A getaway to Manning Park

We got out of the city and went to Manning Park on the weekend. It is always so peaceful and one of my fave places to bird at any time of year. The weather was rainy in Vancouver but at Manning it was sunny and no snow. The road to Cascade Lookout was still sadly closed. It is a great road for grouse and Clark's Nutcrackers but it is always closed by this time of year. We started out at Strawberry Flats as soon as we got out of our car we were greeted by 5 Canada Jays. I bought peanuts for them and had fun feeding them. I am always amazed by how many nuts these jays can cram into their bills. One for instance crammed in 11 at once!!

Canada Jays in Manning Park - Photos: Melissa Hafting

After photographing the Jays we heard a Hairy Woodpecker calling. We tracked the bird down and saw it was a nice male. We heard more tapping from the same tree and down below was a male American Three-toed Woodpecker! They are one of the main targets on any Manning Park visit.  

Male American Three-toed Woodpecker at Manning Park - Photos: Melissa Hafting

We continued walking and had  a nice male Pine Grosbeak singing (not just calling) in front of us. Then to our delight 10 White-winged Crossbills flew over and 2 stopped and perched and called for awhile before taking flight again. As we walked down the trail we saw 3 Snowshoe Hares and 2 of them were all white! They are such pretty things and no wonder Lynx are in the park to eat these guys. We also had several Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Varied Thrushes and Brown Creepers.

1 of 3 Snowshoe Hares at Manning Park - Photo: Ilya Povalyaev

We then walked around Lightning Lake and the forest was quite quiet. As we turned a corner near Spruce Bay I spotted a male Spruce Grouse feeding on the ground. These grouse are to me the prettiest male grouse we get here in BC and our Franklin's are a unique subspecies. This guy was in very poor light in the dark forest but we did what we could. After passing him we scanned the lake and saw Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, a Pied-billed Grebe and a Common Loon. Later that evening my friend Randy Dzenkiew from Victoria texted me as he saw my eBird checklist and hoped to bird with us but we had already left the park :(. He was on the hunt for Spruce Grouse and American Three-toed Woodpecker so I gave him the exact spots we saw them and wished him and his buddy Carl the best of luck for Sunday. I sure hope they found them!

Male Spruce Grouse in Manning Park - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Common Loon in Manning Park - Photo: Melissa Hafting

There was also 2 Snow Geese with 5 Canada Geese grazing on the lake. As we continued around the lake Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees and Mountain Chickadees kept us company. We just need Boreal to complete the Chickadee slam but that didn't happen haha. There were many Red-breasted Nuthatches carrying on and then I picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl tooting away which was making the Creepers, Kinglets, Nuthatches and Chickadees go bezerk! We were having a fabulous time with the Spruce Grouse and Pygmy when all of a sudden an American Dipper flies in and plops in the lake in front of us and begins to swim around and dive for food! We saw the dipper in the exact same spot Liron Gerstman and I saw one while doing our grouse big day where we saw 44 grouse of 4 different species. There was also 2 Belted Kingfishers calling and diving for fish.

American Dipper in Manning Park - Photos: Melissa Hafting

1 of 2 Snow Geese at Manning Park - Photo: Ilya Povalyaev

As we continued on, we were surrounded by Canada Jays and just like the young birders and I had so much fun taking photos of them landing on our heads during a young birder trip (see HERE for a refresher), today we acted like children and did the same. There is something really special about Canada Jays, since a young child they have been one of my fave birds! They are so carefree, bold and friendly, you can't help but love them! I had to share this cute series and yep we are total geeks. Note I only bought the finest Old Dutch peanuts for these guys.

You can't help but love Canada Jays - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Canada Jays are simply the best! - Photo: Melissa Hafting

While we were feeding the jays a Red-breasted Sapsucker flew in and began pecking away. We ran into a single Evening Grosbeak singing away from the tree above and Common Ravens played above in the skies. They then landed down on the grass for us to admire their glossy and subtle rich coloured hues. If you study a raven they aren't black at all but when the light hits them they are rich with vibrant purples, blues and greens. They are spectacular and truly intelligent creatures.  At Twenty-minute Lake there was a single Green-winged Teal.

Red-breasted Sapsucker in Manning Park - Photo: Ilya Povalyaev

We did not see or hear a single Clark's Nutcracker unfortunately and we checked the lodge and Lightning Lake to no avail. Too bad Cascade Lookout was closed as that's the best place to see them! They are always a highlight when one comes to Manning, so I was a bit bummed but couldn't complain after our day. We looked up at golden larches at Mount Frosty and there was a heavy dusting of snow but it made those larches look even more beautiful and it was a perfect cap off to our day. Right now they are in full bloom. If you want helpful tips to see the larches click HERE. It was a much needed restorative day with great birds and mild weather in one of my fave places.


  1. Wow sounds like a great trip Mel! My family went to Manning Park in the summer and there were dozens of nutcrackers! One of my targets was a three-toed woodpecker but I didn’t see one. I guess we got mixed fortunes!

    1. yes summer seems to be better for nutcrackers! this is the first time I missed those wonderful charismatic birds. I am happy to take you to manning park one day and help you find that woodpecker lifer! take good care my friend.

  2. it was nice meeting you at terra nova. you can tell how much this guy loves you from the way he looks at the camera. the eyes are the window to the soul you know. by the way I really enjoyed reading this and it makes me want to go to manning park. I haven't been in 20 years. I like the spruce grouse, american dipper and gray jay photos the best.

    1. thanks shirley was nice to meet you too. glad you enjoyed the photos and he better after seven years :D

  3. Beautiful photos and nice write-up of a very fun day with great company, including our entourage of Jays!


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