Vancouver 2014
   
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The city of  Vancouver and nearby areas turned out to be a pleasant surprise. A nice city with lots of downtown high-rise buildings and with a beautiful water-front. After finishing my conference, I spent a few days relaxing and experiencing Vancouver. I was spending my nights at The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel with a great view of the Vancouver Harbor, and taking day-trips around the city and nearby areas. Stanley Park was a favorite. Impressive to be able to walk from the hotel and being able to search for urban wildlife. Except from the seawall trail, the park was not too crowded, and it was possible to see quite a lot of bird species in the park (Stanley Park bird checklist). I also encountered a few mammals, such as the American Beaver and the North American Raccoon. But no coyotes, also known to roam the park and downtown Vancouver.

But the most memorable experience in Vancouver was the whale-watching trip. I pre-ordered the trip before arriving, to be sure to get a space on-board one of the vessels operating from downtown Vancouver. I booked a trip with Wild Whales Vancouver, departing from Granville Island, and in walking distance from my hotel. The trip went from Granville Island crossing the Strait of Georgia over to Vancouver Island. In terms of Killer Whales or Orcas, we were lucky, and saw some 47 individuals during the day. We also saw many Pacific Harbor Seal, but no Steller Sea Lions or Humpback Whales. All in all a very ice day-trip in sunny weather, and well worth the money!

 

 

Whale-watching near Vancouver Island

Vancouver high-rise buildings

 

Vancouver north shore

Gastown, Vancouver

 

False Creek towards English Bay

Granville Island public Seafood Market

 

Seafood at Granville Market

Seawall trail at Stanley Park, a wildlife-rich urban park in Vancouver

 

Giant cedar trees in Stanley Park

Beaver Lake

 

Sturdy tree (a Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), I think)

Male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

 

Female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Stanley Park Red-eared Slider Turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans), an introduced species to the region

 

Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus)

American Beaver (Castor canadensis)

 

I was lucky to see this animal close-up late in the evening

North American Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

 

Any food here?

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)

 

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Wood Duck - female (Aix sponsa)

 

Wood Duck - male (Aix sponsa)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) ducklings

 

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Black phase Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

 

Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii)

Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)

 

Ischnura cervula, a damselfly in Stanley Park

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

 

Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)

Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna)

 

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Open-boat whale safari from Vancouver to Vancouver Island

 

On whale safari, wearing a survival suit

A pod of transient killer whales near Vancouver Island. While resident killer whales prefer fish, transient killer whales have marine mammals on the menu

 

Killer whales near Vancouver Island

Breaching killer whale

 

Breaching killer whales

Harbour Seal

 

Vancouver Strait scenery