October 2016 Stanley Park Ecology Society Bird Count


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.

Stanley Park March Bird Count


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!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Female White-winged Scoter in North Vancouver


White-winged Scoter (female) / Macreuse à ailes blanches / Melanitta deglandi: The lighting was a flat, but I was thrilled that this bird came so close (they are even more unusual in this location than the male Surf Scoter featured yesterday). Taken from Burrard Dry Dock Pier in the City of North Vancouver, BC, Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 1600, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/400).

Spectacular male Surf Scoter in North Vancouver



Surf Scoter / Macreuse à front blanc / Melanitta perspicillata: The lighting was rather flat, but I was still quite thrilled that this male in breeding plumage got so close to me. Taken from Burrard Dry Dock Pier in the City of North Vancouver, BC, Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (both photos: ISO 1600, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/400).


Black* Scoter in North Vancouver


I will interrupt the review of the bird photos I have taken since October 2014 to show you a picture of a beautiful male Surf Scoter in breeding plumage (en français: Macreuse à front blanc / scientific name: Melanitta perspicillata).

This photo was taken a few days ago, next to Burrard Dry Dock Pier in North Vancouver, BC, Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 1600, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/400). This dashing duck was not baited, called in or set up.

[*UPDATE: Please ignore the title… this is indeed a Surf Scoter and not a Black Scoter! I was excited this one got so close to me and stuck around for so long, but a BASC would have been even more terrific and a lifer too! To see what a real Black Scoter looks like, click here to see the appropriate page on All About Birds.]

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…


Flock of Barrow’s Goldeneyes


Pacific Wren


Pelagic Cormorant


Surf Scoter (pair)


Surf Scoter (trio)


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):


Black-capped Chickadee | Lost Lagoon


Double-crested Cormorant | Lost Lagoon


Hooded Merganser (male) | Lost Lagoon


Lesser Scaup (male) | Lost Lagoon


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