Photojournal - 7 September 2007

Elgin Park

Inbetween my two outings to Piper Spit, on Friday after work I went down to South Surrey to see what I could find. I decided to go to Elgin Park, which is a place that I had passed many times on the way to Blackie Spit but had never before stopped at. I equipped myself with my recently-returned 80-400mm lens.

In particular, that meant that I didn't have my macro lens along, which was quite unfortunate, as the first good subject I encountered was an interesting collection of fungus and lichen on a rotting and peeling birch log.

The macro, particularly with my macro lights, would've been able to keep better focus.  
The next image is just a slightly closer crop of that last one, but it seems to have a different rhythm and texture. I always find it interesting how cropping can change the feel of a photo.  

Since the log was on the ground, I had to lie on my belly to get those shots. It's not easy to get one's eye behind the viewfinder when the camera is sitting on the ground. (I've got a "right-angle viewing attachment," which solves this problem, but I didn't have that with me, either. I was trying to travel light.)

After rising and brushing the leaves and twigs off of me, I proceeded down the path until I found a few shorebirds resting on the bank of a little inlet. Mostly they were Greater Yellowlegs, but the two smaller ones in the center were Pectoral Sandpipers.


That was pretty neat, as I don't see Pectorals that much. I was already liking this park.

Around the bend and a few minutes later, though, I was even more delighted to find the following lady. She's a Western Tanager, and I see these birds even less than I see Pectoral Sandpipers.

And as if that wasn't enough for me, I got another thrill when my lifer Evening Grosbeak came by to say hi.  

Like his name says, he does have a pretty big honker. He seemed self-conscious of it, so he shied far away from me a bit, and I wasn't able to get better photos.

Birders keep track of which birds they've seen and which they haven't. Some birders split the group that they've seen into those they got a good look at and those they didn't. This latter category is called BVD, for Better View Desired. I think I'm going to have to start using BPD, for Better Photo Desired. The Evening Grosbeak is definitely a BPD for me.

There were a few other, more common species hanging out in the trees, but the foliage was dense and it was hard to get unobstructed shots of them. Furthermore, I was out of the practice of using my long lens, and I was having difficulties holding it steady. (I needed to rebuild some arm muscles. I wonder what would be good crosstraining for photography?)

I did get some shots of these other birds, though. Quite a few of them were House Finches, such as this female..

Less numerous were the Cedar Waxwings. This one's a juvenile—only two or three months old.  
There were also a number of American Goldfinches in the bunch.  
Walking farther, I found a tree upon the shoreline whose top held a small flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. I zoomed my lens out as far as possible to try to get as much of the tree in the shot as I could.  
But then I was zooming in again when I found an Empidonax flycatcher resting on a branch inbetween flycatching flights. I'm calling it a Willow Flycatcher, based on its general appearance and its behaviour of returning to the same perch after each flight.  

There is an extremely similar bird known as the Alder Flycatcher, which is only reliably distinguished from Willow by listening to their song...and their songs are high-pitched enough that I can't hear either of them. Luckily, we only seem to get an Alder in town once every year or two, so it's reasonably safe for me to assume that this is a Willow.

Truthfully, though, I must admit that I'm a bit uncertain over the identification, because I don't have a good history of identifying flycatchers all by my lonesome. Could be that that was a Western Wood-Pewee or something else.

Nice to see a flycatcher, though, after a long spell without them.

I'd gotten some great birds on my walk, and was very happy with what I had seen—I'll have to visit this park more often. The part I had toured was fairly small, but it had some great habitat.

The rest of what I found on my walk was decidedly non-avian, though. First, I found some moss on a tree...this is not a rare sight, but it did make a nice landscape when I turned the photo on its side.

Next, working its way across the path in front of me, I found a Chocolate Arion. You can see his beautiful orange fringe where he touches the ground.  

Looks like that fellow needs to get a better mucus going so he can shed some of the detritus he's got stuck to his tail. When I get a cold, sometimes I secrete a good mucus, but mine is nowhere near as copious or as impressive as what these little guys can do. And they don't even have to put up with congestion to do it.

Only ten or twenty meters past my slimy arion, my last subject hopped to the side of the trail.


That's a rabbit, clearly, but it's a cottontail rabbit, which is a kind I haven't seen before in B.C. I thought it was therefore a Western Cottontail, which is the species that would be in range here. However, my friend Carlo, who lives near this park, says that the population of rabbits there is a group of transplanted Eastern Cottontails, which are way out of range.

From my photo, it's hard to tell whether I've got an Eastern or Western, but Carlo sent me a rabbit shot from the same area that clearly shows an Eastern. And besides which, Carlo's pretty trustworthy on these things, so an Eastern Cottontail it must be. Interesting to find such a wayward little bunny.

And not too surprising that I couldn't tell east from west.

Somewhat lacking in direction,



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