DNCB Outing No. 2014-27 to Pitt Lake

Pitt Polder Ponderers Posing (RM)

Pitt Polder Ponderers Posing (RM)

Eight of us left Petra’s in two cars (Tom, Gerhard, Jane, Julian and Kay, Glen, Roger, Mike) to reunite on the road up to the lake when Roger grabbed a terrified Northern Flicker from under a mob of crows.  He launched it into nearby dense shrubbery, in hopes it would live to tell the tale to many generations of little Flickers.  We ignored Roger’s claim of seeing a Roseate Spoonbill once again.

Already restlessly roaming at the park were Marion, Greg, Paula & Ray, and Otto Andretti raced into the parking lot shortly after.  We were quickly persuaded to take the Dike Trail with Otto’s promise of three Bullock’s Oriole nests, and made plans to check out the Ospreys and American Redstarts on other trails later.   Shortly after we started our ramble (along a flat but tricky trail – almost lost a few birders to the deep potholes) we were joined by another carload – White Rock Al with Wim and Pauline.  Total participants – 16.

Bullock's Oriole Nest (RM)

Bullock’s Oriole Nest (RM)

Directly over us was a Bullock’s Oriole nest charmingly interlaced with bright pink ribbon.  The parents were returning with grubs for the young and some juveniles were seen.  The air was full of bird chatter – we spotted Cedar Waxwings, Swainson’s Thrush, a Willow Flycatcher, a Starling nest, a beaver lodge, and a tree full of Tree and Cliff Swallows.

Cliff Swallows (RM)

Cliff Swallows (RM)

We heard Western Wood Pewee.  We reached the Lookout Tower for the group photo and dodged mosquitos back to the parking lot.  Song Sparrows and Orange-crowned Warblers were spotted along with my favorite – Yellow Warbler, close up.  A Common Yellowthroat was singing so slowly and beautifully, he was dubbed a Mellowthroat by our crew.

The jetty with the Osprey nest yielded exciting views of a male Osprey bringing a fish back to the youngsters.  Some followed the trail to the west into the woods in pursuit of the elusive American Redstart and Gray Catbird (seen by some).  A Great Blue Heron, Eastern Kingbird, juvenile Raven, Turkey Vulture and Northern Harrier were also spotted.

Report by Jane Zahradnik

Next Wednesday’s outing, July 23, will be to Serpentine Fen; we will leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. and meet our Leader White Rock Al around 8:00 a.m. at the Serpentine parking lot by the barn behind the Nursery.

The following Wednesday, July 30, we will go to IonaTom

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Filed under *DNCB, Bullock's Oriole, Cliff Swallow, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Catbird, Northern Harrier, Osprey, Pitt Lake, Turkey Vulture

DNCB Outing No. 2014-27 on Cruise in San Juan Islands

photo2 by Anne Gosse

photo by Anne Gosse (click on photo to see larger version)

On Wednesday, July 9, 30 folk enjoyed a joint Langley, WRSN, Delta Naturalists’ Club outing on the Salish Sea boat, cruising among the San Juan Islands.  We all met at the Bellingham port for the 9:00 a.m. departure, then spent the next 8 hours at sea, returning at 5:oo p.m.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, with only a brief fog patch hampering our views, but it only lasted about a half hour before rising.  Our target bird was the Tufted Puffin, and we saw lots of them, mostly near where they nest on historic Smith Island.  We saw lots of other species too, including “pelagics” Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, one Common Murre, Marbled Murrelet.  Also saw Heermann’s Gulls, three Cormorant species Brandt’s (most common), Pelagic and Double-crested (least common).  Bill, Marion, Anne Gosse and others took some super photos which you can enjoy on our DNCB Picasa site.  Pauline and Anne did a wonderful job organizing this outing for the three clubs.  This is an abbreviated report in hopes that others might write something.

