There are moments when a new discovery opens our eyes to something we overlooked far too long. Today was one of those days. I met up with Rod MacVicar and Tom Middleton from Pacific WildLife Foundation to do a reconnaissance visit of birds in Vancouver Harbour. I had watched birds from Stanley Park at the western end of Vancouver for many years and knew of the large rafts of seaducks there in winter. English Bay once held many thousand western grebes and surf scoters that qualified it for an Important Bird Area. Few western grebes have been seen for many years although scoters are still a familiar species there. However, I was not prepared for the large flocks among the industrial areas of the harbour. There were flocks of several thousand surf scoters and one large flock of more than a thousand greater scaups among the freighters. Why the birds are in the harbour is not entirely clear although I suspect they are eating mussels and barnacles clinging to the wharves and piers. This was some good news to end a year.
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