On November 4th 2012, I participated in the Stanley Park Ecology Society's Annual Waterbird Count. I had a great time.
A group of about 20 volunteers showed up. 10 of us bird counted on the east side of the park up to the Lion's Gate Bridge, and 10 of us bird counted on the west side of the park up to the Lion's Gate Bridge. I was part of the group counting birds on the west side of the park.
According to the forecast, the weather was supposed to be rainy, but we got lucky and it only rained for the first and last while. Rain doesn't really affect numbers in sea ducks, so it was all right.
We started our count at the pool near second beach. In the water there, there were lots of gulls, crows on the beach, cormorants, and two Common Loon. Here is a photo of one of the loons:
We continued walking. There were lots of cormorants, and a couple Surf Scoters far out (not very many though). Soon we came upon a Horned Grebe not too far away. Here is a photo of it:
As I mentioned, there were lots of cormorants, both Pelagic and Double-crested. Here is a photo of a Double-crested Cormorant near the Horned Grebe:
Not too far ahead of the cormorants and grebe, there were 3 birds swimming together, a Common Goldeneye, a Barrow's Goldeneye and a Bufflehead. It was cool to see 3 similar birds together so that you could see the small differences. In this photo, the Bufflehead (female) is on the left, the Barrow's Goldeneye is in the middle, and the Common Goldeneye is on the right.
The group walked for a while again. There was not much action waterbird-wise (only a couple sea ducks and cormorants far out). There were however, tons of Pine Siskins flying around. In total, there were probably around 2500 birds in many different flocks.
The birding group continued walking, and between Siwash Rock and Prospect Point, we got a treat. A flock of thousands (probably around 2200) of sea ducks was feeding very close to shore. They group included these birds:
2000 - Surf Scoters
5 - White-winged Scoter
75-200 - Barrow's Goldeneye
30-40 - Bufflehead,
10 - Scaups (Greater as well as Lesser),
1 - American Wigeon,
1 - Pelagic Cormorant,
3 - Harlequin Duck
4 - Long-tailed Duck
At least 1 or 2 - Common Goldeneye
Here are some photos of them:
Surf Scoters, Barrows' Goldeneye, and White-winged Scoter (white-winged in top left corner)
Buffleheads and Barrow's Goldeneye:
Buffleheads, Barrow's Goldeneye, and Surf Scoter (Surf Scoter in top left corner):
Long-tailed Duck (male) with Surf Scoters and White-winged Scoter (White-winged Scoter in top right corner):
Long-tailed Duck (female)
Long-tailed Duck (female) with Surf Scoter and Scaup
Long-tailed Duck (male) with Surf Scoters
Long-tailed Ducks (female and juvenile) with Surf Scoters
Surf Scoter with goldeneye:
Surf Scoters and Barrow's Goldeneye:
Surf Scoter's Barrow's Goldeneye, Bufflehead
Surf Scoters, Barrow's Goldeneye
Surf Scoters, Barrow's Goldeneye, and White-winged Scoters
After we watched this large flock for a while, we continued walking. Not far ahead, there were 3 more Harlequin Ducks, a female and two males. Here are some photos of them:
As we neared the Lion’s Gate Bridge, there were some Pelagic Cormorants on the cliffs, and also and the bridge. Here are two photos, one of a Pelagic Cormorant on the cliffs by the Liron’s Gate Bridge and one of a couple Pelagic Cormorants on the base of the bridge. Notice that the bird in the front in the last photo appears much smaller. I am not sure if this is just the angle, because the bird is sitting slightly lower down, or if the bird is actually smaller.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one group also went around the east seawall. We met up at the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Notable sightings from their side were 2 Greater-white Fronted Geese, some Cackling Geese, a Merlin, a Red Tailed Hawk, Red-necked Grebes, a flock of Trumpeter/Tundra Swans flying by, and more.
The whole group now walked back towards Lost Lagoon. We stopped to watch some birds feeding on the ground. Most of the group continued walking, leaving 5 of us still watching the bird (I being one of them). We lucked out when a White-throated Sparrow popped out from behind a tree. I took some photos and a video. It was very dark though. For those of you who know about camera settings, this photo was taken on ISO 4000 shutter speed of 1/50 (to give an idea of how dark it was)
Here is a video I took of the bird:
It had been a great day of birding, with the highlights for me being the Long-tailed Ducks with the huge flock of “sea ducks”, and the White-throated Sparrow.