Wednesday, July 16 we will be going to Pitt Polder/Lake.  Leave Petra’s at 7:30 am, arrive at parking lot ~ 8:30 am.  Map of meeting place here.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Brandt's Cormorant, Common Murre, Heermann's Gull, Marbled Murrelet, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, San Juan Islands, Tufted Puffin

DNCB Outing No. 2014-26 to Campbell Valley Park

Watch for photos from DNCB Picasa to be added SOON

We had at least 24 DNCBers on our outing this morning to Campbell Valley Regional Park (CVRP) in Langley.  It was another gorgeous day for a walk in a beautiful diverse nature setting.  Hi-lites included: several Flycatcher species, Pileated Woodpecker, colourful Grosbeaks and Hummers and a tour of a Disney Movie set.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa link.

Thirteen of us set out from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. in four vehicles (Rob & Marylile took Terry and Glen, Mike took Hans and Sheila, “returnee to the fold” Jimmy R took garbling Gerhard and his German Stork photos, and I had the youngsters, Julian, Jane and PB Lorna).  Smooth sailing along the SFPR, 99 and 8th Avenue to the CVRP entrance got us all there before the scheduled 8:15 a.m. meeting time.  Our gallant Leader, White Rock Al was there to meet us along with Langley Nats Anne G & Pauline, North Van’s Biker Paula & Ray (by car for a change), Ken & Anne A, Marion, Jean, Aussie Nance, and Richmond Bill.  That’s 24; they like their names in print.

Al gave a brief introduction and we started our walk past the Nature House to the washroom.  For some that was the most important sighting of the day.  The trails, several used by horses, were immaculately groomed, except for the occasional Coyote scat.  Ken took the Group Photo early on the walk since “group dispersal” normally occurs with so many participants.  Al pointed out some historical buildings (e.g. barn owl barn) and many of the interesting flowers, plants, trees and fungi (see photos).  As usual, his explanations fell on many selectively deaf ears.  Hopefully some of us can now identify the differences among Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars, Sitka Spruce, Cottonwood, White Pine and Alder.  Some of the trees in this previously-logged farm property were well over 100 years old.  Since this is ostensibly a Bird Report, I should mention a few sightings.  Swainson’s Thrushes were calling everywhere and we saw a couple which were not Robins.  Everyone saw a Willow Flycatcher (one was an “almost” Eastern Kingbird) and some saw/heard the Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Western Wood-Pewee.  Pacific Wrens were calling and one posed.  Lots of Tree and Barn Swallows around, as well as some young Dark-eyed Juncos.  Cedar waxwings were quite common too.  Warbler species seen or heard were Common Yellowthroats, Wilson’s, Yellow and Orange-crowned.  A Turkey Vulture circled in the distance, near a similar-looking Bald Eagle.  No Soras were seen or heard from the bridge over the almost visible Little Campbell River (filled with reeds).  Most of us being “candy birders” enjoyed the beautiful Black-headed Grosbeaks on the Listening Bridge, feeding on our seeds.  Native Douglas Squirrels also enjoyed the food.  Rufous Hummingbirds were also entertaining.  Terry got a surprise photo of a Western Tanager.  Many “common sightings such as Song Sparrows and Spotted Towhees added to the mix.

At the historic Speedway, we met a Disney Movie Troupe that had converted the track area to a sports field setting for a TV movie entitled Off the Island.  There was a cast and crew of hundreds milling around and rehearsing for a “cheering scene”.  No big name Stars around, and we had no luck being recruited, so we carried on down the trail.  (Editor’s Note: A number of years ago, Delta Nats wrote a letter supporting the non-approval of this Race Track being renovated and re-opened.  Looks like the decision was favourable).

On the last leg of the walk, along the South Valley Trail, newbie Aussie Nance pointed out a pair of Downy Woodpeckers pecking loudly on a stump.  Then a few metres further up the hill, a brilliant Pileated Woodpecker posed nicely for us.  Fungi experts Glen and Pauline pointed out an interesting Coral Fungus.  Check out the photos of these and other beautiful wildflowers which I forget the names of.  Approaching Noon, we got back to the welcome washroom, having walked about 6 kms, according to Al.  It was not strenuous, but rather intellectually stimulating in a weird sort of way.  As the temp was approaching 28 degrees, we thanked WR Al as we sat in the shade under a tree near the parking lot, enjoying PB Lorna’s PB & Banana sandwich, Jane’s nuts, Marion’s crispy balls, Julian’s chocolate and no beer.  We had an unconfirmed Otto sighting.  As we were about to leave, a raptor (Merlin?) scared a bunch of Swallows into a frenzy.  Check out the similarity of this report with DNCB 2012-30 to CVP in July 2012.

