Sunday, March 13, 2011

English Bay, Vancouver

Harlequin Duck (My new favourite)
The weather for this morning was looking reasonable, with heavy rain not forecast until the early afternoon, and so Dee and I decided to make an early start.

Our first stop 'The Lost Lagoon', which is literally 250 yards from our apartment and is an artificial, captive 16.6-hectare body of water near the entrance to Stanley Park. Surrounding the lake is a 1.1 mile trail, which in the summer is a nesting ground to many species of birds, including Great Blue Herons.

The first bird of the day astonishingly turned out to be a Turkey Vulture, which we noted soaring over the opposite side of the lake high above the huge Cedar's which form much of the park. The lake itself contained good numbers of Common Goldeneye, Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, a dozen Scaup and good numbers of American Coot. Most of the Gull population consisted of Herring and Glaucous Winged, and I'm almost certain that an immature Franklin's, which mainly come to inland pools during the winter, was also present.

Delighted with our start we took the trail down towards our next stop of English Bay adding to our list with Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-caped and Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and of course the ever present American Robin.

English Bay, which is located west of the downtown peninsula, separates the bay from Burrard Inlet connecting to the northwest, and False Creek to the southeast. What greeted us here was nothing short of stunning! It turns out after researching that over 60% of the worlds population of Barrow's Goldeneye lives in British Columbia all year round. Thousands of them, sometimes up to 7,000, have been seen here and in the surrounding shores during winter. We stopped counting today after our less than generous estimate of 1,000, It's a sight I'll never forget and one I'll certainly be revisiting during my stay.

Black Oystercatcher
We continued our walk along the sea wall northwards passing Ferguson Point and heading on towards Prospect Point. With the sea conditions relatively slight we managed an array of diving and swimming wildfowl you'd simply die for. These included some decent flocks of Surf Scoter, which dive for mussels throughout the winter, shortly they will fly to their breeding grounds in northern Canada and Alaska. Also seen were Black Scoter, Buffleheads, Lesser Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, and what has now become my favourite, Harlequin Duck!

Barrow's Goldeneye
One of the most breathtaking sights today away from the sheer volume of Barrow's was when we witnessed a Bald Eagle, the fourth of the day, diving for prey near Siwash Rock, despite missing out the bird appeared to stay on the water for at least 30 seconds before flying off. Also present and worth a mention on our birding day were good numbers of Double-crested Comorant and Glaucous-winged Gull, plus our first Waders of the trip when we connected with 9 Black Oystercatcher, my first for Canada.