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By MDB8
#86072
During Fall and Spring, the Lower Mainland is blessed with many migrants. Also some birds Winter in the area and depart for distant breeding grounds in Spring. So we are in the Summer doldrums.

For example, at Pt. Roberts most diving birds have departed (with some likely to return soon). However, there are still birds to photograph. Rhinoceros Auklets often come close to shore to feed and preen. A good way to see thise birds is to spot swimming Gulls. The Gulls follow diving birds such as Auklets, hoping to steal any food that such birds may bring to the surface. Also Pigeon Guillemots are still present.

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Another nice species to photograph at Pt. Roberts is the Common Tern. Because the water gets deep not far from shore, this species will often plunge dive for fish very close to the waterline. To obtain the best photographs, go on a day with some light wind. The Terns take advantage of the wind to help them hover over the water, making photos easier.


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Another good locatioin for photographs this time of year is Boundary Bay. However, seldom will a photographer even see a Shorebird from the dyke. You must go onto the mudflats with your gear. There is some guck near the dyke, but about 50 feet out, the surface hardens and walking is easy unless you venture out about 2 kilometers. The Shorebirds are present in numbers right now (July 15). The first photo in the following sequence is a Least Sandpiper. It was sitting right by the dyke, but because of the geometry was invisible to anyone standing on the dyke.

The three main species present at this time are Least Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. The SPs will vanish in a week or so, but the others will still be passing through and some over Winter in the agricultural fields. On the 14th I encountered close to 1,000 Semipalmated Plovers.

I walked out for about 0.5 kilometers before I encountered a mixed group of Shorebirds foraging. First rule: never walk directly towards the flock. After spotting the flock I determined the direction of their foraging and walked around and ahead of them so that the sun was at my back. Then stand still. Except for the SPs, most Shorebirds will ignore your presence if you stand still. And as I placed myself so that they were heading my way, I obtained many close photo. Many were juvenile birds.

Finally, in front of what many call The Mansion (between 96th and 88th Streets), there is a freshwater outflow. I have observed that the Shorebirds are strongly attracted to this water and some are always bathing in it.

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It's always a good idea to check the tides before going to Boundary Bay with the intention of walking out onto the mudflats. When incoming quickly, the water will not inundate a walker, but does cause the birds that hang around the waterline to come in closer to the dyke. The big Plovers and, when present, the Red Knots, prefer to stand at the waterline. Also once in a while a Falcon will go after the Shorebirds, causing a Big Panic. Additionally, I noticed that many new large rocks are now impeding movement onto the mudflats (Pre-election dyke improvement). I doubt that anyone cares about bird photographers, but later, when hunting season starts, I expect some complaints.

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