Green-winged Teal

October 26th, 2019: A gorgeous fall walk at Jericho Beach Park

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I met up with a new birding buddy today at Jericho Beach Park for a nice fall bird walk. It was the middle of the day, so we weren’t really expecting much. But Jericho has enough habitat diversity that you can usually put together a good species list.

It was a stunning fall day with the leaving turning. And it was unusually clear for Vancouver with the wind we’d had the night before. We hit the marsh/pond areas first. Not a lot there, but some.

The big pond at Jericho Beach Park
The big pond at Jericho Beach Park

There’s a smattering of ducks arriving in Vancouver now of course, but not with the density we’ll have in the winter. Some Hooded Merganser, Mallard, American Wigeon, Greater Scaup, and Green-winged Teal were in the ponds though.

A female Green-winged Teal in a pond reflecting fall colours
A female Green-winged Teal in a pond reflecting fall colours

It occurred to me this week that I hadn’t focused on Green-winged Teal yet. They’re our most numerous teal out here by far. And their small size, warm brown tones, and bright green on their wings make them easy to pick out, male or female. They’re also easy to pick out in the air because of their rapid, agile flight.

A pair of Green-winged Teal
A pair of Green-winged Teal

The males of course have a wonderfully warm red-brown head with a broad green stripe from the eye down to the nape. Their plush gray sides–and the white stripe of our American subspecies–also jump out in flocks with other dabblers.

Note the clean white stripe typical of a male (American) Green-winged Teal
Note the clean white stripe typical of a male (American) Green-winged Teal
A male Green-winged Teal showing the vibrant green in the wing
A male Green-winged Teal showing the vibrant green in the wing

After the marsh and ponds, we headed into the woodland area to look for mixed sparrow flocks and other passerines. There wasn’t a lot this afternoon, but we came across lots of the really little guys: Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Pacific Wren, and Bushtits. We also ran into a pretty big flock (for this year at least) of 65ish Pine Siskin.

The sun through Jericho Park's trees
The sun through the trees at Jericho Beach Park

We only turned about a few finches and sparrows, but it’s nice to see more of our (Sooty) Fox Sparrows showing up.

This Golden-crowned Sparrow was enthusiastically eating the apples
This Golden-crowned Sparrow was enthusiastically eating the apples

Heading out to the dock and open water of English Bay, we took a moment to look for saltwater species. No scopes today, so we were a little hemmed in on distance. But there was a good amount out there. Big rafts of Surf Scoter are starting to form up off Stanley Park. While we couldn’t see that far today, we were pleased to see a lone female White-winged Scoter in close.

A female White-winged Scoter
A female White-winged Scoter

We also observed some Bonaparte’s Gull, Horned Grebe, Common Goldeneye, Pelagic Cormorant, and Double-crested Cormorant hunting and/or flying west toward the strait.

A Bonaparte's Gull glides past the end of the dock with the bay and coastal mountains behind
A Bonaparte’s Gull glides past the end of the dock with the bay and coastal mountains behind

Jacob and I went our separate ways after a great walk through the park. But I was lucky to hear and then see a Merlin pop over the trees as I mounted my bike for the ride home.

Looking across the Jericho green toward downtown Vancouver
Looking across the Jericho green toward downtown Vancouver

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