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.

Pelagic Cormorant with straw on Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

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Pelagic Cormorant | Cormoran pélagique | Phalacrocorax pelagicus: This bird was part of a small flock foraging for nesting material on Sunset Beach in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

I don’t normally do this, but after taking this photo, I feel like preaching (to the choir???): Aside from ruining an excellent photo (which is really a minor complaint from a single individual), it is well known that plastic is quite dangerous for birds, especially if they live on the ocean. This straw will hopefully remain secure in the nest, but who knows if it will get ingested accidentally at some future time when the nest is no longer in use? So please do not throw out your plastic (or other) garbage willy-nilly! Recycle it if you can or throw it out in a secure container/bag if you must.

Taken on June 12, 2015, 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 | 1/1600). 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)

Stanley Park Winter Waterbird Survey 2013

One of my favourite volunteer events organized by the Stanley Park Ecology Society (and led by Robyn Worcester, their conservation officer) is the annual Winter Waterbird Survey along the park’s magnificent seawall (for more details on last year’s survey and the route that we take, click here). This year marks the third time that I participate. And the weather was great: a bit on the cool side, but sunny! We saw literally thousands of ducks on the ocean, mainly Surf Scoters and in lesser numbers Barrow’s Goldeneyes, but the highlight for me, I guess, were the handful of White-winged Scoters that were hiding among the huge flock. Here are a few shots I managed to get…

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Flock of Barrow’s Goldeneyes

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Pacific Wren

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Pelagic Cormorant

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Surf Scoter (pair)

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Surf Scoter (trio)

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White-winged Scoter

And while I was in Stanley Park, I also took a few pictures in other locations. These birds are not added to the count, but I thought I would share them with you nonetheless, especially the Snow Goose that was hanging out among the Canada Geese in the park’s Rose Garden (they are abundant in this region, but almost never seen in Stanley Park):

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Black-capped Chickadee | Lost Lagoon

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Double-crested Cormorant | Lost Lagoon

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Hooded Merganser (male) | Lost Lagoon

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Lesser Scaup (male) | Lost Lagoon

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Snow Goose (white-morph juvenile) | Rose Garden, Stanley Park