Thursday 12 December 2013

Stanley Park's Black and White Warbler

Dec 12 2013 Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia. Overcast and threatening to rain.

By now most any serious birder in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland has heard about Stanley Park's Black and White Warbler. It isn't a bird we see often here on the West coast. Originally spotted a few days ago by a couple out for a walk, the distinctive black and white warbler has already attracted numerous birders to the park. What better excuse to turn off the footy, grab the camera and go for a walk. As we looked for the bird, one could hear the staff of the Vancouver Aquarium talking the crowd through the Beluga Whale session. We centred our effort near the cenotaph. A colourful freshly laid wreath of poppies lay at its base. A quick thought about my uncle who died at Dunkirk and then back to the joy of birding.
While many had spent fruitless hours searching for the bird and not seen it, one of our party, a particularly good bird spotter pointed out the diminutive warbler sixty feet up in a Maple tree, a tiny speck, but there it was and only after five minutes of searching. How lucky is that!

Black and White Warbler (Mniotilta varia)

Moments later it flitted up higher into a Sycamore Tree and then it was gone. To see if we could re-locate the warbler we decided to split up so as to cover more ground. Fifteen or twenty minutes passed before another of out party saw it, this time perhaps thirty feet away. The bird was still high up against a dreary Vancouver sky, not the ideal backdrop. However, patience paid off and the bird did a pretty spiral in the air and then fluttered down to a moss covered cheery tree.

The black and white plumage against green moss creates a far more pleasing image.
 As is common with this bird it made its way down the trunk of the tree picking off insects. Finally we had a decent contrasting background to work with. The bird continued to feed despite the rattle of motor drives and exited spectators.
The Black and White Warbler has a long beak which it uses to pry insects out of crevices.

 After a three or four minute feeding session the bird flew back up into a higher branch and continued to feed, completely oblivious to all the fuss it had made down on the ground. There were lots of smiles everywhere and we left before another birder arrived, just then the heavens began to open and a deluge of rain began.

Merry Christmas
Good Birding

John Gordon

1 comment:

  1. John, wonderful discovery! Exceptional shots! What a pretty bird!