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Species list

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List of species seen

Spruce Grouse

A group of 3 were found by the trail descending from Peyto Lake, within only metres of the car park. First impression was that of the size of a small Red/Willow Grouse. They were unperturbed by the presence of passing tourists

Canada Goose

These were particularly common in Vancouver, with many small groups along the shoreline and within Stanley Park. There was some distinct size variation within the birds seen, although all were likely to have been of the B. c. fulva subspecies which is usually found here


Common throughout the trip in all three major localities. There were many small to medium groups around Vancouver's shoreline, ~20 on the channel when on the whale watching trip, and ~70 on the Vermilion Lakes at Banff 

Harlequin Duck

The 3 birds seen were a treat, since I wasn't sure of their status at this time of year. All were females. The first was swimming alongside the rocky shore of Stanley Park. The second 2 were together on the Orford River, directly in front of the 5th platform on the grizzly tour

Surf Scoter

This was the most common duck seen from the boats on both the grizzly and whale watching trips. Numbers were in the hundreds, with some in very large flocks both on the water and in the air

White-winged Scoter

A group of ~30 flew past the boat on the whale watching tour

Hooded Merganser

At least 13 birds were on one of the Vermilion Lakes at Banff. The males were in superb breeding plumage


2 on the Orford River in front of the platforms during the grizzly tour; 4 on the sea during the whale watching trip; a group of 10 near to shore while walking the Rotary Trail at Campbell River; 1 just below Bow River Falls, Banff; 2 on Lake Louise; 2 on the Vermilion Lakes, Banff

Red-throated Diver

~30 seen from the boat on the whale watching trip, usually in small groups flying past

Great Northern Diver

Many of the divers flying by couldn't be identified from the moving boat, but 2 were seen on the grizzly tour, and 1 was on the water and seen from the Rotary Walk at Campbell River

Red-necked Grebe 

A single bird was feeding in the marina between Stanley Park and Vancouver downtown

Western Grebe 

~10 amongst the many wildfowl on the grizzly trip

Great Blue Heron

Only seen on the shoreline around Vancouver, where 1 was feeding next to the shore on the first afternoon, with at least 8 on the walk around Stanley Park

Pelagic Cormorant 

Quite common around the shores of Vancouver and Stanley Park. They appeared to be the only cormorant seen from the boat on the grizzly and whale watching tours

Double-crested Cormorant 

Common around the shores of Vancouver and Stanley Park. There was a large roosting collection of these and smaller numbers of Pelagic Cormorants under the bridge alongside Granville Island

Turkey Vulture 

Most were seen on Vancouver Island, with 5 on the journey from Nanaimo to Campbell River and 2 around Campbell River itself. 2 were over the ferry from Nanaimo back to Horseshoe Bay, and a group of 4 on the journey from Banff to Vancouver were the only ones seen over the mainland

Western Osprey

1 perched beside one of the lakes between the sea to sky highway and Whistler

Bald Eagle

At this time of the year, it's possible that many of these have moved up to the salmon spawning grounds to feed on dead fish. This could explain why only a handful was seen. 2 were from the boat near to Campbell River while sailing to the grizzly site on the Orford River, with a third bird waiting for us on the shore at the river itself. 2 further birds were seen in Campbell River from the Rotary Walk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

1 within Vancouver

Cooper's Hawk

1 over the shoreline near to our hotel in Vancouver

Red-tailed Hawk

1 on the journey from Whistler to Kamloops. A second bird was the first dark phase I had seen, hunting over the Saskatchewan River in the Icefields Parkway

Golden Eagle

1 over the car on the journey from Whistler to Kamloops

American Kestrel

2 over the trees during the walk along the Rotary Trail at Campbell River

Wandering Tattler 

3 with a group of Black Turnstones on shingle next to the ferry at Nanaimo, seen from the deck as the boat departed

Black Turnstone 

8 in the group of waders above


A group of 5 flew past the boat on the grizzly trip

Bonaparte's Gull

~40 from the boat during the whale watching trip

Common Gull 

Common around Campbell River and during the boat trips

Ring-billed Gull 

The most widespread gull seen, in reasonable numbers from Vancouver Island to the Rockies

