October 2016 Stanley Park Ecology Society Bird Count

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Hermit Thrush | Grive solitaire | Catharus guttatus

After a month-long absence from my blog, I’m posting a few pictures taken during Stanley Park Ecology Society‘s most recent monthly bird count, which took place this weekend, on October 9, 2016. It was once again very ably led by Else Mikkelsen and features about 15 dedicated volunteers!

This was an unusually calm count, especially since none of the winter ducks have yet arrived on Lost Lagoon… the flock (or raft, if you prefer) of Surf Scoters featured below was taken on the ocean before the count even began, near Stanley Park’s Ferguson Point. But we still saw many birds rather well, including Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped Chickadees and Northern Flickers. But the highlight for me was not doubt the Hermit Thrushes seen at the western edge of Lost Lagoon, especially since I was able to get several good photos of it, including the one featured above.

All photos taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. To see more pictures, please visit (and like, too!) my Facebook photography page and my Instagram account.

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Stanley Park monthly bird count (September 2016)

Green-winged Teal (female)

Green-winged Teal (female) | Sarcelle à ailes vertes | Anas carolinensis or Anas crecca caroliensis

After a lengthy absence from my blog, I felt like posting a few pictures taken during Stanley Park Ecology Society‘s most recent monthly bird count, which took place last weekend, on September 11, 2016 and was led by Else Mikkelsen.

We saw a number of interesting birds, but the most interesting for me was seeing (and hearing!!!) a pair of kingfishers up close and personal at the northwest corner of the Lost Lagoon, near the lagoon’s tributary. I captured only a marginally acceptable shot of the male, but I have posted it here nonetheless. We were also lucky enough to get some good views of Gadwalls, Green-winged Teals and Wood Ducks, not to mention a few migrating birds such as a Warbling Vireo and Yellow Warbler (the latter is not 100% certain, but I’m fairly confident that this is what I saw).

But the strangest thing that happened as we began our walk was that we got a very good and long look at a bat as it flew on the lagoon in broad daylight to hunt insects. Unfortunately, this may also indicate that this individual had rabies, as it is highly exceedingly rare for most bats to be so active after the sun has fully risen. Let’s hope that it only was temporarily confused! I’ve included a photo of the bat, even though it isn’t very sharp.

Stanley Park Ecology Society Bird Count: May 8, 2016

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Stanley Park Ecology Society’s monthly bird count took place last weekend, on May 8, 2016. This count is normally led by Else Mikkelsen, but for the next few months, she will be spending time in the United States to assist a PhD student with her research on Hermit Warbler speciation and the impact of Townsend’s Warbler hybridization. As a result, the next few walks will be led by Leslie Hurteau, who acquitted himself quite well on his first count.

We saw a number of interesting birds, but the most interesting by far was the flock of 11 Long-billed Dowitchers (pictured above), that circled Lost Lagoon on several occasions.

Now this blog will most certainly be a work in progress, as I will continue adding some information over the next few hours and days, but I wanted to be sure to post it by the start of the weekend!

And now, here are two bonus photos taken before the count at Stanley Park’s Second Beach:

Red-throated Loon (juvenile), Second Beach

Red-throated Loon (juvenile), Second Beach

Glaucous-winged Gull on Second Beach

Glaucous-winged Gull on Second Beach

 

 

A short break from blogging…

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You may have noticed that I published this blog a few hours later than usual. I guess I was inspired by this handsome gentleman (Wood Duck) to take a bit of a rest… from blogging, that is. But I promise to not be away for too, too long: I’ll be back in a few days with more photos! And please know that I greatly appreciate your visits, likes and comments.

Wood Duck (male) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa: Taken February 16, 2016 near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

 

Stanley Park Ecology Society: April Bird Count

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Stanley Park Ecology Society‘s most recent bird count took place on Sunday, April 11. Even though it was fairly quiet, I was able to get a few interesting photos. And it was a treat to see three species of the swallows (Tree, Violet-green and Barn) flying over the water to catch insects.

The count was led once again by Else Mikkelsen, who is a longtime SPES volunteer and is pursuing an undergraduate science degree at the University of British Columbia.

