DNCB “Ferry” Outing No. 2015-30 to Victoria

Eight DNCBers (Terry, PB Lorna, Mike B, White Rock Al, Islanders Rick & Marg, visiting “Pommy” Greg W and me) enjoyed another gorgeous Wednesday in paradise, riding the ferry to Vancouver Island, double-decker bus to Victoria, and then wandering through spectacularly-colourful Beacon Hill Park.  We saw a few neat birds and brilliant flowers, but basically just savoured a relaxing day outside with nature.  Check out Terry’s photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

Six of us met at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and took the 7:00 a.m. ferry to Swartz Bay (1/2 price for Seniors).  While a number of us were inside eating the on-board White Spot breakfast, others got great sightings on the deck of Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants (possibly Brandt’s), Black Oystercatchers, Ring-billed and Glaucous-winged Gulls, and Harbour Seals.  We spent most of the hour and 40 minute ride at the bow in the refreshing breeze; see Group of Six photo.

Travelling through Active Pass, we saw a pair of Pigeon Guillemots entering their nest burrow in the rock face on Galiano Island.  On arrival at Swartz Bay, we raced to the Bus to get front seats on the upper deck.  Using Mikie’s special $1.50 tickets, it was a pleasant ride to Victoria, although we did not see any of the resident Skylarks as we passed the Airport.

Vancouver Island’s Royal Couple, Rick & Marg, were waiting beside the Parliament Buildings as the bus pulled in, on time just before 10:00 a.m.  Following salutations, we wandered through the first of many scintillating flower gardens in front of the Parliament Buildings.  At the waterfront, tourist and whale-watching boats were leaving as some grubby-looking Mallards swam near us.  We decided to do a reverse walk from previous Victoria outings and start our wander through Beacon Hill Park.  There were a few Great Blue Herons standing on nests at the Heronry.  Not a lot of birds seen, but we were occasionally aroused by Brown Creepers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, House Finches, a beaut Chipping Sparrow and other unidentified Sparrows (see Terry’s photos).  A passing cyclist took our mandatory Group Photo here.

At 11:30 a.m. instead of our Smoko, we went for a light lunch at a small outdoor restaurant beside the park.  The hi-lite was the home-made dessert brought by our Brit visitor Greg, “tiffin”, aka dog food. Fortunately, PB Lorna’s peanut butter & banana sandwich tempered the tiffin taste.  Following lunch we walked passed the Mile Zero Monument to the coastal path, seeing both Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Bewick’s Wrens, American Goldfinches, Northern Flickers, Barn and Tree Swallows, and lots of invasive House Sparrows.  At Clover Point, there were rafts of diving ducks in the distance that looked like Scoters.  A lonely Western Sandpiper was feeding on the rocks along the shore.  We did not find the Brant Goose among the Gulls, but did pick out at least five Heermann’s Gulls.

We turned back, entering Beacon Hill Park where a flock of Bushtits welcomed us.  It was cooler walking in the shade of the Garry Oaks, Arbutus and many other tree species that WR Al pointed out and explained, ad nauseam.  More gorgeous gardens, and the resident cock Peacock was resplendent flaunting his tail.  A weird hybrid Mallard was in one of the ponds but no other interesting waterfowl.

It was about 2:30 p.m. when we left the Park and before boarding the bus to the ferry, we decided to drop in to the Sticky Wicket pub at the Strathcona Hotel.  The “funny” beers we tasted was the outing hi-lite for some.  Islanders R&M left us after the drinks, and most of the rest of us caught the no. 70 bus at 3:30 p.m. to the ferry.  Our intrepid explorer, WR Al, took another bus before joining us mid-trip.  Several of us didn’t know that Al was missing or that he re-joined us as they snored the entire trip to Swartz Bay.

