April 12th, 2020: Early spring at Jericho Beach Park
Jericho Beach Park is great year-round, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. It’s got lots of intersections of habitat: riparian, woodland, ocean shore, marsh, open lawns. This makes it pretty easy to tally a good species list at any time of year.
Spring is in the air, even in early April. Swallows, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Bewick’s Wren, Red-winged Blackbird, and Yellow-rumped Warbler sang throughout the park (among other passerines). At the same time, large numbers of ducks seemed to be collecting in the ponds, preparing for their upcoming trip.
American Wigeon were the most numerous today. 75 of them crowded the ponds, alongside around 50 Mallard, and a smattering of Wood Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, and American Coot.
American Wigeon are regulars in the winter and shoulder seasons in Vancouver. They’re often in large flocks on ponds, lakes, or feeding on open lawns. They have a shorter, more goose-like bill than other dabbling ducks. This allows them to eat more plant matter (hence their grazing habits), with the shorter bill granting more force at the tip for pulling up grasses.
I almost always chuckle when I hear “American Wigeon” because my wife and I have a running joke ever since the time I pointed to the rather un-rock ‘n’ roll duck and sang “American Wigeon” in my best “American Woman” voice (a la The Guess Who). Yes, I’m that guy… Anyway, it makes us both chuckle.
We also occasionally get Eurasian Wigeon mixed with the native American Wigeon here. The Eurasians are rare in the city, but regular in the White Rock area. Especially at Blackie Spit, where they can be 1 in 10 wigeon. Unlike some Eurasian v. American ducks (Green-winged Teal for example), Eurasian and American Wigeon are separate species and easy to tell apart. (The Eurasians have the rust and gold heads with gray bodies.)
Out on the ocean there were the usual. Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, and Ring-billed, Glaucous-winged, and Bonaparte’s Gulls. The odd Surf Scoter flapped by, but grebe species and numbers are definitely thinning this time of year (eBird list).
It was a great day to be out. Looking forward to seeing what turns up next week!