DNCB Outing Report No. 2014-33 to Reifel

22 DNCB at Reifel (KB)

22 DNCB at Reifel (KB) + Cranes named Hans & Dave – click on photo to see large version

Twenty-four DNCBers enjoyed another glorious Delta Wednesday morning at Reifel Bird Sanctuary. Hi-lites included: seeing our target bird Stilt Sandpipers and lots of inane chatter among an eclectic group of like-minded weirdoes.  Check out Ken’s, Tony’s and others’ photos (soon) on our DNCB Picasa site.

Nine of us left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. (Aussie Nance with PB Lorna, Jean & Pauline, our “forgetful” Indian Land Baron Tony, Mike with newbie Patrick, Glen and me) and went to the Tsawwassen Ferry causeway first.  The tide was low and not many birds were in the Bay.  Small rafts of Mallards and unidentifiable ducks were in the distance.  We saw a couple of Common Loons, both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants and several Black Oystercatchers were in the mud along the shore.  Lots of Ring-billed Gulls around and two “banded” Caspian Terns caught our attention.  Of course, being so close to the Tsa Tsu Shores heronry, there were lots of Great Blue Herons around.  Next stop was the Kingfisher Bridge on TFN land.  Roger had now joined us and categorically identified the seven Peeps in the stream as Semi-palmated Sandpipers.  A couple of bobbing Spotted Sandpipers were also there.  As usual, the Kingfisher was a no-show.

We continued on our regular route through the Ladner fields to the Westham Island Bridge.  The bridge was “up”, so we were able to see a Brewer’s Blackbird and several Killdeer on shore while we waited.  We did not see the Green Heron that Jonathan & Lorraine saw later when they passed here.  We got to Reifel about 9:10 a.m., very close to our scheduled meeting time, and the masses were waiting.  I will name the others now so their noses don’t get out of joint: the Quiet ones photog Liz, Marylile & Rob, Greg, White Rock Al and newbie White Rock Lois, Richmond Bill, Ladner Jane, garrulous Otto, webmaster Ken, and time-challenged latesters Hans and photog Dave.

Hans & Dave (KB)

Hans & Dave (KB)

The photo evidence of this array of geeks is in Ken’s and Tony’s Group Photos taken by the Reifel Snow Goose sign, with the accompaniment of a couple of Sandhill Cranes.

Following the obligatory introductions and renewing our annual BCWS membership dues with Laura, we surveyed the pond behind the office: mostly moulting Mallards, a few Northern Shovelers and a couple of Green-winged Teal.  A swimming “phalarope-like” Lesser Yellowlegs made an appearance, testing our ID skills.  We walked past the scrounging Cranes, Canada Geese and mobs of invasive House Sparrows to the middle path toward the lookout platform.  From this lookout we spotted seven Hooded Mergansers (one overly-excited amateur called them Horned Grebes) and two Pied-billed Grebes.  As always, only Roger spotted the single Wilson’s Warbler sighting of the day in a nearby tree.  Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds around, interestingly with a few juvenile Brown-headed Cowbirds among them.  A late-nesting Barn Swallow brood of three babies was in their mud nest in the shed on the outer dike.  Greg’s search for more warblers got some Bushtits in the bushes.

We eventually found our target birds, two Stilt Sandpipers in the outer pond.  They were near a flock of Long-billed Dowitchers.  A Greater Yellowlegs moved between the two sandpipers and it was neat to compare the size and other identification markings.  The outer ponds had more Shovelers, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal and I tried unsuccessfully to claim a Blue-winged Teal sighting.  The view from the Tower was brilliant.  A Cooper’s Hawk roosting in a tree along the path gave a photogenic fly-past for us.  Sleek Cedar Waxwings also posed at eye-level in the tree tops.  We were blanked on Warbler sightings along the treed path where Townsend’s, Orange-crowned and Yellow Warblers had been seen earlier.  But we had fun hand-feeding the Chickadees.  Tony got a nice shot of a Brown Creeper, and WR Al continued his biological descriptions and explanations of the various trees and plants which again fell on deaf ears.

We closed down another exhilarating outing at Noon and leisurely returned to Tsawwassen, unfortunately “misplacing” PB Lorna’s sandwich.  Next Wednesday, August 27, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. on an outing to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.  I expect to be at the Park parking lot shortly after 8:30 a.m.  Check our DNCB Blog Report No. 2013-26 of July 3, 2013 for info on our last outing to Lighthouse Park.  Also on our Blog see recent reports on and photos of our very successful Nats Display outings at the Ladner Animal Expo, Starry Night at Deas Island Park and the Richmond Raptor Festival.

