Monday, June 19, 2017

RBA: MOTTLED PETREL near Haida Gwaii - June 12th

At 8 am on June 12-2017 Scott Atkinson observed a Mottled Petrel from the Emerald Princess cruise ship he was on in Queen Charlotte Sound. He was able to view the bird with bins for half a minute as it flew Northwards alongside the ship at a distance of 125 feet. It flew above the waves, no more than 15 feet high, with a bounding flight pattern. After a few seconds, it turned south and disappeared from sight.

Scott was not able to photograph the bird due to the brevity of the sighting but is very experienced with this species. He was not able to record an exact GPS coordinate at the time. He described the bird perfectly as having "even dove-gray upperparts; fresh plumage, M-pattern of wings not distinct above. Gray cap. At turn, underwing flashes bright white with black bar forward, sharply contrasting and distinctive. White underwings, undertail coverts and throat also contrast with gray belly."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

RBA: ACORN WOODPECKER in Victoria - June 17-27th

At 4:30pm on June 17-2017, Ted Ardley found a female Acorn Woodpecker at a feeder at his home near Aldersmith Park off Burnside Rd W and Meadow Park Lane near the Eagle View Elementary school.

The bird was viewed by multiple observers as of 6:05pm.

Directions: Park along Meadow Park Lane and walk to the end where you see a small round about and communal mail box.This is one of the entrances to Aldersmith Park. Go to the right on the trail along a chain link fence and just a few yards in look over the fence at some feeders there in a stand of Garry oaks behind the trailer.

Map to where to park HERE

Please be respectful of private residences and do not walk on private driveways.

The bird continues as of June 27th in the same location.

Female Acorn Woodpecker in Victoria - Photo: Ted Ardley

Monday, June 12, 2017

RBA: CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR north of Golden - June 8-9th

At 6:15am on June 8-2017, Emily Williams and Emily Smith found a male Chestnut-collared Longspur, 2.5 hours north of Golden. The bird was on the east side of the Bush Arm causeway off the Bush River FSR near the south end of Kinbasket Lake. The bird was calling and foraging in the grassy area near black peat moss and driftwood. It flew across to the west side of the causeway but returned back to the east side. They observed the bird or over 20 minutes. Emily Williams relocated it and photographed it there at 9:15 am, the following day (June 9th).

The bird was not seen on June 10th.

Male Chestnut-collared Longspur - Photo: Emily Williams

Sunday, June 11, 2017

RBA: CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER in Richmond - June 11th

At 8:30 am on June 11-2017, Hugh Griffith, Margaret Butschler and Steffany Walker found a male Chestnut-sided Warbler at Terra Nova Park in Richmond during the monthly bird survey for the Parks Department for the City of Richmond. The bird was singing his "pleased pleased pleased to meet you" song and moving 10 m up through the line of Douglas Fir Trees between the playground with the climbing tower and the slough which is east of the playground. The bird later landed 10 metres away at eye level on a conspicuous perch allowing for great clear views for about 10 seconds. Hugh described the bird as having a bright white underside, bright yellow cap and a black moustache. He said it also had a bold chestnut stripe along both sides of its body. He nor anyone else was carrying a camera with them and therefore did not photograph the bird. The Terra Nova Adventure Playground is located at the end of River Rd before the dyke.

The bird was relocated by Cole Gaerber in the conifers in the south east corner of the big pond at 7:15pm. It was last heard singing in the deciduous trees at the SW corner of the big pond.

The bird was not relocated on June 12th, despite multiple observers looking.

Map to location HERE

Male Chestnut-sided Warbler in Richmond - Photo: Cole Gaerber

Saturday, June 10, 2017

RBA: ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER in Sechelt - June 10-11th

On June 10th, 2017, Marie Revoy found and photographed an Ash-throated Flycatcher at Wilson Creek Estuary off Field Rd in Sechelt.

On the morning of June 11th, Arnold Skei relocated the bird at the same location. The bird was seen in small alders near the boat trailers. There are 2 man made ponds on the west side inside of a gated area. It was later seen in alder trees on the right side of the first pond with the most water.  It was silent the whole time he was present.

