DNCB Outing No. 2014-46 to Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty, & Brunswick Point from Deltaport Way

14 DNCB at Brunswick Point (missing Nance & Liz)

14 DNCB at Brunswick Point (missing Nance & Liz) (click on photo by RM to see large version)

Photos by Roger Meyer (RM), Terry Carr (TC), Liz Stewart (LS), Jim Kneesch (JK) and Marion Shikaze (MS) (maybe Glen Bodie (GB) soon?) at DNCB Picasa site

Sixteen eager birders bundled up for the chilly morning and set out to find birds along the Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty and the Delta Port end of the Brunswick Point dyke trail.  Mike, Roger, Terry, Jim, Rob, Marylile and I (Jean) left Petra’s about 8 am and met up with Vim, Glen, Marion, Marty, Kirsten, Al, Nance, Liz and Gerhard who were already birding at the ferry jetty.

On the south side of the jetty could be seen Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and more American Wigeons, with the occasional Eurasian Wigeon.  Surf Scoter, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, Common Loon and a female Harlequin Duck, though less in numbers, were just as interesting.

A number of Black Oystercatchers could be observed among the rocks, and a small flock of Brant Geese were seen swimming far off shore.

In addition, several Great Blue Heron and a Harbour Seal were observed searching for fish.  A pair of Bald Eagles watched us from their perches atop several light standards.

A quick stop at Kingfisher bridge revealed a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet, several Spotted Towhee and some Green-winged Teal.  A few Golden-crowned Sparrows and Song Sparrows were also seen as they flew from one bush to another.

After some discussion concerning just how to find the best parking area near the Brunswick Point dyke, we all managed to arrive at our destination at approximately the same time.  It proved to be an excellent site for shorebirds as well as ducks.  In fact, several in the group agreed it would be a great place to find fall migrating shorebirds next September.

The offshore ducks included Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail and American Wigeon, while the shorebirds were mainly Dunlin interspersed with a smaller number of Black-bellied Plover.

Northern Flickers, House Finches, Spotted Towhees, European Starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds made up the songbirds that were found, with the most noteworthy being the observation of a Lincoln’s Sparrow.  Other sparrows, such as Song, Savannah and Golden-crowned were seen as they flew about in the shrubbery.

Trumpeter Swans (TC)

Trumpeter Swans (TC)

Two magnificent Trumpeter Swans flew over the nearby farm fields as we walked along the trail.

It proved to be an especially good day for raptors since we managed to see Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, a number of Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers and an American Kestrel that hovered beautifully over the fields.  And finally, just as one part of the group was arriving back into Tsawwassen, a Cooper’s Hawk was spotted calmly sitting on a wire above the road.

Another enjoyable day out birding with friends!

Report by Jean Gartner

Next week, Wednesday November 26, we will go to Blaine, Washington; leaving Petra’s at 8 am.  Meet at the Peace Arch parking lot off Beach Road at 8:30 (last exit before the duty free).  And shortly after that on Marine Drive in Blaine just across the railway tracks.  We will go to Drayton Harbor, Semiahmoo Spit and Birch Bay.  Lunch at a Birch Bay Restaurant.  Bring passports.  Do not bring fruit, vegetables or meat.

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Filed under *DNCB, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Black-bellied Plover, Brunswick Point, Cooper's Hawk, DeltaPort Causeway, Eurasian Wigeon, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Tsawwassen Ferry Port

DNCB Outing No. 2014-45 to Stanley Park and Ambleside Park, West Vancouver

DNCB at Stanley Park (RM)

DNCB at Stanley Park (minus Bryan & Janet) (photo by Roger) (click on photo to see large version)

More photos by Roger Meyer (RM), Marion Shikaze (MS) & Terry Carr (TC) at DNCB Picasa site

Such a glorious morning to be arriving at Second Beach to spend a morning with the birds.  Quiet waters, clear skies and glorious sunshine and rafts of birds just offshore seemed to make the long drive through morning traffic worthwhile.  Sixteen of us met about 9 am and were immediately drawn to the quiet waters of English Bay.  Those hearty 16 souls braving the minus 2 degree temperatures included Roger, Terry, Marion, Marty, Marylile, Rob, Janet, Bryan, Kirsten, Ray, Paula, Glen, Mike, Hans, Nance and Donna.