The photos featured today were taken on the park’s Lost Lagoon or Beaver Lake with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. None of the birds were baited, called in or set up, although the chickadees and squirrels were attracted to seeds left behind by other users of the park. These species will be featured in a separate post in the days to come. [UPDATE: Actually, I like the photo gallery setup so much that I will progressively update each of the captions below, rather than posting each species individually. I will move to other photos, instead.]

  • Photo above: Male Wood Duck, taken not far from Lost Lagoon
  • Photos below: Each species identified separately

 

Northern Shoveler on Lost Lagoon

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Northern Shoveler (male and female in background) | Canard souchet | Anas clypeata: Taken on Lost Lagoon, in Stanley Park in Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, on March 13, 2016, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 900 | 330mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

Female Bufflehead in Stanley Park

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Bufflehead (female) | Petit Garrot | Bucephala albeola: Taken near Lost Lagoon, in Stanley Park in Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, on March 13, 2016, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top: ISO 1600 | 420mm | f/5.6 | 1/320, cropped for composition
  • Bottom: ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/400, cropped for composition

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Surf Scoters feeding near Second Beach in Stanley Park

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Surf Scoter | Macreuse à front blanc | Melanitta perspicillata: The photo at the top of this blog post demonstrates an interesting behaviour of scoters, namely that they swallow shellfish whole. It seems this is the case for all scoters and many other sea ducks, who break open the shells with their powerful stomach muscles (as indicated in the following article).

And I was quite happy to get the middle photo, which shows the duck just before it goes under water, which is more difficult than it appears, given that these are extremely efficient divers. I usually get a nice photo of their tail feathers sticking out of the water.

Taken from Second Beach in Stanley Park in Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, on March 13, 2016, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (all three photos: ISO 640 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000), cropped. Not baited, called in or set up.

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Stanley Park March Bird Count

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Northern Shoveler (male) | Canard souchet | Anas clypeata (ISO 900 | 330mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped for composition)

I have decided to interrupt my usual posting schedule to present several photos taken during the monthly count organized by the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES). Although lighting conditions were somewhat challenging, I was still quite happy with many of the results.

Even though we were told a big storm was on its way from Oregon, I decided to join last Sunday’s (March 13, 2016) bird count in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada. It was led once again by Else Mikkelsen, who is a longtime SPES volunteer and is pursuing an undergraduate science degree at the University of British Columbia. And in spite of the threat of rain, about 20 volunteers signed up for this month’s count.

Although we did not see any truly rare species on this count, this time around, we got a really good look at some less common and interesting species such as Common Mergansers, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, Varied Thrushes and Barrow’s Goldeneyes. The latter were a particularly unexpected treat; even though they are quite common in the Vancouver area, they are pretty much exclusively seen on the ocean, not on a freshwater pond like Lost Lagoon.

All of the photos featured today were taken next to or on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. None of the birds were baited, called in or set up, even though some of the ducks were probably expecting (but did not receive) handouts from the crowd of eager birders.

In conclusion, I should mention two things: 1) We did not see the Surf Scoters on the count, but I thought I would add this photo, because it was taken from Stanley Park’s Second Beach a few minutes before the count; 2) I will be posting several other photos of these species over the next several days, so stay tuned!

Taken from Second Beach in Stanley Park in Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, on March 13, 2016, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. Not baited, called in or set up.

[I’ve not quite finished the captions, but will do so soon!] Done!

