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Bird watchers on the hunt for unusual visitors in vast Oak Bay park

Experienced birder known for unique finds leads Uplands Bird walk on June 29
Geoffrey Newell captures a photo of an ovenbird in Uplands Park in June 2024 – a rare visitor from east of the Rocky Mountains.

Greater Victoria is well-known for its rare or unusual bird finds – many in Oak Bay’s Uplands Park.

Avid ornithologists or newbie birdwatchers are welcome to seek out treasures in the Oak Bay park lead by local bird expert Geoffrey Newell.

Among the treasures the longtime bird walk leader has located recently is a female orchard oriole at McMicking Point in November 2023. That songbird normally lives in the eastern United States and is extremely rare for Greater Victoria, Newell said. It had previously been recorded one other time in the region and that was on private land. It’s such a rarity that close to 100 people from Vancouver and up Island flocked to the area, some landing as quickly as 20 minutes after Newell posted it to a Greater Victoria WhatsApp group and eBird.

Earlier this month, Newell discovered an ovenbird in the park – a rare visitor from east of the Rocky Mountains.

It’s the third consecutive year, nearly to the day, that Newell has found an Ovenbird in Uplands raising the question as to whether it's the same bird adopting Uplands Park as a stopover during spring migration. 

Many species nest in Uplands Park, and at this time of year, it can be quite entertaining to watch the fledglings following their parents and begging for food.

While a rare find isn’t guaranteed, the search is free and open to all. Hosted by the Friends of Uplands Park, the walk is June 29 at 9 a.m. with walkers meeting in the main parking lot at Cattle Point.


Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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