24 April 2013

Tufted Duck on local pond!

It is soooo exciting to see something in your area that you had only ever seen before in the field guides.

If the bird had stayed sleeping, with head tucked under wing, there had been no wind, or if I didn't have just this ever so slight hint of competitiveness in me, we likely would not have picked this bird out. All these were in our favour, though, as an average birding afternoon suddenly turned amazing!

I was paying particular attention to all scaupy, ring-necked things because my birding companion had shown a particular talent of late of being able to quickly pick out single Greater Scaup from floating flocks of its Lesser buddies and I was hoping to get one first.

Our usual view point above the lake, at 200 meters to the water, is still a bit of a stretch for my battered up scope so when I saw those long plumes fluttering in the breeze, a few blinks were needed before I could admit to myself I may actually be seeing a, what's that called? Oh yeah, TUFTED DUCK. Holey Gaia!

This 'record' photo, taken by G. Ross, catches the plumes pretty well! And, is that a female just in front of it? We didn't notice her in this view. We were so fixated on keeping track of the male, alternately sleeping and preening, as it steady drifted downwind and further away.  All the while Scaup, American Wigeons, Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks swam slowly this way and that, and all around him. And we were also trying to pick out another male, to no avail.

When he preened, and sometimes, as he angled to the wind while sleeping, his plumes fluttered or whipped straight up or curved delicately in silhouette. Very pretty. And the line between his white sides and dark back is such a beautiful curve, one created by nature but so perfect in design, even those painstakingly copied by all engineers and artists are wanting and his envied.

01 April 2013

Young birder reconnects during his Big Year

Great day birding yesterday with 'young' ryan johnston, and partner Vanessa. Ryan started birding around here at age 13, I believe, and now lives in Vancouver. He is doing a Big Year this year for himself. His stories were of strange happenings and characters during Christmas Bird Counts and Little Big Days around here in years past. So fun to hear.

It was that-kind-of-funny because we had just been evoking his name this past CBC season as a young birder that had taken to birding quite well and seemed to have continued.

Yesterday, he picked out a calling Spotted Towhee for us, a Brown Creeper, a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers, and many more. I must have added about 10 species to my year list!

At present, he is number one on eBird for BC species submitted. Yay! We were able to show him Blue Jays by following the sights of a kerfuffle happening in a big fir tree up from the end of Baker Street - three Jays were worrying a pair of American Crows breaking off twigs for a nest. The Jays flipped and flapped and called but the crows basically just ignored them non-plussed.

We hope ryan has fun this year and hope he will return to get the Grackles in Fernie or any other BC rarities we can scrape up for him. Thanks ryan!

Here is his blog's initial post.


Here is his flickr page.


 Dianne Cooper