Camera without battery is just like...

I went out today thinking that my usual equipments were all inside my backpack - camera(s), binocular, and water. But turned out I only have water and one camera, and the battery for that camera was still plugged to the charger in my room (since last night). D'oh.

It made me wonder what kind of person I am. A shutterbug that likes to take pictures of animals and plants? Or an (amateur) naturalist that takes pictures to remind himself of that things that happened while he's out. The answer became too difficult for me to decide, so I gave up and enjoyed the bike ride with only what I got (or hadn't got), i.e. a living lens of 50mm and a brain-powered memory card. Good thing nothing special was observed today, or else I would be very mad at myself.

Here's the bird count for today:
- Bald Eagles (5)
- Great Blue Heron (4)
- Mallards (many)
- American Wigeons (many)
- Green-winged Teals (3)
- Red-winged Blackbird (many)
- Black-capped Chickadee (10+)
- Dark-eyed Junco (10+)
- Sparrows (many)
- Spotted Towhee (10+)

Sorry there're no pictures. But if you follow this blog long enough, you'll know the positions and the birds that I was talking about.

By the way, the pair of adult Bald Eagles were observed again together in their nest again today. Three consecutive times they had been observed together - with one inside the nest and out outside. I wonder what is going on?

Photographic Post: Bike ride to Terra Nova

Clear view of the North Shore Mountains. Recent snowfalls made the mountains even more beautiful. Click to enlarge the picture.

Juvenile Bald Eagle perched on a birch tree. Seems strange, but it's doable.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
Photo of the day. Nice capture of the Black-capped Chickadee that jumped out of frame time and time again.

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)
The lonely Snow Goose. Where are all of your friends and families, little fella? You can't hang around them Mallards and Wigeons all the time!

Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)
A shy pair (actually a trio) of Hooded Mergansers.

2 Adult Bald Eagles watching 3 seagulls fly by. Happy 23 (to myself). Hooray!


Turned 23...went birding again

What does turning 23 mean to me? For now, it's just a number halfway to 46 and one-third to hmm...69? I still have a long way to go to reach those numbers, but right now I'm at a stage in my life where I am proud of the person that I am and thankful for the life I have (except career-wise), and hopefully, I can continue to top that in the times to come. I am not a big fan of celebrating birthdays because annual celebrations are meaningless (to me). I rather enjoy each and every day (8401 days and counting) and make sure I did something meaningful or interesting today (no matter how small or big) so I won't regret this day when I look back.

Today, I first drove my parents to Steveston to buy groceries while I looked around. Then my mother and I walked along the West Dyke Trail from Garry Point Park to Williams Road where my father picked us up by car. Along the way, we saw many interesting things.

I saw several Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator) today, including seeing this female up-close. I suddenly realize how much it resembles Joker from Batman movie (R.I.P. Heath Ledger) with the black around the eyes, the red long bill, the whitish face, and the frazzle-looking hairstyle.

Female Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Why so serious?

I also observed something interesting performed by the male Red-breasted Merganser. When there was a female in front of this male (below). He lowered his head down and started to run and charge towards her! It happened in several short bursts before he arrived in front of her, then everything was fine again. Had anybody observe this kind of behavior before?

Male charging towards the female. Definitely an interesting sight to see.

Bufflehead preening.

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Hate them or love them, European Starling is definitely a beautiful-looking bird.

Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator)
Saw another pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. Such particular-looking birds sporting that punk rock hairstyle.

Trying to photograph a bird-in-flight. Merged two pictures together to get this gull. Pretty good.

Mount. Baker (in Washington State)
Mount Baker in Washington State was clearly visible from Steveston this afternoon. Its magnificent presence posed a potential hazard for Rock Paper Lizard as he went shopping in US last weekend. That was a funny post.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
The Great Blue Heron knew. Something and/or everything.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Another attempt of photographing bird-in-flight. This time, a Double-crested Cormorant.

Today, my mother picked up that sense when you know something (or someone) is looking at you, and she spotted this Raccoon before I did. Bravo! It was the first time I seen a Raccoon hanging around in Sturgeon Bank, although it was on its way to head to townhouses in Steveston.

Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
There was something wrong with the right eye of this critter. Blind or cataract? Anyone know?

Our presence made it hesitant in crossing the trail. As soon as we gave it space, it headed into the water and swam across the ditch. Pretty soon, it disappeared into someone's front yard. (There is a wonderful post at The Marvelous In Nature about raccoons and some of her personal experiences with them. Great reading!)

This enormous Mute Swan was swimming among a group of Mallards and Wigeons, making its size seems even more impressive than usual. What a bird!

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Then it was my time to impressive my mother by spotting a pair of Killdeer from several meters away. Second time seeing these funny creatures. Very cool.

Before we arrived at Williams Road, a different kind of mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, were observed. What a day!

Overall, today was just great for going out and watch birds. I wondered if I saw 23 species of animals today. Here's the list (number of individuals in bracket; ++ = more than 20 individuals).

1. Gulls (++)
2. Mallards (++)
3. American Wigeons (++)
4. Red-winged Blackbirds (++)
5. Eurepean Starlings (++)
6. Green-winged Teals (2)
7. Killdeer (2)
8. Mute Swan (1)
9. Bufflehead (1)
10. Great Blue Heron (1)
11. Red-breasted Merganser (7)
12. Hooded Merganser (3)
13. Northern Harrier (1)
14. Double-crested Cormorant (3)
15. American Robin (1)
16. Bald Eagles (2)
17. Raccoon (1)

So close, but I guess not.


Snow is coming...Need to hurry outside and see Gadwall!

It snowed a little bit this evening, so I guess the weather forecast wasn't too far off. When it was warmer in the afternoon, I headed outside to make the most out of my days.

Sky-watch photo of the day

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
This Great Blue Heron is probably very used to me photographing it now. I see it almost everytime at the same spot in the ditch. What a lonely looking back. I wish I can give it a pat, and call it my friend.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Came across this second heron a few meters away. It was on the trail along people's backyard. Not wanting to scare it off, I decided to give it space and biked around it and through the residential area.

Unknown cute-looking sparrow waiting for the feeder to be filled.

Snow Goose (Chen caerulenscens)
Snow Goose (Chen caerulenscens) is still here. Although this one is missing its friend that I usually see it eating with.

In Terra Nova, it is very hard to pay attention to the ducks that are in the ditches because most of them are Mallards or Wigeons, and it can get kind of boring after a while. However, today paid off when I spotted this not green-headed (i.e. Mallard) or white-foreheaded (i.e. Wigeon) duck. I stopped in my track and wondered what it is. It was feeding beside a female Mallard, so I thought it might be a hybrid.

Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Male Gadwall (Anas strepera)

After asking for help at WhatBird forum, I got the answer that it was a pair of Gadwall (and not a female Mallard in the photo). First sighting of Gadwalls for me, and I'll always remember it now. Awesome!

What stood out about the male Gadwall was the impressive-looking pattern of intricate markings all of its body feathers. Quite beautiful. The female, on the other hand, has plumage similar to that of a female Mallard, but it has white belly, a steeper forehead, and orange sides on its upper gray mandible.

When I came to the dyke, I saw the pair of adult Bald Eagles again. One was inside the nest, while the other was just outside it. But later when I came back, the pair had switched positions. Shortly afterwards, the one inside the nest flew out and started to rub its beak against a branch. Perhaps egg-laying is not happening yet, but it sure is exciting thinking that new life might begin soon in the Spring.

Beak rubbing


Birds in the rain

I managed to sneak out this afternoon just before the rain had returned. After having clear blue skies for many days in a row, I am not sure I can get use to the cloudy days again.

I cut my walk short as soon as the rain returned since I didn't want to get my camera wet (but it still did). Here are some of the lifers I saw. I guess they were out enjoying the break just like me.

The pair of Bald Eagles back in their nest. The one on the right looks smaller than the one on the left. I wonder if that's the female in the nest then. Perhaps she's egg-laying? Or perhaps incubating already?

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
Gloomy weather makes birds easier to get up close to, like this American Robin.

And this House Finch.

I saw a pair of Northern Flickers. Only this one allowed me to get underneath it to see it clearly.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) on Sturgeon Bank
Great Blue Heron

Sky-watch photo of the day. Must be sunny on the Gulf Islands.


Possibly last outing day before weather turns wet (for a week)

The weather in the past two weeks have been nothing but pleasant - enabling me to go out everyday and take pictures. However, the weather in the upcoming week will not be so nice. Actually, this morning began with mostly rain, but I managed to catch a sunny break in the afternoon to go to the dyke. Below are my photographic journey.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Great Blue Heron watching the water gate letting water out onto the Sturgeon Bank.

Juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The juvenile Bald Eagle that I have been observing many days now.

I suppose these are its parents.

Sky-watch (2009-02-22)
The sky was quite beautiful when it cleared a bit. There was a partial faint rainbow on the right side of this picture. Not sure if it's visible or not.

A pair of Red-tailed Hawks!

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
This individual was the one on the left. Its wings were in quite awkward positions. I hope it was all right.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Catching this Great Blue Heron in a weird acrobatic position was interesting.

Northern Harrier looking for a meal. Note the sharp small beak.

The Crocuses are here! Spring is almost here! Too bad it might snow this week. Crazy weather.

Saw this Bald Eagle perched on a tree in a residential area. This was me sneaking up on it from underneath and getting caught red-handed with the camera in hand. Oops. Hope I didn't startle the poor eagle too much, sorry.


Post #100. Just another great birding day.

Yep, after five months later, I now have written one hundred posts. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but blogging is one of the ways to keep me from going into that "gloom-and-doom" state of mind about not yet finding a job and also staying in touch with my ecology academic background.

Not sure what the usual blogger does to celebrate, so I decided to stick what I do well and that is to go out and take some pictures!

Parent and offspring Bald Eagles.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Love the round bright eyes of this Great Blue Heron

Juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
I can now recognize this juvenile Bald Eagle when I see it since it has that special stripe across its eyes. It scared off the Red-tailed Hawk (in the picture below) from this post and remained there until I started to take its pictures. An eagle perched in a residential area does not suit well with surrounding crows and passerines.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
The Red-tailed Hawk then flew to another post to rest.

Another Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Perched on a tree across from the airport and Fraser River.

An adult Double-crested Cormorant fishing in the Fraser River.

As I headed back home, I saw the Red-tailed Hawk again.

The hawk doing its business on someone's roof. You can even see it in mid-air in the picture. Ha.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
A Bald Eagle perched on the golf course ready to take off. I think I saw five eagles in total, pretty amazing.

Hey, it's the Muskrat again! Uh-oh. When I see it during the day, it usual means bad weather is coming.

Sky-watch picture of the day.
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