Birding Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Daily Log

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Vancouver 14.9- Ferry to Vancouver Island 15.9- Victoria 16.9- Nanaimo 17.9- Pacific Rim N.P. 18.9- Tofino Whale 19.9- Courtenay 20.9- Strathcona Park 21.9 -Sayward 22.9- Telegraph Cove 23.9- Duncan 24.9- Port Renfrew 25.9- East Sooke Park 26.9- Reifel Bird Sanctuary 27.9- Garibaldi Park 28.9

Iona South Jetty
September 14th 1999
We arrived the day before in the evening at about 11 pm at Vancouver Airport, without our baggage... (that means without tripod etc.) and went out early in the morning to Iona Island (the best place for waders). The first bird sighting was an owl, most probably Short-eared Owl, right before the Iona sewage plant in nearly total darkness. We started with the South Jetty which produced, besides cormorants, lots of ducks, gulls, Western Sandpipers and Sanderling also a Horned Lark. Later we had a look at the sewage ponds, but without tripod a scope is nearly useless. In the afternoon we visited Vancouver Chinatown, Gastown and drove around Stanley Park.
September 15th 1999
After getting our baggage back in the morning we went towards Tsawassen with a short stopover at the jetty north of Tsawassen. Here we had some nice views of Common Loons, an Eared Grebe and some shorebirds. Around the ferry terminal of Tsawassen were some ducks, terns and shorebirds. The ferry ride to Swartz Bay was not very exciting. On the way to Victoria we stopped over at Island View Beach, which produced a flock of California Quails.

On the ferry

Esquimalt Lagoon
September 16th 1999
This morning we met Hank Vanderpol at 6 am (still totally dark) and went then birding to a small pond near Victoria, where a possible Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was reported. The bird was not found but Hank pointed out a Sandhill Crane and showed me some songbirds. Later in the morning we worked the Victoria waterfront and saw Surfbirds, Dowitchers at Oak Bay and lots of Gulls at Clover Point. In the afternoon we drove via Esquimalt Lagoon towards Cowichan Bay, where we had a Common Nighthawk flying high over us in the evening hours.
September 17th 1999
In the morning we looked around at Cowichan Bay (Mute Swans, Osprey, Downy Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee), then we went to Nanaimo where we visited Colin Bartlett in his bird store. After getting some advice from him we drove via Port Alberni to Ucluelet south of the Pacific Rim National Park. Before we reached the Boundary of the National Park we suddenly saw a Black Bear crossing the road, right in front of our car.

Dawn at Cowichan Bay

Long Beach, Pacific Rim N.P.
September 18th 1999
This morning we had patchy morning fog, typical for the west coast. So we went to Tofino to check out a good opportunity for a whale watching tour. On the way to Tofino we made a stopover at Radar Point, where Brigitte spotted the first Bald Eagle of our trip. After booking a whale watching trip at Jamies (3 hours in a big boat) we explored the Long Beach area of the Pacific Rim. Unfortunately we had only very few shorebirds (Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstones), but found between lots of Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Golden-crowned Kinglets also a nice Hutton's Vireo.
September 19th 1999
After a morning beach walk near our Campsite at Greenpoint, which produced little more than a Bald Eagle we headed of to Tofino where we took the boat on our whale watching tour at 10 am. The weather was fine and we found hundreds of Common Murres, single Marbled Murrelets and Rhinoceros Auklets aswell as Heermanns Gulls. Beside the birds we saw Sea Lions, Harbour Seals and one Grey Whale, which we had to share with all the whale watchers that morning. After that tour we took the watertaxi to Hot Springs where we spent the rest of the day without birding.

