DNCB Outing No. 2014-43 to Blackie Spit & White Rock Pier

DNCB at Blackie Spit (minus Mike) photo by Roger

DNCB at Blackie Spit (minus Mike) photo by Roger, click to see large version

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Filed under *DNCB, Blackie Spit, Harlequin Duck, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, White Rock Pier

DNCB Outing No. 2014-42 to 104th Street, Boundary Bay Dyke

Hardy Birders at Boundary Bay Dike (RM)

Hardy Birders at Boundary Bay Dike (RM) click on photo to see large version

More photos by Terry (TC), Roger (RM) & Liz (LS) at DNCB Picasa site.

Seven hardy birders braved the gusts of wind coming off the outgoing high tide at the foot of 104th Street in Delta to walk the Boundary Bay dyke to “the mansion”.

At 8:00 am Roger, Terry, Hans, Bryan and Janet, and Liz and I started out on a three hour stroll surrounded by tableaus of rolling, dark grey clouds broken occasionally by shafts of light bursting out from patches of blue sky, and curtains of rain drawn over the south end of the bay.  We had already been greeted on 104th by two Bald Eagles, sentinels on their enormous nest in a dead tree by the road, as well as by two billy goat trolls ensconced on the front steps of a local farmhouse.

RM_Goat on 104thHighlights of the morning included a juvenile Peregrine Falcon who sat on a beach log for a great photo shoot, and the high drama of a Northern Harrier trying to make a meal of a Glaucous-winged gull with a Crow in hot pursuit.  Two V formations of Snow Geese flew low overhead and flocks of over a thousand Dunlin wheeled over the bay to settle in the shallows in the company of Black-bellied Plovers and Sanderlings.  Roger’s scope was so buffeted by the wind that it was difficult to identify the assorted other “peeps” – perhaps they were the Pectoral and Western Sandpipers that Russ Canning and Mike Tabak both spotted recently from the dyke.  There were also a lone Horned Grebe and a Northern Shoveler close to shore, while a Yellowlegs sought refuge in a field on the other side of the dyke.  Along the way, Chickadees, a Marsh Wren, House Finches, and Fox, Song, Savannah, and Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows flitted in amongst the bushes and boulders.

Donna joined the group just before we returned to the parking lot.  Back at the airport, everyone enjoyed watching close up an Ash-throated Flycatcher.

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Terry and Roger’s photos go to prove how little credit this bird’s name does to his delicate lime yellow colour.  A small flock of Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets flitted in a nearby tree and there were numerous Eurasian Doves.  (The latter appear to be increasing their numbers at an alarming rate.)  A lot of discussion ensued over the bloodlines of a small brown Falcon perched in the top of a tree but, after closely studying Terry’s photo, it was decided that it was not a kestrel, as first thought, but probably a Merlin.

As we drove home, we felt well rewarded for our efforts in crawling out of our beds in the dark to face what had looked to be a cold, wet morning.  In the end we’d managed to stay warm and bone dry.  Still, I envy one Delta Casual Birder who remained conspicuously absent as he is, no doubt, enjoying 25 degrees Celsius in dazzling sunshine in Western Australia – Sandgroper twitcher that he is!  “Good on ya”, Tom!

Next week, DNCBers will meet at Petra’s at 8:00 am (note new start time) and should arrive at Blackie Spit near the tennis courts at Crescent Beach at around 8:30.  After checking out the spit, they’ll head to the pier at White Rock.  Hope to see more of you there!

Happy “twitching” to all!

Nance Forster

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Filed under *DNCB, 104 Street, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Bald Eagle, Black-bellied Plover, Boundary Bay, Delta Heritage AirPark, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon

DNCB Outing No. 2014-41 to Queen Elizabeth Park & VanDusen Botanical Garden

Photos by Roger Meyer (RM) & Liz Stewart (LS)

DNCB at VanDusen Gardens (RM)

DNCB at VanDusen Botanical Garden (RM) – click on photo to see large version

On a rainy Wednesday, six of us made it to Petra’s for the morning’s outing.   Two cars were required: Hans, Mike, Sheila and myself, Roger (filling in for Tom who is probably reclining in the Australian sun with a cold drink in hand) in one, and Gerhard and Lorna in the other.  The traffic to the tunnel was wicked, so it took us 45 minutes to reach Queen Elizabeth Park, where the birds were sparse.

