September 18th, 2019: A nice morning at my local patch
I’m working a few part-time jobs right now, so I can occasionally sneak out on a Wednesday morning for an hour or two. I did that today at Queen Elizabeth Park. From a bird’s perspective, it’s a big green hill in the middle of a bunch of concrete. So it’s a great place to find passerines during migration.
There was quite a lot of activity this morning and I saw or heard lots of great birds! …even though I didn’t get there until after 9AM (and I call myself a birder). It was particularly nice to encounter numerous mixed passerine flocks. There were Townsend’s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler (both lutescens and Gray-headed subspecies), and Yellow-rumped Warbler in these groups.
The park was also hopping with Anna’s Hummingbirds doing displays, including a few 1st-years. They mate year-round here now and the 1st-years seem to be anxious to get in on the action.
The best bird of this visit was a 1st-year Hammond’s Flycatcher. I hadn’t even seen one yet this year since I wasn’t here in the spring and this particular empidonax species only shows up in Vancouver during migration. This particular bird was totally silent, but I was looking for migrating empids in a lower pond I don’t always go to since it’s sheltered from the wind. Sure enough, it was happily hawking insects from a few different perches.
In the photo above you can see make out elements of the typical shape of Hammond’s Flycatcher: the squarish head, longer primary projection than other empids, and conspicuous eye ring. The nice thing about young Hammond’s Flycatchers in particular is that they typically have a clean gray head that contrasts strongly with a yellowy wash on the breast and sides. Even if the shadow of the photo above, this contrast is nice and clear.
The usual suspects rounded out the day (eBird list). I was particularly pleased to see a nice mix of Swainson’s and Hermit Thrush and to hear a Purple Finch singing across the park (not a bird I frequently observe at QE Park).