September 11th, 2019: Some great flyovers on Cypress
What a day! My good friend Seb is in town, and we both headed out with Mel for an awesome day of birding on the north shore. First up was Cypress Mountain. Specifically, we walked the trail to Bowen Lookout and Yew Lake. We were hoping to find Northern Pygmy-Owl up there since it’s great habitat. But being up in the mountains with friends is great no matter what.
The highlight of the hike was only the 4th or 5th species we saw: three finches flying high over the conifers and calling as they passed. It took us a second… None of us could summon the call to mind easily, but “Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch” occurred to me (after rifling through my mental rolodex). We checked the call on a few apps and sure enough, that was it. Holy crap. That was going to be a tough bird to beat! Especially as this was only the second time I’d ever seen them (no photos of these guys yet, sorry).
I had somehow never been to Bowen Lookout before and, wow, it doesn’t disappoint. It helped that there was a low ceiling today and very little cloud cover. That made the smaller clouds floating below us particularly picturesque as they broke kindly for some stunning views of Howe Sound and Bowen Island.
At the lookout, we were also pleased to encounter our first Canada Jays of the day, and a few more Steller’s Jays too.
We kept looking for little owls, but to no avail. Yew Lake was beautiful, but relatively quite. The rest of the birds Cypress had to show us were the typical passerines and thrushes of the late summer: plenty of Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco, Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Plus, Orange-crowned (Gray-headed) Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, and one Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler. The few less common birds we encountered were a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Horned Lark (also flyovers), and Red-breasted Sapsucker (eBird list).
After a quick but delicious lunch at the Olive & Anchor in Horseshoe Bay, we headed out to a few lookouts. We scopes the islets in Howe Sound from some overlooks we found and. of course, from Whytecliff and Klootchman Parks. We were looking for Surfbirds, but we struck out there. Still, one doesn’t complain about Black Turnstone, Harlequin Duck, and Black Oystercatcher. And certainly not about finding a single female Black Scoter mixed in with a raft of Surf Scoter (eBird list).
Seb and I walked Stanley Park on our own after Mel had to leave for the day. We visited the Lost Lagoon, hoping to locate the Northern Waterthrush and White-throated Sparrow that had been reported there. We struck out with those two as well, but found plenty of other birds to spend our time with (eBird list).
Not living in Vancouver anymore, Seb was keen to find a Black-throated Gray Warbler while he was out here. We heard one calling from high in the canopy in the park interior, but couldn’t get eyes on it. Of course, that still “counts,” but it doesn’t feel as good when you don’t see it (especially if it’s been a while). We finished with a nice walk around Beaver Lake–which was full of pink water lilies–before calling it a day at 6PM.