It was a very pleasant ferry ride back to Tsawwassen.  Terry saw some Harbour Porpoises, and our most annoying sighting was our own DNCBer, Gambling Roger, photographing us on the ferry from the Mayne Island Pub, while getting inebriated with his cronies.  Amusingly, Terry photographed Roger photographing us.  Arriving in Tsawwassen at 6:45 p.m. we courteously said our good byes, emphasizing the wonderful day we had spent together.

Next Wednesday, August 5, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for another “away” outing to Mill Lake in Abbotsford.  DNCBer Marion S will guide us while there.  Map at https://goo.gl/PWrhnP, directions at https://dncb.wordpress.com/maps/#milllake.

Apologies for my tardiness in writing this Gem, but I have been busy chauffeuring for successful cataract surgery for Sandra, golfing, and entertaining our Aussie niece.  As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if this drivel annoys you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Beacon Hill Park, Common Murre, Harbour Porpoise, Harbour Seal, Heermann's Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Victoria

DNCB Outing No. 2015-29 to Manning Park

DNCB, plus Chilliwack, Langley, White Rock/Surrey & Delta Nature Clubs at Manning Park; Gerhard with friendly Ground Squirrel (P&A) click on photo to see large version

DNCB, plus Chilliwack, Langley, White Rock/Surrey & Delta Nature Clubs at Manning Park; Gerhard with friendly Ground Squirrel (P&A) click on photo to see large version

There were about 30 folk from four BC Nature Clubs (Chilliwack, Langley, White Rock/Surrey and Delta) on Wednesday’s outing to Manning Park.  It was very slightly overcast, but a gorgeous day.  Gerhard and I left the Ladner Bus Exchange at 6:45 a.m. and had a very pleasant and relaxing drive along the SFPR, Highway’s 1 and 3 to the MP Lodge.

We met the eclectic group at 9:00 a.m. at the MP Lodge where “Leaders” Chilliwack’s Janne Perrin and Langley’s Bob Puls introduced the group.  We drove in sporadic car loads to the top of the mountain where we walked two trails (one was Paint Brush) for a couple of hours.  We saw lots of plants and flowers, a few birds and a few insects (beaut Butterflies), and mammals (Coyote, Bear, Columbian and Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, Hoary Marmots).  Gray Jays and Clark’s Nutcrackers and Ground Squirrels ate off people’s heads, and hands.

Gerhard & Ground Squirrel (LS)

Gerhard & Ground Squirrel (LS)

Some saw: Fox Sparrow, Steller’s Jays, Mountain Bluebirds, Mountain Chickadee, Dark-eyed Juncos, Chipping Sparrows, Warbler species including Townsend’s, Orange-crowned, and Yellow-rumped, Evening Grosbeak, Rufous Hummingbirds.  Several people took photos which I hope get posted on our DNCB Picasa site.

Gerhard and I got back to Ladner at 5:00 p.m., in time for dinner with neglected spouse and guests.  A super day.  This is an abbreviated report; I look forward to seeing other reports and photos.

Next Wednesday, July 29, DNCBers will gather on the 7:00 a.m. Ferry to Swartz Bay for our annual Victoria outing.  We will bus to and from Victoria and take the 5:00 p.m. ferry back to Tsawwassen.  See details on our website.  Comments encouraged.  Cheers: Tom

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Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society


Manning Side-Trips

Several DNCBers and others continued on to the Beaver Lodge Wetlands area, and to the Lightning Lakes area as well.  At the former, various people were treated to an abundance of Cedar Waxwings picking berries and hawking insects, as well as a Mallard family feeding, Hairy Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Red Crossbills, Pine Siskin, Common Yellowthroat, and other previously mentioned birds.  There were also several new plants species there.  At the latter, we added Ravens, Canada Geese, a gull, Robin, Red Squirrel, and were entertained by the usual Columbian Ground Squirrels and a Yellow-pine Chipmunk.

Marion S.