Next Wednesday, July 9 is our San Juan Islands Boat Cruise outing.  The following Wednesday, July 16, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Pitt Polder/Lake Park, hopefully arriving at the parking lot entrance around 8:30 a.m.  As always, comments encouraged and please let me know if you want off my List to receive these stimulating sagas.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Campbell Valley, Douglas Squirrel, Pileated Woodpecker, Turkey Vulture, Western Tanager

DNS Annual Garden Party

On a beautiful Saturday evening (June 28), forty Nats enjoyed another fun Garden Party in the stunning backyard garden of Jennifer & Pamela Melville-Roberts.  Pam-Jen thought this was around the 10th annual time that they have hosted this end-of-year June event.  Our Social Committee of Lorraine and Marilyn did a super job organizing the event and everyone contributed with their tasty pot-luck delights. Succulent Hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, salads, compliments, entrees and desserts were wolfed down by the seemingly starving masses.

Prior to the “Dutch Auction”, President Tom recognized a few of the organizers and presented our hosts with a “Thank You”.  Then our Compère Valerie, aka Moose, began the oft amusing gift selection by each attendee, as the resident Band-tailed Pigeons fluttered in the surrounding trees.  Check out Ken and Greg’s (soon) photos on our Picasa site.  The rain held off, and everyone left smiling around 9:00 p.m.  A very successful and enjoyable evening.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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DNCB Outing No. 2014-25 to Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

DNCB at QE Gardens (KB)

DNCB at QE Gardens (KB)

More Photos to be added SOON!

Sixteen DNCBers enjoyed a brilliant Wednesday morning wandering around the gorgeous gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park (QEP) in downtown Vancouver.  In addition to the array of beautiful flowers in full bloom, hi-lites included a Chipping Sparrow and the “opposite tree climbers” Red-breasted Nuthatch and Brown Creeper.  Check out the many super shots by Liz, Jonathan, Marion, Glen and Ken on the DNCB Picasa link.

After being entertained by the renowned Newfoundland Puffin/Iceberg expert, visiting Aussie nephew Craig, eight of us left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. car-pooling nicely in two vehicles (Glen took PB Lorna, Jane and young, keen-eyed Newbie Julian; Hans drove Kay, Sheila and me).  Using the HOV lane, the ride through the busy, rush-hour tunnel into town was smooth and easy; we saw a Coyote in a Ladner farm field.

We arrived at the QEP Tennis Court parking lot at 8:15 a.m. where Marion, Liz, Jonathan, North Van Biker Paula, Jean, Ken & Anne were waiting and already photographing the blooming flowers (roses, begonias, etc.) with bees and other insects buzzing around them.  Following intro’s, we started our walk at the hummingbird feeder at the Golf Course office.  An Anna’s Hummingbird showed up on cue.  In the trees small flocks of Bushtits flitted about.

We circled the Park, passed the restaurant and Bloedel Conservatory, searching in vain for Western Tanagers.  No worries, the colours and panoramic views of the city and mountains were stunning.  Some sightings included: Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hutton’s Vireo, White-crowned Sparrow and the regular “commons” (Spotted Towhees, Rock Doves, etc.).  We stopped at a neat bridge below the restaurant where Ken took one of the obligatory Group Photos.


DNCB at Q.E. Gardens (minus Otto)

We passed the Woodpecker and Owl trees from our last visit to QE Park, but the unreliable birds weren’t there.  We did see a Red-breasted Nuthatch going down a trunk, then later saw a couple of Brown Creepers going up a trunk.  Interesting comparison, with both sightings up-close-and-personal, the way we Casual Birders like it.