In the parking area we met up with Kirsten, Nance, and Liz.  A single Red-breasted Nuthatch was in a tree above the parked cars.  A Merlin flew over us as we walked through the Rose Garden as we followed Ned’s (the groundskeeper we’ve met before) instructions to the Barred Owl location.  We didn’t find the owl at the Small Quarry, but did see a number of Steller’s Jays and Robins, and we had a good look at a Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Hans sighted some Varied Thrushes as well.  Kirsten came running back to inform us she had found the Barred Owl being harassed by crows, so we rushed off to the lower cedar grove where we had a good look at the owl high in a tree with a pair of crows sitting beside it.  Unfortunately, the light was too poor to get a clear photo.

Barred Owl (RM)

Barred Owl (RM)

At the lookout at the north-west part of the park, we saw a flock of Double-crested Cormorants fly over, and some Eurasian Collared Doves in a distant tree, and that was it, so, with time running short, we left to make the 10:00 am opening of VanDusen Gardens.

At VanDusen Gardens, we met  up with White-Rock Al and Alice, and found we were too short in number for the reduced group rate.  (This is where those who chose to sleep in should feel a twinge of guilt!)  Knowing that the birds would be few, and that we were there for the fall colours and exotic plants, we headed up the south trail, pausing only for a photo of Gerhard on his regular bench with his friends from last year’s visit… hopefully Ken will insert the  photo here!

Gerhard and New Friends (RM)

Gerhard and Friends (RM)

We sighted several small birds in a hedge but they were too far away to identify.  We think they may have been Kinglets.

Walking towards the maze, we saw a group of Northern Flickers in the trees, but little else.

Northern Flicker (LS)

Northern Flicker (LS)

We failed to find the Hermit Thrushes we had seen the previous year around the maze entrance, but did catch glimpses of an Anna’s Hummingbird.  The group became separated at a slippery downhill trail where Nance had a bit of a fall and several decided to find an alternate route down.

Returning to the park entrance, we found a table in Truffles where we had our lunch, and Lorna finally had her cherished Pumpkin Latte!

at Truffles (RM)

at Truffles (RM)

Again, not so many birds, but lots of interesting plants, and Al helped by sharing his knowledge of some of the exotic trees with us.

Next week, Wed. Oct. 22, we will go to the foot of 104th Street where we can park in the lot at the Delta Heritage Air Park and walk along the Boundary Bay dike.  Hopefully, the Ash-throated Flycatcher will still be there and a variety of shorebirds, ducks and raptors.  As usual, some of us will meet at Petra’s for a 7:30 departure , and meet the others around 8:00 at 104th.

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Filed under Barred Owl, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Merlin, Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Garden

DNCB Outing No. 2014-40 to Iona Regional Park

Photos by Terry Carr (TC), Jonathan Mwenifumbo (JM), Glen Bodie (GB), Marion Shikaze (MS), Liz Stewart (LS), Roger Meyer (RM)

RM_Group_Iona Oct 9, 2014

DNCB at Iona, by RM – click on photo to see large version

Nineteen DNCBers spent a lovely Fall Wednesday morning of birding at Iona Regional Park.  Lots of hi-lites, and some beaut photos by Liz, Marion, Glen, Terry and others expected on our DNCB Picasa site.

Rush hour tunnel traffic wasn’t too bad and I got to Iona before 8:00 a.m. where North Delta Jean was waiting. We cased the beach which was loaded with ducks (>1000), interestingly most of which were Red-breasted Mergansers (not similar looking non-breeding Common Mergansers; ID confirmed after some healthy discussion and analysis).  Of course, lots of Northern Pintail, American Wigeons and Mallards were there too, plus a photogenic flock of about 50 Great Blue Herons.  A small flock of American Pipits flitted along the beach as Killdeer called around us.

Other DNCBers, including the Petra’s group arrived around 8:15 a.m. and the “cackling” started as each of us tried to catch up with long lost friends, many of whom hadn’t seen each other for a whole week.  Because they like their names in print, the Petra’s crew included Roger & Mike, our Guru Anne, mushroom expert Glen, Jimmy K and Terry.  Other new arrivals were Kirsten, Marion, Pauline, ready-for-work teacher Greg, Richmond Bill, Aussie Nance recently returned from Botswana, Jonathan without Lorraine, loquacious Liz, and a very happy and healthy White Rock Leona.

DNCB at Iona (minus Terry) (TC)

DNCB at Iona (minus Terry) (TC)

Both Terry and Roger took the obligatory Group Photo here of the 16 of us (time-challenged Richmond Donna, White Rock Alice and garrulous Otto were absent).

