Posts Tagged 'Hooded Merganser'

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.

Dundarave, and Whytecliff and Ambleside Parks: November 14th 2009

School work has kept me tied to my desk for the past three weeks but I managed to get in a few hours of birding in West Vancouver last Saturday. I visited Whytecliff Park first and then travelled east to Dundarave and Ambleside Park as the day wore on.

The weather was somewhat miserable with overcast skies and light showers but I find this is the best time to visit Whytecliff Park as it typically attracts quite a few people on the weekend (early morning is another good time to visit). While still in the parking lot I spotted Song and Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, and Varied Thrush. The tide was in when I arrived so I spent most of my time looking west at the section of Howe Sound that separates the mainland from Bowen Island. Several Species of Gull were flying up and down the Sound, and a single female Surf Scoter and two Common Golden eye also flew past. Looking down over the cliffs I observed a female Red-breasted Merganser diving in the water. After about fifteen minutes she was scared off by a boat that passed to close.

Two Pelagic Cormorants were foraging in Batchelor Bay and a Bald Eagle flew over the area for a bit before moving on to the west.

By the time I arrived at Dundarave beach it was raining lightly and a stiff breeze was blowing off of Burrard Inlet. I immediately noticed six Harlequin Ducks diving in the water to the east of the pier. Overhunting is a major cause in the decline of the species in eastern North America (Goudie 1989). I cannot understand why anyone would want to shoot such a good looking duck. The eastern population is currently listed as “endangered” in Canada; however, the global population is listed under “least concern” (Goudie 1991 and Birdlife International 2009). In BC the Harlequin Duck is on the “yellow list” meaning the population is not at risk (Anonymous 1995). Ten minutes was all I could stand in the cold out on the exposed pier.

The rain had stopped when I reached Ambleside Park allowing me to view the Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, and Bufflehead on the pond with some measure of comfort. Quite a few Mallard and American Widgeon were also present in addition to the resident Mute Swans.

Well I’m glad I finally managed to get out and do some birding. Three weeks of seeing nothing but crows and pigeons from the window of my bus ride to school is really pushing the mental limits of any birder.


Goudie, R. I. 1989. Historical status of Harlequin Ducks wintering in eastern North America – a reappraisal. Wilson Bull. 101:112-114.

Goudie, R. I. 1991. The status of the Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) in eastern North America. Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) Ottawa, ON.

BirdLife International 2009. Histrionicus histrionicus. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <>. Downloaded on 21 November 2009.

Anonymous. 1995. Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals not at risk in British Columbia; the yellow list (1994). Wildlife Bulletin no. B-74. Ministry of Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, BC.