Towards Hot Springs

Cathedral Grove
September 20th 1999
After going back to Tofino we drove with a short stop at the big trees at Cathedral Grove near Port Alberni to the east side of Vancouver Island. In Courtenay we walked along the coast, where I found a Warbling Vireo and some Black Scoters. Than we went on to Campbell River where we spent the night in the cheapest motel...
September 21st 1999
In the morning we drove to the southern end of the Buttle Lake in the middle of Strathcona Provincial Park. Unfortunately there is also a big mining company working in the area. We started on a several-hour hike to Tennant Lake and then about half way to Mount Myra. Aswell as the many Red Crossbills we saw also a nice Fox Sparrow and some Hairy Woodpeckers. Back at Buttle Lake we had our only Barrows Goldeneye of the whole trip.

Strathcona Park

Telegraph Cove Logging
September 22nd 1999
We drove from Buttle Lake via Campbell River to Sayward, where I found a dead Swainson's Thrush beside the road. Although Sayward has good conditions for waders, there were none, but in the Johnson Strait we saw a Rhinoceros Auklet and some Dall's Porpoises playing in front of a fast ship. Then we drove on to Telegraph Cove where we got information for an Orca Whale tour. In Telegraph Cove itself were some Vaux's Swifts and a Mink.
September 23rd 1999
After spending the night in Port McNeill at Hildes (a Bed and Breakfast run by Hilde, who speaks also German) we joined the whale watching tour from Telegraph Cove at 9 am. After a few rain drops in the morning we had great weather with some Orcas, a Minky Whale, Dall's Porpoises and good numbers of Sooty Shearwaters in the Johnson Strait. After that tour we went towards Port Alice to see an American Dipper at Marbled River. The rest of the day we spent driving back to Campbell River.

Telegraph Cove

Near Port Renfrew
September 24th 1999
On the way southwards we drove along the east coast to Duncan and then via Cowichan Lake on a logging road to Port Renfrew. Near Port Renfrew we had a female Roosevelt Elk beside the Road and at dusk another five at the bridge near the village. The highlight of the day was a Ruffed Grouse crossing the road in front of our car. The bridge near Port Renfrew offered nice views of salmons on their way to spawning.
September 25th 1999
After spending the night in the cheap Hotel Port Renfrew, which produced a Mink from the sleeping room, we explored the area. When coming back from a short walk at Botanical Beach (nice tide pools) we realized that someone broke into our car. The car was damaged and some things were missing but fortunately we had all important things like binoculars, scope, camera etc. with us. But now we were forced to go back to Victoria to change our rental car. We stopped over at Whiffin Spit which produced a not so common Dunlin and in Victoria I took the chance to visit Clover Point again. In the evening we went to Esquimalt Lagoon where we had a fishing River Otter. The night was spent in a really nice Bed & Breakfast at Maplemoose near East Sooke Park.

Botanical Beach

Maplemoose seen from Whiffin Spit
September 26th 1999
This morning we started with Whittys Lagoon. There were lot of songbirds and some hawks around, but astonishingly no waders. Then we went to East Sooke Park where we spent the afternoon watching the migrating Turkey Vultures, a flock of Snow Geese and a fascinating Barred Owl. Later we went again to Whiffin Spit and spent the night in a motel south of Swartz Bay.
September 27th 1999
We took the ferry at 8 pm to the mainland and went then to the George Reifel Bird Sanctuary near Vancouver. The sanctuary is a big wild bird feeding area with lots of ducks and other birds. It is absolutely worth a visit and even the tame Sandhill Cranes are wild birds. In the afternoon we drove through Vancouver towards Garibaldi Park where we spent the night at the BC Parks campsite at Brandywhine Falls.

Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Lake Garibaldi
September 28th 1999
We started our last day with a hike to the Black Tusk area, starting from the Rubble Creek Parking Lot to Taylor Meadows and then to the Garibaldi Lake. The weather was nice and we were often accompanied by Gray Jays (or Whiskey Jacks), really cheeky birds which eat your sandwich from your hand when you don't pay attention. The scenery is very nice and on our way downwards we had also a Blue Grouse on the trail. Back in Vancouver I had planned to visit Iona Island again, but unfortunately our car was towed while shopping and so we had to spent the rest of our time in Canada to get our car back.
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