As always, comments welcome and please advise if you want off my Drivel List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Cooper's Hawk, Pelagic Cormorant, Reifel, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, TFN, Tsawwassen Ferry Port

DNCB Outing No. 2014-32 on Galiano Island

At Gerhard's Blackberry Patch

At Gerhard’s Blackberry Patch (RM) (click on photo to see large version)

On Wednesday, seventeen “weathered” birders enjoyed a wet but mild ferry ride and strenuous but healthy walk around beautiful Galiano Island.  The idiosyncratic group included: our self-proclaimed Leader Roger with newbie ferry-afficionado Kristin, our chauffeur White Rock Al, photog & administrator Terry, the quiet ones Sheila & Hans, PB Lorna back in the fold, Point Bob’s Kelly, Garbling Gerhard, loquacious Jane and Julian, photog Jonathan & Lorraine, returnee photog David, Richmond Donna, keen-eyed Kay and me.  See Hi-lites below.  Check out Terry’s and others’ photo evidence on our Picasa site at our DNCB Picasa site.

We met at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and took the 10:20 a.m. ferry to Galiano Island.  Before departing, we watched young families of nesting Glaucous-winged Gulls, both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants and Harbour Seals hanging around the terminal.  We did not see the reported nesting Peregrine Falcon nor any Whimbrels.  Some had the White Spot breakfast on board and, despite the rain, most spent much of the trip across the Strait outside on the deck.  Only Julian and I braved the wind at the front bow.  We saw nothing, but felt tough.  Meanwhile, Terry got a nice shot of a Heermann’s Gull flying alongside.

We landed at Sturdies Bay around 11:30 a.m. and gathered at the terminal entrance “berry patch” for Roger’s Group Photo.  Then we started our walk along Sturdies Bay and Burrill Roads to Bellhouse Park, accompanied by our Cabbie, White Rock Al.  The view out to Active Pass, watching the ferries go by was pretty awesome.  One of a few Belted Kingfishers seen today was seen here.  The trail circled through the beautiful native Arbutus and Garry Oak trees close to shore as we made our way back to the Park entrance and then on to Bluff Road.

We wandered along Bluff Road to Mathews Point Regional Park.  A hi-lite along the road for Gerhard and several others was the Blackberry bushes, dripping with delicious ripe berries which they gorged on.  Our walk through this Park’s woods was particularly entertaining with WR Al & Roger’s “Big Word” competition.  Someone would enquire as to the identification of individual trees (Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Grand Fir, Arbutus, etc.) and the two experts would launch into tirades back and forth of Latin terms, biological descriptions and other gobbledy-gook about these trees and plants.  Many of us acted enthralled, but most absorbed nothing.  I learned that Arbutus Trees are just large Blueberry plants (actually just the same species group).

We reached the start of the Trail down to the Hidden Beach.  It was very steep and those that took it felt vindicated on reaching the idyllic secluded spot below, along the Active Pass.  We got decent looks at Pigeon Guillemots which nest on the rock cliff next to this beach.  We also saw Song and White-crowned Sparrows, American Goldfinches, Spotted Towhees and other “LBJ’s” (Little Brown Jobs, Pine Siskins?) in the shrubs on the cliff side.  The climb back up was not as difficult for us bad-kneed folk, especially with the assistance of Trail Ropes.  Back on top, we continued our march along Bluff Road, with WR Al doing yeoman service in carting small groups of “wimps” to the Hummingbird Pub.  It was quiet along the road, bird wise, but some saw a couple of Helmeted Guineafowl (feral game birds?) and Roger got a beaut shot of a “hybrid” Blue & Gold Macaw.

Bird of the Day (RM)

A Cooper’s Hawk gave us a fly-past.

RM_Who Took My Shrimp

Who Took My Shrimp?


