Photojournal - 18 February 2006

Visiting with neighbors


On Saturday the 18th of February, I had some errands to run, and I didn't get back home from them until about 3:30. That didn't leave me much time to get out in the field, so I decided to just take my camera and go for a walk down the New Westminster Quay, where I live. I usually only see fairly common species along the quay, though, so I wasn't expecting much.

I started off at my place, by the west end of the walkway. I was hoping that Irving, our local Belted Kingfisher, would be around, but he wasn't. I'd seen him a few times in the last couple of weeks, when I was on my way to work.

So I headed down the walk, and I had only gotten to the Queensborough rail bridge when I noticed a white-bodied duck on the far side of the river. Checking through my viewfinder, I saw that it was a male Common Merganser, which was a pretty good bird to find here on the Fraser. As I was taking a few distant shots of him, a female popped up, as well. Here they are, male on the left, female on the right.

 
I went under the rail trestle and around the park with the submarine. As I got back on the boardwalk, I looked over the side and found a Northwestern Crow poking around the muddy river bank. Eventually, he came up with a snail, and spent some time walking around with it in his mouth.  

I didn't watch him long enough to see what he did with his catch.

About halfway from the park to the market, I saw an American Robin fly in to a tree, and paused to get a few shots of him.

 
When I got back to the boardwalk, there was a gull floating nearby on the river. Gulls are tough to identify, at least for me. This guy's round head had me thinking it was a California Gull, but my friend Ilya tells me it looks much more like a Thayer's Gull (which also has a round head).  

I'm working on trying to improve my gull i.d. skills, but it's tough going. There are a lot of gull species, many of them are similar, gulls of any single species can be highly variable in appearance, and to top it all off, gulls frequently hybridize. So I'm working on it, but don't expect me to have it down pat anytime soon.

I'm much better with ducks than I am with gulls. Especially male ducks. So I can say with utter confidence that this fellow is a Mallard.

 

He had waddled across the muddy ice (or icy mud) to go brush his teeth at the riverside.

Next I reached my destination, the market, and went inside for a while. I chatted some with my neighbor James who runs the cheese shop and had a glance at the produce stands. Then I went out to the patio and sat to see what birds where around. It was the usual trio: European Starlings, House Sparrows, and Rock Doves. Here's one of the starlings.

 
I really like starling plumage, with its bright spots and dark irridescent colors. Since this fellow was in the shade, I got some interesting long-exposure shots of him in motion, like the following.  

The circles of his motion are almost too perfect there, and it looks like that photo was faked in photoshop...but it wasn't. The motion really was that circular.

The House Sparrows included this very crisp-looking female

 
...and this more ragged-looking male.  
I didn't take many shots of the Rock Doves, and didn't get any good ones, but here's one of them just for the record.  

I then walked back home, encountering no other species. It had been a relatively typical winter Quay day, with mainly common species, but it had been good to get outside at least for a little while.

So that was Saturday. On Sunday, I got out to the shore...but that'll be in my next entry.

Slogging through winter,
Tom

 

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