British Columbia - July 30th - August 20th 1991

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


by Georges & Mireille Olioso

Basic Information

How we got there: Charter flight Paris - London - Reykjavik - Vancouver (12 h !!).

Rental Cars : we rented a camper.

Weather: The weather was fine, with numerous sunshine hours all the days except near Tofino where it rains all day.

July 31 : Richmond and Sea Island (Great Vancouver)
August 1 : Surrey and Manning Park
August 2 : Princeton, Keremoes, Osooyos, Gallagher Lake
August 3 : Gallagher Lake, Vaseux Lake, Princeton
August 4 : Manning Park, Hope
August 5 : Hope, Horseshoe Bay (boat to Vancouver I.), Nanaimo, Port Alberni
August 6 : Port Alberni, Pacific Rim National Parc (Long Beach), MacKenzie Beach (Tofino)
August 7 : Tofino harbour (big storm !!)
August 8 : MacKenzie Beach, Long Beach, Buckley Bay, Royston, Cumberland, Courtenay
August 9 : Cumberland (Old Chinatown ponds), Nanaimo
August 10 : Sooke (French Beach), Jordan River, Port Renfrew (harbour)
August 11 : Port Renfrew (Botanical Beach, Marina)
August 12 : Port Renfrew (Marina), Jordan River, Saanish (Saanichton Bay)
August 13 : Saanish (Saanichton Bay, Swan Lake, Mount Douglas Park)
August 14 : Saanichton Bay, boat to Vancouver, Iona Island
August 15 : Reiffel Refuge, Iona Island
August 16 : Vancouver (Stanley Park), Burnaby Lake
August 17 : Burnaby Lake
August 18 : Burnaby Lake
August 19 : Richmond (Richmond Nature Park)
August 20 : Richmond (city), Sea Island

Principal sites description

A) On the Mainland

• Richmond (Great Vancouver) :
- Uncultivated lands and suburbia along Bridgeport Road.
- Richmond Nature Park, small forest patch with numerous footpaths and a pond with two aquatic turtle species.
• Sea Island (Great Vancouver) :Right bank of the Fraser River southern arm. Suburbia with main roads, industrial area ; narrow scrubby waterside forest.
• Surrey (Great Vancouver) Suburbia in a coniferous forest on a hill and agricultural area (grassland and bluets) in lowlands.
• Manning Park : On the Highway 3, between Hope and Princeton. Old coniferous forests with very big trees. Lakes, footpathes, ponds. Many flowers (Tiger Lily). Mammals are numerous.
• Princeton : Similkameen River banks, near the town. Narrow waterside forest on contact with residential and industrial areas. Dry coniferous forest easily walking. Numerous squirrels.
• Keremeos : Stop on a parking 3 or 4 km west of the town, near the Similkameen River. Agricultural areas, heaths, cliff.
• Galagher Lake, in the Okanagan Valley : We recommend the KOA campsite, at the foot of a cliff, in a forest and near the Gallagher Lake.
• Vaseux Lake : It is an Hot Spot for twitchers (birders ). We walk in two areas
- Nord-East bank of the lake. Beautiful waterside forest, reed bed, mosquitoes...
- semidesertic hills East of the lake.
Warning : Poison Ivy is a very abundant plant.
• Sunshine Valley (Hope) : Wetlands near the road
• Hope (left bank of the Fraser River). Narrow waterside forest. The river is wide with muddy islets. Agricultural lands (grassland). Resinous forest on hills with small cliffs.
• Iona Island (Great Vancouver) : mouth of the Fraser River, intertidal areas, sewage works ponds
• Reifel Refuge (Great Vancouver) : vast wetlands managed for birds and tourists.
• Stanley Park (Vancouver) : more than 500 ha of forest, lakes and ponds in the city. The sea borders the park on the 3/4 of the perimeter. Numerous footpaths.
• Burnaby Lake (Great Vancouver) : Faune refuge. Long lake with a footpath around (± 10 km). varied forests, swamps, reed beds...