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Barrow’s Goldeneye (female) | Garrot d’Islande | Bucephala islandica (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/800, cropped)

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Barrow’s Goldeneye (male) | Garrot d’Islande | Bucephala islandica (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/800, cropped for composition)

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Common Goldeneye (male) | Garrot à œil d’or | Bucephala clangula (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped for composition)

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Common Merganser | Grand Harle | Mergus merganser: (ISO 1100 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped)

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Dark-eyed Junco (“Oregon”) | Junco ardoisé | Junco hyemalis (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/160, cropped)

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Glaucous-winged Gull (maybe hybrid?) | Goéland à ailes grises | Larus glaucescens (ISO 720 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped for composition)

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Pied-billed Grebe | Grèbe à bec bigarré | Podilymbus podiceps (ISO 450 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped)

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Bufflehead | Petit Garrot | Bucephala albeola (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/320, cropped for composition)

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Varied Thrush (male) | Grive à collier | Ixoreus naevius (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/60, cropped for composition)

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Song Sparrow | Bruant chanteur | Melospiza melodia (ISO 1600 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/125, cropped for composition)

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American Coot | Foulque d’Amérique | Fulica americana (ISO 1600 | 350mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped for composition)

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Surf Scoter (two males) | Macreuse à front blanc | Melanitta perspicillata (ISO 640 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000)

Dark-eyed Junco

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Dark-eyed Junco (“Oregon”) | Junco ardoisé | Junco hyemalis: Taken February 20, 2016, in Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC, Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 640 | 400mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up (although several people were feeding seeds and peanuts to the birds, which explains why this bird came so close to us and stayed around so long).

Steller’s Jay in Stanley Park

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Steller’s Jay | Geai de Steller | Cyanocitta Steller: Taken February 20, 2016, in Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 640 | 400mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up (although several people were feeding seeds and peanuts to the birds, which explains why this bird came so close to us and stayed around so long).

Common Merganser (male and female)

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Common Merganser (male and female) | Grand Harle | Mergus merganser: Both photos taken February 20, 2016, on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon in Vancouver, BC with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, cropped. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top (male): ISO 400 | 410mm | f/6.3 | 1/1000
  • Bottom (female): ISO 400 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1250

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Common Goldeneye on Lost Lagoon

 

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Common Goldeneye | Garrot à œil d’or | Bucephala clangula: The top photo shows the remarkable courting display of a male in front of a female (the whole contortion routine was accompanied by remarkably deep grunts, by the way). Below, a male showed me his best side!

Both photos taken February 20, 2016, on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon in Vancouver, BC with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, cropped. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top (male courting a female): ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/800
  • Bottom (male): ISO 500 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000

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A mystery involving two female goldeneyes

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I would like to sound the collective wisdom of this my readers… One of these goldeneyes is easily identifiable as a female Common Goldeneye (rounded head and black bill with a yellow tip). The other, however, is a bit of a challenge. The bill is the right size to be a Common, but the colour is off (too orange) and the head is perhaps a bit more peaked than it should be. Could it be a hybrid female Common X Barrow’s?

Both birds were taken February 20, 2016, on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon in Vancouver, BC with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, cropped. Not baited, called in or set up.

Mystery goldeneye: ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/800
Common Goldeneye (female): ISO 500 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000

Am I hearing a worm? American Robin feeding in Stanley Park

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American Robin (male) | Merle d’Amérique | Turdus migratorius: Taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 1400 | 400mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

Varied Thrush in Stanley Park

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Varied Thrush (male) | Grive à collier | Ixoreus naevius: Taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top: ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/640
  • Bottom: ISO 1100 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500

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Male Long-tailed Duck (winter plumage)

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Long-tailed Duck (male, winter plumage) | Harelde kakawi | Clangula hyemalis: This is not one of my best photos, especially since this bird was taken from a terrible angle, but it is one of my favourite ducks. It is also rare to see one so close to shore; I found this individual on February 16, 2016, in Burrard Inlet (Vancouver Harbour), between Canada Place and the Convention Centre in British Columbia, Canada. By the way, he seemed to have been adopted by a flock of Surf Scoters!

Taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 1000 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped. Not baited, called in or set up.

Female Bufflehead near Lost Lagoon

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Bufflehead (female) | Petit Garrot | Bucephala alveoli: Taken on February 16, 2016 near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 1250 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

Wood Duck (male) near Lost Lagoon

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Wood Duck (male) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa: Taken on February 16, 2016 near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/500), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.

American Coot on Lost Lagoon

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American Coot | Foulque d’Amérique | Fulica americana: Taken on February 16, 2016 at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 800 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/800), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.