Posts Tagged 'Stanley Park'

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.

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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!

Little Gull at Ambleside Park

With school out of the way I’ve had a lot more time to bird, so it was a no brainer to twitch a Little Gull sighted at Ambleside Park on December 21. Ambleside is fairly easy for me to get to which also meant I could go after it the day after it was first seen (December 22) instead of having to wait who knows how long for a ride. The weather on Saturday wasn’t looking that great with a forecast for light showers. It turned out to be even more miserable with full on rain and a steady breeze at times…

My gloves soon soaked through, numbing my hands in the cold, and my jeans and thermals weren’t doing much after they got wet. I started off at the wood pier at the west end of Ambleside Park and worked my way eastward; thoroughly scanning off the two rock jetties as I went. There were scattered groups of gulls as far as I could see out onto English Bay, most of which were Mew as well as the occasional Glaucous-winged (or some hybrid variation) and Bonaparte’s. I paid particular attention to the Bonaparte’s as the Little Gull is similar in appearance and had been reported associating with them. Eventually I made it to the rock jetty near the dog beach where I could scan the straight spanned by the Lion’s Gate Bridge. There were a fair number of Bonaparte’s Gulls here but, try as I might, none of them matched the field marks of a Little Gull. I also ran into two other birders here who were similarly unlucky. After two hours I decided to take a break so I could warm up. Over some tea I checked the local reports and, much to my frustration, I saw the bird had been seen at 0930; half an hour before I arrived on scene!

After warming up I went to the northern section of Stanley Park’s seawall. I was similarly unlucky here despite putting in another hour and a half’s worth of scanning the strait and bay. Not content with calling it a day I went back to Ambleside Park with a few daylight hours remaining. I spent most of my time searching the bay from the wood pier with my scope. I could see quite a few Bonaparte’s Gulls feeding, resting, and preening at a reasonable distance but, again, I couldn’t locate the Little Gull. After another hour and a half I had to head home but made my mind up to come back the next day for a second attempt.

I decided to leave a bit earlier on Sunday (December 23) so that I could make the most of the daylight. When I arrived at Ambleside it was raining lightly but it soon stopped as I scanned the bay from the wood pier. Even though visibility was much better now that the rain had stopped I couldn’t see as many gulls out in the bay as I’d seen the day before so I quickly moved on to the next rock jetty. When I made my way to the easternmost rock jetty near the dog beach I ran into two other birders who had just seen the Little Gull in a group of gulls feeding over the mussel covered sand bars of the mouth of the Capilano River! We couldn’t locate the bird in this group and switched to scanning the birds out in the strait. After a couple of minutes we all got onto the bird as it flew up and down a section of the Stanley park seawall! Even though the Little Gull was closer to Stanley Park itself than Ambleside, the dark underwings combined with the white primary tips really stood out amongst the other flying gulls. I watched the gull for a mere ten minutes or so before losing it in the flock, but a successful chase always makes up for the time spent searching in my view, no matter how brief my time with the bird is.