B) Vancouver Island

• Nanaimo (avoid at times of ferries arrivals !!) : - Long Like. Touristic area - Buttertubs Marsch Bird Sanctuary. Marsh with birding installations.
• Port Alberni : - campsite and surrounding area. Suburbia with forest patches.
- Marina Pond. Small pond near the road
- Port Alberni Refuge. Wetland in an industrial area
• Tofino :
- Long Beach. Long beach with rocky islets. Small pond.
- MacKenzie Beach. Small beach with rocky headlands and nice forest :
• Royston : suburbia on the mouth of a small river. Muddy areas.
• Cumberland :ponds in forest.
• Jordan River : vast bay at the Jordan River mouth. Dry forest. One of the better sites.
• Sooke French Beach. Small beach with rocky headlands.
• Port Renfrew :
- harbour.
- The Marina. Mouth of a river. Quiet campsite with many fishermen. Dry forest.
- Botanical Beach. Bay without beach with fossil trees.
• Saanish : - Saanichton Bay. Indian reservation. Beautiful beach, muddy areas, ponds, dry forest, large scrubby area.
- Sawn Lake. Birds refuge, but there are a lot of people.
- Mount Douglas Park. Hill near the town. Astonishing view at summit. Go on foot rather than in car.

Sites selection : Manning Park, Hope, Iona Island, Stanley Park, Tofino, Jordan River and Saanichton Bay.

Birds (in order of NGS Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Second Edition) - click here for more info on this & other North American guides

