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.

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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

 

 

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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December Stanley Park Bird Count

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Hooded Merganser | Harle huppé | Lophodytes cucullatus
ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/200 (cropped for composition)

This weekend, I will feature photos taken during two different bird counts. Today, I will publish a few photos that I took during the monthly count organized by Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES). Tomorrow, will feature photos taken at last weekend’s Christmas Bird Count in North Vancouver (eastern section).

In spite of the pouring rain (and localized flooding), I made my way to SPES’s monthly bird count at Stanley Park on December 13, 2015, organized by the Stanley Park Ecology Society. It was led for the second time by Else Mikkelsen, who is currently a science undergraduate at the University of British Columbia. Aside from about 10 volunteer counters, we were joined by SPES’s new Urban Wildlife Programs Coordinator, Greg Hart and Conservation Projects Manager, Maria Egerton.

As usual, these photos were taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED and none of the birds were baited, called in or set up (although the towhee, chickadee and sparrows pictured here were attracted by seeds provided by unknown park visitors).

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Wood Duck (male) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa
ISO 2500 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/160 (cropped for composition)

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Spotted Towhee | Harle huppé | Lophodytes cucullatus
ISO 2200 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/160 (cropped for composition)

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Fox Sparrow | Bruant fauve | Passerella iliaca
ISO 1600 | 210mm | f/5.6 | 1/125 (cropped for composition)

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Song Sparrow | Bruant chanteur | Melospiza melodia
ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/100 (cropped for composition)

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Hooded Merganser (female) | Harle huppé | Lophodytes cucullatus
ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/400 (cropped for composition)

Common Goldeneyes on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon

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Common Goldeneye (male & female) | Garrot à oeil d’or | Bucephala clangula: Taken November 18, 2015 on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon in Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top: Female, ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/100, not cropped
  • Bottom: Male, ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/160, cropped for composition

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More Hooded Mergansers in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

DSC_1723Male, November 18
ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/400, cropped for composition

Hooded Merganser | Harle huppé | Lophodytes cucullatus: Taken November 18 & 20, 2015 on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon in Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

DSC_1735Female, November 18
ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/125, not cropped

DSC_1851Male, November 20
ISO 640 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped for composition.

DSC_1875Three males (a.k.a. “Los tres amigos”), November 20
ISO 720 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000, cropped for composition.

Wood Ducks at Stanley Park

DSC_0746Male on Beaver Lake — ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, not cropped

Wood Duck (male and female) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa: All photos taken at SPES‘s November 8, 2015 bird count in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

DSC_0751Female on Beaver Lake — ISO 1400 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/200, cropped

DSC_0744Female on Beaver Lake — ISO 1400 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/200, cropped for composition

DSC_0664Male on Lost Lagoon tributary — ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/200, cropped

Green-winged Teal (female) at Stanley Park

DSC_0774ISO 1250 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped

Green-winged Teal (female) | Sarcelle à ailes vertes | Anas carolinensis or Anas crecca carolinensis: All photos taken at SPES‘s November 8, 2015 bird count on Beaver Lake in Stanley Park, Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

BTW, I’ve included the photo in the middle mainly because you can see a sliver of the green on the wing of the female. You might otherwise wonder about the name of this species.

[Please note that I will post photos of three more species taken at the same bird count on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 20-22.]

DSC_0758ISO 800 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/640, cropped

DSC_0782ISO 900 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped

Hooded Mergansers at Stanley Park

DSC_0468Male in courting display — ISO 1250 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, not cropped

Hooded Merganser (male and female) | Harle couronné | Lophodytes cucullatus : As I pointed out a few days ago, I participated in the November bird count at Vancouver’s Stanley Park, which is organized under the auspices of the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES). As I also pointed out at the time, this month’s count was led for the first time by Else Mikkelsen, a young but already quite experienced ecologist, naturalist and birder.

On this occasion, the group was able to admire a number of beautiful bird species, including the Hooded Mergansers featured in today’s post. The males were especially noticeable and looked even more exotic than usual, since they were in full courting mode. The low grunts they make are quite surprising (to see a video of this remarkable behaviour, click here). And as you can see on the third photo, the males can stretch out their necks quite a bit.

All photos taken on November 8, 2015 with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

DSC_0652 (1)Female with prey — ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/200, cropped

DSC_0570Male courting a female — ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/250, cropped

DSC_0474Two males — ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500, cropped for composition

DSC_0616Two females — ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/160, cropped

November bird count at Stanley Park

DSC_0474Hooded Merganser (males)

After a long absence, I decided to participate in the November bird count at Stanley Park, which is lead by an organization that is near and dear to my heart, namely the Stanley Park Ecology Society (full disclosure: I am a member of their board of directors). I should point out that it was led this month for the first time by an up and coming ecologist, naturalist and birder, Else Mikkelsen. Her first count was a great success!

As a result, I will be posting more frequently over the next few days in order to show you some of the photos I took on Sunday more quickly than my normal schedule would allow. Today, I would like to show you a small sample of the pictures I took — this time, only the common English names of each bird will appear in the caption. I will repost these photos — along with a few more for each species — over the next week or two, with all of the usual information.

DSC_0616Hooded Merganser (females)

DSC_0715Chestnut-backed Chickadee

DSC_0744Wood Duck (female)

DSC_0664Wood Duck (male)

DSC_0782Green-winged Teal (female)

DSC_0702 (1)Mallard (females)

DSC_0676 (2)Mallard (male)

Cooper’s Hawk in Stanley Park

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Cooper’s Hawk | Épervier de Cooper | Accipiter cooperii: Although the lighting conditions were challenging, I am still satisfied that I got an OK photo of this Cooper’s Hawk with its prey (I’m guessing this was a rather unfortunate squirrel). Taken in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, 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 | 1/40, cropped). Not baited, called in or set up.

