Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Birding in Vancouver

 Upon arrival in Vancouver we set out immediately for our first key target bird, a Costa's Hummingbird. Surprisingly, this very rare bird in Canada has been frequenting a feeder in Vancouver since 2010! I'm sure every keen birder in B.C. has been to see this bird already and we hoped we might get lucky and see it on our first attempt. Alas, this was not to be! We waited about an hour during which time an Anna's Hummingbird and a Fox Sparrow showed up, both new for the year, but no Costa's. Undaunted by this early "miss", we took an hour out for supper and began our search for another key Vancouver target bird, a Barn Owl. It took us a while but eventually we caught sight of one in the Boundary Bay area. Unfortunately we had only a brief view before it flew off into the darkness. 

Iona Beach Regional Park

We drove to Iona Beach Regional Park early the
next morning where we spent time birding the interesting wetlands in the area. While we were there we ran into some banders working with mist nets who gave us some tips on other places we might visit during the day ahead. 

We expected lots of new year birds at Iona Beach and we weren't disappointed! We saw several flights of Snow Geese and along the trail we came across Marsh Wren, Pied-billed Grebe and Tree Swallow.

Marsh Wren
 After Iona Beach we decided to try for the Costa's Hummingbird again and this time we were successful! We also picked up a Bushtit here this morning.

Costa's Hummingbird

Cooper's Hawk

 Next we drove to Terra Nova
following up on advice that a Barn
Owl might be in the area.   Once again we found this bird harder to find than we had hoped but a decent second place prize was a Cooper's Hawk which posed for us very nicely! We didn't give up on the Barn Owl however and managed to find one a little later in the day. We also took time to go and see some of the many Snowy Owls present in the Boundary Bay area right now. We stopped there long enough to see about ten of them! Scattered amongst the driftwood over a long stretch of beach, I must say they seemed very out of place to us Albertans.

We had enough time to visit Reifel Bird Sanctuary next. This is a great area, rich in bird life, but on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon we were not surprised to find it was very busy! Nevertheless we had a pleasant stroll along some of its many trails, picking up Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mute Swan, Northern Shoveler, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Golden-crowned Sparrow and best of all - two Sandhill Cranes.

By now we were into mid afternoon and needed to get to Tsawassen. Along the way we came across a field with several thousand Snow Geese. What a spectacular sight! We stopped in the town of Tsawassen to try and find Band-tailed Pigeon following up on a lead given to us by Russ Cannings. We drove to the designated area and within five minutes we found three of them. Thank you, Russ!

Mike, Ray and Phil en route to Vancouver Island

We found Willet and Black Oystercatcher along the shoreline as we approached the ferry and as we waited for the ferry to depart a flight of Brant geese flew by. We were eager to get underway to Vancouver Island and hoping for an interesting crossing with lots of new year birds. One of the most interesting sightings however was a fairly close approach by some Orcas. There was only one problem with this however - the ferry travels through U.S. waters for about 20 minutes once it leaves Tsawassen and by our reckoning, these creatures were not in Canada when we saw them!

Rhinoceros Auklet

During the crossing we added Pelagic Cormorant, Pacific Loon, Brandt's Cormorant, Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet and Pigeon Guillemot.

Pigeon Guillemot

We arrived at Schwartz Bay, rather tired but pleased with the day's birding sucesses and ready for the final leg of this B.C. trip

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