Miracle Beach Birdwatching

Miracle Beach Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia provides a good place for both forest birds and marine birds. It has a great mix of “old growth” Douglas Fir, Big Leaf Maple, and open, well established Red Alder (in the campsite area) as well as stream habitat alongside Black Creek, productive estuary habitat at the mouth of the creek, and an interesting mix of sand and cobble beach. I did a little pre and post Campbell River Christmas Bird Count birding at Miracle Beach and over two days garnered a fair number of birds for my newly started 2010 British Columbia Year List.

Surf Scoters
Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) enjoying the surf at Miracle Beach Provincial Park.

On Friday, I went out in the morning after a night of wind and rain. The surf was pounding the shore and appropriately enough there was a large flock of Surf Scoters out riding the waves. Both Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye were also enjoying the surf as was a few Bufflehead. Overhead, a flock of Glaucous-winged gulls drifted in the wind and a single Western Gull worked the edge of the beach.

Surf Scoters
A flock of Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) at Miracle Beach.

Today, the water was much calmer and large rafts of ducks were visible off shore. Surf Scoters were still around but they were surpassed in number by a large group of White-winged Scoters. Noticeable too were the addition of some of the estuary ducks like Mallards and American Wigeon who seemed to enjoy the flatter water.

Ducks at Miracle Beach
Mallards and American Wigeon at Miracle Beach enjoying the calmer seas on Sunday.

Forest birds were more abundant on Sunday as well with the mature forest birds like Winter Wren, Golden-crown Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Chestnut-backed Chickadee being well represented. Flocks of Pine Siskin were around on both days in the old stands of Red Alder in the campsite.

Red Alder
Red Alder (Alnus rubra) at Miracle Beach Provincial Park - great habitat for Pine Siskins.

A total of 25 species of birds were seen on these two walks at Miracle Beach.

On the water:

  • Surf Scoter
  • White-winged Scoter
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye
  • Bufflehead
  • Mallard
  • American Wigeon
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Glaucous-winged Gull
  • Western Gull (1)
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Common Loon
  • Bald Eagle
  • Red-breasted Merganser

In the forest:

  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  • Winter Wren
  • Common Raven
  • Pine Siskin
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Northwestern Crow
  • Brown Creeper
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Song Sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee

Miracle Beach Provincial Park is located on Vancouver Island about half way between Courtenay and Campbell River.