DNCB Outing No. 2017-06 to Ferry Terminal, TFN, Reifel Bird Sanctuary & Alaksen NWA

photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Check out photos on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-06 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Our trip today is the one we cancelled last week due to the snow and ice on the roads.  Today, the weather has cooperated with  a slightly overcast sky but much warmer temperature.  A small group, Terry, Mike,  Gerhard, Val and myself, Roger (filling in for our absentee leader, Tom who is off in the wilds of Ontario) met at Petra’s and left at 7:40 for the ferry terminal.

We stopped at the usual pullout where we  were met there by Brian, Pat and Maureen our total up to 8.  We had a quick scan, but there were very few birds on the water on the north side… a few Horned Grebes and a Common Loon.  In the distance between the two ports, a small raft of White-winged Scoters were barely visible.  The same was true on the south side where we had dodged cars to get a look.

Brian suggested looking for the Whimbrel which has been reported as usually being seen near the condos at the foot of the jetty so we headed to the terminal, made the turn, and stopped at the first viewing area in the “no stopping” zone where the cars are unloaded from the ferries.  On parking, right in front of us on the rocks was a pair of Black Oystercatchers and the Whimbrel!  Talk about luck!  Nothing much was on the water there except a few more Horned Grebes, a Common Goldeneye, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and some Surf Scoters.

Our trip through the TFN lands provided nothing except a few Bald Eagles, but at the end of the road where it meets the overpass we stopped at the recently formed ponds where we had a number of duck species including Gadwall, Ring-necked, Shovellers, Mallards, American and Eurasian Wigeon, Buffleheads, and a male Northern Harrier cruising overhead.  We’ll have to pay greater attention to this new gem in the future.

The remainder of the roads to the river offered only a few ducks in the farm fields, mainly Mallards and Wigeon and a few Red-tailed Hawks.  We had hoped to see a Northern Rough-legged Hawk as there are a few in that area but none to be seen today.  On the usual stop on the dyke we saw a number of Red-breasted Mergansers, Trumpeter Swans towards the mouth of the river and a few Double-crested Cormorants.  Somewhere on the way we seemed to have picked up Marion bringing us up to 9!

The parking lot at Reifel was busy as there was another group getting ready with their equipment.  Marion recognized them as photographers taking a course with two well known experts.  I didn’t get all the details, but they were getting prepared to lie on the ground with their yoga mats (I’m sure Marion can provide you with more detailed information).  We were joined  by Glen, Margaretha, Roy and Solveig bringing us up to that magic number 13!  Once on to the trail we were joined, at some point, by David for our final total of 14.

We started off by spending some time looking for the White-throated Sparrow that has been there for some time now… but not today!  I have included, though, a photo taken a few days ago showing the bird that we would have seen.  The regulars were at the usual spots: three Black-crowned Night Herons, eight Sandhill Cranes, etc.  On the slough there were Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Shovellers, Hooded Mergansers, etc.  Again, the usual suspects were on the north trail but not wanting to be hand-fed… overfed already, or getting getting wary the way they do when they are mating?  At one point someone (modesty prevents me from naming him) noticed a Sora running across the trail and into the undergrowth where several of us had obstructed looks at it as it moved through the tangled vegetation.  Terry managed a photo and it was determined to be a Virginia Rail.  Now, embarrassment prevents me from naming the person who had identified it as a Sora!  At the junction of the north and west trail, Brian was able to locate a Saw-whet Owl fairly high up, and quite open, and in a tree where we often find a Barred Owl!  From the blind at the north end of the west trail Gerhard located three Hooded Mergansers on the water.

We decided to take the group photo on the viewing tower.  So we organized on the second tier, oblivious to the fact that Tak (well-known bird photographer) was now trapped in the middle of our group and just managed to escape before I took the photo.  Tak was looking for the Swamp Sparrow which requires a lot of patience and quiet and wasn’t too happy about being mobbed so he, and his wife, moved off down the outer dyke to look there… ten minutes later he was swarmed again as we left!

The outer ponds had lots of ducks, mainly Northern Shovellers, and Mallards with a few Green-winged Teal.  Lots of Trumpeter Swans could be seen on the foreshore and a few Northern Harriers searching the marsh.  One tree along the way held a family of Northern Flickers.  In the brush on the inside of the dyke, Brian sighted a Marsh Wren, his second wren of the day, the first being a Pacific Wren along the north trail.  The ponds by the small viewing platform had an enormous number, and variety of ducks, from Mallards,
to Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked, Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, etc.  On the way out we paused to look for the White-throated Sparrow again with no luck.  A Peregrine Falcon made a quick fly-by over the slough and we were finished with Reifel.

