and a pleasure to see and hear, they have an amazing call too.

As we were enjoying the Martin's Derek pointed us in the direction of nesting Bald Eagle and Osprey and as we enjoyed the views no less than 5 Black-tailed Deer wondered past. To draw a close to this years excellent tour we also managed Western-wood Pewee, Pelagic Cormorant and fittingly the final bird to be recorded for the day, and indeed this tour, was my favourite Common Loon.

BUBO Listing