As Jean and I showed them the “beach birds”, a Sharp-shinned Hawk landed in the tree by the parking lot for close-up views and photos.  In the front pond, Northern Shovelers and Green-winged Teal were gathering, but a small flock of six Long-billed Dowitchers on a mud island caught our attention.  (At end of outing, Leona found a Wilson’s Snipe among the Dowitchers)

We moved on to the second pond where MV Park Interpreters were setting up to entertain a class of 7&8 year olds on the wonders of living organisms in the marsh.  Lots of House Finches, Spotted Towhees, Northern Flickers and Red-winged Blackbirds around and some heard/saw a Winter Wren.  In the pond among the Gadwalls, we found American Coots, a Pied-billed Grebe and two beaut Ring-necked Ducks.

Several large V’s of Double-crested Cormorants regularly flew over us heading south; we wondered where they were coming from and where they were going.  Of course we also saw V’s of both Snow and Canada Geese often fly by too.

On entering the back door to the Sewage Lagoons, in the first pond all the afore-mentioned duck species were there along with five Pectoral Sandpipers pecking in the mud.

As we walked around the ponds, lots of LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobs) were on the path and in the shrubs.

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We identified Song, Savannah, Golden-crowned and Fox Sparrows, and Roger eventually found two of his target bird, Lincoln Sparrow (of course no photo evidence). Some saw a Marsh Wren.  A Peregrine Falcon made a nice fly-past as did the earlier-seen Sharpie being harassed by Crows.

Otto collected his Butternut Squash and Tomato lunch at the “wild garden” on the edge of the north-east pond.

We left the Sewage ponds and walked the park’s back trail through the woodlot.  The Iona Park trails were wide and well-groomed.  As often happens on DNCB outings, various “chat groups” get spread out.  The front group ran into a mixed flock of Warblers, but we could only confirm Yellow-rumped Warblers and Kinglets (Golden-crowned).  Some saw a Brown Creeper.  Approaching the Fraser River, keen-eyed Roger spotted an Anna’s Hummingbird among a flock of Bushtits.  As usual, no one else saw it.  Several interesting Mushrooms were near the path, and Glen identified some, the names of which I have already forgotten except for the brilliant red Amanitas.

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More LBJ’s along the river path included American Goldfinches.  An adult Bald Eagle posed elegantly on a pylon in the river.

We got back to the washroom parking lot around 11:30 a.m.  Only Jean brought cookies which were wolfed down in quick fashion.

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We chatted about the list of Report Authors over the next couple of months, until the Birds on the Bay outing on December 17, while Sandra and I are in Western Australia.  Funny how the group got quiet.  It was another awesome DNCB outing as I left to play my regular Wednesday Noon hockey.

Next Wednesday, October 15, the DNCB outing will Leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m., meet at the Queen Elizabeth Parking lot by/above the tennis courts around 8:15 a.m., then leave QE Park in time to meet others at VanDusen Park 10:00 a.m., when it opens.  (See DNCB Report No. 2013-42 for October 21, 2013 outing.)  Check our DNCB Blog for other info and instructions, and earlier brilliant reports (edited by our Webmaster Ken) and photos.

Don’t forget our Delta Nats monthly meeting and AGM this Monday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Cammidge House.  Graham Sunderland will be giving a presentation on the wilderness and wildlife of the Falkland Islands.  As always, comments encouraged, and let me know if you want off my List to receive this far-too-lengthy drivel.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, American Pipit, Bald Eagle, Iona, Pectoral Sandpipers, Peregrine Falcon, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Wilson's Snipe

DNCB Outing No. 2014-39 to Ferry Port & Reifel

missing Tony M, Bill D, Bryan & Janet - click on photo to see large version

missing Tony M, Bill D, Bryan & Janet – click on photo to see large version

For one of the biggest trips, as far as attendance is concerned, we will have one of the shortest blogs due to master-blogger Tom’s absence, and I (Roger) will not list all the names due to a) my poor memory b) large numbers.  Please refer to our incomplete group photo to see if you were there, or not.

The trip started out, as usual, with the locals meeting at Petra’s and was joined by some others at the Tswaassen ferry jetty where there were few species but a few remarkable sightings such as hundreds of Horned Grebes, Pintail and Wigeon.  The usual suspects were present;  Black Oystercatchers, Common Loons, Mallards, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and Scoters (all White-winged?).

Moving on through the TFN lands some saw the resident Kingfisher.  A few other members arrived making it an 8-car procession which drew the attention of a passing Delta policeman who motioned us to move along.  Nothing more was seen but a Red-tailed Hawk on top of the TFN Longhouse.

