Archive for the 'Stanley Park' Category

Stanley Park: February 7th and 8th 2013

With a Redhead reported from Devonian Harbour Park earlier in the week I naturally decided to head over there, and to nearby Stanley Park, on the first rain free day of the week; Thursday (see here for an excellent photo of this individual). Redhead are locally uncommon around Vancouver and this species would be a new addition to my Stanley Park patch list. Despite my best efforts I could not relocate the bird. I went back on Friday and was equally unlucky. To my knowledge the bird hasn’t been seen since Tuesday (February 5th). Lesson learned: a decent bird is well worth getting a little wet for!

Despite dipping on the Redhead I still had two days of good birding in the park. On Thursday I had some nice views of the three Greater White-fronted Geese that have been hanging around the rose garden this winter. The last time I saw these birds one of them appeared to have a bit of an injured right wing. Assuming these are the same individuals, then it looks as though that bird is back to full health as all three geese seemed to be doing well.

On Friday I took Ravine Trail from Beaver Lake to the seawall. This trail is a short walk following Beaver Creek to the seawall at the creek’s mouth. There was just a small group of Barrow’s Goldeneye diving off shore but looking towards the Lion’s Gate Bridge I spotted three North American River Otters. Two of them were swimming away from me but one stayed close enough for some record shots. It’s always nice seeing otters, especially so close to the harbour and all the industrial activity associated with it.


Stanley Park: February 1st 2013

I decided to take another walk at Stanley Park yesterday afternoon. The weather was quite nice today, as far as winter goes, with some sun and a temperature of around eight degrees. It turned into a good opportunity to get some close up shots of the regular sparrows and other smaller birds. I spent a decent amount of time at the west end of Lost Lagoon in the vicinity of the stone bridge. There’s always a solid congregation of smaller birds around this spot during the winter.

From the stone bridge I turned north and walked through the forested trails to Beaver Lake. Bird activity in this part of the park is generally quiet during the winter but it’s always nice taking a walk through such beautiful forest so close to the downtown core!

There were several groups of Pine Siskins and Red Crossbills feeding on the cones high up in the treetops throughout the section of forest I walked through.

When I got to Beaver Lake I spent most of my time photographing the birds around the wooden bridge at the northwest corner of the lake. The birds are accustomed to being fed at this spot it seems and will come in for a closer look anytime someone stops by. The Chestnut-backed Chickadees are particularly adept at mobbing visitors for a meal.

It was definitely a great day to be outdoors!

Second Beach: January 30th 2013

The weather forecast for yesterday was originally calling for rain all day, but luckily the rain held off and it was just cloudy. I decided to take a walk around Lost Lagoon with a stop off at second Beach in the afternoon. Here’s a quick video I shot showing some of the birds I saw at Second Beach:

Also of note was a Virginia Rail at the marsh in the north east corner of the lagoon. The bird wasn’t nearly as photogenic as the last time I saw him or her (assuming it’s the same individual), but I did at least get a record shot!

Crow and Gull Play with Balls on Lost Lagoon

Here’s a video I shot just before I left Stanley Park on Wednesday. It’s of a Northwestern Crow and Glaucous-winged Gull finding some amusement in two balls that found their way onto an iced over Lost Lagoon. Despite the ubiquity of crows almost everywhere in Vancouver I still enjoy seeing what they’re up to. Their social nature and intelligence often lead to interesting interactions with the human landscape and unique solutions to surviving in the city.

Stanley Park: January 16th 2013

I decided to take another walk at Stanley Park for the second day in a row this afternoon. In particular I hoped to relocate at least one Greater White-fronted Goose that had been reported there on Sunday. Plus it would give me another opportunity to play around with my camera. Stanley Park is a great place for bird photography in my opinion as many of the birds are used to the presence of people and one can get quite close to a lot of them. On my way to Beaver Lake I passed through the rose garden and it was here that I found three Greater White-fronted Geese feeding on the grass with the ever present Canada Geese. They were a bit more wary than the Canada’s but still obliged for a couple of photos.

The bird in the above picture appeared to have some damage to the feathers on its right wing. It would also frequently tuck its right leg underneath the wing and feed on the grass around it while standing on one foot. The other two birds appeared quite healthy; perhaps they were keeping the injured bird company while it healed. Hopefully he or she will be back to full health soon!