Being only 11:30, we decided to have a quick look in Alaksen for the Barred Owls.  No owls, but we did find lots of pellets, one of which we opened to find a vole skeleton inside.  The canal south of the Alaksen road contained a very large number Common Mergansers!  A short, but important discussion, was then taken to decide where to go for lunch, Speeds being the winner!  Ten of us had a pleasant meal accompanied with a beer that Tom had recommended on a previous visit, all-in-all a very pleasant morning.

Tues. 21 February we will go to Blaine/Semiamoo, leaving Petra’s at 7:30 and carpooling from the border park behind the duty free at 8:00.

Roger Meyer

Posted in *DNCB, Alaksen NWA, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Hooded Merganser, Northern Harrier, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Reifel, Ring-necked Duck, Sandhill Crane, TFN, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Virginia Rail, Whimbrel | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-05 to Beach Grove Park and Pt. Roberts, WA

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DNCB at Point Roberts – photo by Tony Mitra click on photo for large version

Photos by Brian Avent (BA), Terry Carr (TC), Tony Mitra (TM), Roger Meyer (RM), Jim Kneesch (JK), Pat Smart (PS), Glen Bodie (GB), David Hoar (DH)
more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Twenty-one DNCBers (list of participants at end) enjoyed a brilliant sunny Tuesday morning checking out the Great Horned Owl (GHO) nest at Beach Grove Park, then wandering around several spots in Point Roberts, USA.  Check out some spectacular photos on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-05 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Leaving Petra’s at 7:30 am, we (11) had a convoy of vehicles (poor car-pooling) to Beach Grove Park.  As we wandered into the Park next to the elementary school, lots of little Juncos, Towhees and Robins were in the trees, but no Owls.  Roger led us down the path to where the GHO pair were nesting, closer to the farmer’s field deeper in the park than where they have nested in past years.  As our photogs took shots of the nest, Roger proclaimed that he had never seen the male GHO.  I went a bit further down the trail, and looked back at the nest.  The male Owl was perched about 3 feet above where Roger was standing when he made his Proclamation.  You will see on our Flickr site beaut shots of the nest-guarding future Dad Great Horned Owl.

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We left Beach Grove Park, and smooth sailing through the Border, we got to Lighthouse Marine Park around 8:45 am.  Lots of folk met us there, and the water was high and very wavy in the Strait of Georgia.  We saw a few bobbing birds in the waves including Common Loons, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup and Horned Grebes.

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Close to us on shore were some Black Turnstones.

We walked toward the non-existent “lighthouse” as a small flock of Sanderlings flitted along the shore.  We gathered among the piles of driftwood and Roger and the ILB took the Group Photo as we faced the rising sun and the Strait behind us.  At the lighthouse, we scoped a lot of neat birds including Long-tailed Ducks, Surf and White-winged Scoters,

gorgeous Harlequin Ducks and Sanderling on shore.

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Mew Gulls and both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants flew by and Roger, of course, spotted a Common Murre in the distance.  I’m sure there were Auklets and Guillemots there too but we couldn’t see any well enough to identify them.  Seeing fins of Harbour Porpoises going by was a bit exciting, but no Sea Lions seen today, only Harbour Seals.

As we walked further along and then onto the bush trail, Glen (when not sun-bathing) and Jim got shots of the resident Killdeer.

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Anna’s Hummingbird (DH)

The Park was quieter than normal with few little birds around, but we did see Anna’s Hummingbirds,

 

Song, Fox & Golden-crowned Sparrows, Northern Flicker, etc.  Two Red-tailed Hawks circling above us enchanted Mike.

Leaving the Park we stopped at the pond along Marine Drive.  Several Hooded Mergansers here along with American Wigeon, Mallards and a couple of Green-winged Teal.

Next stop was the Marina where several of aforementioned duck and grebe species were seen a bit closer.  A posing Black Oystercatcher pleased the photogs.  On the Strait side, Roger, of course, sighted a Red-necked Grebe, while the rest of us only saw the Scoters and Scaup.  Lots of Eagles around, as everyone knows now from the CBC News story on Delta’s Eagles.

We drove up to Lily Point Park and went to the Lookout.  We “scoped the Scaup and Scoters” (neat alliteration) below, but mainly just enjoyed the spectacular panoramic views across the Bay to White Rock, the snow covered mountains including Mt. Baker, and the San Juan and Gulf Islands, brilliantly showcased by the sun and clear sky.  Still only 11:00 am we decided to drive to Maple Beach on the east side of the Point near the border.  On the beach were Black Oystercatchers, Sanderling and Black Turnstones, all up-close-and-personal.