The bird was last seen in the same location as of 2:35pm on June 11th. It has not been relocated since.

Map to location HERE

Photo: Marie Revoy

Thursday, June 1, 2017


At 12:30pm on June 1-2017, Lev Frid spotted an immature Short-tailed Albatross during a pelagic run from the Whale Centre out of Tofino. The bird was 35 nautical miles SSW of Tofino in a flock of Black-footed Alabatrosses. Captain John Forde was able to obtain a photo of the bird, as it sat on the water. Multiple observers, who were part of an Eagle-Eye birding tour, were able to observe the bird until 1:15pm when it flew by the boat and disappeared.

Immature Short-tailed Albatross - Photo: Lev Frid
Short-tailed Albatross - Photo: John Forde

The FIRST record of a HOUSE SWIFT in the Americas was found in Delta, BC!

First House Swift in the Americas & First for the ABA, found in Delta, BC.
  Photo: Derek Tan
House Swift as it was found on the rocks near Deltaport Terminal in May 2012.
  Photo: Derek Tan

"UBC zoologists have documented the first record of a House Swift in the Americas—and begun to unravel the mystery of how the tiny bird got from its south-east Asia breeding grounds to Ladner, BC.“These birds are amazing fliers and can stay airborne for months at a time, but there wouldn’t have been enough insect prey to sustain him properly over the mid-Pacific. The mystery is what sent him so far off course.”

The bird’s well preserved but near-emaciated carcass was discovered in May 2012 near the Deltaport container terminal, just 40 metres from the Pacific Ocean.“Like some marathon runners, I think this fellow finally saw land and just crashed, exhausted, at the finish line,” says Ildiko Szabo, a curator at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and forensic ornithologist who led the identification of the specimen.
“These birds are amazing fliers and can stay airborne for months at a time, but there wouldn’t have been enough insect prey to sustain him properly over the mid-Pacific. The mystery is what sent him so far off course.”

In a paper published today in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Szabo and co-authors, including UBC researcher Darren Irwin, propose that either a storm set the bird off course, or even more likely, his internal navigation ’compass’ malfunctioned.“Our initial reaction was skepticism that this would be such an unusual species,” says Irwin, who studies how new bird species arise. “But by combining a review of the bird’s characteristics with DNA testing, we were able to confirm that this was indeed a House Swift from Asia, making this an exceptional case of vagrancy.”

The prospect of the bird hitching a ride by ship or plane is unlikely, say the authors. Swifts don’t typically roost on ships, and the bird would have needed to be airborne to feed over at least portions of the journey. The near perfect condition of the swift’s feathers also indicates it wasn’t trapped in a plane’s wheel well.There were no indications of trauma, parasites, disease or oiling. But the 13-centimetre swift was very underweight, and had entirely depleted its fat stores.

House swifts (Apus nipalensis) range west to Bhutan, and as far east as Honshu Island, Japan. And until now, this species had never been found in the Americas. Other swift species from Asia have reached the Alaskan islands, and European swifts have occasionally successfully completed Atlantic crossings.The discovery is likely to excite birdwatchers and cause a cascade of bird list updates—the species needs to be added to the Greater Vancouver Area, British Columbia, Canadian and American Birders Association Area bird lists.

The specimen is currently on display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Vancouver’s natural history museum.

 - Faculty of Science, University of British Columbia

Not only is this the first record of this species in the Americas, it is also of course, the first ABA and BC record.

You can watch a video below of Beaty Biodiversity Museum curator and forensic ornithologist Ildiko Szabo as she discusses the House Swift that ranged across the Pacific from Asia to Ladner, BC.

Friday, May 26, 2017

RBA: RED-THROATED PIPIT in Victoria - May 26th

At 7:30am on May 26-2017, while conducting a seawatch at the Victoria Golf Course, Geoffrey Newell heard a Red-throated Pipit call 6 times as it flew North past Gonzales Point in Victoria.

The bird has not been relocated as of posting time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Update: The new all time high record for Bar-tailed Godwits outside of Alaska, is now 11 Bar-tailed Godwits seen May 29th in Clatsop County in Oregon.

