Friday, May 26, 2017

RBA: RED-THROATED PIPIT in Victoria - May 26th

At 7:30am on May 26-2017, while conducting a seawatch at the Victoria Golf Course, Geoffrey Newell heard a Red-throated Pipit call 6 times as it flew North past Gonzales Point in Victoria.

The bird has not been relocated as of posting time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

SPRING RBA UPDATE BAR-TAILED GODWITS IN DELTA (May 22-29) AND A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER IN RISKE CREEK (May 14)

I usually do not put Bar-tailed Godwits on the main page of the Rare Bird Alert because although they are a rare bird in the province, they are a regular rare migrant. We were spoiled in the fall of 2015 in the Metro Vancouver area with several Bar-tailed Godwits that came to Boundary Bay in Delta. However, there has never been 5 Bar-tailed Godwits ever reported in BC that appeared at one time. This is an all time high record for the province and especially rare during the Spring. This sighting is also extremely rare for all of North America (outside of Alaska) as this is the all time high record for the number of birds ever found and observed at one time. The previous high record in NA, outside of Alaska, was 4 birds that showed up this May 2017, in Oregon in the United States. Therefore, for all of these significant reasons, I wanted to give them special mention in a spring update.

At 6 am on May 22-2017,  Ilya Povalyaev found 5 Bar-tailed Godwits on the mudflats, past the big bend, near the farmhouse at Brunswick Point in Ladner. The birds were seen on the falling high tide and were very far out and a scope was required. Ilya was able to get some great photos of the birds, but had to walk out several kilometers to do so. There were 2 adult males and 3 adult females in Pre-alternate moult (transitioning into breeding plumage). The males with noticeably shorter bills were quite rufous. The birds were associating with Black-bellied Plovers and 4 breeding plumaged Red Knots. Multiple observers have been able to view the birds from the dyke (with a scope), since the initial sighting.

Please be aware that if you walk out to photograph these birds that the mud is very thick and sinking and can be dangerous if you get stuck, so please use common sense. Please be especially mindful of where you walk, so you do not flush any birds on the mudflats, as shorebirds need to rest and feed during migration.

Map to location of birds HERE

5 Bar-tailed Godwits in Pre-alternate moult in Delta - Photo: Ilya Povalyaev
A rare treat to see Bar-tailed Godwits up close with rufous plumage in Pre-alternate moult. Photo: Ilya Povalyaev 

Surprisingly, the group had split up and 4 of the birds disappeared on the same evening. However, one bird continued in the same location on May 23rd.

On May 24th, 2 Godwits were relocated in the same location.

The 2 Bar-tailed Godwits continue in the same location as of May 29th.

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There was also another rare bird seen this spring in Riske Creek, near Williams Lake. At 11 am on May 14-2017, Phil Ranson and Sandy Proulx found a White-rumped Sandpiper at Roundup Lake at Becher's Prairie. Again, I usually do not put White-rumped Sandpipers on the main page of the Rare Bird Alert because they are not a provincial rarity. They do occur in the North Peace River Region of BC during a small migration window (approx May 5-June 17th) and it is the only place in BC that you can regularly find this uncommon spring migrant. Any White-rumped Sandpiper found in the province, outside of this area, however, is very rare and since I was doing a spring update for the province, I decided to include it for this reason. Roundup Lake is within the Chilcotin Military Training Area and access is by permit only. Applications for a permit can be made through the DND in Chilliwack. This sighting is the 4th record for the Cariboo Chilcotin area and interestingly enough, Phil Ranson found a White-rumped Sandpiper in the same spot last year on May 23, 2016. This new sighting from May 14th, 2017 is also significant, because it is the 2nd spring record for the Cariboo Chicotin area.

Map to location HERE

Sandy Proulx was able to obtain a beautiful photograph of the bird.

A White-rumped Sandpiper near Williams Lake is a rare sighting outside of the Peace. Photo: Sandy Proulx


This bird has not been seen again since the initial sighting.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

RBA: 2 SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSSES off Tofino - MAY 13th

At 4:20pm on May 13-2017, while working on the FV Nordic Pearl, Lindsay Dealy found and photographed two immature Short-tailed albatross. She had the birds in view for 15 mins.

An exact GPS location of where the birds were was 48°50'22.0"N 126°18'56.6"W and is pinned on a map HERE. The birds were in a flock of Black-footed Albatrosses that were following the vessel.

