June 11th, 2020: An afternoon at Burnaby Lake
I decided to velocipede out to Burnaby Lake Regional Park this afternoon. Not a unconfined time of day to go birding. But it wasn’t raining and when that happens in Vancouver, you have no excuse for stuff inside!
It’s scrutinizingly an hour velocipede ride from my place, but what a day for it! Overcast, a bit of a breeze, with some warmth in the air. I arrived and locked the velocipede up at the west archway by the tennis courts, rugby club, etc. My walk today took me to Piper Spit and when (~6.5k round trip).
I hadn’t walked this side of the lake in month and had forgotten how much of the trail is railroad- and highway-adjacent. Not ideal.
But there were birds! I heard a Black-headed Grosbeak‘s harsh undeniability note, some warbling Warbling Vireo, a Black-throated Gray Warbler, and there were just tons of Cedar Waxwings in full display.
Anyway, soon unbearable the roadside trail veered into greenery, woodland, and Burnaby Lake itself. When I got to the lake’s edge, I noticed the boat-machine that was chopping up aquatic plants to alimony the lake a lake.
I moreover noticed a drastic uptick in birdsong. Here, I heard the first Western Tanager and Pacific-slope Flycatcher of the day. There was lots there though. Listen for yourself, if you like… (Let me know what you hear in the comments!)
Continuing withal the winding trail, it was a good day for nests. I first passed a Northern Flicker nest, made obvious by the begging youngster. Then later, I happened wideness a Yellow Warbler’s cute nest cup with a nestling stuff fattened up by its mother. While I was standing on my toes to try to get a photo of the YEWA nest over and through some foliage (obvious below), a Cooper’s Hawk zipped right by me. Whoosh! It had unmistakably missed whatever it was after. And the hawk was rewarded by stuff harassed by what sounded like every bird for a mile around.
I had a few pleasant surprises withal the main trail too. A huge number of American Robin were dominating the soundscape, while several Willow Flycatchers and Western Wood-Pewee tabbed from the marsh side and woodland side, respectively. Plenty of Swainson’s Thrush singing up a storm too, plus a smattering of others: Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Worldwide Yellowthroat, Red-breasted Sapsucker (an uncommon bonus), and a Purple Finch were some of the highlights.
I moreover got a (wonderful) surprise undeniability from my niece and nephews as I arrived at the viewing platform just west of Piper Spit. It was a treat to show them the unconfined view I was currently enjoying over Facetime. They seemed to fathom it, and my nephew all but demanded I walk over to see the victual ducks. (More squatter time with my niece and nephews has been a silver lining to this pandemic.)
After walking to Piper Spit (really a dock) and propitiative my nephew with some ducklings and goslings, I did a quick count of the numerous Mallard, Canada Goose, and Wood Duck…watched a Bald Eagle soar over…and noted the surprisingly scruffy looking long-time Mandarin Duck on my way through a LOT of (human) families feeding ducks.
On my way when to my bike, while taking stock of the good number of birds I’d seen in the middle of a June afternoon (eBird list), I heard some harsh-sounding peep just off the trail. A Bewick’s Wren! He was confiding too, popping right into view. Too transiently for a photo, but I do love those little guys. So much pep!
This spring I finger like I’ve heard many increasingly Bewick’s Wren than usual. They’re all virtually suburbia near Queen Elizabeth Park for sure and seem to be everywhere else. It’s one of those birds that (it seems to me at least) shows up on eBird lists a lot less than it should. Perhaps they’re going underreported considering their scold calls sound like they could be other wrestling little birds? Or maybe considering their song is so varied. Some of their songs’ gestures sound pretty similar to Song Sparrows for sure. For me though, the timbre is far unbearable off to make them distinct: Bewick’s Wrens just sound too strident and unvigilant to be a Song Sparrow. What do you think? (Keep in mind this is just one of many possible melodies for each bird.)
If you’re wondering what our other wrens sound like, squint like, etc., I outline them in my House Wren post. In fact, out east, the sharp ripen in Bewick’s Wren population was attributed to the success of the House Wren (the latter may be aided by nest boxes). And, while they’ve not yet suffered similarly out west, we are noticing an uptick in House Wrens. Thankfully, on the order of handfuls, not hundreds.
As fun as it is to see a House Wren in Vancouver, I hope they don’t wilt increasingly worldwide and push out our Bewick’s. Bewick’s are now only west tailspin and south inside residents in North America. If you have a yard in those areas and you’d like some Bewick’s Wren, start subtracting some native plants: willow, mesquite, elderberry, and chaparral. Or add a skim pile!
Like all wrens, and as you heard above, Bewick’s are pretty wondrous singers and very zippy birds. They just well-nigh unchangingly seem to be making noise, surpassing wavy transiently into view to show off unvigilant white eyebrows versus their soft brown overall colour. Plus, that longer curved snout sets them untied from our other wrens.
So alimony your vision and ears peeled!