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

 

 

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)

Stanley Park Ecology Society: January 2014 Bird Count

Northern Shoveler (male)

Northern Shoveler (male)

Although yesterday’s (January 12, 2014) Stanley Park Ecology Society Bird Count was a somewhat soaked affair, it was still filled with many interesting bird observations. One of the highlights for me was the Northern Shovelers (including the one pictured above) that decided to call Lost Lagoon home, at least for part of the winter. Although this is certainly not unheard of, they were easily seen from the trail and remained in place for longer than usual. I would also point out that we saw large flocks of Varied Thrushes, one of my favourite B.C. birds, not to mention many species of ducks and passerines.

I will post the full count results here, once they are available. [UPDATE: you may find the complete list of birds here!]

Thanks once again to SPES for holding this count and to its conservation officer (and our fearless count leader), Robyn Worcester! Below is a slide show featuring a few more shots that I took on and around Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon, right after the end of the count, when the rain stopped falling from the sky:

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October 2013 SPES bird count

If you have read my posts in the past, you may already be aware that I am a volunteer at the Stanley Park Ecology Society and that I especially like participating in the monthly bird count lead by the society’s fearless conservation officer, Robyn Worcester. She has been leading these counts since 2006 and has accumulated an impressive amount of data over the years on the abundance and frequency of this incredible birding area. (BTW, if you live in Metro Vancouver, you may be interested to know that SPES has a number of volunteer opportunities.)

This most recent count was quite interesting, if only because I did not forget to put the fully-charged battery in my camera this time! It also doesn’t hurt that for the first time in a week, there wasn’t a heavy blanket of fog over large bodies of water. And the fall colours were really quite lovely!

Although there were still a small number and variety of ducks to be found, we did see a few female Green-winged Teals and a large number of very colourful Wood Ducks of both sexes. The Passerines were also quite active and included a good look at several Golden-crowned Kinglets (but no photos, alas, because yours truly does not focus fast enough), not to mention a fairly good look at a White-throated Sparrow, which is quite rare in this part of the world.

The photos below represent a small sample of the birds seen on this day. I will post (or provide a link to) the full species list here when it is available.

American Coot

American Coot

American Widgeon (male)

American Widgeon (male)

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal

Mallard (male)

Mallard (male)

Northwestern Crow

Northwestern Crow

Wood Duck (female)

Wood Duck (female)