Rare bird sightings drawing avid birders to Uplands Park in Oak Bay

“Extremely rare” bird not seen again since it was spotted on Oct. 15

Recent rare bird sightings have been drawing avid birders, hoping to catch a glimpse of nature’s striking surprises, to Uplands Park.

The most significant of these recent sightings was a female pine bunting.

“It was an extremely rare event,” explained Margaret Lidkea, Friends of Uplands Park chair. “It was the first time ever that the pine bunting had been seen south of Alaska.”

Maury Swoveland, who’s a beginner birder, found the bird at the south end of Uplands Park along Beach Drive on Oct. 15. After taking a photo, she posted it on the Victoria National History Society’s website. The bird was initially thought to be a Lapland longspur, but it was identified as a pine bunting a day later.

“That’s when the experts just went, ‘oh my Goodness,’” described Lidkea. “First they thought it was something else, but then they realized that it was the pine bunting.”

Despite multiple observers looking, the rare bird has not been seen since it was first spotted.

Birders have also been searching for other rare birds at Uplands Park, including the northern mockingbird, which is thought to have been in the park for the past six weeks, and the pileated woodpecker, which was spotted early last week.

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Armed with binoculars and cameras, avid birders joined expert Geoffrey Newell with Friends of Uplands Park to search for these birds Friday morning.

“You never know what you’re going to see because it’s migratory season,” said Lidkea. “I know that there are several people that are coming to Uplands Park [to try to find these birds]. I feel absolutely blessed when I see them.”

Lidkea encourages birders to report any rare sightings to Friends of Uplands Park. Their information can be found at friendsofuplandspark.org.


 

flavio.nienow@oakbaynews.com

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