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Filed under *DNCB, Beaver Lodge Wetlands, Black Bear, Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel, Chipping Sparrow, Clark's Nutcracker, Columbian Ground Squirrels, Coyote, Evening Grosbeak, Gray Jay, Hoary Marmot, Lightning Lake, Mountain Bluebird, Mountain Chickadee, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red Crossbill, Red Squirrel, Three-toed Woodpecker, Townsend's Warbler, Yellow-pine Chipmunk

DNCB Outing No. 2015-28 to Several Ladner Parks

Fifteen DNCBers spent another gorgeous Wednesday morning tramping around several parks in Ladner, namely Ladner Harbour Park, Earle Burnett Park and South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area (SAMWMA). Not a lot of birds seen, but there is beautiful photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

Eight of us left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m., Roger F took PB Lorna, Glen and Terry, and Hans took Mike, and I had Garbling Gerhard in my Jeep Birdmobile.  We got to Ladner Harbour Park well before 8:00 a.m. and chatted inanely while the others sporadically arrived; Liz, Marion, Lidia, Rob & Marylile, Otto, then sleepy-head Roger M.  We walked to the north-eastern corner of the park where the trail ends (bridge removed several years ago).  Saw a Cedar Waxwing and both Marsh Wrens and Common Yellowthroats were singing in the marsh.  We returned to the park past a “retired” Bald Eagle’s nest to the Picnic Shed.  Other old nests were still in the shelter, but no evidence of Bewick’s Wrens.  Huge Spider webs in the ceiling made the shelter very eerie.  Terry took the first Group Photo (13) here, without Roger and Otto.

We walked the trail and since bird activity was at a minimum, we got excited seeing piles of Coyote Scat.  For the umpteenth outing, we heard Swainson’s Thrushes, but didn’t see one.  The invasive Blackberries were close to being perfectly ripe and Gerhard and his followers gorged themselves.  A small Plum Tree added another sweet taste to the menu.  Their Breakfast took precedence so most ignored the Northern Flicker, Barn, Tree and Violet-green Swallows, Eurasian Collared-Doves and the several gorgeous flower species that Marion photographically captured.  We got to the infamous Lookout that looks out onto nothing and Marion took another Group Photo (15) with the time-challenged Story Tellers Roger and Otto included.

On the walk back to the parking lot, we stopped at the historic Harbourmaster’s Building and wharf where a “wedge “ of Mute Swans was the attraction.  We left the “cleaned-up” Ladner harbour and park and drove to Ferry Road and the Earle Burnett Park.  We walked the short trail to the normally gated bridge to the homes across the slough, and almost-predictably Roger saw a non-existent Steller’s Jay (it was a dove).  From the bridge we spied on back yard feeders with residents drinking coffee surrounded by House Sparrows and House Finches.  Next stop was the slough trail toward Cove Links Golf Course.  Here we marvelled at a singing Song Sparrow (birding was really slow).  Mallards and not-real-pretty Wood Ducks were in the slough.  A young lad fishing with his Dad caught a huge 2 inch Sunfish that had us all aghast.  What a sighting!

We continued on to the entrance to the South Arm Marshes WMA.  A Northern Harrier gave a fly-past.  Near the entrance some DNCBers were excited at the sight of a Belted Kingfisher.  The few DNCBers who are not deaf heard (some saw) Warbling Vireos and Western Wood-Pewees.  We tried unsuccessfully to turn a Robin into a Black-headed Grosbeak.  At the School Kids Party Site deep in the park, while Gerhard gathered beer cans, Marion got a nice photo of a Climbing Monkey (or was that Roger again?).  While watching the acrobatic Roger, I wolfed down PB Lorna’s scrumptious Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich (what a saviour!).  We went to the Lookout and got excited at seeing nothing there, again.  At 11:30 a.m. we decided to abort this mission and go to the Pub.

