Birding, March 11, 2023 (Piper Spit and Colony Farm)

Let’s try something new! And by “let’s” I mean me because ain’t no one else writing this.

Most Saturdays I go birding with Nic. Starting with this post, I’ll recount each birding outing: Where we went, the conditions, some photos (of course), and what we saw.

And now, the inaugural entry:

Where: Piper Spit (Burnaby Lake Regional Park), Colony Farm Regional Park
Weather: Cloudy, occasional drizzle, around 8ºC

The Outing

The forecast was not looking great–about a 50-60% chance of showers, but apart from a few drops here and there, the rain held off, and the sun even tried to come out a few times. It was breezy both at Piper spit and Colony Farm, so it felt a little cooler than the actual 8ºC.

We encountered a fairly significant number of birds heading from the dam to Piper spit, including a rare sighting of a varied thrush dining out on a tree stump normally occupied by squirrels. We also saw some kinglets, but alas, I was unable to get any shots beyond “this blurry butt is definitely on some kind of feathered creature.”

At the spit, we saw the usual crowd, but also what might have been a hermaphrodite mallard, showing both female and male characteristics. The giant flocks of seagulls were down to just a few this time, though I’m unsure why, and the number of dowitchers was also down, though they were in their usual (current spot) just west of the pier.

At Colony Farm we observed blackbirds possibly gathering nesting material, but the biggest surprise there came at the very end, in one of the small creeks: a muskrat. I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

The Shots

Mallards minus heads
Chickadee ready to spring
Dark-eyed junco in repose
Northern pintail close-up
Muskrat munching
Anna’s hummingbird in silhouette

The Birds (and other critters)

All birds seen at Piper spit unless otherwise noted.

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • Varied thrush (rare)
  • Golden-crowned kinglet (rare)
  • Ruby-crowned kinglet (rare)
  • American robin
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Blackbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • Hooded merganser (Colony Farm)
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted towhee


  • American coot
  • American wigeon (Colony Farm)
  • Bufflehead duck
  • Canada goose
  • Gadwall (Colony Farm)
  • Great blue heron
  • Green-winged teal
  • Lesser scaup
  • Long-legged dowitcher
  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail
  • Wood duck


  • Crow
  • Pigeon
  • Seagull


  • Red squirrel
  • Gray squirrel
  • Muskrat (Colony Farm)

Golf ball drama at Piper Spit

I went solo today for birding and managed an hour or so at Piper Spit, getting home just as the rain started. Timing!

Here are a few shots, including some action involving a fluorescent golf ball, some crows and seagulls.

This mallard declared himself King Duck, briefly.
The wind floofing a coot.
Two participants in the golf ball drama.
Pardon the blurriness. The golf ball drama.

The missing frog

On June 25, 2022, I went to Burnaby Lake to shoot photos, then never posted any of them. Oops.

Today, while pruning out my photos on OneDrive, I came across these photos and found one of a frog–the only frog I’ve taken a photo of at Burnaby Lake (or anywhere). so here is the frog, seven months late.

A Bewick’s wren and other birbs

Yesterday at Burnaby Lake I managed to get some photos of a Bewick’s wren, which I’d never seen before. Spiffy! Plus chickadees and other assorted birds. Here are a few shots.

Bewick’s wren. Totally adorable.
Chickadee. Perfectly adorable.
Canada goose. Somewhat adorable when young, or not hissing at you.
Seagull, definitely not being adorable.
Coot adorably demonstrating water physics.
Lesser scaup adorably caught mid-preen.
Long-billed dowitcher, adorable in the shallows.

Soggy sojourn at Piper Spit, January 2023

A few images from a brief visit to Burnaby Lake on Saturday, January 7th. Brief mainly because it was pouring rain the entire time, but we were determined to get in some birding, dang it.

Off a mallard’s back
Coot contemplating
Lesser Scaup. This may be the only light where the light feathers don’t get blown out in my photos.
Soggy puffball spotted towhee
Extreme Northern pintail grooming

Starting the new year at Piper Spit (Jan 1, 2023)

Squirrel forgetting how to be a squirrel.
Ready for his close-up.
Coots are weird, even when they groom.

A few photos from my afternoon trek to Piper Spit. It was a pleasant day and a stat holiday, so it was kind of packed. But that was okay. Really!

Heron thinking deep thoughts.
Gull passing by the pier.
Feeding frenzy.

My hopefully last batch of snow shots for 2022

Snow is not in the forecast, and it’s mostly washed away (again) due to heavy rain, but here’s a last few photos to look over before the year comes to an end. Taken on December 26th.

Fun fact: I regularly mistype “Burnaby” as “Burnbaby.”

