Posted in Atlantic Canada Birding BEYOND

a perfect April day in Stanley Park, Vancouver

a perfect April day in Stanley Park, Vancouver Posted on April 15, 2017

My camera (left the bins at home since my super zoom doubles as a scope) had come out of checked baggage with a blurry viewfinder and the idea of spending the day birding in British Columbia with no optics loomed over me like the rain clouds.

The first two days in Vancouver were spent with my coworkers from RC Pets (the best pet company in North America and the best coworkers too btw!) and they took us on an amazing tour of the Sea to Sky highway and up the Sea to Sky Gondola.  I was frustrated with the camera of course but managed to nab my first lifer of the trip, a Steller’s Jay.  We also heard the amusing calls of the Sooty Grouse under the suspension bridge.  Groups of small chattery birds flew by several times but without my zoom I couldn’t figure out what they were.  My guess best guess would be Mountain Bluebirds based on impression but I’ll never know.  Guess I better go back someday!  The snowshoe hikes looked like great fun in fact.

Steller’s Jay

It was sad to leave my coworkers and friends but also fantastic to have an upcoming day to myself.  I headed to English Bay for the evening after a fabulous farewell supper with some of the gang.

A White-crowned Sparrow singing loudly outside my window at the Sylvia as my alarm went off inspired some hope.  I decided I had to do something about this situation.  I phoned my other half back home and we googled the prices of cheap binoculars.  As I contemplated picking up a $50 set at London Drug just to make the day somewhat worthwhile the suggestion was made to google “blurry viewfinders”.

White-crowned Sparrow

The clouds parted as I located the diopter on my camera and corrected the view.  On with room service, shower, and Stanley Park then!  Whew!

Greeted by Canada Geese, Glacous-winged Gulls, and Northwestern Crows I made my way along the beach in English Bay toward this glorious urban haven.

Northwestern Crow – a little different that our American Crows back home on the East Coast
Glaucous-winged Gull (my first lifer in English Bay!)
Glaucous-winged Gull – we don’t have these on the East Coast – not the lack of black on the wing tips – the distinguishing feature from our Herring Gulls
Northwestern Crow – courting behavior – I had a little crow porn outside my window at the Teahouse at that…oy!

Armed with my wish list of lifers (and 2 down already!), the Spotted Towhees loudly and immediately checked themselves off my list.

Stanley Park is known for it’s hummingbirds, and although I’m not a huge fan the Rufous Hummingbirds were a bit of a showstopper admittedly.

Rufous Hummingbird male
Rufous Hummingbird female

Having done my homework for the time of year the coastline seemed the better bet, so I followed the sea wall dreaming of Oystercatchers and Canvasbacks along the way.

Although they never appeared, hundreds of Barrow’s Goldeneyes accompanied me throughout the day, along with an initial greeting from a pair of Horned Grebes in breeding plumage.

Barrow’s Goldeneye male
Barrow’s Goldeneye female

Woodland birds called along the way and took me on marvelous diversions into the old growth forest for at least half of the time.  The Pacific Wren were the highlight of my adventure and with some patience I got a marvelous show from one of these teeny songsters.

Pacific Wren - April 13, 2017 - Stanley Park, VancouverThe easiest bird on my checklist (Chestnut-backed Chickadee) managed to evade my sightings, although I did hear them all over it never seemed important to track one down for a photo.  As well my Eagle sightings were both Bald and neither Golden, but this was a day for wandering and not twitching.

Lost Lagoon was full of Wood Ducks and I also got a nice show from a Fox Sparrow.

Wood Ducks - April 13, 2017 - Stanley Park, Vancouver

Fox Sparrow - Stanley Park - Vancouver - April 13, 2017

My outdoor classroom for the day was filled with song, wonder, and lessons on habitat.  An old-growth forest is like nothing else on this earth.  Back home in Nova Scotia there we have very little of it (please consider supporting the Nova Scotia Nature Trust), but in the pockets that still exist our equivalent woodland birds and critters are just as happy.

Trusting that nature would take care of me I trekked the kilometers through the park and when I thought I could take no more, the Teahouse oasis appeared.


Another scan of the seawall didn’t net the results I had hoped for but the Pelagic Cormorants appeared, and a solo Harlequin Duck put on a lovely show alongside a pair of Green-winged Teal.

Pelagic Cormorants

Harlequin Duck - April 13, 2017 - Stanley Park, Vancouver

Sore feet snuck up on me, and the perfect path took me into the middle of the park to avoid the long sea wall trek. A sheltered oasis of stream and marsh greeted me in the Beaver Lake area of the park.  Great Blue Heron fished for minnow in the creek and Swallows snatched insects amidst the waterfowl.

Great Blue Heron - April 13, 2017 - Stanley Park, Vancouver

My camera battery died as I meandered out of the park but not before a Pileated Woodpecker appeared who let me so close I was able to get this video on my phone without the need of any zoom.

A perfect day in Stanley Park.  I will return.