Glaucous-winged Gull

Very common on the shores of Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Glaucous Gull

Quite common on both boat trips

American Herring Gull

Very common throughout Vancouver and Vancouver Island


2 definite birds identified on both the grizzly and the whale watching trips

Marbled Murrelet

Auks were seen now and again from the boat on both trips, but were generally frustratingly distant or with too much movement to identify. 2 were not far out from shore on the grizzly trip

Rhinoceros Auklet

4 on the whale watching trip

Mourning Dove 

1 only at Bute Inlet

Barred Owl

This bird was an unexpected treat. After completing the shore walk around Stanley Park, we took one of the interior trails, where a couple of local birders were photographing what may have been a regular bird perched just above head height and right next to the path

Belted Kingfisher

1 flew from the shore to the interior of Stanley Park; 2 on the grizzly trip (1 perched on a log in the Orford River); 1 unexpectedly flying around the timbers of the quay from the ferry at Nanaimo

Downy Woodpecker

1 downtown Banff

American Three-toed Woodpecker

1 from the trail up to Lake St Agnes at Lake Louise. It spent some time tree hopping between trees not far from the path

Northern Flicker

1 from the car on the journey from Kamloops to Banff

Western Wood Pewee

1 heard only at the Marsh Loop, Banff

Grey Jay

Not a difficult bird to see when in The Rockies, and they can be quite confiding. The first was next to the cabins of Douglas Fir Resort, Banff. Best numbers were ~15 at Lake Louise, being seen from the lakefront up to the Lake St Agnes. 2 very confiding birds were seen at a stop off car park during the journey from Banff to Vancouver

Steller's Jay

Only seen on the journey from Banff to Vancouver, with ~10 birds. They were often on the emergency shoulder of the main highway, or hopping up for scraps at the stop off (above)

Black-billed Magpie

Not seen until Banff, where they were a regular feature, either singly or in groups of up to 7. They were also seen in small numbers on the journey from Banff to Vancouver, and during trips around the Rockies

Clark's Nutcracker

Best numbers were at Lake Louise (~20), where they were around tourists' feet from the lakeshore to the tea house at Lake St Agnes, feeding from both discarded scraps and proffered titbits. 2 further birds were subsequently seen in Banff, 1 next to the Douglas Fir Resort, the second at the peak of Tunnel Mountain

American Crow

Very common in the Rockies

Northwestern Crow

This is a very confusing species, since it looks almost identical to American Crow, but apparently has a different call. It is also the crow found on Vancouver Island and Vancouver (as part of its north-western coastal distribution) where it is very common in both town and country

Northern Raven

Very common, seen at all altitudes, from Vancouver Island to The Rockies, and from dense forests to town centres

Black-capped Chickadee

Common in Vancouver (both Stanley Park and downtown), and in the Banff area

Mountain Chickadee

At least 3 birds identified in Banff, next to the Bow River / downtown


~16 on the summit of the Parker Ridge trail in the Icefields Parkway

Golden-crowned Kinglet

1 was with a small group of Ruby-crowned Kinglets next to the Bow River/downtown Banff. Many more were with chickadees (~16) towards the end of the Marsh Loop at Banff

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 

Two's and three's seen occasionally around Banff

Red-breasted Nuthatch

1 on the descent from the Parker Ridge Trail, Icefields Parkway. A second flew across the car park above the hoodoos, Banff

Brown Creeper

1 in Stanley Park

Common Starling

Common in or around habitation near to the coast

Varied Thrush

2 together at the Marsh Loop, Banff

Grey-cheeked Thrush

1 flew over the boardwalk within the trees at the Marsh Loop, Banff

American Robin 

2 on the Marsh Loop, Banff; 4 at the stop off on the journey from Banff to Vancouver

