July 12th, 2019: Back in Vancouver and visiting Colony Farm with a friend
I was excited to meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time and head out to Colony Farm together. We planned to have a nice walk and would be happy to see any birds in this beautiful area.
At least part of our choice for today’s location was based on a Black Phoebe (rare) having been seen in the area for a few days. We knew where to look for it. Exactly where you’d expect: low along the sides of a wide creek/narrow river perched on low branches. Still, it’s always nice to have a GPS dot to aim at.
You might have guessed from the fact that I’m writing about an Eastern Kingbird and not a Black Phoebe that we didn’t see the latter. But that’s not really the point is it? Colony Farm is a great place in Port Coquitlam to walk along the relatively narrow Coquitlam River. There’s woodland along the eastern and northern edges of the park, a good marsh toward the east, Elderberry and grassland, and the riverside habitats. This makes it a great place for raptors, warblers, icterids, flycatchers, swallows, sparrows, wrens, ducks, you name it!
If you’re in the Metro Vancouver area and you care about your year list, you’ll almost definitely make a trip or two to Colony Farm in the spring to find your yearly Mountain Bluebird and Lazuli Bunting. Both are very difficult to find elsewhere in Metro Van. But other birds that are far less common closer to the coast are more common here: Bullock’s Oriole, Band-tailed Pigeon, Mourning Dove, and Eastern Kingbird.
We were lucky enough to come across a few of these today. My favourite birds of the day were the flocks of Band-tailed Pigeons, Mourning Dove, Vaux’s Swift, Black Swift, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Western Wood-Pewee, Bewick’s Wren, Purple Finch, Black-headed Grosbeak, Orange-crowned Warbler, and American Bittern (we saw two in flight). I suppose that might seem like a lot of highlights. But 50 species and pretty high counts made it great birding, especially for the middle of a hot day in July (eBird list).
We were lucky today to hear fledgling Eastern Kingbirds today too, and we saw a 7 adults (a pretty high count). Though we were never able to get a look at the fledglings in a pretty dense tree along the river, we could see the adults heading in with food and anxiously tending to them. It’s good eating for them here since there are plenty of insects, but also elderberries (they supplement their primarily insect diet with fruit). I learned recently that they sometimes parasitize other nests, but these two were clearly aggressively defending their own nest territory.
We had a great day at Colony Farm. The place is so open that it feels huge (though it can be tough to find shade). I definitely need to make the trip out there more often.