Always be Prepared! A walk down The Pier at Lonsdale Quay

Last week Tuesday I was out running some errands in the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood and I decided to have a stroll down the Burrard Dry Dock Pier. I wasn’t “prepared” per say for birding but I always carry a small pair of Bushnell Powerview 10×25’s in my jacket pocket; arguably horrible binoculars but better than nothing.

It was a good thing I had those binoculars because there was about 49 Barrow’s Goldeneye and 13 Western Grebe among other birds in the vicinity of the pier.

The Barrow’s Goldeneye were diving in and amongst some wood pylons close to shore. Initially some of them appeared a bit nervous of my presence on the pier, which was only a few meters away from where they were diving but they soon returned to feeding. Insects, molluscs, and crustaceans form a major part of this species diet and food is most often taken in shallow water along the shoreline (1,2). The water was clear enough for me to watch some of them foraging underwater; with their tails spread out and wings clamped close to their bodies they make for agile swimmers (3).

As I walked towards the end of the pier I spotted thirteen Western Grebe; most of which were preening and resting while one or two cruised along the water’s surface.

Always having a pair of binoculars on hand, even when the purpose of one’s outing isn’t birding, has paid off for me on several occasions and I’m sure many of you who are reading this keep a spare pair in some convenient location. After all there are birds everywhere and one always has to be ready for action!


  1. Munro, J. A. 1939. Studies of water-fowl in British Columbia, Barrow’s Golden-eye, American Golden-eye. Trans. R. Can. Inst. 24:259-318.
  2. Palmer, R. S. 1976. Handbook of North American birds, Vol. 3: waterfowl. Pt. 2. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, CT.
  3. Eadie, John M., Jean-Pierre L. Savard and Mark L. Mallory. 2000. Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

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