American Dipper

2 on the Orford River in front of the viewing platforms

House Sparrow

Quite common in Vancouver and at some towns elsewhere during the trip

Pine Siskin

2 in a conifer at Douglas Fir Resort

American Yellow Warbler 

2 together on the Rotary Trail, Campbell River

Yellow-rumped Warbler

1 Douglas Fir Resort

MacGillivray's Warbler

1 female in a lone bush next to the marina at Campbell River

Wilson's Warbler

3 separate birds were seen in Banff

Common Grackle 

Strangely, the only birds seen were ~30 around the overnight hotel in Kamloops

Song Sparrow

The birds in this area of North America are generally quite dark red/brown on the back and parts of the head, contrasting with slate grey head pattern. The ones seen were also near water in all cases, and very retiring: 2 Stanley Park; 1 the marina, Campbell River; 3 Rotary Walk, Campbell River; 2 Vermilion Lakes, Banff

White-crowned Sparrow

4 Douglas Fir Resort, Banff (1 adult, 3 juveniles)

White-throated Sparrow

1 Douglas Fir Resort, Banff; 1 Marsh Loop, Banff

Dark-eyed Junco

The race in this area is the smart Oregon type. 2 were at Campbell River, but most other birds were seen in The Rockies, with up to 10 in any one day

Savannah Sparrow

1 at the marina, Campbell River; another during the Rotary Walk, Campbell River

List of Mammals seen

Striped Skunk

This fellow was a surprise, found ambling through a small park in the late evening darkness near to our hotel in Vancouver


The most likely place to see these was Stanley Park in Vancouver, and at least 5 different individuals were very tame in one section next to Lost Lake

Black Bear

The only one seen was in the distance, crossing the meadows below the cable car at Jasper (looked at from downtown)

Grizzly Bear 

Apparently, there are higher numbers of these in Banff National Park than Black Bears, but they tend to stay further away from habitation. So, the best way to see them in action is to take a trip from Vancouver Island to one of the inlets holding salmon runs on the mainland. We saw at least 5 different bears at the Orford River, which flows into Bute Inlet. The first was on the shore as we arrived, with the second an inquisitive youngster from the bus. The other 3 were seen at the viewing platforms, with one catching a huge salmon as we gawped

Humpback Whale 

One seen on both the outward and return journey looking for Orca on the whale watching trip

Pacific White-sided Dolphin

This is a hugely entertaining dolphin, since it likes to play around in the wake of passing boats. We saw about 5 different groups during our two boat trips, with one containing at least 50 individuals

Killer Whale

Despite being a regular around Vancouver Island, these still have to be found, and it took some time and a long ride up the Johnson Straight to locate this family of 11. However, once found, they stayed along the same small stretch of coast while we ate our lunch

Dall's Porpoise

This porpoise is marked in similar patterns to killer whales, but is obviously much smaller. A group of 5 were around the boat during the grizzly trip

Black-tailed Deer

The most common deer seen by far, and usually very confiding. The first 2, and subsequently group of 6, were wandering amongst the buildings next to the road on the Rotary Walk, Campbell River. A group of 5 wandered through the Mountain Lodge Resort, Banff, and a mother with calf after our descent from Tunnel Mountain were totally unconcerned by us on the other side of the road

White-tailed Deer

2  together Icefields Parkway

Bighorn Sheep

~9 next to the road on the journey from Kamloops to Banff

Eastern Grey Squirrel

~10, including a few melanistic forms, in Stanley Park

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Three very obliging individuals seen, both at tourist hotspots - Moraine Lake viewpoint and (2) at the Peyto Lake lookout

Least Chipmunk

1 along the Lake St Agnes Trail, Lake Louise; 1 the Marsh Loop, Banff; 1 on the summit of Tunnel Mountain, Banff

Douglas's Squirrel

One was playing with fire by collecting nuts and crossing the trail with them near to the Barred Owl in Stanley Park

Red Squirrel

Seen regularly in the woods of The Rockies

North American Porcupine

1 beside the road on the descent from Moraine Lake towards Lake Louise village

American Pika

1 crossed the St Agnes Trail at Lake Louise


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