Saturday, January 3, 2009

And the year begins

While everyone else was still hungover in their beds, or their gutters. I was trudging through a fresh five centimeters of snow, on top of another foot or so, feet already soaked, looking for my first rarity of the year.

A few days ago, a Northern Goshawk was reported from the ponds at Jericho beach. Last year an immature had spent the winter, and it was believed to be the same individual. To make things more interesting, another Goshawk, an immature was also seen. Some speculated it was the returning adult, with its offspring.

From the parking lot I quickly spotted 2 Bohemian Waxwings up at the top of a willow tree. My first for the winter!

Walking towards the ponds, I passed through some low shrubbery, I paused when I noticed a couple of bunnies, I was surprised when 3 more came out of the dense brush, they were all very curious of me. Obviously these were all at one time pets, and it was sort of heartbreaking to see these guys out in the snow, I’m pretty sure they were hungry, especially in the snow.

From jan1st

From jan1st

Birds were active everywhere in the snow. I counted at least ten Spotted Towhees, lots of Fox and Song Sparrows, and a few White-crowns as well.

Halfway to the ponds I spotted the shape of a raptor sitting in a willow tree, I got a look at it just before it took off, I only saw it from the back, but it was obviously the adult Goshawk. It was being harassed by crows, but by the time I had walked around the pond, it had flown back into the willows, above the only open water, which was teaming with ducks. The Goshawk has adopted a simple feeding plan, it waits above the open water, and picks off Widgeons one by one. This has probably been made a lot easier with the freezing of Jericho ponds, as all the ducks are crowded together and really have no option of escape when a Goshawk comes barreling down on them. For whatever reason he seems to always pick off Widgeon, even though the Mallards outnumber them 2:1.

Northern Goshawk

From jan1st

I followed the beach on my way back, there wasn’t much out on Georgia straight, but I did see a single Sanderling.


From jan1st

After Jericho, I hit up Stanley Park. Lost Lagoon was also mostly frozen over. Where there was open water, I found a Common Goldeneye, eight Ring-necked Duck, and the resident pair of Mute Swans.

Common Goldeneye

From jan1st

From jan1st

Ring-necked Duck

From jan1st

Mute Swan

From jan1st

After Stanley Park I headed out to Maplewood Flats. I met Illya(again) as well as Rob Lyske, who is the resident Maplewood birder. I birded Maplewood with them, it was really quiet through the forests. I did however find a Lesser Yellowlegs on the shoreline, along with Greater Yellowlegs and California Gull. They had seen a Spotted Sandpiper there earlier, I was not as lucky. John Reynolds, another North shore birder met up with us. I was introduced as Ryan aka “Tropical Kingbird Ryan”. I think its pretty funny that that’s how I am now known amongst the birders, which is actually pretty cool. I think I’ve gone relatively unknown since I’ve been in Vancouver. It’s nice to be recognized for once as being a decent birder who knows what he’s doing.

After Maplewood I probably should’ve called it in, but instead of going home and drying off my feet, I drove out to Iona. I thought maybe I could find something interesting in the sewage lagoons. When I arrived I saw that no birder had set foot in there for quite some time, with good reason, the Lagoons were frozen over, and I didn’t really find anything special. One pond was open and I got Gadwall and Shoveler, birds I hadn’t seen on the day.

I had a good chuckle walking back to my car. Here it was New Years Day, everyone had gone out and partied last night, and I had gone to bed early, and now was walking through the snow around the Sewage Ponds. And yet I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The only birder to bother

From jan1st

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