Arriving at the River Road dyke the only addition to our list was the five Mute Swans we usually see there.  On moving on to the Canoe Pass Bridge someone (alright, it was me) spotted some shorebirds on the shoreline and stopped the procession to have a look.  They turned out to be Killdeer accompanied by Green-winged Teal.  Unfortunately, someone at the end of the line of cars took exception to our blocking the road and yelled at us to move along.  The figure yelling at us and waving her arms turned out to be Kathleen from Reifel.  Sorry Kathleen, I take full responsibility and apologize (Roger)!

Arriving at Reifel, we were met by several others including the White Rock contingent, with Al’s guests from Finland, Benny and Valma Roiha, and the welcome return of our guru, Anne Murray!  (At this point the catalogue of species becomes incomplete as the large group became spread out and discontinuous so I will list those that my group had seen and rumours of what the others observed… feel free to send omissions to editor Ken!)

Although the Black-crowned Night Herons are reportedly back, I don’t think anyone in our group observed any.  Walking down the north dyke trail we saw lots of Canada Geese in the Alaksen fields but no Greater White-fronted.  The usual Black-capped Chickadees, Song Sparrows, Spotted Towees, Robins, Mallards, Wood Ducks, and Eurasian Collard Doves were seen and the puzzling song we heard turned out to be a Fox Sparrow.

Fox Sparrow (RM)

Fox Sparrow (RM)

At the big tower a Peregrine Falcon flew over.  Some Snow Geese were seen on the distant shoreline, but as we walked along the outer dyke many long “V” shaped flocks flew by and by counting the number of “V’s” and multiplying by the average number in each we reached a total of 5,000 individuals (Otto said there were 5,001).  Several Northern Harriers patrolled the marsh and the usual numbers of GBH’s stood guard.

We were very fortunate to have three Soras parading for us, actually right below our feet at the first viewing platform… great photo opportunity!

The ponds yielded Wigeon, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and Green-winged Teal along with many Long-billed Dowitchers.  The ponds to the south-east had large numbers of Long and Short-billed Yellow-legs… nice to see them side-by-side for comparison.

All-in-all, it was a quiet day for the number of species, but the weather was perfect and the large flocks of Snow Geese and close-up views of the Soras provided the high-lights.  Please go to the Picasa links on the side-bar to view our great photographers contributions to the day!

Next week we go to Iona Island.  The locals will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am to meet the rest at the Iona parking lot somewhere between 8:00-8:15 am.  I’m sorry for missing some species seen but, again, please forward any omissions to Ken to be included.  Also, prepare to be conscripted to author future blogs while Tom is relaxing in the Australian sun for the next few months.  I’m just thankful for spel chek!  Cheers, Roger

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Filed under Black Oystercatcher, Northern Harrier, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk, Reifel, Sora, TFN, Tsawwassen Ferry Port

DNCB Outing No. 2014-38 to 104th St. on BBRP Trail

Our outing to 104th St. on the BBRP dike trail was very abbreviated as it rained very heavily.  Surprisingly, we started with 12 folk, Ken B, WR Al & Pauline, newbies Liz Walker and her son, Mike B, Marylile & Rob, Otto and me.  The Wimps left after our target bird, the Ash-throated Flycatcher, refused to come out in the rain.  There was a small break in the rain so optimists Otto, Ken and I stuck around for another 30 minutes.  We saw lots of American Pipits, Black-bellied Plovers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Song, Savannah, Golden- and White-crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Eurasian Collared Doves, and lots of Ducks, including Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Wigeon including Eurasian, etc.  Rain slowed a bit, but didn’t stop entirely until later.

Sandra and I are off this morning to Niagara Falls.
Cheers: Tom

After meeting at Petra’s, Lorna, Guinness and I walked the Centennial beach loop in the rain this morning.  We saw Gulls, Mallards, Wigeon, Pintails, Teal, Yellowlegs, Crows, Herons, Starlings and White-crowned Sparrows.  No photos.

Otto continued on to Reifel.  There were the 1st major flocks of Snow Geese (a couple 100).  30,000 to go!?

About 300 or 400 Greater White-fronted Geese, 50 Cackling Geese, maybe 1000 Wigeon.

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Filed under *DNCB, 104 Street, American Pipit, BBRP, Black-bellied Plover, Cackling Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Long-billed Dowitcher

DNCB Outing No. 2014-37 to Blaine and Birch Bay, USA


DNCB at Blaine Marine Park (KB) click on photo to see larger version

Photos by Terry Carr (TC), Glen Bodie (GB), Bill Denham (BD), Liz Stewart (LS), Marion Shikaze (MS), Ken Borrie (KB) to be added soon

Nineteen DNCBers enjoyed another “foreign” outing around Drayton Harbour/Semiahmoo Park and then to a new DNCB destination Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve at Birch Bay.  Lots of hi-lites as recorded below and on our DNCB Picasa site with beaut photos by Richmond Bill, Webmaster Ken, Terry, Liz, Glen and Marion.