A moody-looking Burnaby Lake.
An ex-tree collapsed onto a bridge on the river trail.
Mini-waterfall. Train track is visible above the storm pipe.
Brunette River, ever-rising as the rain continues.
Santa has fallen and he can’t get up.

A very brief run in the snow

This morning, I donned my running clothes and headed out to Burnaby Lake, though I didn’t actually intend to run. I did want to see how much snow was still on the trail, to get a sense of how long I might need to wait until running becomes viable again.

Technically, I did run a little, as a test, about 20 meters or so. The trail is certainly walkable, but for running, the compact snow is that yucky combination of uneven and slippery. I could run, but only very slowly, in order to maintain my footing.

Conveniently, I got a newsletter from Running Room today with tips for running in the winter, which included wearing something like these to keep from landing on your face:

On the one hand, if I was faced with a a long layoff from running due to snow, this might be tempting, though I can’t imagine it makes for a very pleasurable running experience. On the other hand, based on my assessment today and assuming we don’t get a pile of new snow, I am assuming I’ll be able to run possibly by this Monday (five days from now). That means I will miss one more run and a total of five runs (two last week, three this week). This makes me sad, but at least it won’t be the multiple months of the 2016-17 snowpocalypse.

This is what the trail looked like near the Avalon parking lot. The snow looks shallow, but that’s mainly due to it being compacted. The darker bits are slippery.

There’s a tiny chance that if we get a lot of rain tomorrow (Thursday) a run could be viable on Friday, but I am not expecting this. What I might do in lieu of a run is walk to Piper Spit (weather permitting–the last time I tried this, it started snowing hard) and shoot birbs with my camera. I saw a heron at the lake today, but with my stinky phone camera, the best I could do was this cropped image (which isn’t too bad, I suppose; it definitely captures the overall gray/blue quality of the day):

A few more photos from birding, October 9, 2022

Back to Piper Spit, as Nic sought out the elusive white-throated sparrow.

We did not see a white-throated sparrow (though Nic saw it today when he went back on his own).

Killdeer hanging out on the newish land.
Dowitcher yoga.
Heron flying toward the late afternoon sun.

A few photos from birding, October 8, 2022

First, the weather was crazy–25C and sunny, so sunny that if I hadn’t put on sunblock I’m sure I would have burned. This is very strange for the second week of October.

We hit Burnaby Lake and Colony Farm, but did extended tours of each and saw plenty of birds and other assorted critters, including a snake and coyote (alas, we could not get shots of either in time).

Here are a few shots of the million (well, 500+) I took.

The coot is ready for its close-up.
Duck feeding frenzy.
Eagles flying directly toward us, and then overhead.
Grebe in the late afternoon sun, at Colony Farm.

62 and counting (plus trees and other wood)

After reaching 60 posts, I realized that if I posted 62 it would be the most ever in a month, and I’ve been blogging since 1897 2005! So naturally I had to do it.

This is Post #62.

Here’s a photo I took at Burnaby Lake back on September 2 showing a pair of dead trees next to a pile of plywood. I wanted to say something clever or profound about this juxtaposition, but couldn’t come up with anything good, so never posted it.



(And think of your own clever or profound observation on this.)

Walk 84: It’s hot, let’s walk around the lake!

With the high today forecast to be 30 or 31C, I decided to duck out in the morning to get a walk in before it got Africa Hot. As I walked down the river trail, a crazy thought entered my mind: What if I went to the lake…and then walked all the way around it?

I just ran at the lake yesterday and had over 31,000 steps, so today would have been a good day to rest, but I followed that crazy thought and did a complete loop around the lake, pausing occasionally to take photos here and there. The total distance was 18.7 km, and it took me 2 hours and 53 minutes to complete. By the end, I was definitely glad to be off my feet, but I’m also glad I gave in to the impulse and did it. Although it was quite warm, the humidity was actually closer to normal. On the negative side, the taste of smoke was in the air, likely carried in from a forest fire in the Fraser Valley (you can see the smoke haze in the shots I took, which I will put in a separate post).

The only real running I did was for about 30 seconds, to put some space between myself and a pair of people walking behind me, one of whom was carrying on their part of the conversation at maximum volume for reasons unknown to me.

Tomorrow: I’m going birding at Reifel, so there will be walking, but no Mega-Walking™.

One shot, from the viewing tower just west of Piper Spit, showing the smoke haze:

Smoke on the water


Walk 83
Average pace: 9:16/km
Location: Burnaby Lake and Brunette River trail
Distance: 18.70 km
Time: 2:53:10
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 24-29C
Humidity: 21-34%
Wind: light
BPM: 102
Weight: 160.2 pounds
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Total distance to date: 633.02 km