On Thursday morning my mom had to take the car in for its service at the North Shore Auto Mall. I decided to come with as this would give me an opportunity to bird nearby Harbourside Park while we waited for the car to be ready. Winter is also a good time to visit the area as most of the activity is on the water and readily viewable from the pathway along the shore. The weather was mostly overcast with the lightest of drizzle, making it not entirely uncomfortable to be outside.
I started off at the south end of Fell Avenue where there are two empty lots on the east and west side of the street. Both lots are slated for development sometime soon and the eastern lot already had most of the weedy vegetation striped away and any debris sorted into several rubble piles. It was on one of these mounds that I spotted three juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, and, in a small tree behind a port-a-potty, I found two adult birds. I’ve found Harbourside to be a reliable location for this species during the winter in North Vancouver; although, as the park has seen more use since its establishment, I’ve typically found them in the brush of this particular area as opposed to other parts of the park. I wonder if this species will even continue to winter here once the lots are developed and the park becomes even busier.
Next I checked out the log booms near the marina at the end of the street. In addition to the usual Harbour Seals lounging on the logs and other floating debris, I could see several Black Turnstone walking about. It took a few minutes to spot them with my binoculars as they can be quite well camouflaged amongst the logs at a distance. This is very reliable spot for this species in North Vancouver; I’ve also seen them on the exposed mud banks of Mackay Creek at the western end of the park. Hopefully the Black Turnstones residing here for the winter will persist despite development as I’ve only ever seen them foraging in these two areas which are reasonably in-accessible to people or dogs.
There were also quite a few Canada Geese on the water; at least 295 by my rough count. They appeared to have spent the night at the mouth of Mackay Creek and were now making their way out towards the east for the day. At the mouth of the creek a single Cackling Goose was preening on the sandy bank amongst the Canada’s. It was also here that I first heard and then spotted a gorgeous male Anna’s Hummingbird flying amongst the trees and shrubs. As the tide was on its way out there was a section of exposed mud bank on the western shore of the creek. In addition to the usual assortment of ducks there were six Killdeer resting and preening close to the water. They blended in remarkably well and if it hadn’t been for the occasional head movement as they preened I might have missed them.
It was quite an enjoyable outing at Harbourside. Though every time I visit the park I can’t help but wonder what the area will be like bird-wise in the coming years as more and more land is developed and more people, particularly their dogs, come to use the park.