The Rusty Anchor Pub, next to the SAMWHA, was very pleasant with Mikie B, Rob (who fixed our Nats Scope, with thanks) & Marylile, and the garrulous Otto and me.  The draught beer and Chicken Gumbo Soup spiced up my day.   Mikie was a bit “dishevelled” on the ride back to Tsawwassen with me in my son’s Jeep Birdmobile, but he claimed that this was another very enjoyable DNCB morning.

Next Wednesday, July 22, is our all-day outing to Manning Park and the Wildflowers.  We will meet at and leave from the Ladner Bus Exchange at 6:30 a.m.  We plan to meet up with the Langley and Chilliwack Naturalists at the Manning Park Lodge at 9:00 a.m.  Check out our DNCB website at for more info on this and other DNCB outings, plus other informative and pictorial reports.  As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if you want off the List to receive my delirious rants.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Ladner Harbour Park, Ladner S.Arm Marsh, Warbling Vireo

DNCB Outing No. 2015-27 to Burnaby Lake

Photos by Roger (RM), Glen (GB), Marion MS), Ken (KB), Pat (PS) posted at DNCB Picasa site
– more photos will be added to this Report, please check back SOON!

DNCB at Burnaby Lake (KB)

12 DNCB at Burnaby Lake (KB) click on photo for large version

latecomers Maureen & Pat (KB)

latecomers Maureen & Pat (KB)

Fourteen DNCBirders met at Piper Spit, Burnaby Lake, on a warm, if not hazy from forest fire smoke, day.  They were Tom, Ken and Anne, Glen, Al Schulze, Lorna, Marion S., Roger M., Hans, Mike, Rob and Marylile, and (shortly after the group photo) Pat and Maureen.

The first arrivals busied themselves in the Nature House garden, which attracts Hummingbirds (Rufous and Anna’s seen), bees, butterflies and other nectar-loving insects.  When Roger arrived, he had a Red-slider Turtle in tow, which he had rescued from the middle of the road—it was released into the water at Piper Spit with some wondering if that’s legal, since the species is considered invasive.

The main attraction at Burnaby Lake lately has been a young Sandhill Crane, (see pictures posted under link) the offspring of a first ever nesting pair of cranes at that location.  Unfortunately, the young bird, who first appeared with its parents on June 25, was last seen on July 5, and has not been seen since.  The cause of his assumed demise is unknown, but there has been a lot of speculation which ranges from predation (bobcat, coyote, eagle), to inadequate diet as in too much seed (altho parents were observed feeding fish, worms, bugs etc), too much heat and smoke, or disease.  Unfortunately we will never know, but there is hope that next year the parents will successfully raise a chick.

As we made our way down the boardwalk to the observation deck, we saw many Mallards, Wood Ducks, and families of Canada Geese, all with offspring of varying ages.  As well, there were 5 Killdeer and 2 Least Sandpipers out in the marsh.  Many Brown-headed Cowbirds, both mature and juveniles, Song Sparrows, Pigeons, Towhees were present, and a few Tree Swallows flew back and forth hawking insects.  Common Yellowthroats called from the marsh at the spit and as well on our walk.  A juvenile Marsh Wren entertained us taking a long dust bath on the path.  As we made our way back to pick up the path along the lake, a young Anna’s Hummingbird seemed to be fascinated by our group (who wouldn’t be?), and hovered over us, especially Pat, in between rests in the trees above.

We continued on the walk heading towards the Cariboo dam, hearing birds which were mainly hidden in the overhead canopy.  Many Swainson’s Thrushes sang their beautiful song, but did not appear.  We managed to see American Goldfinches, a Wilson’s Warbler, American Robins, Chickadees (both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed), two Downy Woodpeckers, Spotted Towhees, and Song Sparrows.  Some heard a Bewick’s Wren on both legs of the walk.  Two Belted Kingfishers flew back and forth by the turtle nesting area, and hovered quite close to us for great viewing.