When we got to the middle of the Park below the Conservatory, astute-eyed Anne Avery identified a Chipping Sparrow singing loudly and in full view on top of a Christmas Tree (I wish I was better at plant and tree ID).  We don’t see many of this Sparrow species.  Just then the loquacious, time-challenged Otto arrived.  So we had to take another Group Photo.  Several Eight-spotted Dragonflies and Swallowtail Butterflies were splendid entertainment filling the lack-of-birds void.  Lots of other people in the Park provided fascinating diversions too, such as Ned and his building/construction theories, the Indonesian family with their “selfie” Camera, and the regular Tai Chi performers.

Tom & friends with "selfie"-taker (KB)

Tom & friends with “selfie”-taker (KB)

We meandered back down the trail to the bottom pond where Red-eared Slider Turtles were mingling with families of Mallards and one Gadwall.  On the walk back up the hill, a male Northern Flicker was feeding on ants in the grass, oblivious to us standing and staring close-by.

Back at the parking lot around 11:30 a.m., Otto shared his earlier photos of Western Tanagers and other sightings while we munched on PB Lorna’s PB & Banana sandwich, Jane’s nuts, Kay’s cookies and someone else’s (I forget) delicious blueberry wafers.  I did not open the voluble Otto’s much appreciated gift of Red Tail Ale.  On departure, a Cooper’s Hawk gave a fly-past.  The ride home was eerily similar but with reverse roles: I snoozed to the drivel of Kay, Sheila and our chauffeur Hans.  Nonetheless, it was another delightful DNCB morning.

Next Wednesday, July 2, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. on an outing to Campbell Valley Park.  We expect to meet at the 8th Avenue entrance parking lot at 8:15 a.m.  As always, comments encouraged, and let me know if you want off my list to receive these weekly musings.  Happy Canada Day.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society (1:15 a.m. Sat. morning; going to bed before Car Boot Sale at 7:30 a.m.)

Saturday, June 28:  End-of-season Delta Naturalists’ Garden Party/Potluck dinner will be held in Jennifer and Pam Melville-Roberts’ beautiful garden!  You’re welcome any time after 4:30 pm; bring food dish, a chair, plate, cutlery and a glass.   And a small present, in a plain brown paper bag, under $10, for “Dutch Auction”.   See DNS Newsletter page 5 for full details.  Excellent weather predicted!

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Filed under *DNCB, Chipping Sparrow, Queen Elizabeth Park

DNCB Outing No. 2014-24 to Minnekhada Regional Park, Coquitlam

Photos to be added soon!

Fourteen DNCBers enjoyed a brilliant hike/outing in Minnekhada Regional Park on Wednesday.  Hi-lite sightings included Bears, several Woodpecker and Flycatcher species and a not-too-strenuous walk in a beautiful mountainous park.  Check out the photo evidence on our  DNCB Picasa link.

Two vehicles car-pooled eight of us from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m.  Newbie Deborah and Johnny Mac went with Rob & Marylile, PB Lorna, Hans & I went with Roger.  We took the SFPR and then another of Roger’s convoluted short-cuts over the Pattulo Bridge and all over New Westminster, arriving at the Park around 8:45 a.m.   Traffic Cop Annie K directed us from Oliver Road to the Quarry parking lot because the Lodge entrance was closed for a private event.  A pair of Mourning Doves was on the road, and then a Mother Black Bear and her two Cubs were foraging in the bushes beside the parking lot as we arrived.  We met Marion & Marta, another Newbie Nancy, garrulous Otto, and Greg there.  Greg had earlier seen 3 other Bears as well as a Deer; of course, mathematically-challenged Otto said he saw five bears.

Following intros and washroom break, we started our walk along the Lodge Trail to the Quarry Trail.  It was a bit overcast but very comfortable and the birds were singing all around us.  Four Band-tailed Pigeons were roosting above us as Black-headed Grosbeaks and Wilson’s Warblers sung beautifully.  We heard Pacific Slope and Willow Flycatchers and the less common Olive-sided Flycatcher, which we eventually saw.  One of a few Pileated Woodpeckers flew into the “buffet of stumps” for our viewing pleasure.  We saw Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers too, but the most entertaining sighting was a pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers bringing food to young in a hole in one of the stumps (on Fern Trail).

