Days in Pictures

Something old, something new, something white, something black

Full of surprises

The weekend of September 16–17 and the following week held a surprising number of rarities, both intentional and not.

September 16: Reifel Bird Sanctuary

We headed down to Reifel on Saturday, since I’d heard a quartet of American Avocets had been hanging around for at least a couple weeks. Plus, you can never get enough Reifel. I’d seen one last fall in very poor conditions—too far away, light too dim—but this time I managed to get some excellent photos of these beautiful and elegant birds!

An American Avocet, an elegant shorebird with white body, black-and-white wings and a slim black upturned bill, is wading knee-deep in water
Daintiness personified

And a surprise: a White-fronted Goose! Just the second time I’ve seen one of these birds. The first was two years ago in Sunset Beach Park, of all places. Don’t really know if it counts as a rarity, but with two years between sightings, let’s say it is.

A Greater White-fronted Goose -- a mostly brown goose with a white face patch above its bill -- is swimming in the water

Of course we have Yellow-rumped Warblers, which for some reason I hardly ever see in the fall.

A female Yellow-rumped Warbler is sitting on a branch

Now, Mallards are pretty much the opposite of “rarity”, but I did enjoy taking some action shots of their vigorous bathing techniques! Damn near filled up my card that day with burst shots, I need to get bigger ones.

September 17: Brunswick Point

Sunday I headed down to Brunswick Point on my own to hunt down a pack of American White Pelicans I heard were there. And I found them… sort of? Probably? Like, way off in the distance.

A hazy shot of faraway white birds. I believe they are American White Pelicans but I can't make out any details to confirm
Pelican-shaped blobs

The rare bird alert said there were 56, but this is definitely not 56. I guess the rest have moved on… but hey, I’ll accept what’s left!

Lincoln’s Sparrows are expected in these parts, so they don’t count as “rarities”. Still, they’re rare enough for me! Almost three years after my first and only sighting, and then I see at least two in one day. That’s how it goes sometimes!

Overall though, as with my previous visit, the Brunswick Point trail was a bit disappointing birb-wise. Though my little feathered friends were plentiful, they were hard to shoot, and I think that’s because the light was in the way. Too harsh most of the time, shadows too dark. Most of the action seemed to either take place in dense bushes, or out on the flats where I had to shoot against the light. Meh.

Scenery was nice, though!

View from the Brunswick Point trail: green grasses, calm water under a mostly blue sky
Scenery was indeed nice
September 21: Reifel Bird Sanctuary again

Because again, you can never get enough Reifel!

The Avocets were still there, by the way, which really raises the question of how long they’ll stick around. The whole winter? Is this a new thing for some Avocets, to spend the cold season in some pond in Delta? It’s not a bad spot, not as warm as Mexico but better than a prairie winter. I’m sure they could make it work!

Also there: not one, not two, but at least a dozen White-fronted Geese! flying overhead! Sadly they were only briefly “there” since it looks like they didn’t stop at Reifel. Still, that was very cool. I could tell there was something off about these guys since they didn’t look or sound anything like Canada Geese or Snow Geese (which have yet to make an appearance as of this writing, as far as I can tell).

As a cherry on the cake, I present… a Black Phoebe! Not a great photo, the light wasn’t ideal, but it’s a lifer and I’ll post it with bells on!

A Black Phoebe -- a mostly dark flycatcher-like bird -- is sitting on a little branch just out of the water, in the shade
It’s black, so that’s truth in advertising

The really amazing thing is that when I headed out to Pitt Meadows to find another one like it—or maybe the same one, who knows?—I didn’t get near the reported spot while here I just stumble on this rarity. And didn’t even realise what I found until I ran the photo through Merlin. You really have to laugh. But also, maybe the moral of the story is that rarities can crop up anywhere, you just have keep your eyes open.

Not that that’ll stop me from going on the occasional bird alert road trip, of course…

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