Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Canada Goose that wasn't really Canadian

The snow geese are making fewer appearances in Richmond these days, so I didn't expect to see them when I tried to appease my son to look for them in Terra Nova.

At first, we saw them in a vacant field fenced off from the public, and I thought that would be our best view of them.  The geese then started swarming a more luxurious patch of grass.

This is one of the wealthier areas of Richmond; the dense lawn these geese are fertilizing is cropped short, golf-course style.  Their visit to this patch must be rare - residents were outside on their balconies, snapping videos.

Then we saw this bird, not like the others:

"Canada Goose", I confidently educated my son.  He repeated after me.  We followed behind it to get a better look, as it not only seemed out of place, but to my eye unusually smaller than a typical Canada Goose.  The neck seemed scrawny compared to its white companions.

Later, upon Googling, I realized it might not even be a Canada Goose.  I had no idea there was such a thing as a Cackling Goose, nor did most of the birding world before 2004, when it became officially recognized as a separate species from the Canada Goose.  The Cackling Goose has a smaller body and shorter neck are the more obvious differences from the Canada Goose, as is a steeper head and shorter beak if you should get close enough to see.

They nest in the tundra, which might explain why it's flocked with the snow geese.  Lucky for us, since we never would've given it a second look had it flocked with Canada Geese.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


While I've seen quite a few different species of owls now, never have I heard one hoot.  That's not to say I haven't heard owls before...just that the ones that I have heard were squacking or shrieking.  In fact, only a few owl species in BC actually hoot.  So a few nights ago, when I heard hooting through the walls of my house, I had to investigate.

Outside our home are several tall conifers.  We noticed a source of hooting in the tree right at our back door.  In fact, in the blackness of the tree, I could see some lighter-coloured movement that must've been the owl.  But it wasn't the only one.  A nearby tree was also responding with hooting; they were calling to each other!  I saw an owl fly off, but there was still hooting at that tree, which meant there must've been three owls initially!  The owls continued calling to each other for quite some time, so after I was satisfied with as good a photo as I could with manual focus and a 50 mm lens, I ran back inside to grab a longer lens. By the time I emerged the second time, the owls were gone.

Here's an excerpt of two of them calling to each other

The call, combined with a sasquach-like photo makes me fairly certain they were great-horned owls.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Our last snowfall

As coincidence would have it, the arrival of another flock of snow geese came the day before we had an actual snowfall.  Got some closeup video of the geese feeding, and some interesting group behaviour, including the moment when they all notice a pair of bald eagles approaching.

Monday, January 15, 2018

fastest animal in the world

Land: cheetah
Water: sailfish
Air: peregrine falcon

I've seen the falcon a few times, but never this close.

Our local transit authority was trying them out as a deterrent for pigeons that were roosting near the stations and causing problems with droppings and triggering the track intrusion alarms.

What was most interesting was how alert they were.  They'd be continually scanning the sky, not looking in a single direction for more than a second.