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In the Bay was an amazingly huge raft of Scoters stretching across the Bay; estimated 6,000 birds.  Another raft of a few hundred Scaup too, and a couple of flocks (about 20 birds each) of Brant Geese flew by too.

The excitement was just too much for us, and it was approaching Noon, so we decided to leave the Point and have lunch at the Rose & Crown Pub in Tsawwassen (no restaurants open in Pt. Roberts anymore; probably because of Border hassles).  Leila looked after the eight of us very well and my Beef on a Bun with Fruit Cup (on a health kick) was delicious, and cheap, along with a pint of Canadian of course.  I got home before 2:00 pm, in time to take Sandra to La La Land; a very entertaining flick.  Another awesome DNCB outing.

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photo by Roger Meyer – click on photo to see large version

We 21 were: Roger M, Terry C, my chauffeur David H w/o Noreen (Costa Rica bound), Jim K, infrequent newbie Angelika H, North Delta Liz S, ILB Tony M, Mike B, Debbie H and daughter Kathryn (have fun in Perth), Margaretha S, returnee Lidia J,  Richmond Brian A, Glen B, Denise (Uma) K, Rob M and Marylile M, Pat S w/o Maureen, Marion S, newbie Nature Trust Sammy and me.

Next Tuesday, February 7, Outing 2017-06  CANCELLED for safety reasons.

Tuesday, February 14 Roger will meet at Petra’s at 7:30 am and lead the outing to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and then Reifel Bird Sanctuary (White-throated Sparrow?).  I  will be in Ontario for my 58th annual February Weakend to Paint Lake (near Dorset) with a dozen childhood Niagara Falls friends.

Don’t forget our monthly Delta Nats meeting on Tuesday evening (7th) with Peter Ward giving a Presentation on his Adventures in Oman last Fall.

As always, your comments are welcome, keep checking our website for more info, reports and photos, and don’t hesitate to let me know if these long-winded epistles annoy you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom (written on a snowy Friday morning in Delta; what an unusual Winter here!)

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Beach Grove, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Common Murre, Great Horned Owl, Harbour Porpoise, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Lighthouse Marine Park, Lily Point Park, Long-tailed Duck, Mew Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Point Roberts, Red-necked Grebe, Sanderling | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-04 to Stanley Park

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DNCB at Stanley Park (photo by Roger Meyer) – click on photo to see large version

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Twenty DNCBers enjoyed a very pleasant Tuesday morning wandering around Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver.  Lots of neat photo evidence on our Flickr site:  go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-04 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Eleven of us car-pooled brilliantly from Petra’s at 7:30 am in three vehicles.  Participant List is at end of report.  The HOV lane through the tunnel was fine, but traffic from Oak Street Bridge to the park was horrendous.  We arrived at the swimming pool parking lot close to 9:00 am (30 minutes late), and the masses were waiting and chomping at the bit. We gathered down at the breakwall overlooking English Bay and the big ships.  The tide was high and the water uncharacteristically calm, and flat as a pancake.  Roger took the obligatory Group Photo of the 18 of us (w/o time-challenged Fisherman Roy and “washroom” Mikie B).

The Bay had some gorgeous waterfowl in brilliant breeding plumage.  Mostly Barrow’s Goldeneye here, but a few Commons too.  David H got a nice shot of pairs of both species in one frame.  Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoters, Bufflehead, Horned Grebe, both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants around too, and a couple of Black Oystercatchers gave a fly by.  We lingered here awhile, enjoying the views and the sun trying to peak through the clouds, then began our walk toward Lost Lagoon.

The Park streams were overflowing too and lots of the common regulars around: Canada Geese, Mallards, American Wigeon and some American Coots.  A pair of gorgeous Wood Ducks was lurking in the bushes near the Lagoon.  Several trees were down and noticeably chewed by Beavers very recently, although we didn’t see any Beavers, Otters or even Racoons this day.  We commented on how few little birds were around other than Towhees, Song and Fox Sparrows and the occasional Anna’s Hummingbird.  Then a flock of about 200 Pine Siskins landed in the trees above us munching on the small cones (Alder perhaps, I am weak on tree species).  Following this excitement, we continued around the “Swan-less” Lagoon, and focussed on the Mergansers.  Several groups of male Hooded Mergansers were displaying around a few females, who also had their hoods stretched out too. Fascinating stuff.  The larger Common Mergansers were brilliant too, but further out and less active.  One of the so-called “expert birders” in our group mistakenly identified a couple of female Hoodies as Red-breasted Mergansers, which are rarely seen in fresh water.  We also tried unsuccessfully to find a Tufted or Greater Scaup among the rafts of Lesser Scaup in the pond.  Of course the photogenic Great Blue Herons posed occasionally along the shore, and Gulls entertained “walking on water”, actually ice.  No Virginia Rails seen or heard in their regular nesting area.

