Weekend Birds.

Most of my birding this weekend revolved around the need to walk the dogs.  Sometimes that fact is annoying, but sometimes it works out nicely.  Yesterday I walked them along the Frenchman's Bart Trail in Vancouver hoping for some raptors or at least cranes.  The best bird is what I'm calling a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk because that's what I felt it was in the flesh (feathers?).

Also in Vancouver on the road towards the lake were two dead beavers and a dead raccoon, all very near each other.

Sorry, guess that's kind of gross.  Anyway, this morning was freezing cold so for some reason I decided it would be really fun to walk the dogs at Broughton Beach.  I lost feeling in all my fingers and toes quickly, but it was totally worth it for this guy:

Hell yeah, a Short-eared Owl!  This is why I was glad the dogs were with me.  I had been walking on the trail down the embankment from the bike path when I saw a woman approaching with a boisterous yellow lab off leash.  Yellow labs are generally Jake's least favorite creature on the planet so I dragged him and Ralph up the embankment to avoid it, and thus flushed the owl who had been on the other side of the bike path.  Yay!

In addition to the nice show put on by the owl, I had great looks at some American Pipits and a Common Loon eating a fish (or something).

Goodbye Loon 

This afternoon was beautiful (though cold) and I decided to torture myself with some gull ID practice at Westmoreland Park.  Ring-billeds are of course the easiest to pick out, what with them being the cutie pies of the bunch (and yes I just wrote that).

I can usually pick out the Herring Gulls as well, like this fella [Not. It's a Thayer's Gull]:

The trouble arises when I try to find a Thayer's Gull.  I am guessing this next bird is one, but obviously I could be totally wrong...

And another shot of just its head:

Please help me understand why this is or is not a Thayer's!

In order to keep my brain from frying I moved on to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden for some utterly relaxing birds that did not confuse nor frustrate me.

American Wigeon



Wood Duck (female)

This next photo is blurry and the Wood Duck hasn't even gotten all his colors yet, but you can see his tongue!

Alright, and one last fella that was being stuffed full of peanuts by a toddler:

Good times!


  1. Great pictures and post. I love short-eared owls, but usually only see them in the spring and summer.

  2. Short-eared Owl...Awesome! Can't help much on the gull. Cool Bufflehead shots too.

  3. I am so jealous of your owl!! I can't forget their moth like flight. Your Buffleheads are iridescently spectacular. I am a proud new dog owner so birding will be different now. Have not ventured beyond our neighborhood for walks yet.

  4. I think the gull you called a Herring Gull is actually a Thayer's Gull with pale eyes (most have dark eyes, but a non-trivial proportion have pale eyes). The main reason I think that is the under part of the primary tips are not black like they should be for Herring Gulls.

    The the other gull looks like a Glaucous-winged Gull to me, at least that's what I would call it up here in Southeast Alaska, since it appears to be a large gull with wingtips gray rather than black.

  5. Jen, sounds like a great time at the beach. Congrats on the owl sighting. Great birds and photos, my favorite are the buffleheads, great colors captured. I have nto even tried to id the gulls, good luck. Happy Birding!

  6. @Laura-ooh a dog! I want details!

    @M. Goff- Oh boy, now I'm even more confused... The one I thought might be Thayer's had much darker wingtips than the Glaucous-wingeds nearby, though the photo might not show that very well. Perhaps it's just a hybrid.

  7. That owl sure is a special treat! I'll answer the Laura question- she and her "birding associate" got a 1 year old chocolate lab. He is a sleak little wirey thing. Lots of energy, but sure to be a good boy. (can you tell I'm excited about hime too??!!!)

  8. Nice job capturing the iridescence on the Buffleheads!

  9. Hi Jen, Thanks for dropping by my site and leaving the occasional comment. I've been so preoccupied in last several months, that I haven't been able to keep up with the "following" sites. Will try to do better. Nice collection of photos from your weekend - yep, I'd call it a juvie sharpie, but I'll offer no help with the Thayer's. Almost no experience with it, but I've listened to A-list birders argue about the ID of this gull - and it is an ID and taxonomic nightmare.

  10. Yes. First gull is a pale-eyed Thayer's. They are very fucking similar to Herring Gulls. Note the ventral side of the primaries are gray, not black, as in a Herring Gull. The second bird is Glaucous-winged X Western hybrid. I hate gulls. Nice Buffleheads.

  11. Christ, okay, I see what you're saying about the gulls... Unfortunately I haven't come up with a better way to learn em than to post horribly wrong ID's in public arenas ... Thanks for the help!

  12. Awww poor beaver...wth happened to them gotta wonder??WOW on that short eared the only one I saw was in the same way I flused it while tromping thru the seagrass...
    love the bufflehead shot omg its awesome..gulls are always a real mind twister...i can say the first one is def a ring bill..lol

  13. - I would have to agree with Sharp-shinned based on giss and its roundish head.

    - Like many, I haven't the energy for the gulls.

    - Yes, the Beaver is grotesque.

    - Good birding!


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