Burnaby Lake: January 29th 2013

I decided to take the Skytrain out to Burnaby Lake for the afternoon today. I flock of Cackling Geese had been reported on the rugby fields located at the west end of the lake. Not only did I need this species for my year list but I hoped to get a few photos. The action started off as I walked down the pedestrian only section of Sperling Avenue with a large flock of Pine Siskin. As I continued down the road I came across a small group of Black-capped Chickadees in the bushes along the side of the road with a Bewick’s Wren tagging along!

When I reached the rugby fields a quick scan revealed a large group of geese on the south easternmost field. I made my way over and confirmed that they were indeed the Cackling Geese, with a few Canada Geese along the outskirts of the group. Despite sticking to the trail on the outskirts of the field, the geese were still a bit wary of my presence and would slowly move away from wherever I stood. Eventually I just sat on some bleachers and the birds settled down a bit; though several of them would still look over in my direction every so often.

The above bird was banded, but unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough to read the bands, or get a photo where the detail on the band could be seen. Has anyone been able to read the band on this individual? Or even find out when and where it was banded?

Eventually I had to get up and get moving in order to finish birding the lake. It was clear that the geese weren’t in any mood to oblige me with a close up shot! Just to the south of the rugby fields I came across another Pine Siskin flock, except this one contained a few Common Redpolls! I managed to get off a distant shot just as it started to drizzle lightly showing a male bird. I figure there were at least fifteen individuals mixed in with the siskins.

I carried on a bit further south to the boat house at the lake’s south west corner. From here I had some distant views of Pied-billed Grebes as well as a group of three Greater Yellowlegs and thirteen sleeping Long-billed Dowitchers. Once I’d finished scanning the lake I backtracked north and walked east to Piper Spit. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary for the rest of the afternoon, the rain probably had something to do with that, but I had delightfully peaceful walk.


2 Responses to “Burnaby Lake: January 29th 2013”

  1. 1 albrechtsebastian January 30, 2013 at 3:34 am

    You are a true ornitologist. Those are some great shots of Cackling Geese. Can you explain to me how do you tell apart Canada Goose from Cackling Goose? Is it only about the size? Or they differ in some other way?

  2. 2 Birding in Vancouver January 31, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for the kind words! David Sibley explains the challenge of distinguishing Cackling and Canada Geese in this excellent article: http://www.sibleyguides.com/2007/07/identification-of-cackling-and-canada-goose/. Basically, I find the easiest way to tell the two apart is to compare the proportional size of the bill as well as the size of the bird. Cackling Geese have a smaller, stubbier, bill and they are noticeably smaller than Canada Geese; see http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cackling_Goose/id. It’s obviously a lot easier to tell the two apart when they are in the same flock or in close association (which I find occurs most of the time I see this species in Vancouver).

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