We got back to the parking lot before 11:00 am and decided to go to Beaver Lake in the middle of the park.  We were met here by a big noisy tractor that was clipping the trees and bushes on the trail around the lake.  Very few little birds here too, perhaps scared into hiding by the tractor noise.  However the DNCB Kids had fun hand feeding the Chickadees, both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed.  The lake was mostly frozen, however we saw a few Scaup, Bufflehead, Green-winged Teal and a Wood Duck, and a neat native Douglas Squirrel.  The best entertainment here was a guy flying his Drone. Seeing the lake and trees from above, and then zooming in on us was fascinating.  I learned he paid $1000 for this Drone (packed in a big case), but you can get cheapies for a hundred bucks.  Just a thought.  However, one of our group was not pleased with this drone flying too high, in forbidden airplane space.  We saw a Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker and Dark-eyed Juncos here which I only mention because they were spotted by newbies.

After circling Beaver Lake, it was approaching Noon so we ended the outing and several of the group went for lunch at the Vancouver Yacht Club, I think.  I was devastated to miss the almost-obligatory post-outing Lunch (and beer), but I had a dentist appointment.  I stopped at MacDonald’s in Ladner for a burger just to annoy the dentist with food in my mouth.  Another super DNCB outing.

We twenty were: sisters Pat & Maureen, World Travelers David & Noreen H, newbie Vancouverites Susan M & Gail G, returnees Rob & Marylile, Syd w/o Vivian, Chris & Jim K, Roger & Mike, Roy w/o Solveig, Aussie Nance, surprisingly-early Margaretha, Richmond Brian, Drone Lover Ladner Jack Mac, our Organizer Terry C and me.

Next Tuesday, January 31, we will meet at Petra’s at 7:30 am for an outing to Point Roberts, USA.  Before going to PR, we will spend a few minutes at Beach Grove Park checking out the nesting Great Horned Owls.  We should arrive at the Lighthouse Park parking lot before 8:30 am.

As always, comments encouraged, check out our website for more info, reports and photos, and let me know if you’re exasperated at receiving these literary gems, and you want to be removed from my e-mail list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

Posted in *DNCB, Barrow's Goldeneye, Beaver Lake, Black Oystercatcher, Hooded Merganser, Lost Lagoon, Pelagic Cormorant, Stanley Park | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-03 to White Rock Pier and Blackie Spit

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DNCB at White Rock Pier – photo by Terry Carr click on photo to see large image

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Only nine keeners weathered Tuesday’s rain, and enjoyed a surprisingly productive and fun morning at the White Rock pier and then Blackie Spit Park.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-03 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Vivian drove Chris, and Mike drove Terry and me from Petra’s at 7:30 am. It was cool (but above freezing) and spitting rain, which is much like it was a lot of the morning, but the ride to White Rock was smooth.  We arrived at the parking lot (Free until 10:00 am) above the Pier at about 8:15 am, and Richmond Brian and newbie Langley Ralph were waiting, and bonding.  Gareth joined us a few minutes later, and time-challenged Margaretha arrived as we were leaving the Pier.

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photo by Terry Carr

The water/tide was very high and rafts of Scoters (Surf, White-winged, blanked on Black),

Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Horned and Red-necked Grebes,

Common Goldeneye and Common Loons were all up-close-and-personal near the shore.

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As we were scanning the shoreline Gareth spotted a couple of Dunlin foraging, and then a small flock of Black Turnstones landed near the “White Rock”.  I was unable to ID a Ruddy Turnstone among them, although one had been seen here recently.  While I was searching in vain for a Black Scoter with our “million dollar” scope (which needs a “wiper” for the rain), Mike and Gareth saw a couple of Red-throated Loons just on the other side of the boardwalk.

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by Terry Carr

All these neat sightings kept the bitching about the miserable weather down to a minimum.

We walked to the end of the jetty and Terry took a few Group Photos.  Two Ruddy Ducks diving beneath the roosting Double-crested Cormorants excited me, but didn’t do much for the others.

