[Tweeters] Blue-tail, W-w Crossbills, Brambling, and Bundary Bay Owls

wheelermombi at comcast.net wheelermombi at comcast.net
Sun Jan 27 08:33:41 PST 2013

Hi Tweeters,

Yesterday (Sat.), Dave and Sherry Hayden, Gary Wiles, and I spent what had to be one of the more amazing NW birding days that we've ever had up in BC. We went to the same 3 locations mentioned by Marcus in his post (in fact, we ran into Marcus and Heather at all 3 locations). Besides planning the trip ahead of time, we were also treated with excellent advice from some very friendly Canadian birders.

Probably less than a dozen birders were looking for the RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL when we arrived at Queen's Park, which was a bit surprising to me. We were able to watch it, initially skulking in the shadows and playing hide-and-seek, and then in the open through a scope, as it sat for a time on a log. What a beautiful bird! This was, of course, a lifer for the 4 of us.

Our next stop was Burnaby Lake Regional Park. As in Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, many of the birds here are used to being fed and allow one to approach very closely. In addition to numerous species of waterfowl and common winter passerines, we were treated to fairly decent looks at the flock of 25 or so WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS that was mentioned by Marcus. In addition, another flock of perhaps 100+ crossbills flew overhead but didn't land, so there was no way to know how many of either crossbill species were represented. This was a real nemesis species for me, so it was quite a treat to be able to watch a flock of them feeding in the Sitka Spruces. It was a lifer for both myself and Sherry.

We then battled city traffic and eventually made our way to the Brambling stop. Dave immediately spotted it upon our arrival (it was that kind of day; the birds were very cooperative), and we were able to watch it up close and often in the open for several minutes. Then it was off to Boundary Bay.

Boundary Bay was amazing. We arrived sometime after 3:00 and stayed for a little over an hour. While driving down 72nd St. to access the dike, we were treated to trees full of BALD EAGLES, one having 9 individuals. I stopped counting after seeing 50 of them. Walking down the dike pathway we counted 11 SNOWY OWLS, all of which were near the water, unlike last year when a few sat much closer to the path. We also saw at least 16 SHORT-EARED OWLS, although there could very well have been more as they really began to move around as dusk approached. None of us had ever seen so many of this species in a single location; it was quite amazing. They would occasionally spar with the numerous NORTHER HARRIERS, both species often vocalizing, which was extremely cool. There were also 2 MERLINS, a RED-TAILED HAWK, and a lot of BALD EAGLES, making for an incredible raptor display. I really recommend seeing this, particularly in the late afternoon, before the birds all migrate on. Over the water, a flock of 30+ PACIFIC LOONS flew past while we were there.

We were hoping to go for the Bellingham N. Mockingbird on the way home, but a long line at the border crossing caused us to run out of daylight. We were getting greedy anyway.

Good birding,

Lonnie Somer
wheelermombi at comcast.net

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