I usually do not put Bar-tailed Godwits on the main page of the Rare Bird Alert because although they are a rare bird in the province, they are a regular rare migrant. We were spoiled in the fall of 2015 in the Metro Vancouver area with several Bar-tailed Godwits that came to Boundary Bay in Delta. However, there has never been 5 Bar-tailed Godwits ever reported in BC that appeared at one time. This is an all time high record for the province and especially rare during the Spring. This sighting is also extremely rare for all of North America (outside of Alaska) as this is the all time high record for the number of birds ever found and observed at one time. The previous high record in NA, outside of Alaska, was 4 birds that showed up this May 2017, in Oregon in the United States. Therefore, for all of these significant reasons, I wanted to give them special mention in a spring update.

At 6 am on May 22-2017,  Ilya Povalyaev found 5 Bar-tailed Godwits on the mudflats, past the big bend, near the farmhouse at Brunswick Point in Ladner. The birds were seen on the falling high tide and were very far out and a scope was required. Ilya was able to get some great photos of the birds, but had to walk out several kilometers to do so. There were 2 adult males and 3 adult females in Pre-alternate moult (transitioning into breeding plumage). The males with noticeably shorter bills were quite rufous. The birds were associating with Black-bellied Plovers and 4 breeding plumaged Red Knots. Multiple observers have been able to view the birds from the dyke (with a scope), since the initial sighting.

Please be aware that if you walk out to photograph these birds that the mud is very thick and sinking and can be dangerous if you get stuck, so please use common sense. Please be especially mindful of where you walk, so you do not flush any birds on the mudflats, as shorebirds need to rest and feed during migration.

Map to location of birds HERE

5 Bar-tailed Godwits in Pre-alternate moult in Delta - Photo: Ilya Povalyaev
A rare treat to see Bar-tailed Godwits up close with rufous plumage in Pre-alternate moult. Photo: Ilya Povalyaev 

Surprisingly, the group had split up and 4 of the birds disappeared on the same evening. However, one bird continued in the same location on May 23rd.

On May 24th, 2 Godwits were relocated in the same location.

1 Bar-tailed Godwit continues in the same location as of June 1st


There was also another rare bird seen this spring in Riske Creek, near Williams Lake. At 11 am on May 14-2017, Phil Ranson and Sandy Proulx found a White-rumped Sandpiper at Roundup Lake at Becher's Prairie. Again, I usually do not put White-rumped Sandpipers on the main page of the Rare Bird Alert because they are not a provincial rarity. They do occur in the North Peace River Region of BC during a small migration window (approx May 5-June 17th) and it is the only place in BC that you can regularly find this uncommon spring migrant. Any White-rumped Sandpiper found in the province, outside of this area, however, is very rare and since I was doing a spring update for the province, I decided to include it for this reason. Roundup Lake is within the Chilcotin Military Training Area and access is by permit only. Applications for a permit can be made through the DND in Chilliwack. This sighting is the 4th record for the Cariboo Chilcotin area and interestingly enough, Phil Ranson found a White-rumped Sandpiper in the same spot last year on May 23, 2016. This new sighting from May 14th, 2017 is also significant, because it is the 2nd spring record for the Cariboo Chicotin area.

Map to location HERE

Sandy Proulx was able to obtain a beautiful photograph of the bird.

A White-rumped Sandpiper near Williams Lake is a rare sighting outside of the Peace. Photo: Sandy Proulx

This bird has not been seen again since the initial sighting.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


At 4:20pm on May 13-2017, while working on the FV Nordic Pearl, Lindsay Dealy found and photographed two immature Short-tailed albatross. She had the birds in view for 15 mins.

An exact GPS location of where the birds were was 48°50'22.0"N 126°18'56.6"W and is pinned on a map HERE. The birds were in a flock of Black-footed Albatrosses that were following the vessel.

One of 2 immature Short-tailed Albatrosses seen off Tofino - Photo: Lindsay Dealy
2 immature Short-tailed Albatrosses off Tofino: Photo - Lindsay Dealy