Common Loon Gavia immer : Common on Vancouver Island coasts. August 10 : 8 in front of Jordan River.
Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica : 1 imm. August 10, in front of Jordan River.
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena : August 8, 27 together Saanichton Bay.
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps : Seen all over lakes and marshes. Pulli August 8 Cumberland, August 9 Nanaimo and August 17 Burnaby Lake.
Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus : Adult, August 8, Horseshoe Bay. Numerous other Cormorants not determinated are probably this species.
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus : Any data all over the coasts. Common in Vancouver area.
Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus : 40 more, August 12, Saanichton Bay. Colony with pulli, August 16, Stanley Park, Vancouver.
Green-backed Heron Butorides striatus : 1, August 13, Swan Lake, Saanisch.
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias : Common all over.
Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis : 1 (domestic ?) in Reiffel Refuge.
Canada Goose Branta canadensis : Very common all over.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos : present in all wetlands.
Gadwall Anas strepera : common in Vancouver area. Iona Island, August 14, 6 + 7 pulli. 19 flying, August 8, Buckley Bay.
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca carolinensis : August 15 : 123, Iona Island. Also in Reiffel Refuge and Manning Park.
Northern Pintail Anas acuta : August 11 : 2 at sea, Botanical Beach.
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata : August 14 : 2 Iona Island.
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors : August 15, 2 Reiffel refuge.
Wood Duck Aix sponsa : only in the parks of Vancouver. Very common Burnaby Lake.
Canvasback Aythya valisineria : 1, Stanley Park, August 16.
Greater Scaup Aythya marila : male, August 10, Jordan River.
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis : August 15, 8 Iona Island. August 16, 3 Stanley Park.
Black Scoter Melanitta nigra : August 8, 11 Buckley Bay. This species is rare in summer.
White-winged Scoter Melanitta fusca : Common at sea, Vancouver Island.
Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata : Common at sea, Vancouver Island. August 10, 25 Port Renfrew harbour.
Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus : August 3, 4 Similkameen River near Princeton (probably breeding). August 11, 1 at sea Botanical Beach.
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula : August 4, 1 Sunshine Valley (Hope) and 3 Manning Park.
Common Merganser Mergus merganser : Common. August 6, 21 Port Alberny. Pulli : August 5, 5 Hope ; August 10, 3 Jordan River.
Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus : August 4, female with 3 juv. Manning Park.
Sora Porzana carolina : August 8, adult Cumberland.
American Coot Fulica americana : Ever numerous but widespread.
Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani : August 6, 3 MacKenzie Bay. August 16, 1 Stanley Park.
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus : Common along coasts. 2 youngs Long Beach, August 6.
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus : All over on beach and muddy coasts.
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola : August 8, 3 Long Beach and 1 Royston. August 13, 1 Saanichton Bay.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus : August 10, 1 Jordan River. August 12, 1 Saanichton Bay.
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca : 20 more, August 15, Reiffel Refuge.
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes : 50 more, August 15, Reiffel Refuge.
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia : widespread but not common.
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus : 30 more, August 15, Reiffel Refuge.
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus : 10 more, August 15, Reiffel Refuge. July 31, 1 Sea Island. August 10, 1 Jordan River.
Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala : August 6, 38 MacKenzie Beach.
Surfbird Aphriza virgata : August 6, 3 MacKenzie Beach with Turnstones.
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla : August 10, 1 more Jordan River.
Dunlin Calidris alpina : August 6, 6 Long Beach.
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri : Common on the coasts. August 6, 60 more Long Beach. Difference with C. pusilla is not easy.
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla : very numerous. August 14, 1000 more Iona Island.
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos : August 15, 1 Iona Island.
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus : August 5, 1 at sea between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo. Rare here.
Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni : August 8, adult Botanical Beach.
Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan : Iona Island, August 14, 1 first summer and 2 August 15.
Bonaparte's Gull Larus philadelphia : common on the coasts.
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis : only in Vancouver area.
Mew Gull Larus canus : Only in Saanichton Bay, August 13 : 17.
Herring Gull Larus argentatus : apparently rare. August 6, 6 Long Beach.
California Gull Larus californicus : common on Vancouver Island coasts.
Western Gull Larus occidentalis : 2 adults : August 6, MacKenzie Beach and August 7, Tofino harbour. Hybrids with the following species are numerous.
Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens : very common.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo : only 1, August 12 Saanichton Bay.
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia : August 14, adult feeding 2 flying youngs.
Common Murre Uria aalge : August 10, 1 French Beach (Sooke).
Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba : common in front of Jordan River and in Saanichton Bay.
Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus : common in front of Jordan River, less in Saanichton Bay.
Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus : August 11, 3/4 Botanical Beach.
Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata : August 10, 2 Jordan River. August 11, 1 Botanical Beach. Alcidae are very common, but determination is difficult because are often far for the coast.
Bald Eagle Haliaetus leucocephalus : common all over the coasts. August 5, adult feeding 2 flying youngs Horseshoe Bay.
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus : August 14, 1 female Iona Island.
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus : August 8, Botanical Beach.
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii : fairly common. August 12, Saanichton Bay ; August 13 Sawn Lake ; August 15 Reiffel Refuge.
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis : the more common Hawk on mainland. Rarer in Vancouver Island.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus : Widespread. Nest, August 11, Port Renfrew.
American Kestrel Falco sparvierus : fairly rare. Pair + 1 young, August 2, near Keremeos. August 14, 1 Iona Island.
Merlin Falco columbarius : Seen only near wetlands. August 6, 1 Port Alberny. August 9, pair near Nanaimo.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus : August 5, near Hope, an adult male feeding a young female (this species is rare in mainland interior). August 13, Saanichton bay, catching a Starling.
Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus : August 9, 1 male alarming, Cumberland marshes.
California Quail Callipepla californica : August 2/3, 6 adults Gallagher Lake campsite. August 12, 3 adults + 4 pulli Jordan River.
Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus : pair + 3 pulli, July 31, Richmond.
Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata : common Port Alberny and Burnaby.
Rock Dove Columba livia : rock breeding Gallagher Lake.
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura : not common. 2, August 1, Surrey.
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor : August 11, Port Renfrew. August 18, Burnaby.
Black Swift Cypseloides niger : August 5, Port Alberny.
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi : widespread in small number.
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatilis : colonies at Gallagher Lake (± 15 birds) and Vaseux Lake (± 10). 1 vagrant, August 13, Mount Douglas Park (Saanish) is the second for Vancouver Island.
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna : August 12, Saanichton Bay campsite on bramble flowers.
Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus : 2, very aggressive, August 4, at a feeding site, Manning Park.
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon : widespread at sea and on rivers and lakes.
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus cafer : widespread.
Lewis' Woodpecker Melanerpes lewis : August 2, Gallagher Lake campsite, 2 adults feeding 1 flying young. Catch flying insects.
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens : widespread.
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus : 2, Port Alberny, August 5.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus : 1, Princeton, August 2 at very low altitude.
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus : 2, flying, Botanical Beach, August 11 and 2, feeding, Mount Douglas Park, August 13. The late seen 10 minutes, very nice.
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus : 5/6, Vaseux Lake, August 3 and 1, Burnaby Lake, August 17.
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis : rare.
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus borealis : August 5, Port Alberni.
Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus : widespread and easy to deternine.
Hammond's Flycatcher Empidonax hammondii : August 11, Botanical Beach.
Western Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis : 1 more, August 18, Burnaby Lake.
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor : only Vancouver and South Vancouver island.
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina : widespread and common.
Bank Swallow Riparia riparia : rarely seen.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis : only Vancouver Island. Nest as Bank Swallow near Courtenay.
Cliff Swallow Hirundo pyrrhonota : August 2, Osooyos, nest with pulli under a roof cornice.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica : common and widespread.
Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri : common and widespread.
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis : 1, Port Renfrew, August 10.
Clark's Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana : Keremeos, Gallagher Lake, Manning Park. Very noisy.
Black-billed Magpie Pica pica : rare. 1, Gallagher Lake, August 3.
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos : not commun. Not present at coast.
Northwestern Crow Corvus caurinus : only at coast. Very common, alsa in the towns. 500 more, August 18, Burnaby.
Common Raven Corvus corax : widespread. Very common Manning Park and Princeton area.
Black-capped Chickadee Parus atricapillus : very common on mainland. 100 more along 10 km footpath, August 17, Burnaby Lake.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Parus rufescens : very common on Vancouver Island.
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus : common, moving in great parties. 30 more, Cumberland, August 9. 27 Burnaby, August 18.
Brown Creeper Certhia americana : only Mount Douglas Park.
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis : widespread. Common in Mount Douglas Park.
Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmea : Gallagher Lake, August 2.
House Wren Troglodytes aedon : widespread on mainland.
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes : common in forests.
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii : only at the contact between forests and marshs. Family, August 17, Burnaby Lake.
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris : widespread in wetlands.
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus : Okanagan Valley cliffs.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula : Richmond Nature Park.
American Robin Turdus migratorius : common all over.
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis : only Vaseux Lake.
Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus : a vagrant, Surrey near campsite OKA , August 1.
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum : common all over.
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatus : 2 adults + 2 youngs, Sea Island, August 20.
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris : common in towns.
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus : very common. 5 more sigers, Burnaby Lake, August 17.
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata : common in bushy area.
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata : 4, MacKenzie Beach, August 6.
Black-throated Grey Warbler Dendroica nigrescens : in bushs near Hope (riparian forest) and Port Alberni (gardens).
Townsend's Warbler Dendroica townsendi : coniferous forests of vancouver Island.
Yellow Warbler Debdroica petechia : widespread.
MacGillivray's Warbler Oporornis tolmiei : very common.
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla : rare.
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis : only Vaseux Lake.
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas : common in wetlands.
Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus : not common.
Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena : dry hills around Vaseux Lake.
Rufous-sided Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus : very common.
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis : rarely seen.
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia : common in all the wetlands.
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina : male singing, Port Renfrew, August 11.
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis : widespread but not very common.
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys : very common, especially in suburbia.
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca : this birds are very dark.
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta : 1, feeding, near Keremeos, August 2.
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus : especially in wetlands.
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus : Nanaimo and Reiffel Refuge.
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater : young fed by a pair of Song Sparrow, Reiffel refuge, August 19.
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana : only in the parks of Great Vancouver.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus : common only in the great towns.
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus : common in Manning Park.
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis : widespread in open areas.
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra : widespread in small numbers.
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus : not common.
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus. common in towns. Sometimes in great parties : 42, Saanichton Bay, August 13.

Mammals (A Field Guide to the mammals, by William H. Burt and Richard P. Grossenheider)
Dusky Shrew Suncus obscurus : 1, Burnaby Lake, August 17.
Black Bear Ursus americanus : Marina of Port Renfrew, August 12, 1 adult eating berries.
Marten Martes americana : Vaseux Lake (August 3), 1 hunting Yellowbelly Marmots.
River Otter Lutra canadensis : very nice observations of a family (2 adults + 4 youngs) playing and fishing in Port Renfrew Marina harbour, August 11 and 12.
Sea Otter Enhydra lutris : a party of 5 in front of Jordan River, August 10.
Red Fox Vulpes fulva : August 2, between Manning Park and Princeton.
Northern Sea Lion Eumetopias jubatus : numerous on rocky islets in front of Long Beach (Pacific Rim National Park).
Harbor Seal Phoca vitulina : Jordan River and Saanichton Bay.
Yellowbelly Marmot Marmota flaviventris : small party, dry hills near Vaseux Lake.
Columbian Ground Squirrel Citellus columbianus : numerous in Manning Park. Very tame !
Yellow Pine Chipmunk Eutamias amoenus : widespread on mainland.
Eastern Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis : Stanley Park (Vancouver) where it was introduced.
Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus : common on Vancouver Island.
Chickaree Tamasciurus douglasi : Common and tame. Swimes very well. His call is very similar that the one of an European Black Swift.
Beaver Castor canadensis : only footprints and cut down trees...
Townsend Vole Microtus townsendi : 1, spited out by a snake, Saanichton Bay.
Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus : only in Vaseux Lake.
Norway Rat Rattus norvegicus : widespread. In Richmond Nature Park, we seen a cream-coloured.
Snowshoe Hare Lepus americanus : also in Vancouver Island (introduced ?).
Mule Deer Odocoileus hemionus : Manning Park.
Moose Alces alces : 1 young killed by a car near Princeton.
Mountain Goat Oreamnos americanus : In a cliff near Keremeos, 1 adult + 1 kid, August 2.
Bighorn Sheep Ovis canadensis : several in two parties near Vaseux Lake, August 3.
Gray Whale Eschrichtius gibbosus : 1, near the coast, Botanical Beach, August 11.

Amphibians (A Field Guide to western Reptiles and Amphibians, by Robert C. Stebbins)
Spotted Frog Rana pretiosa : Manning Park.
Bullfrog Rana catesbeiana : Burnaby Lake.

Reptiles (A Field Guide to western Reptiles and Amphibians, by Robert C. Stebbins)
Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta : Stanley Park and Richmond Nature Park..
Red-bellied Turtlle Chrysemys rubriventris : Ricmond Nature Park (introduced).
Common Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis : widespread in wetlands.
Western Terrestrial Garter Snake Thamnophis elegans : widespread in wetlands.


A birders guide to Vancouver Island (K. Taylor, 1990)
Let's look at Canada: Vancouver to the Rockies (An Ornitholidays Guide, n° 8)

click here to go to Amazon books search boxes for these and other titles

Georges & Mireille OLIOSO, le Mail, 26230 GRIGNAN, France
E-mail Georges at: