Semiplamated & Buff-breasted Sandpiper

It was back out to Boundary Bay for the rising tide this afternoon. As I headed west along the beach from 104 St, there was not much around except for a couple of Peregrine Falcons. Not a good omen when you shore birding.

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

About half way to the pilings one of them landed on the beach for s short spell. On reaching the pilings it was quiet except for a few Least Sandpipers. Continuing west to 96 St. out on the mud flats,

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

… there were some Semipalmated Plovers. Then I noticed there were several shore birds hunkered down and hiding in the vegetation.

Pectoral Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper

It was a mixed group of Pectoral Sandpiper,

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper

… Semipalmated Sandpiper,

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

… Western Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper. At this point I decided to focus on the Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper

The next photo opportunity was back towards the pilings again,

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper

… where the Semipalmated was mixed in with some Least Sandpipers.

Least Sandpiper & Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper & Semipalmated Sandpiper

At one point I managed to get a Least and Semipalmated Sandpiper together.

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper

The Semipalmated Sandpiper being fewer in numbers can be challenging to get at times. I was pretty happy with todays results.

Shore Bird Flock On The Move
Shore Bird Flock On The Move

Once back up on the dyke the falcons were still keeping the flocks on the move.

Northern Harrier & Peregrine Falcons
Northern Harrier & Peregrine Falcons

Then something quite extraordinary occurred. Six Peregrine Falcons and a Northern Harrier were hunting a lone shore bird singled out of the flock and the victor was the Harrier. Here you can see it on the beach with the prey and four of the falcons still circling. At this point I met up with some fellow birders who had also marvelled at what had just transpired. Then to top the afternoon off,

Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper

… we met another group that had just found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. It was flushed by one of the Peregrine before I could attempt to get closer. I tried relocating it without success, but still a great end to another wonderful day on the bay.

Western Sandpiper

While it was overcast and the tide was out a ways, I still headed out to Boundary Bay to check the tidal flats. There were lots of peeps scattered about.

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

In particular Western Sandpipers,

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

… so I decided to spend some time with them.

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

They were all around and quite comfortable with me tagging along taking photos.

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

Then one of them in particular caught my eye.

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

This one stuck out from the others with a distinct buffy breast,

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

… so I stuck with it for a while.

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

It also helped that it was being more than cooperative.

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper

Mixed in with this group of Western were some Least Sandpipers,

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

… and a couple of Semipalmated Plovers.

Semipalmated Plovers

Despite the lack of activity of late, I was back out at Boundary Bay a couple of hours before the high tide. The shoreline and tidal pools were quiet once again, but realizing this might be the case, there was a “Plan B”. This involved scanning some of the dryer areas further out for a shore bird that prefers these conditions, the Semipalmated Plover. It was not long before I located a small flock about 200m out from the pilings. As they were the only game in town, so to speak, I took my time approaching. The final 20m of the approach was down on my knees slowly moving the camera on the tripod in front of me. It took a little time, but was worth it as I managed to get fairly close without spooking the birds.

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

After all that the first photo was not of a plover, but a Western Sandpiper with them.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

Then the Semipalmated Plovers started to work their way in front of me.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

I tried to position myself in the middle of the group,

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

… hoping to improve my chances of getting multiple birds going by.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

Once in this close,

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

… you want to keep your movement to a minimum.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

At times they would move away, but then come back towards me again.

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

Then the Western Sandpiper trekked by once more.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

Both the Semipalmated Plover and Western Sandpiper are fairly small,

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

… so being able to get this close certainly helps to get better photos. It was just shy of an hour I spent with these birds. I think that qualifies “Plan B” as a success.