Maplewood: July 28th 2010

It’s been over two months since my last post and during that time I haven’t been able to get out for any amount of serious birding because of an insane amount of school work. Every week since mid May I’ve had an exam or major assignment due and so, during this absolutely gorgeous summer weather Vancouver’s been having, I’ve been indoors in front of a computer or behind a desk. Thankfully I had my last exam before finals on Tuesday so it was an easy decision to head to Maplewood Conservation Area for a couple of hours on Wednesday afternoon.

When I got to the lookout at the mudflats I found the tide to be out and the birds just little specks in my binoculars, but this afforded me the first opportunity I’ve had to get a look at the booming along the Burnaby shoreline at the Chevron refinery. There has been a slow leak of “a mix of crude oil, gasoline, water, and a “diesel-like” substance” since at least April 21st (1). I don’t find it surprising that a major energy corporation like Chevron has let things get to the point where oil is seeping out of the ground; if the Gulf Oil spill has taught us anything it’s that big oil can’t be trusted. The leak is “only” 50 liters so far and although more than this probably leaks out of the cars, trucks, buses, and boats in Vancouver each day any leak, especially one this close to such critically important habitat as Maplewood Flats, is a worrying sign. We need to wake up and stop consuming all of this crap.

And now onto the birds! At the mudflats I had the pleasure of watching two different Ospreys hunting and catching fish one of whom flew right over my position with its prize clenched in its talons. Near the Old Barge Channel I got excellent looks at a sleeping Common Loon and managed to get off this blurry pic with my cell phone…

At Otter Point a pair of distant Surf Scoters were present as well as an out of season male Barrow’s Goldeneye. Looking at eBird I see that a lone Barrow’s Goldeneye has been seen at Maplewood since July 14th. At this time of the year this species is normally found in the interior of the province where it breeds (2). You can look up a map of its breeding distribution at the BC Breeding Bird Atlas.

The other surprise bird of the day was a Green Heron at the West Pond. It was quite well hidden in the cattails and I think it was there was more luck involved in me finding it than skill. According to the WBT’s checklist Green Heron is a rare sighting at Maplewood; it’s certainly the first time I’ve seen the species there.

In the forested section I came across a mixed flock of mostly Black-capped Chickadees and a couple of finches but there were also two Black-throated Gray Warblers and a single Yellow Warbler.

It was nice to get outside for a bit of birding; hopefully it won’t be too long before I can do it again.

References:

  1. http://www.straight.com/article-326396/vancouver/chevron-cleaning-after-burrard-inlet-oil-leak
  2. Campbell, R. W., N. K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J. M. Cooper, G. W. Kaiser, and M. C. E. McNall. 1990. The birds of British Columbia, Vol. 1: introduction and loons through waterfowl. R. Br. Columbia Mus. Victoria.

For more on the Chevron spill see this CBC article: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/05/28/bc-chevron-refinery-leak-squamish-nation.html

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