One of 2 immature Short-tailed Albatrosses seen off Tofino - Photo: Lindsay Dealy
2 immature Short-tailed Albatrosses off Tofino: Photo - Lindsay Dealy

Monday, May 15, 2017

RBA: HERMIT WARBLER in Victoria - May 15-16th

At 10:15 am on May 15-2017, Daniel Donnecke found and photographed an adult male Hermit Warbler at Mount Douglas Park. The bird was singing and was seen on Glendenning Trail. This is a steep trail that heads straight down into the oaks from the parking lot at the summit, which is located at the end of Churchill Dr.

Daniele saw the bird in the area of the trail where the oaks first hit the conifers. The bird was in an oak tree near the first large douglas fir tree, which is located halfway down the trail. It was in a mixed warbler flock consisting of Orange-crowned, Wilson's, Townsend's and Yellow-rumpeds Warblers.

Ann Nightingale, David Allinson and Mike McGrenere relocated the bird at 1:10pm on May 15th. It was between the 2 douglas firs between the tower and the power lines.

The bird was last seen on May 16th at 8:45pm by the cell tower at the top of the summit on the power line side. It was also seen earlier in the day on the SW slope (48.491307, -123345836) and in the conifer across from the sandy spot on the same trail and on the upper part of Glendenning Trail.

Despite multiple observers looking there was no sign of the bird on May 17th.

This trail is very steep and not for those who have mobility issues. The gate to the summit parking lot opens at 12pm.

Map to Parking Lot HERE

Map to Glendenning Trail where bird is being seen HERE

A video of the bird singing made by Geoffrey Newell can be seen HERE

**Upon review of new photos (see HERE), the amount of green on the back of the bird concerned me, along with the dark streaks on the bib corner (the area on the side of the chest where the wing tucks in, which is often hidden by the wing) and lower flanks. I have sent all available photos of this bird along with my concerns to a few experts. They were made aware that the photos that concerned me initially were taken in evening light. All information will be sent to the Victoria and BC Bird Records Committee. I will also update the blog with any major developments.

I believe that it is important to be completely transparent and wanted the public to be aware that Silu Wang gave her opinion. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the D.Irwin Lab at UBC and studies Hermit Warblers in the hybrid zone, in the Cascades Region of Washington State. She explained that the bird has a predominantly Hermit Warbler plumage background, but with Townsend's Warbler plumage introgression.  She used the hybrid index based on the eight plumage landmarks as specified by Rohwer and Wood (1998). She was presented with all available photos of this bird and viewed them carefully. She estimated the hybrid index (ranging from 0 to 1, with 0 being pure Hermit Warbler and 1 being pure Townsend's Warbler) and for this bird she felt he should have a hybrid index of 0.12, which is smaller than 0.25 (the cutoff value for Rohwer & Wood 1998 classification). Therefore, based on Rohwer and Wood 1998 classification, it should be a Hermit Warbler. 

However, the fact that it has a hybrid index of 0.12 instead of 0 means that it does not have a pure Hermit Warbler plumage, and that there are some traces of Townsend's Warbler introgression.

She noted that on another photo by Liam Singh, showed a greenish wash close to the tail covert see HERE She said that some hybrids only show a greenish upper back, and the fact that the green goes quite far down for this bird, further supported TOWA introgression. 

She also looked at the video I linked to above by Geoffrey Newell. In that video she noted that when the bird was preening his crown was light grey, but the grey went quite forward, see screenshot HERE

She explains that she views this bird as a Hybrid, despite Rohwer and Wood (1998), as stated below:

Rohwer and Wood 1998:  Hermit Warbler (because Hybrid index =0.12 <0.25).

Wang et al in prep:            hybrid (because Hybrid index =0.12, not 0). 


Hermit Warbler in Victoria - Photos above: Liam Singh
Hermit Warbler in Victoria - Photos above: Daniel Donnecke





RBA: ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER in Victoria - May 14th

At 8:15am on May 14-2017, Ann Nightingale, Kim Beardmore and Jannaca Chick found an Ash-throated Flycatcher. The bird was in a large bush on Lohbrunner Rd East between Blenkinsop Rd and Lochside Trail. The bird was originally misidentified as an Olive-sided Flycatcher, due to poor lighting and brief views but was photographed. Upon review of photos, many hours later, it was discovered to be an Ash-throated Flycatcher.

Word was put out at 4:40pm and a few people searched for it but it was not seen again. It was last seen flying towards Little Mount Doug at 8:15am, after being chased away by an Anna's Hummingbird.

Map to where bird was last seen HERE

Ash-throated Flycatcher in Victoria - Photo: Kim Beardmore



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

RBA: MURPHY'S PETRELS off the north end of Vancouver Island - May 10th

On May 10-2017, while aboard the "Grand Princess" cruise ship, Paul Lehman and Bruce Rideout found 4 Murphy's Petrels in BC waters near the Brooks Peninsula. One of the birds was photographed by Bruce Rideout and this bird was the furthest north that Paul had ever seen the species in BC.

