Saturday, June 25, 2016

Google Street View Birding VI: Canada

O Canada!
Birds' Home and Native Land!
Loons, Crossbills, and Doves in all thy bins command!

That doesn't make a lick of goddamn sense, sorry, but it's a great anthem anyway.  Canada is a marvelous place, and millions upon millions of birds make their way up to breed each summer.  Also making their way up in the summer, apparently, is the Google Street View crew, who unwittingly managed to capture a number of those birdies in their jaunts.  And I, during slow moments of my days, have been able to track a few down.

For those interested in previous installments of Google Street View Birding, check here:

OK, back to Canada.  Let's go birding, and start out West.

The West Coast of Canada has a bunch of gulls that I don't usually see out here on the East Coast.  Gulls are great for Street View Birding because they're big, often sit in conspicuous places, and let people and cars get relatively close. Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest have a couple of fairly easy-to-identify gulls that I thought I could find in Street View.

The trouble with gulls is that they hang out by the ocean, i.e. not where Google Street View cars are driving. Thankfully, cars aren't the only way Street View gets images.

I found this gull resting on a dock from which the Street View guy was leaving on a boat trip at the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, south of Vancouver. Not a great view of the head, but a big gull with very light wingtips? Looks like a Glaucous-winged Gull to me. 

Here's another one I found, somewhere in the same park. This one's tougher, because of the light, but it looks darker and with dark wingtips. Maybe? It's possible that it's a Western Gull, but ... I dunno. Hard to say, so I won't call it for sure.

Nearby, the Street View guy straps on a backpack and walks down a big tidal spit. Very cool.  Along the way he or she passes this group of dark shorebirds. Black Oystercatchers! What, ten? We should eBird that!

Right next to these birds the Street View shifts to images taken on a different day and tide. There are still some gulls loafing, but they're tough to ID:

There are some birds that look like Glaucous-winged Gulls, but I'm more interested in the large, very dark juveniles mixed into the flock. It's possible for Heermann's Gulls to be in this area, but they should be smaller than those guys. I'd say those are the Western Gulls we've been looking for.

OK, time to move on from BC. I have a bird in mind that I should be able to find somewhere in Street View, let's go to the plains.

I've never been to Manitoba or Saskatchewan before, but if Google Street View is any indication there's a buttload of birds up there. Lots of lakes and lots of small prairie potholes mean lots of breeding waterfowl, which show up pretty well in Street View.

I chased a couple breeding locations found on eBird in search of a lake with a road close enough for Street View to get a look. I searched a place called Hackberry Avenue in MacDonald, MB, along the south shore of Lake Manitoba, but found nothing but bugs at first. Tons and tons of bugs.

Look at all the bugs in the air!

Yowza! Thankfully we didn't need to stay long and get eaten up. Down the road a bit I found what I was looking for, a bunch of big American White Pelicans along the lake.

Moving further south, it was prairie pothole time. Much of the northern Great Plains are dotted with tiny lakes perfect for waterfowl breeding and, it turns out, a lot of other birds found around wetland edges. Plus, fortunately for my purposes but unfortunately for a lot of these birds, many of the roads in the area seem to plow right through or next to the ponds, giving a good view to the Street View cameras.  

I made my way down to a place called Fourth Base Line Road in Tyvan, Saskatchewan, and found a ton of birds. 

Yellow-headed Blackbird!

Woah a Black Tern!

American Coot!

A bunch of Blue-winged Teal!

Less exciting Canada Geese and Mallards!

Red-winged Blackbirds!

A Gadwall (I think)!

Cool. Thanks for the memories, Fourth Base Road. Let's move on.

I noticed that Street View had some some pretty extensive visitation of Churchill, MB.  There aren't a ton of birds up there, but they're all good. I had visions of finding a Northern Hawk Owl perched on top of a pine tree, or somehow spotting a ptarmigan in the grass.

Nope. I found a Northern Raven, but that was it for birds.

Of course, there's more to Churchill than birds, there are polar bears. That's why the Street View crew went there in the first place, of course. Did they find any? Can I? Yup.

Woah. Very cool. Thanks Canada, you've been great. 

Until next time!


Jenn said...

So very cool!! Amazing finds. 😊😊

jwb said...

I stumbled across this blog after wondering about street view birding myself. I haven't put in the time that you obviously have, but I thought I'd pass along a Bald Eagle for your viewing pleasure:,-95.4670568,3a,16.6y,347.85h,127.74t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sImxP5t9f8zH1_ajqF9RiAA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Make sure you're positioned on the north side of the road, and the photographers on the median are pointing right at it. If you move to the south side of the road, the photographers will be pointing at the nest.

NickL said...


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