Posted by: cherylyoung | September 6, 2012



Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary

 Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC


A saltwater lagoon located at the base of the Royal

Roads property, next to the Fort Rodd Hill / Fisgard

Lighthouse National Historic Sites and a view across

Esquimalt Harbour at Dockyard.


Depending upon the tide there will be one island,

 and none to several small gravel bars, on the

lagoon side of the bridge.


These are regular lounging spots for gulls and

should also be carefully scoped out for shorebirds.

 Mew Gulls and Glaucous-winged Gulls are frequent

 loungers but check the flocks carefully because

birders have reported Heermann’s, Bonaparte’s,

Ring-billed, California and even Western Gulls

from this site.


In the Spring watch for large orange bills and dark

 heads as small flocks of Caspian Terns may also

rest on the bars.


Shorebirds in season include Black Oystercatcher,

Black-bellied Plover, Western and Least Sandpiper,

 Dunlin, Black and (rarely) Ruddy Turnstone,

Sanderling, dowitcher, Semi-palmated Plover,

 yellowlegs, and Killdeer.


Northwestern Crows and Glaucous-winged Gulls

will be prowling around looking for shellfish which

 they will pick up and drop from a height in order

 to crack the shells.


Avian disputes can occur regarding the ownership

 of the seafood lunch.


Waterfowl may lounge on the island or bars or

may be found swimming in close proximity to

 the bridge as this is one popular site for people to

“feed the ducks”.

Red-breasted Mergansers and sometimes Common

Mergansers may be seen snorkeling along the far

shore or surfing down the stream after small fish.


Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, Northern Pintail,

scaup, Bufflehead, Barrow’s and Common

 Goldeneye, American Wigeon (watch also for an

Eurasian Wigeon), Green-winged Teal, Canvasback,

Pied-billed Grebe, Canada Geese, feral Mute Swans,

American Coot and Double-crested Cormorants

 are all possibilities near this end of the Lagoon.

Unfortunately, there is also a flock of feral Greylag

Geese which have taken over the island.


These are “dumped” geese and are not countable,

 just a nuisance.


However, there have been Snow Geese seen at the

Lagoon and a number of Brant stop over on their

way to the Brant Festival in Parksville.


Birding at Esquimalt Lagoon

Do not forget to look up too.

 You may sight a Belted Kingfisher sitting quietly on

a branch and, either stalking the shorelines or

 perched high in the evergreens, you may see a

 number of Great Blue Herons.


Watch also for Bald Eagles resting near the treetops,

 Turkey Vultures soaring over, Common Ravens

 flapping by or the sudden burst of a Cooper’s Hawk.

Listen for American Robins, Northern Flicker,

Steller’s Jay and the “Chicago” of a California Quail.


If you turn away from the lagoon you will usually

find Rock Doves near the bridge and probably a

few European Starlings, House Sparrows and

Brewer’s Blackbirds checking the roadside for

edible bits.



Once you have given this end of the lagoon a good

 going over then you must make your first decision

 – how to bird the rest of the spit (known also as

Coberg Peninsula)?


We usually park our vehicle near the bridge and

bird along the lagoon side of the spit as we walk

westward, then bird the Strait side on our way

 back to the vehicle.

The spit is 2 km long. On the lagoon side there is a

 narrow gravelly shoreline with small areas of low

 grass plus a sprinkling of shrubby broom and

wild rose.


 The grasses and shrubs hold, in season, Savannah

Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned and

Golden-crowned Sparrow, Brewer’s Blackbird,

 House Sparrow, House Finch, Purple Finch, and

American Goldfinch.

Peeps and plovers can often be found along the



 In 1996 a visiting birder was fortunate to discover

a Mongolian Plover along this stretch.


It stayed for a couple of days resting and foraging

 alongside Semi-palmated Plovers.


Look out to the rocky island in the middle of the

 lagoon because Double-crested Cormorant

frequently roost and dry their wings on that island.


Check closely.


Shorebirds may also be found resting or foraging

among the crevices on the island.


In addition to the waterfowl already noted scan

 the lagoon for Surf Scoter, Common Loon, Ruddy

Duck and Red-necked Grebe.

 From late spring to early fall scan the taller trees

along the lagoon for an Osprey or two as they seem

 to be regular visitors.


Scan the grassy lawns across the lagoon for

Canada Geese, Great Blue Heron, and yellowlegs

or other shorebirds since that area provides the

birds some respite away from the walkers, dogs

 and traffic along the spit.

The elegant looking building up from the boathouse

is called Hatley Castle and is part of the now,

Royal Roads University.





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