Birding in Israel

May 28th, 2013
Eurasian Hoopoe in hand

Eurasian Hoopoe – Banding Station, Jerusalem Bird Observatory

European Bee-eater

Little Egret

Little Owl

72nd Ave – Boundary Bay

April 29th, 2012
Northern Harrier female

Northern Harrier on her toe-tips

Yellow-headed Blackbird male

Yellow-headed Blackbird (male)

Two male Yellow-headed Blackbirds were in a flock of 15 Brown-headed Cowbirds and 2 Red-winged Blackbirds females. They landed on a bush along the golf course, at the base of 72nd St. Is there an appropriate habitat inside the golf course, or were they just passing by?

Field Work

June 18th, 2011

We arrived at Monominto Rd. early on a drizzly morning.
I was sent to spy on a couple of Golden-winged Warblers who had chipped at Laurel before. I had to bushwack my way there between vegetation dripping with raindrops. I arrived at the location and walked around a bit.

And then it happened – I got chipped at by a Warbler. Other birds came to check out the source of commotion too. I hid and watched. The Warbler hopped between trees and finally dropped to the ground at the base of a bush. Ah-ha! I approached the spot, and when I got too close the warbler flashed. I looked and looked for the nest, and couldn’t find it.
In the meantime the warbler kept chipping at me.

Ok, can’t keep a Warbler too long off her nest. and get chipped at. So I went into hiding again. I didn’t have to hide for a long before the lady warbler dropped down to the ground again at the same location. I waited five minutes to give her some time to warm her eggs. Then I approached again, step by step, looking carefully so that if she flashed I could see exactly where she came from. She didn’t flash. Eventually I was crouched near the spot where she dropped to the ground… And I found myself looking into the warbler’s eyes. A small bird with a well hidden nest. I didn’t want to disturb her any further so I tied a pink band to the bush and left. Later I went there with Laurel to show her the nest. Laurel poked the warbler gently and – five 1 day old nestlings, cute as buttons!!

Golden-winged Warbler

A banded male Golden-winged Warbler

This Spring I’m searching Golden-winged Warbler nests in South-East Manitoba. In the mornings we search for nests, and at the end of the day we search for ticks on our clothes, skin and hair.
I came to know by sight and sound 40 new species for the price of 100 mosquito bites.
Manitoba has some marvelous birds, and I’ll miss them.

Iona Island Bird Observatory

April 1st, 2011

Winter was long and hard, and on the few and far between dry mornings enjoyed on the Northwest coast, I was trying to learn how to band birds.

My first banded Song Sparrow

First banded Song Sparrow and I

Mike Boyd introduced me to the fine art of bird banding. After years of handling nothing but computer keyboards and a few paper clips, this was a challenge.

Mike Boyd

Mike Boyd holding a Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl who run into the mist-net

If getting up at 4am and learning how to band birds sounds like your cup of tea, contact Mike at Wild Research.

Glaucous-winged Gull @ Reifel

February 9th, 2011

The highlight of today’s visit to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary was a first year Glaucous-winged Gull. The young Gull was begging for food of an adult Gull; The latter yielded and regurgitated a large amorphous ball.
Unfortunately, I was eating a sandwich at that time, but oh well.

Now, this Gull is not a spring chick anymore, I assume?
Time to get independent?

The Northern Hawk Owl was still at his usual place (coupled with another rare sighting of Birder Marc, who was keeping to more northern latitudes throughout the last winter month), and at Boundary Bay a Short-eared Owl was flying around.

Bohemian Waxwings @ Maplewood flats

February 5th, 2011

Nonconformists as birds, showing up for a group of dedicated bird watchers who arrived for Maplewood Flats’ bird count on time was not their style.

The Bohemian Waxwings have no permanent addresses, they hold no territory and opportunistically stay wherever fruits are available.