New Camera and a Virginia Rail at Lost Lagoon!

This past weekend I got a new camera, one that I can finally take some better bird photos with; a Canon SX50 HS. If you’ve visited this blog before you can see how awful some of my bird photos are! I’ve been holding a camera or my phone up to my binoculars or spotting scope and the results haven’t been that great; often one can’t even tell what species is in the picture.

The other benefit to a super zoom like this is being able to document a sighting. This was illustrated in my last post twitching the Red-flanked Bluetail in New Westminster. Even if the photos aren’t great you can at least still tell what species it is. Hopefully I’ll also be able to post more often now that I’ve got something that resembles a bird to show everyone!

Today I took a walk around Lost Lagoon at Stanley Park and came across a Virginia Rail in the marsh impoundment at the north east corner. Normally there would be no way I could get a recognizable photo of such a shy fast moving bird; even though it was only a metre or two away from where I stood. I had to crank up the ISO as it was overcast and the reeds plus the overhanging trees made for some dim conditions. But at least you can tell it’s a Virginia Rail!

I spent about fifteen minutes with the bird before it scuttled off into the reeds. By standing completely still it grew comfortable enough to venture out into the open a couple of times, and even take a bath at one point. Every time someone would walk past it would run into some thicker reeds and once they’d past it would pop back out again. It was a real privilege being so close to a bird that is normally quite well hidden and shy!

Stanley Park: October 25th 2010

After spending the weekend studying for a midterm I had on Monday I knew I needed to get out for a bit of birding as soon as my exam was over. The weather wasn’t particularly good on Monday but I opted to turn this to my advantage by heading to Stanley Park where I expected the rain and wind to keep most people indoors; allowing me to have a quiet and relaxing outing at a great location for some fall birding.

I started off at the pond in Devonian Harbour Park just east of Lost Lagoon were I had some smashing views of a Belted Kingfisher preening itself on a log. American Widgeon, Mallard, and a lone American Coot were present as well; three species that I would see plenty of during the rest of my walk.

At the northeast corner of the lagoon I had distant views of a Ring-necked Duck along with some excellent looks at a couple of Bushtits; a number of which were no more than an arms length away in a small tree. As I continued to circle the lagoon in a counter clockwise direction I came upon this interesting Mallard, or rather it came upon me in an attempt to beg for some food.

According to this post on the Birding in BC forums the duck has been identified as a domestic duck x Mallard hybrid with the petite Call Duck breed contributing some of those domestic genes. This particular duck is certainly smaller than your average Mallard.

Shortly after I had had my fill of the interesting Mallard hybrid a group of Northwestern Crows drew my attention towards the top of a conifer where they were actively involved in mobbing a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. The raptor didn’t sit still for more than a minute before the constant dive-bombing and cawing of the crows forced him skyward. In the same vicinity a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Chestnut-backed, and Black-capped Chickadees were foraging; none of them appeared to be phased by the rain which had, by now, soaked the lenses of both my glasses and binoculars and was slowly seeping through my rain jacket.

The area surrounding the stone bridge located at the lagoons west end was quieter than usual; only a couple of Mallards and American Widgeons were out and about, the rest were huddled along the banks napping or preening.

From here I walked out to the seawall at Second Beach where the tide was in and not much was going on other than a couple of gulls careening about in the winds. I noticed that one of those birds, a first cycle Glaucous-winged Gull, had a candy wrapper in its bill. The bird positioned himself upwind of me where it released the wrapper which flew towards me and smacked into my arm. Perhaps this gull was trying to communicate its disdain for humanities propensity to pollute the environment by throwing this piece of garbage back at the first person it could find. Or maybe it was just angry that the wrapper was empty and he wanted me to fill it with some candy.

Along the southern shore of Lost Lagoon the usual assortment of ducks and gulls along with a couple of Canada Geese were present. A juvenile Snow Goose was also hanging about on the grass nearby; possibly the same bird I sighted here on the 10th of October.

Despite the rain and the wind I had a pleasant time out; there was still plenty of activity, considering the poor weather, and the place was practically deserted of people!