Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cassin's Finch in Atlin!

Well folks it's been a slow winter for unusual sightings in British Columbia (at least on a provincial scale), so I thought I would post this remarkable feeder report from Atlin, British Columbia. This is our first report ever on the blog from Atlin so that's exciting in its own right! Not far from the Yukon border, one would not expect too much diversity at a bird feeder, but as you can see from Cameron Eckert's report below--the finches are putting on a show!

[Cameron was following up on a report/photos of a potential Cassin's Finch seen by Hein and Wil de Vries in late January. On Feb 2 he made the drive down from Whitehorse and followed up with this report]

"It was -30C when I left Whitehorse at 7:30am this morning, and 2 hours later rolled into Atlin, just in time for sunrise, where it was a pleasant -24C with a light north wind. It was a stunning blue-sky day with a curtain of ice fog drifting over Atlin Lake which has yet to freeze. Despite the current cold snap, it's been a record-warm winter.

The de Vries' yard was awash in Pine Siskins when I arrived, though the first two birds I spotted were the Cassin's Finch and the American Tree Sparrow. Over the next couple of hours I also tallied 3 Purple Finches, 20 Common Redpolls, 8 Pine Grosbeaks, 1 Downy Woodpecker, 1 adult White-crowned Sparrow, 2 Dark-eyed Juncos, and 6 Common Ravens, as well as a flock of 53 Snow Buntings in the meadow across the street. 

There is only one Yukon winter record for Purple Finch, so I assume that it's similarly rare in winter in Atlin. This is the first record that I know of for Cassin's Finch in Atlin -- thanks to Hein and Wil for getting the word out about these interesting birds.

Cassin's Finch (Photo: C. Eckert). Note the bold streaks in the undertail and relatively straight culmen.
When I dropped by later in the day, the Cassin's Finch was singing a long rambling "subsong" -- fairly easy to pick out from the cacophony of siskins."

--Cameron Eckert

**So, first record for Atlin, and possibly the northern most Canadian record of the species?**

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Another Lesser Black-backed Gull?

Gord Gadsden discovered a Lesser Black-backed Gull on Jan 9th at Annis Rd in Chilliwack, It appears it could be a different bird than the one discovered in Sumas Prairie.

More pictures can be viewed here

*It appears now that the gull Gord Gadsden found on Jan 9th is most likely the same bird that Rick Toochin originally found in November.

Here are some photos that were taken Dec 9th by Rick Toochin that demonstrate it seems to be the same bird:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec. 28--BOREAL OWL on Race Rocks for Sooke CBC!

The Sooke CBC took place on December 28th and at the end of the day one bird's name was creating quite the buzz.  Race Rocks ecoguardian Alex Fletcher picked up Val George and Garry Fletcher and brought them over to Race Rocks.  Nobody expected this little boat ride would turn up the first record of Boreal Owl for the Victoria checklist area!

Incredible shot of southern Vancouver Island area's first Boreal Owl (Photo: Val George)

Race Rocks is not accessible to the public as it is an ecological reserve.  For more information on this sighting, head on over to the Race Rocks Log to read an account, including more photos, from Garry Fletcher:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dec 25--Ancient Murrelet lands in Clearwater

While not a provincial rarity, it's always notable when a murrelet turns up inland and even more so when it is captured alive! This poor fellow was found by Allen Selbee in his backyard in Clearwater. He believes it struck his window before pushing its way penguin-style through some snow before he trapped it and brought it inside. Apparently it was taking some food but no word as to how it's currently doing. Obviously it must have been pretty weak and cold to end up in that position. Will update again soon. Special thanks to Dennis Leonard for getting this report out.

Update: Unfortunately this bird has passed away despite having eaten well upon capture.

Autopsy Report courtesy of Ildiko at the UBC vert museum:

"Cause of death was extreme starvation which can be from malnutrition or extended migration.
The breast muscles had atrophied but more importantly the liver and other internal organs had shrunk to about 1/3 normal size.  In such cases the heart remains the same size or grows slightly."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dec 18--SNOWY PLOVER--Pacific Rim National Park

On December 18th, Robin Kite observed a colour-banded Snowy Plover on Wickanninish Beach (south end of Long Beach, near the Pacific Rim National Park visitor's centre). Frances Bidstrup of Point Reyes Bird Observatory confirms that this bird was banded as a fledgling near Centerville Beach, California this summer (2014). This is the 19th record for BC.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dec 18-22--Northern Mockingbird in Lillooet

Jeff O'Kelly found this Northern Mockingbird at a private residence in Lillooet and Ian Routley snapped this great record shot on Dec 22. It's been a somewhat slow winter season for rarities in BC so it's nice to see this report from the upper Fraser.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dec 9- Jan 9: Lesser Black-backed Gull continuing in Fraser Valley

First discovered on November 4th by Rick Toochin, this Lesser Black-backed Gull (one of very few records for the BC coast) has been tough to pin down over the last month. Rick refound it today (Dec 9) near the junction of Vye and Bowman Rds in Sumas Prairie, near Abbotsford.
Photo: Rick Toochin
Dec 20--Rick reports seeing it at the end of Schneider Rd foraging with Glaucous-winged Gulls.
Jan 9-- Gord Gadsen reports seeing the bird on Annis Rd in Chilliwack.