I am not falling asleep!!!

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Wood Duck (ducklings) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa: I couldn’t resist adding a last photo of these ducklings that I found on Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. They aren’t actually sleeping, but closing their eyes as they groom themselves. Taken on Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park (in BC, Canada) with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 1600 | 165mm | f/5 | 1/125). Not baited, called in or set up.

I would also like to take this occasion to thank all of my loyal followers for all of your likes and comments. I really enjoy your feedback and will always try to respond in some way or other, so keep it coming!

I would also like to inform you that I have now come very close to catching up on my bird photo backlog (as some of you may recall, I have been posting a blog almost every day since January to try to take care of this matter). This means that as of this week, I will be publishing far less frequently. Currently, I am planning on posting something every Saturday morning (Pacific Time), but I promise that I will post more frequently if I get some particularly interesting shots or find a rare bird hanging around somewhere nearby.

Wood Duck: Many ducklings in Stanley Park!

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Wood Duck (ducklings) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa: The members of this family of Wood Ducks seem to have been settling in for the night, even though someone had previously been trying to take their pictures with a cell phone. Taken on Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park (in BC, Canada) with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top: ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/250
  • Middle: ISO 1600 | 140mm | f/4.8 | 1/320
  • Bottom: ISO 1600 | 165mm | f/5 | 1/125

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Male Wood Duck in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

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Wood Duck (male) | Canard branchu | Aix sponsa: Taken in Vancouver’s Stanley Park (in BC, Canada) with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 800 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500). Not baited, called in or set up.

Spotted Towhee in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

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Spotted Towhee | Tohi tacheté | Pipilo maculatus: Taken in Vancouver’s Stanley Park (in BC, Canada) with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up.

  • Top: ISO 1400 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500
  • Bottom: ISO 1600 | 300mm | f/5.6 | 1/500

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Lucky shot: Pine Siskin in Stanley Park

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Pine Siskin / Tarin des pins / Spinus pinus: Sometimes, I get lucky — and even have my camera in hand! This photo is a perfect example: In this part of the world, Pine Siskins normally flitter around at the top of our very tall trees and so are quite difficult to see, let alone photograph. They can be seen around bird feeders, but mostly in winter and especially during cold snaps. But as I was walking in Stanley Park on a pleasant spring day last month, this individual suddenly landed in front of me and stayed still for at least a minute, perhaps more (but flew off when a runner joined us on the path), allowing me to take a few pictures, including this one. This is by far the nicest photo I have yet obtained of this species.

Taken on April 19, 2015, on the Beaver Lake Tail in Vancouver, BC, Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 & AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E II (ISO 1250 | 420mm | f/5.6 | 1/500). Not baited, called in or set up.

Steller’s Jay at Stanley Park

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Steller’s Jay / Geai de Steller / Cyanocitta stelleri: Taken on April 19, 2014 on the Beaver Lake Tail in Vancouver, BC, Canada with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 & AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E II (ISO 400 | 420mm | f/5.6 | 1/1600). Not baited, called in or set up (however, park users were using seeds to feed the birds on the nearby foot bridge).

Bushtits: Photo essay

Today’s instalment of the bird photos I’ve taken over the past few months features a photo essay of one of the smallest birds found in the Metro Vancouver area, the Bushtit* (Mésange buissonière / Psaltriparus minimus) – only hummingbirds are smaller, in fact. (*Outside of North America, this bird is known as the American Bushtit.)

These birds almost always travel in flocks of about 10-40 birds, except around nesting time, when you may only see a pair together. In the winter months, flocks are especially large and are easy to spot because the birds twitter quite loudly; seeing their acrobatics on impossibly small twigs and leaves can be quite entertaining! Another peculiarity of this bird is that eye colour is the only way to reliably tell the sexes appart in the field: The males have a dark brown eye, while the female’s is a striking yellow.

The following photos were taken in February 2015 – exact location, date and photo specifications are included at the very end:

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BUSH_male_03-Stanley_Park-2015_02_21

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All photos taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. None of these birds were baited, called in or set up. Specific details for each photo are as follows…

  • Female taken at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus (UBC), February 11, 2015: ISO 1600 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/200.
  • Male taken at UBC, February 11, 2015: ISO 1600 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/125.
  • Male taken in Stanley Park’s Rose Garden, Vancouver, BC, Canada on February 21, 2015: ISO 400 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/1000.
  • Female taken in Stanley Park’s Rose Garden, Vancouver, BC, Canada on February 21, 2015: ISO 720 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/1000.

Male Common Goldeneye on Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon

COGO_male_01-Lost_Lagoon-2015_01_19 Common Goldeneye / Garrot à œil d’or / Bucephala clangula: Not to sound like a broken record, but the lighting was challenging! Still, in the photo above, you can clearly see the green tinge to the dark head. And in the photo below, he clearly had quite an itch, right behind his ear! Taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. Not baited, called in or set up. Top: ISO 800, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800 Bottom: ISO 800, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800 COGO_male_02-Lost_Lagoon-2015_01_19

Ring-necked Duck on Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

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Ring-necked Duck / Fuligule à collier / Aythya collaris: Although the lighting was challenging on this day (as I’ve pointed out in a couple of previous posts), I like this photo because you clearly see the maroon “ring” around the male’s neck (it is often not very visible). Taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (ISO 800, 270mm, f/5.6, 1/1000). Not baited, called in or set up.