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Friday, July 24, 2015

Rain!

It's raining!  Well at least showering....a moisture falling from the sky is cause for celebration this year as there has been virtually none for the last 4 months.


You can't see them, but that corn field was full of swallows of all sorts flying down low right between the corn stalks.  The hedge row was full of birds too....


including lots of White-crowned Sparrows....including young fledglings like this one.  Probably a second hatch....


There were Black-capped Chickadee's all over the place. 

I'm always pointing out how important our native plants are...but it wasn't until today that I learned that....


Downy Woodpeckers are yet another species that feed on the berries of this shrub.


This photo shows a few things.....that the Canada Geese are back in numbers (adjacent farm fields were full of them), the water levels are dropping to the point that vegetation is showing up over there in the background, and look at the hillside....can't say I've ever seen it as dry as it is this year...no wonder the fire hazard rating is extreme!


another species seen today was this Cedar Waxwing youngster.

and speaking of youngsters, this evening took the camera with me when did the evening 'dog walk'....


there were all kinds of young Song Sparrows down at the waters edge.  In fact the last few days the bushes down there have been alive with birds, mainly American Goldfinch and Bush Tits.

The reason I'd taken the camera was to show that....


water levels are  so low that it won't be long until we'll be able to walk over to the park again.  Something that we normally can't do until September or even October!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Species number 180!

Tuesday, July 14th was a perfect morning for a canoe trip.....


set out on calm waters and headed over towards the Harrison River.  Some days when you are out there, there are birds everywhere, some days not so much....


that isn't to say there were no birds, but they were keeping their distance.  Water levels have dropped to where the gravel bars are quite visible under the water....at it's current rate conditions should be just about perfect for migrating shore birds which will be happening pretty much anytime now.  There were lots of Canada Geese out there, most of them just finishing up their molt and once again, airborne.


went ashore at this log jam which lies between the estuary and the Harrison River proper.  There had been a couple of Osprey here until we got close.  There were also large numbers of swallows of all descriptions, Tree, Violet-Green, Barn and Northern Rough-wing, but all flying, not perched for pictures....

Also flying here were....


5 or 6 of these.....Caspian Tern!  Didn't have the right camera with me for capturing birds in flight but this is one of those 'proof they were there' photos and this makes species #180 that I've documented for the estuary.  They were only there for a few minutes, obviously just passing through.


not quite as exciting...we did see a number of Red-wing Blackbirds...all down low and being quiet....


Even the Chehalis river wasn't it's usual hot bed of bird activity.  A few Cedar Waxwing flew across, saw one Spotted Sandpiper and caught sight of an adult Catbird with a mouthful of food, so obviously nestlings nearby....only bird that co-operated momentarily was....


this, Eastern Kingbird....a fairly regular 'uncommon' summer visitor to the area.

Any further exploration was called off due to the wind that had come up resulting in white cap waves.  Hopefully we'll get out again before water levels drop too much and maybe next time birds will be a little more co-operative.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Finally, a cool day.....

Took advantage of the first nice cool (well seasonal) day in at least a couple of weeks, to go for a walk over at Harrison Bay.  First surprise was getting out of the car and realizing......

 
These little guys (Barn Swallows) were perched on a rock just a few feet from the car.
 
The birds were obviously enjoying the cooler weather as much as we were.....
 
 
 
Perched here was a young Northwestern Crow.....
 
 
There were some Cedar Waxwings perched on the wires nearby......
 
 
There is a young Bullock's Oriole hidden behind the leaves in this photo....
 
 
a bit further along there were a number of Spotted Sandpipers, right on the dike and obviously not happy with us being there.  There must have been young nearby but obviously well hidden.
 
Also nearby....
 
 
 
the Himalayan Blackberries are ripe already....3 or 4 weeks earlier than normal.
 
Further on was extremely excited to spot this....
 
 
male Common Yellowthroat....catching bugs to feed.....
 
 
this, one of several fledglings.
 
Overseeing the whole scene.....
 
 
this Bald Eagle..... and there were quite a few.....
 
 
White-crowned Sparrows scattered along the walk.
 



Monday, July 6, 2015

Sizzling, smokey July

Well it has been awhile.....took some time away from the estuary and ever since coming back temperatures have been sizzling....yesterday reaching 37 C, in fact there hasn't been a day in probably the last 10 that we haven't reached at least the 30 C mark.

Then this morning we woke to this.....


a very smoky log bay.  My husband actually took this photo as the smoke is a blessing in disguise, suppressing the temperature enough that he could actually take our dogs for a good walk.


He also spotted this young Great Blue Heron in the grasses to the side of the bay.

