February 10 2013 – British Columbia Update

I spent the past few days birding and visiting friends in Victoria, the capital of the province on Vancouver Island. I’ve summarized my birding highlights below!

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February 6 2013

Well, today I was back in action. After a disappointing attempt at finding some long-staying rarities in Vancouver (Western Scrub Jay & Brambling), I thought I best head over to Victoria.

The drive to the ferry added GREEN-WINGED TEAL and BLACK OYSTERCATCHER to my year list.

Once aboard the ferry, I was treated to close views of GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, THAYER’S GULL, Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scoter, Horned Grebe, Common Loons, and PELAGIC CORMORANTS.

The ferry ride was great. I was able to pick out PIGEON GUILLEMOTS and RHINOCEROUS AUKLETS and a single COMMON MURRE.

I decided to head right to the Brambling feeder in Victoria, where I did not see it. Haha. I think I have a new nemesis bird. I didn’t stick around too long since I have a few days to try for it, and I really wanted to get some local birding in.

I headed to the coastline where I had a nice ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD (my first of about 15+ today!). There were also several HARLEQUIN DUCKS loafing close to shore, as well as a small flock of DUNLIN.

It was pretty quiet on the water, so I headed to Swan Lake Sanctuary. It was fantastic birding here. I added several new species for the year, including CEDAR WAXWING, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, PACIFIC WREN, BEWICK’S WREN, MARSH WREN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, PURPLE FINCH, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE and BUSHTIT. Not too bad for a casual hour of birding! I also added several other species to my 2013 British Columbia list.

February 7 2013

Today I visited some more of Victoria’s birding hotspots.  It was another lovely day, with warm temperatures and sunshine. The cherry trees are in bloom, as are all kinds of other garden flowers. I can’t believe I have to go back to snow in a few days…

I started off my morning checking out the oceanfront. I returned to Clover Point and was happy to see a flock of 23 BLACK TURNSTONE and 1 SURFBIRD.

Next I headed off to Esquimalt Lagoon. I don’t know why I never birded here when I lived in Victoria, as it was excellent! The lagoon was full of ducks, and the ocean was full of loons and grebes. I spent quite a bit of time scanning the waters, and ended up with 4 WESTERN GREBES, and several RED-NECKED GREBES and RED-THROATED LOONS. There was also a nice flock of BREWER’S BLACKBIRDS foraging along the lagoon shoreline.

Feeling ambitious, I decided to walk to the top of Mount Douglas. It was a lovely walk to the top. Once at the summit I was treated to a swirling flock of RED CROSSBILLS. It’s not too often I get to watch them from above!

February 8 2013 – Up Island

I spent a good part of the day north of Victoria in the Duncan area.

The highlight was a few Barrow’s Goldeneye among the Common Goldeneye in Cowichan Bay. A little further south we saw lot’s of Surf Scoters, with a few White-winged Scoter mixed in, a new BC species for my year.

We then headed to Goldstream, a well known salmon spawning area. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by an AMERICAN DIPPER. These are incredible birds that actually fully submerge themselves under water when they are foraging for food. I could watch them forever, they are so entertaining! We saw at least two of these little creatures.

February 9 – Ferry back to Vancouver

It was time to head back to mainland, so I once again booked myself a ferry crossing to Vancouver.

I was treated to a nice variety of waterbirds. I had great looks at several small flocks of Rhinoceros Auklet, as well as a bunch of Pigeon Guillemot, and a single Common Murre. The highlight was a single ANCIENT MURRELET, as well as several PACIFIC LOONS.

February 10 – And so it begins…

I am going to try one last time for the rarities here in Vancouver, then I am off…back to Ontario…I can only hope the weather cooperates this time!






About canadabigyear2013

I'm a lifelong birder and naturalist who is undertaking a Canada Big Year in 2013.
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