A couple of years ago when I wasn’t working much and had time to spare, I helped my brother out by taking his one-year-old daughter for the day every couple of weeks or so. My home isn’t set up for napping toddlers and so, after lunch, we’d go for a long walk in her stroller. We both got some fresh air, and she got a decent nap.
Invariably on those afternoons, I took my niece to Lost Lagoon to see the ducks. That’s when I first noticed the incredible variety of duck species in Stanley Park ― something I had never paid attention to before. At the time, I thought it was due to the spring migration.
Fast forward a couple of years to my Florida holiday, which is when I first began to think there might be something to this birding business. I mean, hey, birding involves three things I absolutely adore: the outdoors, photography, and (oh yeah, baby) lists.
After that Florida trip, I began to pay more attention to the birds in Stanley Park. I discovered that English Bay and Burrard Inlet (aka my backyard) is an IBA (Important Bird Area). I also discovered that the ducks I noticed during the long walks with my niece weren’t in the midst of their spring migration, but actually spend the entire winter in Stanley Park.
In short: the best time to go birding in Vancouver is during the winter months.
And so, another sign that fall is well and truly here is the return of our wintering water fowl to Stanley Park. I saw my first Wood Duck of the season last week when I was ambling around Beaver Lake.
Of all the ducks that spend their winters in Stanley Park, the Wood Duck is the prettiest of them all, thanks to its vibrant colours and markings. Unlike most ducks, Wood Ducks like to hang out near wooded areas, which is why the best place to spot them in the park is along the brushy perimeters of Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon.
I don’t take my niece to see the ducks at Lost Lagoon anymore; she outgrew her stroller, no longer needs a nap, and now lives in another province. But here’s a pro-tip from a novice birder: if you have the chance to explore Lost Lagoon during the winter, grab it. You’ll have it all to yourself, except for, you know, the other birders.