The Hummingbird Pub was another interesting DNCB experience.  Gorgeous setting and my “recommended” Prawns Hummingbird dish was delicious, of course accompanied with a (actually two) tasty 1516 Lager.  I had little difficulty enduring the almost three hours of tedious and trite conversation.  Roger took a couple of group photos of the dining crew.  RM_Happy at the RM_HummingbirdWe didn’t see a Hummingbird, but in the Pub parking lot young-eyed Julian found a Brown Creeper.  Fortunately, the two-kilometre walk back to the Ferry terminal was downhill.  A few lucky WR Al riders got there quicker and were able to visit the Galiano Inn and tour their grounds.  Several super sightings here including Western Tanagers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, another Cooper’s Hawk and Northern Flickers.  And the famous Whale Mural in the Inn lobby, composed of sections by 50 artists who knew nothing about the final version, was captivating.  On the walk to our 5:50 p.m. ferry, some stopped for ice-cream cones while others checked out the local Bookstore.

It was fairly mild and not raining on the Ferry back to Tsawwassen, so most of us were outside at the bow.  No unusual sightings but nice views with some comical discussion about our strenuous yet very enjoyable outing.

Next Wednesday, August 20 we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for an outing to Alaksen and Reifel, meeting at Reifel entrance around 9:00 a.m.  A Reminder that Terry’s DNCB outing to Mt. Baker has been moved back to Wednesday, Sept. 3 (bad weather date is Sept. 17).  Check out our DNCB Blog for additional info on these and other future outings.

Also, don’t forget our two events this weekend with your Delta Nats Display; Starry Night at Deas Island Park on Saturday, August 16 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and the Richmond Raptor Festival at Terra Nova Park on Sunday, August 17 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  As always, comments encouraged and let me know if you’re tired of receiving this drivel and want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Bellhouse Park, Cooper's Hawk, Galiano Island, Harbour Seal, Heermann's Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot

Delta Nats Display at DCAS Animal Expo, Ladner

animalexpo2014_poster 00001On a hot and sunny Sunday, August 10, your Delta Naturalists’ Society set up our hands-on Display at Ladner Memorial Park for the 6th annual Delta Community Animal Shelter (DCAS) Animal Expo.  It was our first time displaying at this event, and Terry Carr organized a very exciting array of artifacts, photos, games and other paraphernalia to inform, educate and entertain all ages of visitors.  I was really proud of our Display.  Check out Terry’s photo evidence at https://picasaweb.google.com/113357506005013094897.

Roger and Terry picked up the stuff at our storage locker at Centennial Beach and I met them at the Park at 8:45 a.m. to help set-up.  Roger’s “modified” van worked perfectly.  We set up our nice red Tent (needs a minor repair) at our designated spot No. 27 under a tree in the middle of the Park near the Sprinkler Pool.  It was a great location, and Roger’s little table for the Kids’ Colouring was a neat added feature.  The hands-on basket, two skins Wolf & Bear, new Guess Boxes were the usual hits.  We had lots of interested kids and parents pass by.

We were fortunate to have helpful and interested Volunteers providing guidance.  Valerie, Jane, Otto and Elizabeth had fun shifts monitoring the booth for stages between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Our visitors including Rose & Dylan, and Julian with Mom Sandra, and Janan were suitably and justifiably impressed with our DNS presentation.  Of course Terry and Roger did their yeoman’s work in putting it all together and guiding us all.  We three took down the Display at 4:00 p.m. and left it in Roger’s van, ready to unload next Saturday, August 16 evening for the Starry Night event at Deas Island Park.

We could use more Volunteers for this event as well as the Richmond Raptor Festival the next day, Sunday, August 17.  Please let me or Terry know.  These events are fun, and “no experience required”. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNS, DCAS Animal Expo

DNCB Outing No. 2014-31 to Brunswick Point


DNCB at Brunswick Point (missing latecomers Al, Bryan & Janet) – click on photo to see large version

Photos by Jonathan, Terry, Glen, Liz, Marion & Ken on DNCB Picasa site

More than 20 “almost birders” enjoyed another gorgeous Delta morning wandering along the dike path at Brunswick Point.  The Shorebirds are arriving here in big numbers for their “feeding pit-stop” on their way south and we had a few other hi-lites including Bullock’s Oriole and a sand-dusting Marsh Wren.  Check out the photo evidence (photogs Jonathan, Liz, Terry, Marion, Glen, Ken) including the partial Group Photo on our DNCB Picasa site.