At lunch time we decided to venture over to Kilby and Harrison Bay.....


also smoky.  Good news is that water levels are staying high.  So many rivers and streams are drying up throughout the province with virtually no rain for almost 3 months now and no snow pack from last winter to replenish supplies.


Driving back we spotted this Wilson's Snipe standing right on the edge of the road.  Of course once we stopped and backed up, it had made it's way through the grass and then into a muddy drainage ditch where attempts for a better photo were futile.


Here is a look up the Harrison River towards the estuary....


and the view from Morris Valley Road.  Wanted to mention .....


that this too is a little unsettling....one doesn't expect to find ripe Himalayan Blackberries until August....not the first week of July!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Interesting day on the water.....

Sunday morning looked like a beautiful day to head out on the water...


we started out skirting the shoreline, heading  down along the front of Eagle Point park as I wanted to confirm what I'd already seen on the Fraser Valley Birding Facebook page that


our little colony of Coastal Purple Martins had returned and successfully raised young again.  The little guy in the above photo was not quite fledged to the flying stage.


Every single bird house was occupied by either Tree or Violet Green Swallows.  It is too bad something couldn't be done as so many of these nest boxes are in need of work but even though they are falling off, the birds have made use of them.


We then did an about face and headed over to the mouth of a branch of the Chehalis River.


the landscape was marred slightly by this decaying structure.  If you follow this blog you will recall my reporting that last summer, for the first time, local first nations set up 'camps' out on the estuary and spread nets in areas they had never been before.  Obviously that included across this branch of the Chehalis river.


headed up the river itself....


and then up a further branch, one we'd never made quite this far before until a fallen tree blocked further progress.  Right in the middle of the above photo there is a male Wood Duck.  Also spotted a young Hooded Merganser and a young Common Merganser had fled as we approached.

 

Bird calls had accompanied us the whole trip but not many were visible until a pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers caught our attention as they were busy 'fly catching' - an activity I had no idea they did.


We put ashore on some recently exposed land and 'spotted' this Spotted Sandpiper.....


we were also being scolded by this Gray Catbird as obviously there was a nest in the vicinity.

About this time it was getting pretty hot and we decided to head for home.....we'd just started across the open water when we could hear a lot of eagle 'carry on' over close to Morris Valley Road.


Between what we could see and a first hand account from a couple kayaking only a few paddle lengths from where it started....there had been a mature Bald Eagle attacked by a second mature eagle and driven into the water.  The first eagle in the above photo had managed to swim to the stump while the second bird circled around for another attack.


a third eagle (again a mature) then joined in and between the two, drove the first bird back in the water and proceeded to attack, attempting to drown it.  At this point the kayaker intervened giving the bird a chance....


and it managed to lift out of the water and fly over to this submerged log quite close to our canoe.


although wet from it's swim it didn't appear to be too injured.  We did go out later in the evening just to make sure it wasn't still stuck out there somewhere but there was no sign of it so we assume it made good it's escape.


One last photo...spotted this male Bullock's Oriole as we were launching the canoe for the evening trip.

Friday, June 12, 2015

It's been a month.....

It has been over a month since I've done a report.  We've spent three weeks away at various favorite birding spots and then an early record breaking heat wave discouraged going for walks.....but today, being cooler, we made it over to Harrison Bay to see what a months change looked like.


First thing to point out is the water level.  Higher than we would have expected given the low snow pack, at least locally.  Water normally peaks at this time in June, so this is probably it.


The other notable thing is how dry the vegetation is already.  The green field has been irrigated, the brown grass is on the outside of the fence and has already turned brown.


Nice to see the Salmon Berries ripe and juicy....Robin's love these...


and I'm always promoting the values of this native tree, the Cascara...notice the berries...they aren't ripe yet, when they are they will disappear fast - so many birds love them.


So speaking of birds.....saw this Spotted Towhee.....


and I think that is a fledgling one....

We saw lots of....


White-crowned Sparrows....all adults but most had mouthfuls of feed so I think there were a lot of babies hidden down in the grasses.


There were a lot of Swallows of various types flying over the hay fields....Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, and like this one, Violet Green Swallows.


There was a Great Blue Heron hiding down in a slough....lots of Spotted Sandpiper around too but none staying still long enough for a picture.

Some wildflowers too....


like these Oxeye Daisies....


and this Chicory....


and these cute little flowers, obviously members of the Morning Glory family...hopefully not a horrible invasive weed!  Will have to do some research on them.

If the winds we've had the last few days die down we'll try and get out on the water because I hear our Purple Martin colony is back and active.