Thursday, November 26, 2015

Possible McKAY's BUNTING on Sunshine Coast, November 24

On November 24 at approximately 10:00 a.m., John Hodges found an interesting Plectrophenax bunting along the Roberts Creek Pier on the Sunshine Coast (between Gibsons and Sechelt).  He managed to watch the bird for around 15 minutes, but heavy foot traffic at the site resulted in the bird being flushed repeatedly and subsequent search efforts have failed to relocate it.

In this photo, the bird appears very pale overall, especially on the mantle, greater coverts and primaries

This photo emphasizes the paleness of the bird, with the mantle down through the uppertail coverts being much whiter than you would expect on a Snow Bunting.
And here's one last shot to show this bird's paleness compared to typical Snow Buntings
Based on the thin, dark streaks on the mantle and the lack of dark markings from the back down to the uppertail coverts, this bird should be a McKay's Bunting or McKay's x Snow Bunting hybrid.

In addition to searching the immediate area, birders on the Lower Mainland should be on the lookout for this bird.  Only three McKay's Buntings have been recorded in British Columbia, which are summarized in an E-Fauna article here: 

You will note the similarity in appearance of the above bird to the second-winter female seen at the Iona Jetty in the winter of 2004/5, shown in the article linked above.  As always, input on the identification is welcome and appreciated.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tufted Duck at Salt Spring Island, Nov. 15

On the morning of Nov. 15, John Sprague found a Tufted Duck in Outer Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island. The bird was floating in a raft of 51 Red-breasted Mergansers, and several grebes. He described the bird as a juvenile.

The bird was about 300 m away near Third Sisters Island, and good scope views were obtained.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


On November 9th Geoffrey Newell found a finch near the corner of Beach Dr. and Newport Ave. at the Victoria Golf Course at 12:00 pm. The bird was reported to be very vocal, calling from a tree top and roof top. Initially identified as a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, photos that were subsequently posted appear to show an Oriental Greenfinch.

The call heard was described as a "rather soft, yet slightly husky, and obviously finch-like chortle, somewhat like 'prech prech prech' with 3-4 notes together".

The bird was not found during searches on Nov. 11th.

Two photos were obtained. The bottom picture here is a crop of one of these photos.
Photos: Geoffrey Newell

There are six subspecies of Oriental Greenfinch. Only one, C. s. kawarahiba, is generally considered to be able to vagrate to North America owing to its breeding range and migratory habits. Although the photo is poor, the deep chestnut breast and perhaps head pattern seem to fit this subspecies.

This bird was confirmed by the BC Bird Records Commitee as the first confirmed record for the province of British Columbia.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

NORTHERN PARULA at Vaseux Lake - Nov 5

This morning Jim Ginns, Janna Leslie and Paul Graham found a beautiful immature male Northern Parula! The bird was first seen at 9:15 am and was still present when they left at 10:45 am. It was foraging in the birch trees just before the start of the board walk. The bird stayed on the north side of the trail for the most part actively foraging in the birch. Paul Graham photographed the bird.

*Update - The bird has not been relocated on Nov 6th.*

Photo: Paul Graham

Monday, November 2, 2015

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Victoria - November 2

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was found the morning of November 2nd in Victoria near the Chinese Cemetary (at Crescent Rd/Penzance Rd east of Clover Point) by Mike and Barb McGrenere. The bird was seen until about 10:15 am. The bird was in some low bushes at the point before flying north of the point towards some houses and into a pine tree. It was reportedly calling and foraging.

The bird was not relocated on November 3rd.

Photo: Aziza Cooper