The ten “regulars” left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. (4 vehicles – poor car-pooling) and our first stop was along the causeway to the Tsawwassen Ferry Port.  The tide was very low so no birds were close.  On the south side of the road we saw a pair of Black Oystercatchers with their son/daughter.  A Cormorant swallowing a fish was neat.  Near the ferry berths a small flock of Harlequin Ducks was loafing on the rocks just below us, but no Whimbrels seen.  The rock island was surprisingly covered with more than 100 lazing Harbour Seals.  We continued on through the TFN land and the Ladner fields to River Road and then to Brunswick Point where Ken (thankfully with his scope, but without Anne) and others were waiting or sporadically arrived soon thereafter.

Early birder Langley Tom spotted a Mink in the dyke rocks; coincidentally, Roger had stopped to photograph a roadkill Mink en route to Brunswick Point with his grandchildren.

dead Mink at Westham Island (RM)

dead Mink at Westham Island (RM)

Along the start of the trail several Cedar Waxwings were in the trees and House Finches and Savannah Sparrows in the bushes.  Then we were surprised by a small bird sand-dusting itself in the middle of the path.  This juvenile Marsh Wren was very accommodating, seemingly not bothered by us a mere 10 feet away.  Mom made a fly-past and the youngster then took off after her.  Further along we met Liz, then Aussie Nance, Langley Tom and Grandpa Roger with Jaeda and Ashley.  American Goldfinches were everywhere.  Also lots of Red-winged Blackbirds (and Brown-headed Cowbirds?) and European Starlings.  Warblers were scarce, other than the occasional Common Yellowthroat.  A few Northern Harriers glided by and a Bald Eagle with a huge rodent in its claws entertained the photogs.  Various Wildflowers were in beautiful bloom and fortunately Jaeda & Ashley were able to identify several of them for us.  It’s very refreshing, and helpful with their much keener eye sight, when young people like Julian and Roger’s grandkids join us on our outings.

On the path further along, closer to the shore, we finally saw some Shorebirds, Western Sandpipers and Killdeer.  Terry got a photo of a Least Sandpiper too.  In the bushes among the Goldfinches were a couple of young Bullock’s Orioles that the “good birders” saw and photographed.  Others were watching a less-interesting White-crowned Sparrow.  As we lounged in someone’s deck chairs on the shore, enjoying the ambiance, the cooing of Eurasian-collared Doves and time-challenged Bryan & Janet’s arrival, huge flocks of Swallows, mostly Barn with a few Tree Swallows, hawked insects around us and then landed in rows on lines and barn eaves.  Although the tide was coming in, the large numbers of birds in the Strait on the horizon were too difficult to identify (mostly Gulls).  White Rock Al (aka BOB Al, Birder on Bike) rode to the railway track end of the trail, but reported back saying he saw no new Shorebird species.  As we walked back to our vehicles, more small swarms of Peeps were seen closer to shore, but it was approaching Noon so we couldn’t stay for the tide to bring them closer for better viewing.  A Red-tailed Hawk circled above, not far from their nest near 28 Avenue, but we were blanked on the House Wren, apparently seen at Brunswick a few days earlier.

Some DNCBers continued on to Reifel and saw other Shorebirds including Dowitchers, Red-necked Phalarope, Yellowlegs, Semi-palmated Sandpipers and other Warblers (e.g. Wilson’s) and Waterfowl (e.g. Mergansers).  Others went home to their spousal and grand-parenting duties, feeling exhilarated after another delightful morning outing.

Next Wednesday, August 13 we will have Roger’s Ferry outing to Galiano Island.  We will meet at the Tsawwassen Ferry port around 9:30 a.m. and take the 10:20 a.m. ferry, returning on the 5:50 p.m. ferry, arriving at 6:45 p.m.  Check out our DNCB Blog for more details about this outing, such as lunch plans, walking difficulty, etc.  Each participant will be asked to donate 10 bucks so one or two DNCBers (Mike, WR Al?) can bring his vehicle for “island transport”.  PLEASE EMAIL TOM or ROGER if you think you will be on the Galiano trip – pub needs to know approximate numbers for lunch.

