Posts Tagged 'Lost Lagoon'

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!

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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!

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!

White-throated Sparrow and Slate-coloured Junco at Stanley Park

Thanks to the upcoming four day weekend I don’t have quite as much homework that needs to be done immediately, so I decided to head to Stanley Park after my classes were finished. A decision that paid off pretty well!

Both the White throated Sparrow and the Slate-coloured Junco (male) were seen in the brush on the south side of the stone bridge at the west end of Lost Lagoon.

I was there at about 12:30 when I first sighted the White-throated Sparrow foraging on the ground with Song and Fox Sparrow as well as Spotted Towhee. Unfortunately, having my cell phone as my only means of taking pictures makes documenting such a sighting quite difficult. This is the best of my efforts:

As you can see there are two bird shaped blobs in the photo; the top one is a Fox Sparrow and the bottom one is the White-throated Sparrow.

This is undoubtedly the same bird seen and reported since January. Upon checking the BC eBird records for White-throated Sparrow it seems most of the sightings at Stanley Park were from the second week of January to the middle of February; though, there are a handful of reports since then (of course, this could also be the result of a lack of visits to the area by eBird using birders). I had thought that I had missed this bird as school work prevented me from going after it when it was first seen and I was not able to locate it on any of my visits since the end of February. Sufficed to say it was quite a nice surprise to see it as I’d essentially given up hope.

The other and, perhaps, more unexpected rarity of the day, a male Slate-coloured Junco, was in the same general area as the White-throated Sparrow; though, a little further east along the path across the wood bridge. It was associating with a group of Oregon Juncos as well as the other regular assemblage of sparrows that inhabit this part of Lost Lagoon. I was only able to observe this bird for a few minutes before it took flight with a couple of other Oregon Juncos and, being unable to relocate it, I don’t have any photographic proof.

Coincidently, the last time I saw both of these birds was in New York City’s Central Park during the winter of 1999!

As if two rare birds in one day weren’t enough, I also witnessed a Sharp-shinned Hawk make an attempt at capturing a Song Sparrow at the marsh impoundment in the northeast corner of Lost Lagoon. Normally this would have likely been the highlight of any birder’s day; especially mine. So, as you might imagine, I had a pretty spectacular time out at Stanley Park.

Stanley Park: March 6th 2010

I decided to stop by Stanley Park on my way home from school this past Friday to kick off the weekend with a bit of birding. Coming straight from school meant that all I had to take pictures with was my cell phone so the pictures are somewhat lacking in quality. I started off at Lost Lagoon and made my way over to Second Beach before finishing up at Beaver Lake.

The marsh impoundment at the north east corner of Lost Lagoon held two singing Song Sparrows as well as an Anna’s Hummingbird who gathered some fluff from a cattail before buzzing off. The fluff will most likely be used as part of it’s nest (1).

Large numbers of Song Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, and Dark-eyed Junco were feeding off of the seeds and crumbs people had dropped near the stone bride at the western end of the lagoon. A few Fox Sparrows and a single Golden-crowned Sparrow were interspersed within the larger flock.

Out on the Lagoon was a large flock of Lesser Scaup, several Common Merganser, and a single female Canvasback among the other, more regular, birds.

Over at Beaver Lake this Mallard hybrid came looking for a handout when I stopped for a break. Anyone care to venture a guess at who the non-Mallard parent might be?

Soon after the hybrid Mallard stopped by, a pair of Wood Ducks made an appearance. Such a striking duck is hard to miss and even non-birders can’t help but want to take its picture. Unfortunately our affinity for the species may have once threatened its existence. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries hunters decimated the population and it took nearly 70 years to recover (2). Today, the species still comprises 10% of all ducks shot by hunters; it is second only to the Mallard in terms of numbers killed (3).

Despite the abundance of people and their dogs, Stanley Park is still a top notch birding destination; a veritable oasis within the urban desert of the city.

References:

  1. Russell, Stephen M. 1996. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/226doi:10.2173/bna.226
  2. Hepp, Gary R. and Frank C. Bellrose. 1995. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/169doi:10.2173/bna.169
  3. Bellrose, F. C. and D. J. Holm. 1994. Ecology and management of the Wood Duck. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA.