Birds seen on my way to work: A photo essay

Presumably, many of Bird Canada’s readers take public transportation to get to work. One of the advantages of this mode of transportation is that you get to look around at your environment as you are travelling (you can do this when you drive or cycle, of course, but it can and often does lead to unfortunate accidents). As I travel to work, then, I often see birds that intrigue me or parks that I would like to visit. This month, I would like to show you a few pictures of the birds that I have been able to photograph along my route to work (or at work), as I travel from North Vancouver to UBC’s Vancouver campus, which is found on the western edge of the city.

In the morning, after a brisk walk down the hill from my home, I take the Seabus from North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay and to Vancouver’s Waterfront Station. Once on the other side, I often hop on the 44 bus that takes me from downtown all the way to the bus loop at UBC (a 12km ride).

Along the way, the many great parks and spots to see and photograph some pretty interesting land and water birds include various spots on Burrard Inlet’s northern and southern shores, Jericho Park, the UBC Campus and Pacific Spirit Regional Park. I should point out that I captured all of these images in the past month, as this unusually mild, dry and sunny winter has been a rather amazing to observe and photograph birds. And all of these photos were taken on a work day, either in the morning before work or during my lunch break.

I would love to hear if you have interesting places to observe birds along your commute to work!

Starting in North Vancouver, on the north shore of Burrard Inlet (not far from the starting point of the Seabus at Lonsdale Quay), many interesting birds can be found if you are paying attention, including this Pigeon Guillemot, taken on February 11:


If you look closely enough, you may also find a beautiful male Hooded Merganser doing some crab fishing a few steps away…


…or a Glaucous-winged Gull shamelessly trying to grab his breakfast (this bird almost landed on the HOME in its desire to steal its food):


The next three photos (of a Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow and Spotted Towhee) were taken in Vancouver’s beautiful Jericho Park on February 5, 2014, which I always see from my bus as I am proceeding to UBC:




This Anna’s Hummingbird was taken on February 11, 2014, along a path that I take almost every day to get to my office at UBC in the Student Union Building:


The next few photos were not taken along my commute as such, but may be found only a few steps from my office (from top to bottom, you may recognize a pair of Bald Eagles, a Brown Creeper, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Pacific Wren and a lovely Varied Thrush):





VATH-UBC-2014_02_06I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the birding spots along my commute or close to work and would love to hear if you have interesting bird or birding stories to tell from your commute to work!


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10 Responses to Birds seen on my way to work: A photo essay

  1. Thanks, Dan! Birding on the coast is pretty awesome (I’ve mostly birded in the eastern half of the country, so this is fairly new to me too). I hope you do post something on your Calgary commute, I would like to read it.

  2. Dan Arndt says:

    Wow. While I haven’t done a LOT of birding on the coast, I still haven’t seen a Pigeon Guillemot. Loved the post! I may be inspired to do something similar this spring here in Calgary!

  3. Thank you, Tim! It helps that both of these birds nearly jumped in my lap when I had my camera at hand. But they do move around quite a bit!

  4. Tim Hopwood says:

    Terrific shots, Pierre! Great job on the kinglet & creeper – no mean feat getting decent shots of these hyperactive little guys.

  5. What a great story! Of all the birds that harass raptors (like humans), I have always most admired the RWBL. Our Northwestern Crows are just as persistent when they dive bomb the Bald Eagles, but their actions seem driven more by a certain mob mentality (they are rarely alone when they do this) and even a bit crazy in not so good sort of way. Blackbirds, on the other hand, normally take up the task on their own and they just want to get the job done to make sure that the hawk knows who’s the boss. In any event, I hope you will again be able to do another interesting commute like this some day soon!

  6. You’re welcome… the thing with bird photography is that it really helps to know the terrain, so to speak. Since you seem to know your regional park — and now that you have a better camera — you should be able to get good photos by being able to anticipate where the birds will be. It can also be used to reduce the stress of both the birds and photographer by ensuring that you can get good shots without running after your subject. Good luck getting good pictures — that part of Greater Montreal is wonderful for birding and for photos in general.

  7. Red-tailed Hawks are a great bird to see from vehicles and Toronto is a good place to do “commuting birding” (have I invented a term) since there are so many parks and ravines that criss-cross the city. The secret with the photos I showed you was that was able, sometimes, to actually get off the bus!

  8. Jeff T says:

    Some years back, my commute was a 5 mile bike ride out of my small rural town in central Idaho. For a few weeks in the spring, a very territorial male red-winged blackbird would await me, perched on the same spot on a power line, then repeatedly “dive-bomb” me. It startled me at first, but after a while it seemed like kind of a game. I’m sure it looked pretty funny to anyone who happened to be watching – a guy peddling like mad, waving an arm above his head trying to ward off an angry bird! Also, a mile or so down the road was a reedy area where I saw my first yellow-headed blackbird. Sure miss that commute!

  9. Stella Kisiel says:

    Thank you for the latest post on birds you see on your way to Campus. I must admit that you have a large variety of birds to chose from to photograph. I’ve been a backyard birder….that is until this year. Now that I have a somewhat better camera, I will be able to take pictures of birds. We have one very nice area not too far away from where I live. It’s basically a Provincial protected area called Bois d’Ile Bizard. What a shame that last year I did not take pictures there. The marsh attracts so many different birds including a heron that is supposed to only nest in Ile Bizard. It’s a lovely place to visit on a nice summer day.

  10. Thanks for sharing such a great collection of photos! I often combine birdwatching with commuting in Toronto, which includes craning my neck while riding the streetcar, to get a better look at a Red-tailed hawk.