Hope to see some of you this weekend at our Car Boot Sale on Saturday at Centennial Beach or the Animal Expo at Ladner Memorial Park on Sunday at our Nats Display booth.  As always, your comments are encouraged, and please advise if you want off my List to receive this banter.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society 

Next outing:  Wednesday, August 13 to Galiano Island
– meet at Tsawwassen Ferry port around 9:30 am (suggest TFN parking with Shuttle bus)
– Ferry leaves 10:20, arrives 11:15 am
– returning from Galiano on 5:50 pm ferry, arr. Tsawwassen 6:45 pm

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Filed under *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Brunswick Point, Bullock's Oriole, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Least Sandpiper, Mink, Northern Harrier, Red-necked Phalarope, Red-tailed Hawk, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Tsawwassen Ferry Port

DNCB Outing No. 2014-30 to Iona Regional Park

See photos on DNCB Picasa site by Liz Stewart (LS), Bryan King (BK), Marion Shikaze (MS), Terry Carr (TC), Glen Bodie (GB) & Ken Borrie (KB)

25 DNCB at Iona (not in photo Marion & Donna)

25 DNCB at Iona (Marion & Donna not in photo) (click photo to see large version)

On another gorgeous Wednesday morning, twenty-five DNCBers, a huge ungainly group, toured Iona Regional Park and the next-door Sewage Lagoons.  Hi-lites ranged from the Spotted Sandpipers to Warbler and Osprey sightings to playing with Sand Wasps to ID challenges to gorging on ripe Blackberries.  Check out the photo evidence by Liz, Bryan, Marion, Terry, Glen, Roger and Ken on our DNCB Picasa site.

Nine of us (including Pt. Bob newbies Adam and Kelly) left Petra’s in three cars (good car-pooling) around 7:30 a.m.  Super smooth sailing along the HOV lane through the tunnel arriving at the Iona Park parking lot right at the designated 8:15 a.m. scheduled time.  Most of the rest of the mob was already patiently awaiting our arrival.  While giving my regular ignored introduction, Vanessa identified the one lonely “diving duck” in the front pond as a Scaup species (Greater with round head?).  The tide was high and Nance reported that Shorebirds were on the shore on the other side of the washrooms, so Roger in his wisdom suggested going the other way through the Park trail to the Sewage Lagoons.  Since we always do what Roger wants, we missed Nance’s shorebirds, but found Common Yellowthroats (one with a leg band) and Marsh Wrens in the reeds near the next pond.  A grebe-like bird in the pond turned out to be a Merganser (my guess Hooded).  Apparently the lone nesting pair of Yellow-headed Blackbirds has already left Iona.  And normally-reliable Bryan was unable to attract a Virginia Rail, another of our Iona missed target birds.  But Garbling Gerhard was ecstatic as the Blackberry bushes were loaded with delicious ripe fruit.

We continued in various splinter groups along the trail, some spotting Cedar Waxwings, House Finches, noisy Spotted Towhees and other common birds, plus families of Mallards in the ponds.  The back gate to the Sewage Lagoons was accessible as no workers were inside.  As we watched Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers feeding in the mud in the northwest pond, Ken took the always-challenging but obligatory Group Photo (23).  Time-challenged wanderers Marion and Donna weren’t in it.  One Green-winged Teal took off toward the Fraser.  As we wandered around the ponds, we lamented the unexpected lack of Shorebirds here.  Sparrow sightings (Song, Savannah and White-crowned) and a withered-up dead frog provided a bit of entertainment, along with the huge shovel excavating sludge into trucks in the front pond.  Baby Tree Swallows were peeking out of a nesting box on the fence, probably a second clutch.  A family of Gadwall on a nest was also a pleasant diversion.

As we left the Lagoons, not unexpectedly, so did a number of bored participants.  The rest of us continued through the woods on the path toward the River.  We got some nice looks here at Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers (and perhaps an Orange-crowned) and a Willow Flycatcher.  No Wilson’s Snipe where we occasionally see them.  The Purple Martin boxes along the shore were vacant as it seems the apparently successful broods have left for southern destinations.  On one of the log booms were about 20 Great Blue Herons and one juvenile Bald Eagle.  An Osprey finally flew over us and later we found two active nests with young on pylons on the other side of the river.  American Goldfinches and Rufous Hummingbirds were flitting among the bushes in the reeds.

When we reached the sandy road leading to the end of the spit, Roger was already there playing in the sand with his Bembix Sand Wasps, not to be confused with the Amophilla Wasps, which he also likes playing with.  Several other confused participants elected to leave the group at this stage.  Others continued on in search of the nesting Common Nighthawks.  We were blanked on these birds but Terry got some nice shots of Spotted Sandpipers near where they often nest.  Lots of neat Wildflowers around too, but as always, I forget their names.

We decided to go back to the parking lot via the beach.  The tide had receded a lot. In the distance among the mostly Ring-billed Gulls, we noticed a “shorebird” circling in the water and I identified it as a Phalarope.  Several keeners decided to trudge out on the mud to confirm the sighting.  Roger confirmed it as a Red-necked Phalarope.  On Wednesday evening, Terry’s photo evidence confirmed the bird as a Bonaparte Gull.  That’s why we’re Casual Birders.

Back at the washroom parking lot there was a group of Artists sporadically placed around the beach also enjoying and recording their views of the wealth of this beautiful area.  No one brought goodies so a few of the famished DNCBers nibbled on my nuts, mixed nuts with smarties.  The reliable Garrulous One surprised me with an Osprey Beer.  It was Noon, and despite not seeing many of our target species, we all agreed that it was another very enjoyable morning.

Next Wednesday, August 6, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. to Brunswick Point where we expect to see lots of Shorebirds, and perhaps a Pelican.  As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if you don’t want to receive these weekly wanderings.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

P.S. I know DNCBers like their names in print so here’s the List of 25: Roger, Kay, Hans, Terry, Gerhard, Glen, Pt. Roberts Adam & Kelly, MV’s Lori & Vanessa, White Rock Al, Pauline, Jean, Otto, Marion, returnee David M, Aussie Nance, Bryan & Janet, Richmond Donna, Anne & Ken, Liz S, Kirsten and me.

Note from Roger:
The sand wasp we saw today was Bembix, and below is a link for information.

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Filed under *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Iona, Osprey, Spotted Sandpiper

Bird Boxes at Kings Links GC

Photos by Pete Blair

This is our 4th Report on the status of the Bird and Bat Boxes that Pete Blair and I have been monitoring at Kings Links Golf Course over the past few years.  On Friday, July 25 and Sunday, July 27, Pete and I inspected all 24 nest boxes and the two bat roosting boxes (located in the tree near the dike path in the environmentally-sensitive area of hole number 5).  So far, we have had a very successful season of nesting Tree Swallows and Black-capped Chickadees (14 of 24).  See Statistical Report and six photos of nests attached.  Note that this report differs from previous reports as the sorting is by Nest Successes, first of Chickadees then Tree Swallows.  I have asked Andrew to post this report along with the previous three on our TMGC Blog in the Members Lounge section.

When we started on Friday, we were a bit “dishevelled” as Superintendent Mike Keiner accompanied us to the first two boxes near the driving range, and they were both “empty”.  But as Pete and I continued our inspections of the boxes which are mainly located along the perimeter of the course, most had nesting material and “smelly” evidence of successful broods of young.  Tree Swallows leave feces in their nest, and it’s rancid.

Chickadees use mostly moss for their nests and they are “neat & tidy” nesters.

As you will see in the report, several nests contained an unhatched egg.  A couple contained baby corpses.

Tree Swallow nest w. 4 dead chicks

Tree Swallow nest #3 with 4 dead chicks

This does not mean unsuccessful; other eggs probably hatched and young survived to fledge.  Another nest had live young, probably a second clutch (No. 8 along 5th fairway), with Mom & Dad flying around us in dismay.  We saw lots of young Tree Swallows flying awkwardly around the course, hawking insects.  Interestingly there were lots of Barn Swallows there too.  Our examination of the Bat Boxes, from the ground below, showed no activity.  The boxes looked empty and there was no evidence of guano around.

Our bird boxes are made from various wood materials, the holes are round, oval or triangular, the box holes face different directions.  So far, in our limited survey, none of these factors seem to play a role in box success or not. We noticed Wasp nests in a number of unsuccessful boxes; it appears that birds are discouraged from nesting in boxes occupied by wasps.  Some “later installed” boxes were less utilized.

We will continue to monitor the boxes and determine whether to relocate some or install alternate boxes.  Anyhow, Pete and I are really enjoying this exercise.  And we’re trying to help create a golf environment where these birds eat the mosquitoes before they eat us.  I had a super time playing on Sunday afternoon with my kids, on a hot, no wind afternoon, and a lot of mosquitoes lunched successfully.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, TMGC Executive and President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under Kings Links GC, Nestboxes

DNCB Outing No. 2014-29 to Serpentine Fen & White Rock Pier

Scofflaws (minus Otto & Ken)

Scofflaws (minus Otto & Ken)

Sixteen hardy souls started out on rainy Wednesday morning at Serpentine Wildlife Management Area in Surrey and several of us finished the outing on White Rock pier.  Check out the photo evidence of our almost-memorable outing on our DNCB Picasa website.

