Birders flock to Surrey farmland for rare Asian bird


The Siberian Accentor has been sighted only 6 or 7 times in B.C.

  • Jan. 22, 2016 8:00 p.m.

Birders from around the continent are taking flight to an obscure patch of South Surrey farmland to see a striking little bird that belongs in Asia — the Siberian Accentor.

By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun

 

METRO VANCOUVER — Birders from around the continent are taking flight to a patch of south Surrey farmland to see a striking little bird that belongs in Asia — the Siberian Accentor.

“This particular bird is in an easily accessible area,” George Clulow, president of B.C. Field Ornithologists, said in an interview Friday.

“People can easily fly in, which is what they’ve been doing from all over North America. I was standing next to people from Massachusetts, California, Florida, Minnesota.”

There are only six or seven recorded sightings of the wayward bird in B.C., Clulow noted. Normally it is found in Southeast Asia and breeds across Siberia.

Clulow first spotted the Siberian Accentor with fellow birder Mandy Lu on Jan. 3 during the annual Christmas Bird Count, an event that forces birders to look in unusual and less-visited areas to help pump up their counts.

They were in an agricultural area on 160th Street when he noticed small birds flying in a blueberry field. “I turned around and saw this bird for a split second perched in a blueberry shrub,” he recalled.

“It dropped down and we couldn’t find it. It was a bird I’d never seen before — sparrow-sized but with a striking head pattern (featuring dark and rust stripes).”

That evening at home he pulled out a reference book, Rare Birds of North America, and there on the cover was a photograph of the Siberian Accentor. “That’s it. That made it easier.”

He returned three days later and after four hours had a good sighting of the bird, snapped a few photos to confirm identification and posted it on the Internet. “It just went viral from there,” he said. “It’s a rare bird.”

The bird has remained at the site ever since, with continued sightings this week. It is often seen feeding on the ground with dark-eyed juncos.

To reach the site head east on No. 10 Highway toward Cloverdale, turn right (south) on 160th Street, cross the railway tracks and look for the birders.

lpynn@vancouversun.com

Just Posted

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Spawning salmon returning to North Delta’s Cougar Creek

It’s early in the season, but the streamkeepers are hopeful it could be a good year for returns

Surrey White Rock Ringette Association ‘excited’ about world championships coming to Lower Mainland

Ringette Canada says the sport has reached record registration numbers

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Giants serve up major defeat to Pats at Langley Events Centre

On the ice, Vancouver G-Men wrap up home stand with a 10-4 win over Regina Friday night.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read