December 29, 2017

Retracing the Christmas Count

 We have participated in the Vancouver Christmas Bird Count in the past, and since we didn't manage anything exotic over the holidays we decided to be involved again this year. Unfortunately it rained the entire day so we got thoroughly soaked, didn't take many photos, and (worst of all) had pretty mediocre sightings. Luckily, the weather cleared a few days later so we took another long walk through Stanley Park in search of birds. The varied thrush is pretty stunning in good light and I always forget that we have them in decent numbers during Vancouver winters.
 Deeper in the forest, Kathryn turned up a pileated woodpecker tearing away at the side of a tree. It was a reasonably agreeable bird in that it let us get fairly close and photograph it for awhile, but was also a quickly moving dark bird in deep shade, so of 100+ photos there were only 2 worth keeping. An impressive sight and a good find all the same.
 Finally, we wound up on the sea wall and came across a group of 6 or so Black Oystercatchers. We have photographed and shared pictures of these birds in the past, but this set had particularly brilliant bills that almost seem to be lit from within. We've had several encounters with a group (we assume to be the same batch) of oystercatchers over the last week and learned their distinctive and high-pitched call is a surefire way to locate dark birds on wet rocks.

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