Thursday, 5 July 2012

Purple Martins' Majesty

Another school year is finished with a mad flurry of activity but CalgaryBirder now finds himself enjoying vacation sunshine on the west side of Vancouver Island.  En route, we spent two rainy days in North Vancouver and I took the opportunity to checkout the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area.  This is considered to be a "must see" birding spot in BC's Lower Mainland and, as it's been well covered by local bloggers, I'll simply leave you with these two links and move on to the digiscoped photos:
  1. Birding in Vancouver has a site guide with recommended trails, and,
  2. BirdtrekkerBC has some photos and a species checklist
The species I particularly wanted to see were Purple Martins, which nest on the piers out on the mudflats.  So far I've missed these in Alberta - just haven't been in the right place at the right time.  There were certainly no trouble to find as they were bombing around the shoreline hunting and calling loudly.
Nestboxes out on the mudflats 
Purple Martins pausing for a rest between feedings.  The two birds with the pale faces are juveniles.
Other birds also make use of the piers (I think that's the right term?).   This is a Bald Eagle, like I needed to tell you that!

The "flats" part of Maplewood Flats looks like this.  I didn't see any shorebirds, as early July is the narrow window between northbound stragglers and southbound early-birds.  There were 6 Great Blue Herons, almost all in the arc of this photo.
Purple Martins weren't the only life bird for the morning.  Although I'm fairly certain I've seen this particular flycatcher before, I've never had the chance to confirm the ID, which is by song.  Anyway, here's the bird:
An Empidonax Flycatcher, but which one?
And here's the ID...
Handheld videoscoping doesn't give great results but it's the soundtrack that counts - "rrritz-bew" is unmistakably a Willow Flycatcher, common enough but still eluding me in Alberta.

I'm off on a sea kayaking trip tomorrow but will keep the blog updated with some more sightings, although if you want a sneak preview have a look under "Checklists".