Immediately we started scanning the rafts of birds to determine who was present.  We saw both Common and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Surf Scoters, Scaup, American Wigeons, 3 Western Grebes, a pair of Harlequin Ducks, and a few Double-crested Cormorants drying their wings on rocks at the edge of the water as a seal drifted past them.

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We walked north along the sea wall to scan more rafts of birds that consisted of the same variety.

On the return to our starting place, Bryan and Janet were captivated by a small flock of Pine Siskins on the rocks along the shore.  We then proceeded to walk along the creek to Lost Lagoon, spotting more Pine Siskins along the way.  Also noted were Bush Tits, Fox Sparrow, Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, a pair of Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks.

While standing on the bridge in our approach to Lost Lagoon, we had fun determining beavers from river otters.  In the end it was determined there were 4 River Otters and 2 Beavers sharing the area.  Two of the otters exited the waters and ambled along a fallen tree before re-entering the water to the delight of the photographers, and the rest of us, of course.

An even more captivating sight was the spotting of an Eagle standing on a fallen log in the middle of Lost Lagoon, plucking the feathers from his catch (lots of speculation what the ‘catch’ was).  Trailing out from the Eagle was a long, thin, straight line of white feathers which were quite striking against the dark waters of the lagoon.  As the Eagle continued to toss the feathers, large and small, from the end of its beak, the trail grew in length, and in the end stretched right across the lagoon.

Once the Eagle got to the meatier parts of his catch, the crow that had been standing nearby seemed to lose interest, and flew away.  While all this was occurring, a Brown Creeper was spotted attacking one of the tall trees.  A Heron was also spotted.

We continued around the North side of the lagoon and, before reaching the East side of the lagoon, took one of the paths into the woods, heading to Beaver Lake.  In the woods, Nance was sure she spotted a couple of Sapsuckers flying off into the trees, and a Raven was seen and heard.  Coming to a major crossroad, and being surrounded by tall trees, Glen consulted his trusty ‘gadget’ and determined the direction to Beaver Lake – no doubt saving us many steps.  Beaver Lake should be renamed Mallard Lake as what water remained in the lake seemed to be fully occupied by Mallards.

Returning from Beaver Lake to the East end of Lost Lagoon, the party split with some returning the way we came, to the cars.  The time was now about 12:30.  A few determined to finish the loop and, according to Roger, saw “several Common Mergansers on the Lagoon, a Thayer’s Gull, several baby Raccoons including two babies in a tree, and not much else”.

Roger, Terry, Mike and Hans (I think) then traveled to Ambleside Park, where they failed to find the Palm Warbler but ran into Brian Self with his own group of birders.

Afterwards they went to a pub for a late lunch (2:30) and a fairly quiet ride home.

Donna also continued on to Ambleside and met up with a friend, and after eating our lunches on the beach, we walked along the seawall towards the lagoon where Roger and his carload had gone.  We walked around the lagoon, also did not see the Palm Warbler but on walking along near the mouth of the Capilano River, I spotted an American Dipper on a rock right close to the water’s edge – a spectacular ending to a spectacular day’s birding!

Oh yes, and several Delta Nats were overheard praising the speakers at the Monday night Delta Naturalists meeting and thought Ursula deserved recognition for chairing the meeting in such an efficient manner, Kudos Ursula!  I’m sure Tom will be pleased to hear that!

My!  This is long!  Ah, well, read what you like… if any…

by Donna Thomson

Next week, Wednesday November 19, we will leave Petra’s at 8 am for Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty and Dyke from Deltaport Way.  Meet at the parking area on the north side of the ferry jetty at 8:15.

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Filed under *DNCB, Ambleside Park, Bald Eagle, Beaver, Beaver Lake, Harlequin Duck, Lost Lagoon, raccoon, River Otter, Second Beach, Stanley Park

BBRP Fall Nest Box Review

Photos by Terry Carr
Click on any photo to see large version
More photos on the DNCB Picasa site (Oct. 21 and Nov. 7).

On October 21, Roger and Terry opened 18 of our 31 nest boxes in Boundary Bay Regional Park.  On November 7, Roger, Mike and Terry opened the rest.  These nest boxes are for Tree Swallows and Chickadees.

Roger & Mike battling blackberries

Roger & Mike battling blackberries

The boxes were more successful this year because fewer had baffles to keep non-native House Sparrows out.  We thought they may be keeping Tree Swallows out as well.

Box 30, near Cammidge House, had a double nest – Chickadee on the bottom (with unhatched eggs and a dead chick) and House Sparrow on top.

Double nest - Chickadee bottom, Sparrow top

Double nest – Chickadee bottom, Sparrow top

Nests separated (Chickadee & Sparrow)

Nests separated (Chickadee & Sparrow)

Chickadee nests are made mostly of moss.  House Sparrow nests are very large, with lots of grass and some feathers.  Tree Swallow nests are thinner, with grass and feathers.

Box 13 was not found, and may be on the ground.  One box had a small rat nesting in it and we decided to let it stay for the winter.

Besides the double nest, there were 4 Tree Swallow nests and 11 House Sparrow nests.  13 boxes were empty.

In 2012, 15 boxes were occupied – 2 Swallow, 9 Sparrow, 2 Chickadee & 2 double (Swallow/Sparrow)

In 2013, 6 boxes were occupied – 2 Swallow, 3 Sparrow, 1 Chickadee & 25 empty

In 2014, 16 boxes were occupied – 4 Swallow, 11 Sparrow, 1 double Chickadee/Sparrow, 13 empty & 2 unknown
Terry Carr

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Filed under *DNCB, BBRP, Nestbox Reports

DNCB Outing No. 2014-44 to Point Roberts, WA

Beach Birders (RM)

Beach Birders (photo by Roger Meyer)

Photo albums by Terry Carr (TC), Jim Kneesch (JK), Liz Stewart (LS) and Ken Borrie (KB) are posted at DNCB Picasa site – some of these photos have been added to this Report

On Wednesday, November 5, twelve birders braved threatening skies to depart Petra’s at 8:15.  Bound for Point Roberts were Roger, Terry, Mike, Lorna, Al, Alice, Jim, Rob and Marylile, to meet Ken, Anne A. and Liz already waiting at Lighthouse Marine Park.

No border lineup, so the Petra’s crew added a quick trip to the beach at Kiniskis.  Roger reported a likely Sharp-shinned Hawk at a side road near our turnoff.  On to the beach, where a majestic looking Bald Eagle patiently posed, with many Double-crested Cormorants lined to the west.  Largest of the latter revealed itself as a (?) Halloween prank with dramatic outstretched wings.

We also saw Pelagic Cormorants and Horned Grebes.

Then to Lighthouse Marine Park, a bit windy but still dry.  Before the “rock pile” group photo by Roger, we enjoyed plentiful sightings of water birds… Red-necked and Horned Grebes, Common Loons, Red-breasted Mergansers, Harlequins, Surf Scoters, Common Murres (far away), Black Turnstones, Scaup and Buffleheads in flight.

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Roger left us early for a luncheon date.

About 9:45, we drove off to another beach spot down an “alley” between 2 waterfront homes.  We passed a GBH guarding a rooftop.

and approached a busy group of House Finches.

Walking east on the beach, we saw more Harlequins, Black Oystercatchers, Yellowlegs, Killdeer and a Song Sparrow.

Back in cars, to travel eastward past the Point Roberts Marina, where we parked just off the road near Oceanside Estate condos.  The first bird encountered was thought to be a Flicker, but closer inspection of photos revealed a Western Meadowlark.  Soon after a Northern Shrike provided great photo ops.

The wind increased as we walked further to see more Black Oystercatchers and Harlequins.

Back to the cars for the drive to Maple Beach, immediately south of the border.  Very windy by now, providing action shots of a colourful kiteboarder with green and white aloft.TC_IMG_4172  Rob set off north to walk to the border, noting the flood protection when he returned.  The rest of us shivered and viewed many Surf Scoters and distant White-winged Scoters.

Thence on for drive to Brewsters for welcome warm soup, etc.  Al pronounced birds of the day as Mark the (Meadow)Lark and Shrek the Shrike.  Lunch was delicious and graciously served; some snapped up bottles of wine on sale for $4.00.  Alas Tom, no brews in that category.

Our next outing is Wednesday, Nov. 12, to Stanley Park, including Beaver Lake and possibly Ambleside Park in West Vancouver; maybe lunch afterwards.  We leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m., parking above Second Beach by 9:00 am (see GOOGLE map).

At next Delta Nats meeting, on Monday, November 10, Guest Speakers David Bradbeer & Gary Searing will speak about Managing Raptors and Wildlife at YVR airport (details on DNS Meetings page).

TB_Melbourne Cup with Bill Smart Nov. 4, 2014 005

Tom’s tipster for Melbourne Cup winner, the Ring-necked Parrot

Report by Marylile Martin
(subbing for Tom-in-Oz)

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Filed under *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Common Murre, Harlequin Duck, Northern Shrike, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Western Meadowlark

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

More photos by Glen Bodie (GB), Bryan King (BK), Liz Stewart (LS), Roger Meyer (RM), Terry Carr (TC) & Ken Borrie (KB) at DNCB Picasa.

Al relates history of Blackie Spit (KB)

Al relates history of Blackie Spit (KB)

At about 8:30, eighteen enthusiastic bird aficionados assembled at Blackie Spit Park, which is named after – as someone in the back of the pack correctly pointed out – a chap named Blackie.  Walter Blackie, who was – wait for it – New Westminster’s first Blacksmith, acquired 150 acres at Crescent Beach in 1871 for 50 dollars.  Dykes were built and some farming was done, but the area was later purchased by the government and used as a dumping ground for sand and silt dredged from the Nicomekl River to deepen the channel to the bay.  Because the habitat for up to 90 varieties of plants and more than 190 species of birds was being destroyed, the WRS Naturalists and local residents lobbied to have the area dedicated as a park.  Success came in 1996 as the result of a Surrey-wide referendum.

A bit of wind was coming off the high tide, as the group made up of regulars Glen, Hans, Gerhard, Bryan and Janet, Nance, Roger, Liz, Ken and Anne, Lorna, Terry, Donna, Jean, White Rock Pauline and Al together with some-timers Patrick and Jim marched through the entrance onto the Spit.  A throng of Ring-billed Gulls were waiting there for a handout from a little old person, and several huge flocks of Dunlins entertained by taking off, flying in formation and landing again on tiny islands of grass in close proximity to the path.

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Someone claimed to have recognized a few Sanderlings in the drove.

Almost immediately the target birds – los tres amigos – the Long-billed Curlew with his Godwit buddies, were spotted resting in the vegetation among squadrons of Pintails and Wigeons (including several Eurasians) and a number of Herons and Greater Yellowlegs.  The threesome have been winter residents there for years.

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Further out from the shore, Common Loons and a couple of Horned Grebes could be seen.  The obligatory group photo was taken by Roger at that spot before everyone headed off to the end of the Spit where attention was focused on a speeding RCMP vessel flying both national flags.

RCMP boat (KB)

RCMP boat (KB)

When the group wandered on past the mound of dredged material into the Environmentally Sensitive Area, the wind had decreased and the sun was peeking out.  The ESA is named in honour of Rene Savenye, a Surrey high school science teacher, who devoted many hours to the removal of invasive plants and the restoration of the natural habitat.KB_DSC5618  A number of Double-crested Cormorants were sitting on the wooden pilings where the Purple Martin boxes are located.  The structures are the last remnants of an oyster harvesting and processing plant located near and over the water from 1904 to 1957.

Just when latecomer Mike showed up, los amigos were visible again, this time on the other side of the inlet, but there were now cuatros.  Excellent shots of the three, and then the four at rest and in flight, as well as of the Dunlins in tight formations were taken by the six photogs; one by Terry seems to depict a double-decker Godwit aloft.

Marbled Godwits (TC)

“double-decker Godwit” (TC)

While Bryan and Janet decided to follow Ken and Anne via the pump house area to the Dunsmuir Gardens, the majority headed for White Rock Pier in search of Willie the Willet.  He was located in an unusual spot, on the rocks at the southeast end of the breakwater in the company of two Harlequin Duckesses.

Other birds seen and photographed on the long walk to the end of the Pier were Surf Scoters, Scaups

and three species of Grebes – Red-necked, Horned and a number of Western.  Most of them were close to the Pier and readily observable.

A single, “de-flocked” Dunlin was seen running about almost underfoot of several people.  It did fly off eventually and thus, did not appear to be injured.

All in all, in spite of missing its great leader, the group enjoyed a great day with fine fall weather, good sightings and wonderful photos taken.

Report by Al Schulze

Next Wednesday, Nov. 5, will be at Point Roberts, WA.  Leaving Petra’s at 8 am, arrive Lighthouse Marine Park 8:15 am.  Don’t forget your passports!

Also, DNS meeting on Monday, November 10th – speakers David Bradbeer & Gary Searing, Wildlife Management Specialists at YVR, topic Managing Raptors and Wildlife at YVR airport.

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

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