At the Cariboo Dam, a Great Blue Heron was keeping an eye out for fish, and a single Northwestern Crow walked around on the rocks in the low-level water.  We lingered there, and then headed back along the Conifer and Spruce loops without adding to the list of species.  The two Sandhill Crane adults had come to the boardwalk area by the time we returned, and afforded great views and photo ops.  Roger spotted a nesting (Mute?) Swan.

Most of the group continued on to the viewing area by the water’s edge at the rowing club, where they saw Barn Swallows, Osprey, and a Hooded Merganser.  Several of us contented ourselves at the Nature House garden photographing birds and flowers there.

Report by Marion Shikaze


Next week, Wednesday July 15, we will visit several parks in Ladner.  Leaving Petra’s at 7::30 am, first destination Ladner Harbour Park parking lot at 8:00 a.m. (map at https://goo.gl/83jxuJ)

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Filed under Burnaby Lake, Douglas Squirrel, Osprey, Sandhill Crane

DNCB Outing No. 2015-26 to Reifel Bird Sanctuary

(KB)

Sixteen patriotic DNCBers spent Canada Day morning, first on the dike at Boundary Bay, then at our Mecca, Reifel Bird Sanctuary.  It was another gorgeous Summer day in Delta with some interesting sightings.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

Only five men (Roger, Terry, Gerhard, Hans and me) were at Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. where, before going to Reifel, we decided to check out the Ruff at 96th St. on the Boundary Bay dike.  It was there among a few Killdeer and we all got good looks, even of the bands on its legs.  This captivity-bred Ruff is an escapee from Professor David Lank’s SFU laboratory.  Check out photos and more info on Lank’s 30 year Ruff study in my outing report DNCB Outing No. 2015-20 to Burnaby Mountain and SFU.  Richmond Bill met us at 96th and followed us to Reifel where we met the other 10 waiting at the entrance (on time at 9:00 a.m.).

We had our pre-outing chit-chat, including with Sanctuary Manager Kathleen Fry, who joined us throughout the morning walk.  Although Kathleen was very helpful reporting on recent sightings, I think she basically joined us to ensure that we (primarily Gerhard) did not pick the forbidden Blackberries (important bird feed, especially the falling seeds in Winter).  Near the entrance feeders were lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds, but four Eastern Kingbirds (probably a family) caught our attention.

Brownheaded Cowbird (KB)

Brownheaded Cowbird (KB)

Later on, we searched for their nest, in vain, where Otto thought it was located.  Ken took the obligatory Group Photo by the Reifel Snow Goose Info sign.

15 DNCB at Reifel (KB) click on photo to see large version

15 DNCB at Reifel (KB) click on photo to see large version

We were 15; newbie George joined us later (see his photos on our Picasa site).

Along the west trail, in the Alaksen potato field we saw 9 of the 13 Sandhill Cranes currently hanging around Reifel; we hand-fed others as we met them on trails throughout the morning.

Although Summer is not the best birding time to visit Reifel, we had several other neat sightings.  Three Teal species were in a middle pond, a gorgeous Blue-winged and a Cinnamon Teal along with a Green-winged Teal.  Some saw the Bufflehead.  Some saw Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroats and Rufous Hummingbirds (empty nest as young have fledged).  Marsh Wrens were common in where-else, the marsh.  A couple of Downy Woodpeckers and a Red-breasted Nuthatch were together in a close-up tree.  Some missed the Nuthatch while watching a Eurasian Collared-Dove.  Of course, I cannot not mention the Wood Ducks; only a few seen, but we understand that it is/will be another successful nesting season at Reifel.  A few American Wigeon and Gadwall around and an interesting “leucistic” Mallard.

leucistic Mallard (KB)

leucistic Mallard (KB)

We checked out the new Purple Martin boxes, but only Tree Swallows were flying around.  Kathleen saw a pair of PUMA’s flying near the tower.  Lots of successful Barn Swallow nests in the Sanctuary; one nest in a Blind enthralled Anne and Christie as it had four or five babies peeking out and Dad perched beside, watching us.  Roger also entertained us with his side trip to a Sand Wasp (aka Bembicini) colony on a trail.  We were all riveted watching these little bugs seemly aimlessly circling until they found their own personal hole in the sand to crawl into.  Later, back at the entrance, Kathleen showed us another colony of a larger Sand Wasp species.