The sighting of a brilliant pair of Harlequin Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers was neat too, but most of us were more fascinated with Langley Ralph’s 25 year association/membership with the Sailing Co-op that owned and operated six of the sailboats parked along the breakwall.

We could see a DNCB Sailing Birding Outing around the Gulf Islands in our future.  It was getting a bit windy and uncomfortable, and we couldn’t spot any pelagic birds or Long-tailed Ducks, so we meandered back down the pier, enjoying the views of the White Rock hillside and the passing trains.  Approaching 10:00 am, and the end of our free parking, we decided to move on to Blackie Spit.

The Ring-billed Gulls welcomed us at Blackie Spit, but again, the water was very high and no large numbers of ducks were around.  We walked to the end of the spit, where only a little of it was left above water.  A few hundred Dunlin were huddled on the “bit of the spit”, and suddenly they rose and flew off.

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Dunlin raised by Peregrine Falcon (CMcV)

I blamed Chris for scaring them, then saw the Peregrine Falcon fly by and land on a pylon in the Nicomekl River.  We got good views of the Peregrine in the scope, and also spotted a Pacific Loon in the distance, giving us three Loon species for the day.  Walking back to the parking lot, we were surprised by a flock of Wigeon foraging on the grass.  We picked out one Brant Goose and at least nine male Eurasian Wigeon in this flock of about 50, and Gareth pointed out the male American/Eurasian hybrid (Check out photo in Sibley’s Guide, and Terry’s on our Flickr site).

Walking to the Rene Savenye area of the Park, there were surprisingly few little birds around; however we weren’t really looking, and frankly didn’t care.  Chris photo’d a Northern Flicker and Terry a lonely Green-winged Teal.

We got to the Purple Martin pylons and nesting boxes where both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants were roosting with wings spread.

Not much else here until four Common Mergansers landed on the far side.  While scoping them, four birds flew towards us, and then turned away as the screaming “Curlew and Godwits” made even me jump and almost poke my eye out in the scope.  The three Marbled Godwits and lone Long-billed Curlew were indeed beaut sightings, and they landed close by for our photogs.

The excitement of the day was far too over-bearing.  We were all relatively dry, it was about 11:15 am, so we decided to call it a day and go to the Townhall Pub on King George Boulevard for lunch.  Another super decision.  I don’t know why, but Breakfast Specials turn me on after DNCB outings, especially with two glasses of the pub’s Special Draught Beer.  And funnily enough, this eclectic group of seven DNCB weirdoes provided some really entertaining conversation.  Home by 1:30 pm and Sandra was relatively pleased as we entertained new grandson Thomas, while Erica showered.

Next Tuesday, January 24, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am on an outing to Stanley Park.  As usual, we will meet others at the Swimming Pool parking lot, I expect around 8:15 to 8:30 am, depending on traffic.

BTW, watch for the new Delta Nats Facebook Page that Jim K is working on.  As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website for more reports, photos and info, and let me know if these meandering missives annoy you and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Blackie Spit, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Long-billed Dowitcher, Marbled Godwit, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, Ruddy Duck, White Rock Pier | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-02 to Iona Regional Park

Photos by Terry Carr (TC), Brian Avent (BA), Pat Smart (PS), Liz Stewart (LS), Chris McVittie (CMcV), Maureen Sinilaid (MS), Roger Meyer (RM)
more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

DNCB at Iona RP (photo by Roger M)

DNCB at Iona RP (photo by Roger M) click on photo for larger version

Twelve DNCBers enjoyed a cool but dry, sunny and very pleasant Tuesday morning at another prominent birding spot in the Lower BC Mainland, Iona Regional Park.  Check out some amazing shots of the mornings sightings on our FLICKR site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-02 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Five of us (Mike, Terry, Roger 2, Chris and me) car-pooled nicely from Petra’s at 7:30 am in my new (to me) Range Rover.  HOV lane through the tunnel was quick and easy and we got to the Iona parking lot around 8:00 am.  Roger One and others were waiting there and the front pond was frozen so not much on it.  Seeing the Snow Geese in the Bay, we decided to head to the beach first.  There were about 3000 Snow Geese close to shore and we saw V’s above of another 2000.

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We found one Blue Morph Snow Goose among them,

Dunlin (TC)

Dunlin (TC)

and several flocks of Dunlin flew by too.

Richmond Donna even spotted a Whale, which turned out to be a wave going over a sand bar.  The brilliant sun was rising behind us, so good for photogs.

Before starting our wanderings through the Park, Roger and Tony took a couple of Group Photos of us facing a flock of Mew Gulls resting on the frozen pond.

