Birding by Ear – Part X

Birding by Ear – Part X
by Andrew Bryant
, 8 May 2021

Some field-trips will be remembered for being “pre COVID” and some will be remembered as being “post COVID”.   And frankly, birds don’t care.

Accordingly, Pierre and I took 8 members over 7 km of uneven terrain and had a great day over an area formerly known as the “Wildwood Bluffs”. Pierre writes: “It was a good outing the other day. People seemed more focused than in the past and there was real interest in learning something out of it.”

I don’t have a species/abundance list.  I was supposed to get one via e-Bird, but…it didn’t happen.  UPDATE 10 July 2021: It took a while, but here it is!

So here you get one person’s impression of a fine day out.  And it WAS…a fine day out.   I’m not a “bad” birder…but placed side by side by Pierre, well we would have gotten the common stuff…but would have missed most of it!

Accordingly, next year we’ll be starting a wee bit earlier…at 0630.



Birding by Ear Part IX

Birding by Ear Part IX
by Pierre Geoffray 18 May

A group of ten enthusiastic members practiced our “ear-birding” skills along the trails of Wildwood Bluffs.  We started at the Italian Hall in second growth forest, where a variety of birds were singing, among them many Yellow Warblers and Black-headed Grosbeaks and the first Swainson’s Thrush of the year.

Next we moved to the newly cleared and seemingly abandoned construction site where the big piles of slash had already been colonized by the McGillivray’s Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers and other specialists of early-successional forests.  We then followed the path leading onto the Bluffs overlooking the ocean where we listened to the songs of Townsend’s and Audubon’s Warblers, Cassin’s Vireos and Hammond’s Flycatcher.  Here we had brief but good views of a Western Wood-pewee, a bird which favours dry habitat and is becoming increasingly rare in our area.

From the Bluffs we descended into the coastal forest bordering the shore where we heard but did not see another set of birds dependent upon this different habitat.  In the shade of the tall firs and cedars and in the thick understory below them, the clear clear song of the tiny Pacific Wren resounded for us while Golden-crowned Kinglets, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Pacific-slope Flycatcher were calling from the canopy.

All through the morning the Warbling Vireos kept singing, the many Black-headed Grosbeak being their only serious competition in today’s chorus.
Some birds were new for the year (Cedar Waxwing, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush). Others were just plain beautiful to watch like the male Common Yellowthroat that sang endlessly while perched on a snag, the Western Tanager with his bright orange head, the male MacGillivray’s Warbler that paused for us…

In all we detected 39 species (the full list is here) and walked 5.3 kilometres in four hours…Overall a great walk with great people in a beautiful environment.

Thanks to all the participants.  See you next year!

Birding by Ear – Part VIII

Birding by Ear – Part VIII
by Andrew Bryant, 28 April 2018

Pierre Geoffray and I led a cosy group of 7 members to learn more about “birding by ear” at Wildwood Bluffs…and this year we had our work cut out for us!

It was, in a word, QUIET.

We began by walking along the newly-widened roads along the recently-sold “Block 55”.   What a difference a year makes!  Gone were the young forests filled with early-spring migrants such as Wilson’s and Orange-Crowned Warblers.  Indeed, we saw about about as many pieces of heavy equipment as we did birds.

Things improved a bit as we got off the road and hit the bluffs proper.  Hutton’s and Cassin’s Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and even my first Turkey Vultures of the year.  The walk back up the hill was also quiet, indeed, strangely so.

Pierre, ever the patient observer, kept an E-bird list which can be seen here.  Which illustrates two time-honored principles of field biology:
1) You always see more than you remember, when you record observations in the field, and
2) If you don’t record something, well in the end, it never happened

And if you don’t get out at all, well, enjoy the photos!



Birding by Ear – Part VII !

Birding by Ear – Part VII !
by Pierre Geoffray, 16 May 2017.

Fifteen of us met at the Italian Hall for “Birding by Ear”.  The weather decided to give us a break and we enjoyed the dry and cloudy spell (the best we can wish for this year!) as we toured the Wildwood Bluffs.

Right around the Italian Hall, we had some good views of our first Black-headed Grosbeak, singing for us in the open at the tip of an alder tree. Also there, a Yellow Warbler and a pair of Western Tanagers, all freshly arrived from their long migration, showed very well.

This year has been particularly quiet, with birds being shy and not very vocal. The cold temperatures surely have something to do with it. In a way it made it easier for us as it helped us focus on the fewer songs we heard.  The warblers especially can be confusing when they are all singing together!  So we unravelled them, mostly one at a time:

Sweet, sweet, I’m so so sweet” (Yellow),

CHI chi chi chichiCHI!” (Wilson’s),

CHICHICHI chachacha” (MacGillivray’s), and the new mnemonic found I think by Lois,

Chim, chim chim CHIMNEY!” (Black-throated Gray Warbler)…

The vireos were very present yesterday. We heard many Warbling, a rapid series of notes with the last two going up, encountered a cooperative pair of Hutton’s and heard the sluggish call and response song of a Cassin’s Vireo on the bluffs: ” Where are U? Here I am”, with that slurry Mexican accent that makes it roll the R’s, remember?

We walked along the bluff trail, so beautiful at this season with all the flowers blooming. There we had a different set of birds: Hammond’s and Pacific-slope Flycatchers… We heard an Oregon Junco singing, an uncommon breeder here, a musical trill very similar to the “dropping” trill of the Orange-crowned Warblers we had heard earlier in the second growth.

While admiring the view from the bluffs over the Straight, an Osprey flew by, another not so common bird for PR north. All in all we had 31 species.

It was a very fun walk, thanks to all participants for their enthusiastic and focused attitude.

Good Birding all!  And don’t forget to use those Binoculars when they dangle around your neck!

Note: Pierre also supplied his Ebird list for the day, and encouraged us to take advantage of that extraordinary internet birding resource: