a trip to Pitt Meadows for a Prairie Falcon

BEYOND, Birds, British Columbia, Travel

It seems to be a recent tradition of mine to go birding in the Vancouver area after our annual RC Pets conference.  Whether it is one day or two I try to make the best of my free time in the beautiful province of British Columbia.

What I would really love to see someday are the Coastal Wolves of Vancouver Island, but that is not practical in February, and so I bird.

I had about 8 hours of daylight available until I had to be the airport on my day off so I connected with Jim Palmer, and we headed out to the “valley”.  I had two targets in mind that were being regularly seen in that area, both Falcons.  We dipped on one, but I got to see the one I will never see in Nova Scotia, so it all turned out just fine.

We could not locate the Gyrfalcon and believe it may not be around anymore as it hadn’t been spotted in a couple of days, but that’s okay potentially I’ll get one in Newfoundland in April.  If not this year, then the next perhaps. We did get to see two Coopers Hawks in the location where the Gyr had been frequenting, and a Red-tailed Hawk was also eyeing up their territory so perhaps the farm area was a bit “over-raptored”. 

We did get the Prairie Falcon, which is quite unlikely to ever turn up in Atlantic Canada with its strictly western range.  We have never had a report of one in Nova Scotia to my knowledge.  It made a brief and speedy flyby just as we stopped the car. Then it flew directly into a cluster of very tall trees in the distance where we would perhaps never have spotted it without being alerted to it’s location

Hopefully this excuses my nearly unidentifiable shot.  We did get excellent looks in a 60 zoom scope, as well saw him fly close to the car and then followed with binoculars.  My out the window shot is not so wonderful either, but those buggers move fast!

this is with a crop sensor and 400mm lens and this is also cropped and zoomed in on the computer!
got the car window open before I could even get the door open so still not ideal but happy to have documented this wonderful lifer

Of course, I had hoped to get shots like the ones I saw on Cornell before we set out.

image taken from Cornell library – it would appear they set the bar a little too high…LOL

But I clearly did not, so here are some pretty duck photos I took later.

Northern Pintail and a couple of Green-winged Teal heading for the hills it would appear
male Northern Pintail – there were 250 of them in the settling ponds at the Iona Park

I got two other lifers that day, California Scrub Jay (also bad photos) and Marsh Wren.

high up in a tree behind someone’s house was this California Scrub Jay with more time I may have gotten a better photo but you gotta keep on moving or you’ll miss stuff
the Marsh Wrens are small and skulky but didn’t get a bad shot – the real treat was listening to them sing though – super cool little birds – there were lots of them at Iona Park

As usual the best part of birding in British Columbia was the scenery.

a view of Grant Narrows from “the valley” in Pitt Meadows

Perhaps one day when I finally see my Coastal Wolves, I can see some Tufted Puffins too. 

Tofino, and maybe someday the mighty Haida Gwaii are calling my name…