The Dirty Dozen were: Rogers 1&2, Mike B, Terry C, Richmond’s Brian A & Donna T, sisters Pat & Maureen, ILB Tony M, Liz S, time-challenged Margaretha and me.  The regular Iona stuff was in the bushes including Spotted Towhees, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, House Finches, etc. with Northern Flickers and the occasional Anna’s Hummingbird providing a bit of excitement.

Keen-eared Brian A heard a Virginia Rail, and another Park visitor Keith said we missed a Pied-billed Grebe.  The inner pond was frozen too with only a few Canada Geese and Green-winged Teal on shore

Bald Eagle (TC)

Bald Eagle (TC)

and a pair of Bald Eagles in a tree overlooking the scene.  So we simply enjoyed our communal chatter as we walked to the back gate of the Sewage Ponds.

There were tonnes of birds in the Sewage ponds, mostly in the northwest open pond.  Lots of Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Mallards with Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks.

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Roger finally found our Target Bird, a Tufted Duck, and our photogs got good shots.

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A Red-tailed Hawk was in the tree but we couldn’t find a falcon.

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Long-billed Dowitchers (TC)

While photographing an accommodating group of Long-billed Dowitchers, a Wilson’s Snipe called and quickly flew by beside us toward the Fraser.  We tried in vain to find it again and get a better look.  Dunlin and Killdeer were there too.

We left the sewage ponds and walked through the trees and along the Fraser River.  Nothing new seen, but the vistas along the river and of the city and mountains were spectacular, as usual.

Great Blue Heron (TC)

Great Blue Heron (TC)

Great Blue Herons are always photogenic.

We were blanked on normally-seen Western Meadowlarks and Northern Shrikes.

We got back to the parking lot shortly after 11:00 am and decided it was time for a DNCB Lunch.  Of course, the wayward Margaretha finally found us here and nine of us went to the Flying Beaver.  We arrived before 11:30 am so some of us had the huge Breakfast Special (poached eggs, bacon, sausage, spuds, toast) of course with a pint of Okanagan Springs Pale Ale, also on special.  A glorious finish to another very enjoyable DNCB outing.

Next Tuesday, January 17, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for an outing in White Rock.  We’ll meet at the WR Pier around 8:00 am, to take advantage of the early free parking.  Following our jetty walk, we’ll go to Blackie Spit.

As always, check out our website for more reports (especially last week’s at Brunswick Point), photos and info, and let me know if this verbal diarrhea annoys you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

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Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Dunlin, Iona, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mew Gull, Red-tailed Hawk, Ring-necked Duck, Sewage Lagoons, Tufted Duck, Virginia Rail, Wilson's Snipe | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-01 to Tsawwassen Ferry Port & Brunswick Point

DNCB at Brunswick Point - Roger Meyer photo click on photo to see large version

12 DNCB at Brunswick Point (Roger Meyer photo) click on photo to see large version

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Part 1:  Sightings with Tom (by Tom Bearss)
Ferry Terminal:  Scaup (probably Greater), one Brant, rafts of thousands of ducks, mostly Mallard, Northern Pintail and American Wigeon (at least one Eurasian),

Ducks - mixed flock (GB)

Ducks – mixed flock (GB)

Bufflehead, both Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye, both Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Green-winged Teal, a swarm of over 3000 Dunlin,

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Dunlin (GB)

all three Scoter species on the south side of causeway (Surf, White-winged and less common Black), Red-breasted Mergansers,

Horned Grebes, Gadwall.  Several Bald Eagles arousing the waterfowl.

I did not see any Harlequin Ducks or Black Oystercatchers or Black Turnstones.  No Shovelers.  GBH’s.

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GBH (LS)

Brunswick: two cold Killdeer, Mute Swans, lots (~100) Trumpeter Swans including a neat family of 5 parading,

many Black-bellied Plovers (posing on pylons, no Golden’s),

swarms of Dunlin and probably Western Sandpipers too.  A flock of Long-billed Dowitchers flew by.

Raptors included Red-tailed Hawks (one eating a frozen Red-necked Pheasant), Northern Harriers,

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Peregrine Falcons, and two target birds Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged Hawk.  Many waterfowl too, including a Common Merganser.

Lots of Song, Fox, White- and Golden-crowned Sparrows.

Dan Tyson showed me a Lincoln’s and Savannah Sparrows.  We were blanked on Lapland Longspurs and American Pipits.  Blanked on Swamp Sparrow, Rock Wren and Rails too.  House Finches, American Goldfinches, Spotted Towhees, lots of Northern Flickers, European Starlings, Robins, Chickadees, Juncos, Eurasian Collared Doves.

