Beige Rustler Returns

Beige Rustlers are early winter migrants on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Look for them in back alleys and other edge habitat, particularly in areas thick with fallen leaves. Beige Rustler Classification: B/1 or possibly A/9 While out on a family walk around the neighbourhood I spotted another lifer for me – the Beige Rustler. These large carts are late winter …

Spotted Towhee in the Shrubs

I’ve really been enjoying my lunch time walks along the country roads near my work place in rural Comox Valley, British Columbia. With farm fields, blackberry brambles, and roadside thickets sparrows are common. One of my favourite sparrows at any time of year is the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus). This large, dramatic sparrow usually announces itself with a “raspy mewing” …

Seeking a Sapsucker

One of the advantages of working where I do is that there are plenty of places to walk to during my lunch break. If the weather is good, I can get out for 30 to 45 minutes after a quick lunch (or eat lunch while I’m working to maximize my walk time). Sparrows are common in the thickets and blackberries …

Trumpeting in the New Year

As we roll into 2011 birders around the world are restarting their “year lists,” a tally of all of the species of birds they see in one year. Some, like Russell Cannings, use the new year as a starting point for a “Big Year,” a serious attempt to rack up as many species of birds as possible. In 2010, Russell …

A Touch of Gold – the Golden-crowned Sparrow

One of the more common “bramble” sparrows that turns up on winter Christmas Bird Counts is the golden-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) – it’s often much easier to find than the white-crowned sparrow (Z. leucophrys), although ironically, the latter actually showed up at our feeder today. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the white-crowned sparrow for comparison purposes …

Finding Fox Sparrows

Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca), a winter sparrow common in blackberry tangles and thick shrubs along roadsides and field edges. I’ve been gearing up for this year’s Christmas Bird Counts and doing a little birding along the hedgerows and shrubs growing beside the rural roads near my workplace in rural Comox Valley, British Columbia. This week I was out during my …

A Trio of Lichen

I’ve begun taking regular lunch time walks and exploring the farm fields and country lanes around my workplace in rural Comox Valley, British Columbia – at least when the weather is good. Often I’m a little stretched for subject matter, especially at this time of year. Fortunately, lichen always adds some colour to grey winter days. This week, I focused …

Hello Hermit!

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) is a good bird to look for during this year’s Christmas Bird Counts. One of the uncommon birds that often makes the Christmas Bird Counts here on Vancouver Island is the Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) – I usually get at least one in my count area. Other members of the thrush family like American Robin, and …

A Winter Song

I did a little afternoon birding with the kids down at the Courtenay Estuary. There’s a nice easy paved walkway that runs from the parking area on Mansfield Drive in two directions – one way takes you around the Airpark Lagoon proper and the other follows the edge of the estuary towards Millard Creek. I usually do the lagoon loop …

Self-heal

One of the advantages of my workplace is that my schedule is fairly flexible and if there is a break in the wet west coast winter weather I can take a short walkabout and look for interesting plants, insects and birds. Since my office is out in the country I’ve got lots of farm fence line and rural roads to …