The locations for the four birds were:

48.009, 129.720  (ca. 280 km SSW of Brooks Peninsula, V. I.)

48.435, 129.993  (ca. 248 km SW of Brooks Peninsula)

49.106, 130.428  (ca. 216 km SW of Brooks Peninsula)

50.517, 131.361  (ca. 209 km W of north end Vancouver Island; photographed)


Murphy's Petrel, 209 km W of the N end of Vancouver Island. - Photos: Bruce Rideout







Monday, May 8, 2017

RBA: LESSER NIGHTHAWK in Victoria - May 7th

At 10 am on May 7-2017, James Paterson photographed and reported a bird identified as a Common Nighthawk to eBird. Upon review of photos this morning, it was discovered that the bird is actually a Lesser Nighthawk. The white wing bar that appears in line with the end of the tertials, the blunt wing tips, the pale buff spotting on the wing coverts and the fact that there is no dark tones in the mantle or scapular that Common Nighthawks typically have, along with the early arrival date, all helped to confirm the bird as a Lesser Nighthawk.

The bird was found perched in a tree near 3491 Camcrest Place at Mount Tolmie Park.

Map to exact location HERE

Multiple observers have been looking for the bird on May 8th but as of yet, it has not been relocated.

This is the third record of Lesser Nighthawk for Vancouver Island.

Lesser Nighthawk in Victoria - Photos: James Paterson


Sunday, May 7, 2017

RBA: MANX SHEARWATER off Ucluelet - May 7th

At 1:15pm on May 7-2017, while aboard the MV Frances Barkley, young birder Liam Singh (13 yrs of age) spotted a Manx Shearwater during the WildResearch Pelagic and BCFO Young Birder Field Trip. The bird was located 6 Km SW off of Amphitrite Point. It was viewed by multiple observers and photographed.

GPS coordinates were N 48.89931° W 125.62473° 

Manx Shearwater off Ucluelet (note the white undertail coverts) - Photos: Liam Singh

Thursday, May 4, 2017

RBA: BLACK-TAILED GULL in Gingolx - May 4th

At 7 am on May 4th-2017,  Jeremy Gatten was working along the Gingolx (Kincolith) waterfront in the Nisga'a Nation, when he found an adult Black-tailed Gull. He was scanning through hundreds of Mew Gulls just south of the Kincolith River off the north end of Waterfront St, when he spotted a dark gray-backed gull. The yellow bill with black subterminal band and red tip was immediately noticeable to him and he was able to see the bird in flight. Seeing the tail with white base and thick black band surrounded by a thin margin of white, allowed him to confirm that it was in fact an adult Black-tailed Gull. He was able to photograph the bird as well. The Eulachon run ended last month and the decaying fish has brought in thousands of gulls to the Nass River Valley.  He will be in the area for another 4 days and will be monitoring the gull's presence.

Map to location HERE

This has been an incredible year for provincial rarities for Jeremy. In addition to the Black-tailed Gull, he has found a Purple Sandpiper, Redwing and a Black Phoebe.

The Black-tailed Gull has not been seen since May 4th but very well could still be in the area.

Adult Black-tailed Gull in the Nass River Valley - Photo: Jeremy Gatten

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

RBA: DICKCISSEL in Revelstoke - May 3-7th

At 7:30am on May 3rd-2017, Darlene Cancelliere found and photographed a female Dickcissel in her front yard. The bird was feeding on the ground under her feeders, alongside Red-winged Blackbirds and White-crowned Sparrows. It also perched in her tree for several minutes.

Darlene has been fortunate enough to have many rare birds in her yard in the past, including a Brambling, Black-throated Blue Warbler and Hooded Warbler.

The home is open to the public at 407 Edward St. Please view the bird from the front yard only and do not enter the backyard. Please be respectful of all residences in the area.

The bird was last seen on May 7th.

Female Dickcissel in Revelstoke - Photo: Darlene Cancelliere


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

RBA: LESSER GOLDFINCH in Princeton - May 3-5th

At 6 pm on May 2nd - 2017,  Edward Lahaie found a male Lesser Goldfinch at a nyjer feeder at his home in Princeton. This is the third year, that he has had a Lesser Goldfinch in his yard.

The home is open to the public and the address is 460 Auburn Crescent, Princeton. Please knock on the front door before proceeding to the backyard. Please be respectful of the homeowner's property and residences in the area and do not block driveways.

The bird continues as of May 5th.

Male Lesser Goldfinch in Princeton - Photo: Sue Elwell