Northern Flicker (JMacD)

Northern Flicker (JMacD)

Also saw Western Meadowlarks.  Large flocks (V’s) of Snow Geese flying overhead.  Northern Shrike.

Liz also photographed a Cooper’s Hawk, an Otter swimming in the sea ice.

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Otter in sea ice (LS)

While the group was enjoying beer and lunch, Tom was at Star Wars movie (Rogue One), with Sandra and son Scott, in “moving” seats with 3D glasses.  Super day and super outing.

Part 2:  Post Tom Sightings by Roger Meyer

Too bad you couldn’t have made the lunch.  We decided on Speeds and had to arrange 6 tables to accommodate all of us… even Rose joined us.  Good food and quick service.  As for the remainder of the trip:  we went as far as the platform with the flag in front of the farm house.  The only new bird was a good look at a Northern Shrike.

Northern Shrike (LS)

Northern Shrike (LS)

We also saw more swans (lots more), more flights of Dunlin flocks roused by a Peregrine,

Peregrine Falcon (LS)

Peregrine Falcon (LS)

and the high-light was being overflown by a sinister looking drone… we couldn’t see where the controller was though!

The walk back was uneventful with the exception of more owl gymnastics and an opportunity for a fairly close up shot (mine was blurry).  We didn’t see Danny and failed to find the Savannah and Lincoln’s  Sparrows… no sign of the Rough-legged either.  Everyone enjoyed the outing, and the birds we saw were pretty good.

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Next Tuesday, January 10th, we will Leave Petra’s at 7:30 for an outing to Iona Regional Park & Sewage Lagoons, meeting at Iona washroom parking lot around 8:15 am.

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Scoter, Black-bellied Plover, Brunswick Point, Cooper's Hawk, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mute Swan, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Ring-necked Pheasant, River Otter, Short-eared Owl, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Western Meadowlark, Western Sandpiper | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2016-52: Ladner Christmas Bird Count

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Ladner “Area I” groups reconvene at Petra’s for lunch (photo by Roger M) – click on photo for large version

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Our regular DNCB Outing date fell on the day of the Ladner CBC, so we decided to make the Ladner CBC our last outing of 2016!

The count is part of the regional Christmas Bird Count, which is part of a much larger count across the continent.  Counts happen in over 2,000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere.  The CBC started in 1900, with the Ladner count starting in the 1950s.  It is an ongoing project of the National Audubon Society in the United States, and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada.

Each Christmas Bird Count is conducted on a single day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.  They are carried out within a 24-kilometre diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. The Ladner count includes Tsawwassen, Point Roberts and south Richmond.

19 gathered at Petra’s, and split into 3 groups under the leadership of Roger Meyer, Tom Bearss and Brian Self to cover Ladner Area I (Tsawwassen East of 56th St). There was one group that met leader Mary Taitt at Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and other groups that met to enumerate other South Delta areas.

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Roger’s Group – Centennial Beach to Beach Grove (RM)

It was a spectacular morning when we set out, with clear skies and sunshine.  Each group was assigned an area (and a map) to record the numbers of each species seen in that area.  The plan was for the 3 East Tsawwassen groups to reconvene at Petra’s at noon, to tally provisional numbers, and to plan how to cover areas not yet tallied.  Tom was detained by a Radio Canada (French) T.V. interview at Earthwise, to whom he explained in English (and some French) what the CBC was about, and Brian’s group arrived at 12:30.

After lunch, some set out to complete the areas not yet covered, while others went home.

Area I Section #3 Sightings – Report by Roger Meyer
Leaving Petra’s after a confusing grouping of the 19 volunteers, the Section #3 group – consisting of Mike, Jim, Ken and Anne, Patrick and Joanne, and myself (Roger) – left for the parking lot at the foot of 12th Avenue.  Joanne graciously offered to be the recorder and did an incredible job (thanks so much, Joanne!)  We had two spotting scopes between us which were absolutely necessary for the offshore rafts of birds.  Our route was an exact repetition of the Birds on the Bay outing from a few weeks back, and differed only in the absence of a few of the expected birds from that previous outing such as the Western Meadowlarks and Northern Harriers… when have we not seen the  Harriers there?