Seven of us carpooled from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. in two vehicles (Roger with Mike and Gerhard, Glen, Jane & Julian with me) and we got to the Serpentine parking lot by the Barn Owl barn right at the 8:00 a.m. scheduled time.  We met Langley Anne at the entrance as she was searching in the trees for the resident Barn Owl that she had earlier scared out of the barn.  Our first missed target bird. We met the other “less-vigilant” birders at the parking lot including our Leader White Rock Al, always-smiling Liz, patient Pauline, newbie Tom “One” and Aussie Nance.  Anne & Ken wheeled in as we were doing our intros and the time-challenged, loquacious Otto arrived while we were on the trail.  It was spitting a bit as we approached the park gate and the huge PARK CLOSED sign.  As you all know, neither weather nor laws stop us DNCBers from pursuing our passion.  So, following Ken taking the appropriate Group Photo, we sixteen squeezed around the gate and followed the path to the first Lookout.

Lots of the regulars singing in the bushes (Spotted Towhees, Song, White-crowned and Savannah Sparrows, House Finches, colourful American Goldfinches, Bushtits, etc.)  A Pacific-slope Flycatcher was a neat sighting that most saw.  From the Lookout Tower three Long-billed Dowitchers were foraging along the edge of the first pond.  Cedar Waxwings were everywhere.  Further along the inland trail were Marsh Wrens, Common Yellowthroats and heavier rain.  Two Hooded Mergansers and one lonely American Coot were among the families of Mallards in the big ponds.  Lots of Tree and Barn Swallows hawking bugs around us.  We also identified a Violet-green but couldn’t confirm other Swallow species.

When we reached the Serpentine River, although the rain had lightened, several soaked wimps bailed on us.  The less-frail eleven continued along the river to the second Lookout.  Newbie Dutch Tom “One” spotted a Spotted Sandpiper bobbing on the rocky shore.  Then two unusual gulls stretched our birding skills, but with the help of Julian’s Guide, we eventually confirmed them as just immature Ring-billed Gulls.  Of course there were easily-IDed adult Ring-billed around with Glaucous-winged Gulls.  From the second Lookout Tower the screeching Falcon we heard tuned out to be a fabricated sound from the blueberry field across the river.

As we wandered down river, the tide was still low showing the remnants of the old Oyster Farm bed.  The most interesting sighting was the huge, gas-guzzling excavating machine with its arm awkwardly weaving back and forth somehow trying to mow the grass on the side of the path.  Seemed terribly inefficient to me, but….  As for birds, from the third Lookout Tower, the only new sighting was a Northern Shoveler.  We were blanked on Rails and all three species of Teal.  Back at the parking lot, being only 10:30 a.m., the lingering ten decided to check out White Rock and the resident Willet.

The drive to White Rock was especially memorable because of the delicious “food bar” along with tasty fresh strawberries, raspberries and grapes that Jane brought (We still need you PB Lorna).  Refreshed and excited, we wandered down to the “white rock”, where the Willet was waiting for us.  A few Killdeer were also foraging along the shore near the hordes of Canada Geese.  Another shorebird, probably a Western Sandpiper was also feeding on the snot in the mud near the pier.  We walked to the end of the pier where a female Belted Kingfisher and a Great Blue Heron posed graciously together for their photo shoot.  A Caspian Tern gave a fly past.  Our new, self-proclaimed Gull expert Roger identified a Mew Gull among the Ring-billed and Glaucous-winged Gulls.  Although the off-and-on spitting rain continued on the ride home, we all agreed that it was nonetheless a very enjoyable morning.

Next Wednesday, July 30, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Iona Regional Park, where we expect to meet at the washroom parking lot around 8:15 a.m.  I have not circulated reports on our last two very exciting Wednesday outings to Pitt Lake/Addington Marsh Park (by Jane Z) and the Birding Boat Cruise in the San Juan Islands.  Check out the reports and fantastic photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa website.  As always, comments encouraged and let me know if you want off my List to receive this drivel.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Barn Owl, Long-billed Dowitcher, Serpentine Fen, Spotted Sandpiper