Approaching the Lower Marsh, Common Yellowthroats were, what else but common.  Tree and Barn Swallows were hawking insects above the algae-covered pond; some saw Violet-green Swallows too.  We started the climb up Quarry Trail and got good looks at a Swainson’s Thrush, another lovely singer.  Of course Robins and Spotted Towhees added to the symphony, as did the cawing Ravens.  We all made it over this hill to the Log Trail and then to the isthmus between the two ponds.  Here, with the usual cajoling ritual, Roger took the obligatory Group Photo.

We continued on to the Mid Marsh Trail, avoiding the Bear and Goose scat, which were both rampant on the path.  Chivalrous Greg occasionally assisted some of us on another fairly onerous climb up to Low Knoll Lookout.  Dark-eyed Junco families accompanied us on the climb.  At the Lookout, Marion’s nutty mixture and PB Lorna’s egg sandwiches were a real treat as we relaxed and took more photos of the impressive vista over the pond below.  We couldn’t find the singing Yellow Warbler or the Pine Siskins, but did see the “yank yank” Red-breasted Nuthatch.  The Western Tanagers were not here either, but some saw them later along the Fern Trail toward the Lodge.  There were lots of gorgeous Wildflowers around too; check out Marion’s photos.

We stopped at the Lookout near the Lodge where a flock of Cedar Waxwings was feeding on seeds/berries along the edge of the Lower Marsh pond.  Then we proceeded around the Lower Marsh across a couple of bridges.  A huge invasive Bull Frog watched as we passed.  We saw young families of Mallards and Canada Geese, but no other duck species.  Lots of runners passed us, some noisily with bells on.  We got back to the vehicles around 1:00 p.m. and shared thoughts on the slightly arduous nature of the outing, but still very enjoyable.  Some of us had Grand-parenting duties, so we went straight home rather than lunch in a nearby Pub.  It was déjà vu all over again as Roger meandered for an hour on the 30 minute drive to Ladner as Hans snored peacefully in the back seat.

Next Wednesday, June 25, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. on an outing to Queen Elizabeth Park.  We will park above the tennis courts (click link to see map); hopefully by 8:15 a.m.   Check out the DNCB website for the list of future destinations this Summer.  As always, your comments are encouraged and please let me know if you want off the list to receive these weekly missives.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Band-tailed Pigeon, Black Bear, Minnekhada Park, Red-breasted Sapsucker

Fathers Day Pancake Breakfast at Centennial Beach BBRP

The Boundary Bay Park Association (BBPA) held its 14th Annual Fathers Day Pancake Breakfast at Centennial Beach on Sunday, June 15.  Delta Nats had lots of representation on hand along with BBPA members, several being members of both organizations.  We were: Jim Kneesch, Joyce Manary, Elizabeth Perrin, Geof & Jean Hacker, Don & Rochelle Farquhar, Roberta Brewer, and Metro Vancouver Parks staff Jennifer, Paul, Richard & Yan, plus Sandra and me.  The Tsawwassen/Boundary Bay Lions Club said they served almost 400 breakfasts, so there was a good turnout, albeit fewer than last year.  It was an overcast morning but quite pleasant as the rain held off until the afternoon.

Our Nats Display was awesome, as always, with 4 tables of educational, informative, and hands-on stuff, including one table where Kids could do crayon activities.  We set up next to MVP Interpreter Paul and his Display. Check out Jim and Rochelle’s photos on our Picasa site or the BBPA site.  The Band, Kindred Spirits, played again this year and were very well received.  We used the new BBRP facilities (i.e. picnic shelter) and it worked out well.  Next year will be better when we have both picnic shelters and the construction fence around the Park is gone.

Jennifer, Elizabeth, Don & Rochelle spent a lot of the morning educating people on what garbage goes into the different new specially-marked Bins.   It is quite complicated as to what is recyclable, what is compostable and what is garbage.  MVP may consider creating and offering a Course.  It was a very successful event again this year and a very enjoyable morning.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, BBPA Director and President, Delta Naturalists’ Society    

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Filed under *BBPA, *DNCB, BBRP, Centennial Beach, Father's Day