Leaving the parking lot, we walked the bay side dyke.  Across the road from the beginning of the trail we were puzzled by a raptor in a tall tree in Section #1’s area and finally decided it was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (we really needed Anne Murray at several times on this trip).  The brush along the path had numerous song birds (juncos, Song, Golden-crowned, and one Fox sparrows.  On the water side there were few ducks in the lagoon… Pintail, Mallards, Wigeon and two, or three, Green-winged Teal.  The highlight here was the Hooded Merganser couple.  A few adult, and juvenile, Bald Eagles were seen throughout the trip flying over the water and perched in trees.  The canal prior to the pump station yielded more Mallards and a few female Buffleheads.  I don’t think we need to mention the dozens of robins and crows constantly about (thereby mentioning them I guess).

Arriving at the observation platform the fun began!  Thousands of waterfowl and gulls on the shore and way out into the water.  Various rafts of Brant, Canada Geese, Pintail, Wigeon (we searched but failed to come up with a Eurasian), and smaller numbers of Green-winged Teal.  Between us we decided to arrive at percentages of each species, estimate the total number in the mix and multiply by the individual percentages giving us results with only + or –  37% accuracy (the last figure entirely made up).

Proceeding south from the pump house we encountered more rafts of the same ducks.  Most of the gulls we saw were Glaucous-winged, Mew, a few Ring-billed, and even fewer Herring and Thayer’s.  Across the spit from the small lagoon we had seen a few flocks of shorebirds and decided to go out to the shoe line.  There we were able to identify the flocks as consisting mainly of Sanderlings and a few Dunlin.  I was pretty sure a single Black Turnstone had flown by but I didn’t trust my id without verification by someone else (but I’m sure it was, so there!).  The rest of the walk from there to the concession stand was uneventful except for some House Finches and rabbits.

We had hoped the ponds at Centennial Beach would provide a Eurasian Wigeon but to no avail.  There were more American ones, Mallards, and our first Brewer’s Blackbirds and few Red-winged.  Walking out to the beach we scoured the waters and found rafts of Surf and White-winged Scoters far off shore.  We also had a few Red-breasted Mergansers.  We did see, along the way, the odd Great-blue Heron but far fewer than expected.

The return trip was inland and, again, was very sparse in species.  We particularly searched for the elusive harriers, again fruitless.  We came up with more finches, House and some Purple, and one tree with a number of Northern Flickers.  Also, in spots along the dyke trail, we had the  usual groups of Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrow.

The weather, up to the end was perfect… sunny and without wind.  As we got back to the parking lot the clouds had come in and a light rain had begun to fall… perfect timing, and we were ready to return to Petra’s for lunch.  All, in all, a great day for the count and a great group with everyone contributing, especially Joanne with the important job of keeping track of the numbers.

From Terry:

Thanks to everyone who took part in the count for Area I (Tsawwassen east of 56th St).

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Anna’s Hummingbird f. (RM)

Area I counted 70 species and 5166 birds.

Highlights included a Red-breasted Sapsucker near Boundary Beach School,

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Red-breasted Sapsucker (RM)

a Western Grebe very close to shore, and 3 Barn Owls at Earthwise.
Jude Grass says (Dec. 29) Ladner CBC preliminary total 134 or 135 species (final number will be posted soon).  Victoria had 140 species.

Here is a link to some photos taken during the count:
https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=dncb%202016-52


News articles about Ladner CBC:

Delta Optimist, Dec. 28, 2016:
Ladner bird count numbers down again

Vancouver Sun, Dec. 29, 2016 article by Larry Pynn (p.A1 & A7)
Feathers fly in Ladner’s Christmas Bird Countonline article includes short video with Jude Grass & John Gordon photos of rare birds

Wildlife centre says dozens of eagles electrocuted by power-pole perch in Delta


  • Monday, January 2, 2017 The White Rock CBC 2016/7.  Anyone who would like to participate is encouraged to come out for excellent birding.
    Area B:  Meet at the small car park beside King George Highway just west of Highway 99 at 8 am.  There we will sign in, get maps, species lists, rare bird forms and then divide up into groups.
  • Next Tuesday, January 3, our first DNCB Outing of 2017 will be to the Ferry Causeway and Brunswick Point, leaving Petra’s at 7:30 am.
  • Also on January 3 is our first Delta Nats monthly meeting, at Benediction Lutheran Church starting at 7:30 pm.  Guest Speaker will be Joey Foy at VERY short notice!, with a presentation on Endangered Species in B. C. (the blue text links to more details of topic and speaker).  Note that the originally-scheduled Speaker Emma Langson was forced to cancel due to weather conditions at her home.
Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barn Owl, CBC Ladner, Dunlin, Herring Gull, Mew Gull, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Red-tailed Hawk, Thayer's Gull | Leave a comment