Some started at Petra’s at 7:30 a.m., others met at the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 8:00 a.m. to car pool, and all nineteen of us met around 8:30 a.m. at the entrance to Drayton Harbour at Blaine Marine Park.  We introduced ourselves to each other, chatted about border experiences, and welcomed some “oldies” like Marian, Kirsten, Annie K and Wim back to the fold.  The tide was way out and no Shorebirds close by, so to ease the normal Group Photo frustration, Ken took it here with the Peace Arch far in the background.  Glen was almost missing from the photo as he was pre-occupied with the Song, White-crowned Sparrows and House Finches and House Sparrows flitting in the bushes.


White-crowned Sparrow (GB)

Our next stop was the Lookout at the end of Marine Drive.  Although temporarily closed for construction, we were able to walk the road to the Lookout.  Five or six entertaining Black Turnstones “turning stones” followed us along the shore, as did a Gull capturing and stabbing a Crab.

At the Lookout, Surf Scoters were the most common species occasionally flying close to us.  Common Loons, Horned Grebes and lots of Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants were also around.  Many fishing and crab boats were going in and out of the harbour.  A male Belted Kingfisher, the first of a few seen today, made Lorna happier and more bubbly than normal, and that’s a real stretch.

From here, we car-pooled and convoyed in seven vehicles around Drayton Harbour to Semiahmoo Park on the spit.  Nothing new at the first lookout on the Semiahmoo Bay side.  On the Drayton Harbour side, a few Killdeer were along the shore in front of four Northern Pintails.  A small flock of Scaup were there too but Terry scared them off before everyone got to see them.  We moved on to the Yacht Club parking lot and walked back along the paved path.  Lots of Harbour Seals were lying on the pier while about six or seven Harlequin Ducks, not yet in beautiful plumage, were hopping on and off it.  Several Black Oystercatchers were on a low-tide-created island.

Lots of Scoters and other species in the distance and we picked out a Red-breasted Merganser among them.

We walked back toward the Drayton Bay entrance where a flock of American Goldfinches was flitting and feeding on the Chicory seeds.  Another Kingfisher, Loon and a dead Seal on the way to the Semiahmoo lookout at Tongue Point.  The large rafts of ducks were still far away but, as we looked across Boundary Bay toward White Rock, we did see a few “almost-dancing” Western Grebes which have not been very plentiful in this region for the past year or so.  From here, White Rock Al led us through Semiahmoo to Birch Bay Drive and then to the Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve.  A very pleasant drive along the Birch Bay beach road yielded some Caspian Terns and other Gull species (Bonapartes?).


Chicken-of-the-Woods (KB)

KB_DSC5223Arriving at the Pt. Whitehorn parking lot, Ken’s Pileated Woodpecker turned into a Steller’s Jay and posed nicely on top of a Fir Tree.  We had a very pleasant walk through the Whitehorn woods, with Al identifying the tree species including Sitka Spruce and Grand Fir.  Marion, Glen and Pauline were almost-believable in their collaborative identification of the flowers, mushrooms and fungi, my favourite being the pumpkin-like Chicken of the Woods.  Birds were noisy at various spots along the path and some saw or heard: Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Kinglet species, Pine Siskins, Pacific Wrens, Downy Woodpecker and Common Ravens.  We all grunted and groaned on the path down to and up from the beach while a family of young kids ran by us.  But it was an invigorating walk with seemingly endless nonsensical chatter.

Approaching 1:00 p.m. the remaining “dirty dozen” left Whitehorn Park deciding to have lunch at the Beach House in Birch Bay.  A good choice as my house-specialty stew and two beers (one pilsner craft and old reliable Bud Light) were delicious.  We also spotted both White-winged and Surf Scoters from the patio, but could not ID any Black Scoters.  We sang Happy Birthday to Hans who was born the same day in the same year in Germany as our restaurant host Jack (aka also Hans I forget his last name, but he is Al’s friend).  What a small and incredible world we live in.  Anyhow, it was another awesome DNCB outing.  After gassing up I got home close to 3:00 p.m. in time to go to COSTCO for razor blades and cheese, and 473 dollars later.

Next Wednesday, September 24, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. on an outing to Boundary Bay at 104th St. and the Mansion.  We should be at Delta Heritage Air Park around 8 am.  Several rarities have been seen there recently among the thousands of arriving Shorebirds and ducks.  As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these far-too-long ramblings bore you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Birch Bay, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Drayton Harbor, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, Semiahmoo Spit