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 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)

American Coot on a pond in Vanier Park

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American Coot / Foulque d’Amérique / Fulica americana: Taken on the small pond in Vanier Park in Vancouver, BC, Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 400, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800). Not baited, called in or set up.

Stanley Park Ecology Society: October Monthly Bird Count

Although it was supposed to rain, we ended up having some extraordinarily warm and even sunny weather for this month’s Stanley Park Ecology Society bird count, let by its conservation manager, Robyn Worcester.

Although the winter birds were not out in full force yet, we did get to see many interesting birds, including several Northern Shovelers (all females), several Steller’s Jays, a Pied-billed Grebe and a lone female Northern Pintail, not to mention several Mallards and Wood Ducks in full breeding plumage. In some ways, however, the highlights came after the end of the official event, when I lingered behind on the path around Beaver Lake and saw a pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers, as well as a Purple Finch, which I haven’t seen for years. Alas, I was not quick enough to get a good picture of either of these species. Maybe some other time.

For now, here are a few of the shots that I did manage to get:

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Spotted Towhee | Beaver Lake (path)

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Steller’s Jay | Beaver Lake (path)

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Steller’s Jay | Beaver Lake (path)

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Wood Duck (female) | Beaver Lake (path)

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Wood Duck (male) | Beaver Lake (path)

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Mallard (male) | Lost Lagoon

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Mallard (female) | Beaver Lake

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Mallard (female) | Beaver Lake

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Great Blue Heron | Beaver Lake

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Downy Woodpecker | Beaver Lake (path)

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Double-crested Cormorant | Lost Lagoon

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Chestnut-backed Chickadee | Beaver Lake (path)

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Black-capped Chickadee | Beaver Lake (path)

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American Coot | Lost Lagoon

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American Coot | Lost Lagoon (next to the path)