I was 10 minutes late. I stopped near the bird feeders, and Birder Gordon appeared. Gordon pointed out the 4 birds on a short tree in the nursery. They were dressed for a party, with black eye masks and gray gowns that blended into brown at the upper body, with some gaudy color sprinkles on the wings. They were making short trips from their perch on the tree to the berry bushes.

We were invited for the party, so we stayed for a while and mingled.

Burnaby Lake

January 26th, 2011

The welcoming committee of Burnaby Lake Park consisted of Canada Geese.

Canada Geese

A formal delegation of Canada Geese

I enjoyed the bike ride there, it was 11°C with patches of blue skies, and birds! Happiness.

The bird of the day was a Townsend’s Warbler, a fairly rare bird here in winter, perched high on a leafless tree in the private yard in front of the nature house (viewed from outside the yard). It was sallying for flies.

Wood Ducks

A couple of Wood Ducks

Pat’s bird feeder

January 23rd, 2011

Dear Pat,

I passed by your yard today and I noticed that you keep your grains and suet hanging outside.

Not a very well thought out idea, I would say. It was quiet as a graveyard when I came, but I had a suspicion so I waited. Just as I thought – 8 minutes passed and a band of little bushtits appeared and clung all over your suet like it’s theirs. There were maybe 20 of them, it was scary to watch.

Once they came, all other critters showed up from nowhere, I tell you, and they were after your food. Chickadees (Black-capped and Chestnut-backed), Song Sparrows, Juncos – even a bloody Downy Woodpecker, female, thought she had business there. There were some more fowls flying around, two young Eagles and a Hawk, this city has too many birds, too bad city council doesn’t do something about it, like trimming more of those trees and bushes, drying out the ponds.

There was also a small one with a metal-green shiny back, what was it, an Anna’s Hummingbird? This critter wouldn’t even be here this time of year if people like you wouldn’t leave their sugar water outside!

Just thought you should be aware,



Just birds

January 22nd, 2011

Today’s highlights: there’s an Eurasian Wigeon at Hastings Park, a single Snow Goose still hangs out with the Canada Geese at the Racecourse track, and 11 Oystercatchers on the rocks at Second beach, Stanley Park.

Yesterday I became the BC Bird Alert regional coordinator for the Vancouver and Lower Mainland area. The birds below will never make the cut, but they were the only ones who consented to have their picture taken.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan at Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Westham Island

January 15th, 2011

40% chance of showers was the best I could get, so I headed out to Ladner again. This time I made a detour in an attempt to have a look at a single Northern Mockingbird who was visiting the area. Nothing! Coyotes were roaming the distant fields. Like every frustrated bird watcher, I made a call to the bird complaint department. “I told you I’m coming. Way to treat a client.” The public relations representative twittered. She asked for my location and my destination, and said she’ll try to arrange something.

Within a short while I noticed a Peregrine Falcon perched on a tree, and nearby 5 Eurasian Collared-Doves. I was still on River Road. I was pleased. I entered Westham Island, and a male Northern Harrier performed an air show together with a Rough-legged Hawk. The bird department was making an effort to keep their clients happy.

In a yard at the intersection of Westham Island Road and Kirkland Road there were 6 male Ring-necked Pheasants. Reportedly these were introduced from Alberta by a different kind of bird watchers who enjoy, ahmm…, shooting their birds.

In Reifel nothing new. At 2pm the promised showers had arrived and by 4pm the showers were turning into rain, and I was heading back on my bike, binoculars packed, no more birding today, and getting soaking wet. Guess no Hawk Owl today. The Hawk Owl has appeared in all the local newspapers and gained the status of a celebrity by now.

At 2 minutes past 4pm I passed the first bend on Westham Island Road. Through my raindrop covered glasses, perched on a 2 meter high signpost right in front of me, there he was! I wasn’t used to see the Northern Hawk Owl without all the crews and cameras. The few cars passing by didn’t stop, and for 10 minutes it was only me and him! He flew from the signpost to an adjacent powerline, dived down and caught a rodent in front of me. Then he flew to some tree and bid me a safe ride. What a dude!