Posts Tagged 'Cackling Goose'

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.


Harbourside Park: December 27th 2012

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.


Stanley Park: December 28th 2009

Monday provided me with another excellent day of birding, this time at Lost Lagoon and Second Beach. A large portion of Lost Lagoon was covered in a thin layer of ice; this meant that most of the activity was close to shore and easily observed. The pond at Coal Harbour by Georgia St. was also completely frozen over.

At one point while walking along the eastern shore of Lost Lagoon I came across a Mallard standing on the ice looking at passersby for a handout. I stopped to watch him for a bit with the intention of getting a few photos when the ice suddenly gave way and he plunged into the water. I admit to having a bit of a chuckle at his misfortune and he must have heard me because he gave an angry quack in my direction before flying off.

Several Hooded Mergansers were also present; including these two males…

There was quite a bit going on at Second Beach. A group of Surf Scoters were diving close to shore, several Barrow’s Goldeneye were foraging near the rocks, and further out some Harlequin Ducks were also feeding. There was also a flock of Canada Geese on the water and with them a single Cackling Goose.

Upon returning to Lost Lagoon I found another two Cackling Geese at the west end with several Canada Geese. The Cackling Goose typically winters in Oregon and southern Washington; a few also winter in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys of California (1, 2). So it is uncommon to see them in Vancouver. In fact the Stanley Park bird checklist records the Cackling Goose as a rare sighting in the park during the winter.

Here is a picture I took of a Cackling Goose and a Common Goldeneye for comparison:

I had a great time birding on Monday. I usually find Stanley Park to be fairly productive during the winter despite the abundance of people and dogs; two factors that can often lead to poor birding. Vancouver is lucky to have such a place so close to the city center.


  1. Gilligan, J., M. Smith, D. Rogers, and A. Contreras. 1994. Birds of Oregon: status and distribution. Cinclus Publ. McMinnville, OR.
  2. Small, A. 1994. California birds: their status and distribution. Ibis Publ. Co. Vista, CA.