Bank Swallow

August 9th, 2019: A morning trip to Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon

With passerines seeming quite active lately and a relatively cool morning for the first time in a little while, I thought I’d bike down to Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon to have a look around. The Lost Lagoon is “lost” insofar as it used to be open to the ocean, but was cut off from Coal Harbour in 1916 with the construction of the causeway. It was first called “Lost Lagoon” in a poem by Pauline Johnson.

It’s a pretty quick 8km bike ride for me to get there. And I find it a very calming place, where I can easily ignore the pedestrian and bike traffic. I wasn’t sure what I’d find and was very pleased to turn up 35 species on a leisurely walk around the lagoon (eBird list).

An itchy Great Blue Heron at Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon

The highlights were definitely the passerines, and warblers in particular. The place was really hopping with some pretty good numbers compared to my previous trips there. Highlights were several flocks of Bushtit, Purple Finch, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler (12), Warbling Vireo (7), Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler (5), Townsend’s Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler (4), Western Tanager, and even an Eastern Kingbird!

Common Yellowthroat (male)
Common Yellowthroat (male)

There were also around 100 swallows feeding over the lagoon. At least 90 of them were Barn Swallows, but I did managed to find a Cliff Swallow and Bank Swallow.

A Cliff Swallow feeds above the water
A Cliff Swallow feeds above the water

The Bank Swallow is the least common (without being rare) in the Vancouver area. If you catch the right week during spring migration, they’re easy to find. But during the rest of the year it’s hit or miss. Their more compact shape and sandy brown tones make them relatively easy to pick out even at distance. But the rich brown necklace can be very tough to see in flight. These birds are having a rough go in North America, where they’ve declined around 89% since 1970. (Though it must be said that many swallow species are suffering steep declines.) Knowing this made it particularly nice to see them happily feeding over the lagoon.

A female Pileated Woodpecker foraging at Lost Lagoon

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