Sand Wasp observers (KB)

Sand Wasp observers (KB)

We were blanked on the Bullock’s Orioles and couldn’t find their nest either, but we were fascinated with voluble Otto’s captivating chronicle of where the birds and nest might be.  DNCBers sure are an eclectic group of weirdoes.

We left Reifel around noon; another very enjoyable outing.  Six of us (White Rock Al with one of his WR harem Leona, Hans, Terry, and of course the fabled Otto and me) went to Speed’s Pub in Ladner for lunch.  The more expensive Halibut and chips was only ordinary, but the two pints of Okanagan 1516 beer were delightful, over-shadowing the slow service and WR Al prosaically holding court.

Next Wednesday, July 8, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Burnaby Lake Park.  Note the DNCB Outing Schedule changes; we will go to Manning Park on Wednesday, July 22, joining Langley and WRSN groups.  July 29 will tentatively be the Ferry outing to Victoria.  As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website, and let me know if these delirious accounts annoy you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, 96 Street, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Eastern Kingbird, Reifel, Ruff, Sand Wasp, Sandhill Crane

DNCB Outing No. 2015-25 to Campbell Valley Regional Park

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24 at Campbell Valley Park (latecomers Wim, Pascale & Alberto) – click on photo to see large version

Photos by Ken (KB), Glen (GB), Marion (MS), Pascale & Alberto (P&A), Jim (JK), Liz (LS) & others at DNCB Picasa site

KB_DNCB_Al__DSC8952

Al explains history of Campbell Valley Park (KB)

Because the southeastern part of the park was visited last July, it had been decided to explore the northern section.  Thus at about 8:15 on another fantastic Wednesday morning, twenty one avian enthusiasts began flocking together in the parking lot off 16th Avenue.  Campbell Valley Park, which is apparently a little larger in area than Stanley Park, contains several ponds, a tree farm, a scout camp and has 29km of trails including an equestrian trail of 11km and a new 5km long bicycle track.  Settlers from the east started to arrive in the valley in the 1880s.  Alexander Annand from Nova Scotia began clearing the land for cattle and hay in 1886 and later built a house and barn which are still standing.  Len Rowlatt owned the farm from 1918 to 1973 when it and surrounding properties were acquired by Metro Vancouver for parkland.

The group photo taken at the kiosk depicts the happy faces of sisters Pat and Maureen, Johnny Mac, Richmond Bill, Glen, Ladner Jack, Jim K, WR Al, PB Lorna, Liz, Langley Joanne, Marian, Pauline, Roger M, Tom, Gerhard, Hans, Marion, picture taker Ken with Anne, and Kirsten.

Upon marching off into the forest after the photo shoot, we were approached by a dog walker, who turned out to be a keen birder.  Christine Bishop indicated that she was involved with bird studies in the park and she invited input from interested parties.  After exchanging information with her, we headed toward the Vine Maple Trail, a narrow winding pathway with little traffic.

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Gerhard samples huckleberries (KB)

The many Red Cedar stumps visible along the trail are reminders that the area was logged more than a hundred years ago.  However, nature has exuberantly reclaimed the land and everyone marveled at the re-grown forest.  The dominant coniferous trees seen were Douglas Fir, Red Cedar and Western Hemlock, but the occasional Sitka Spruce and Grand Fir were also spotted.  Because of the abundant deciduous greenery – made up mainly of Big Leaf Maple, Poplar, Alder, and diverse smaller trees and bushes – it was difficult to spot, not to mention photograph, the birds which were singing in the dense foliage.  For some of us, the songs and calls of a number of Swainson’s Thrushes, Purple Finches, Pacific-slope Flycatchers and one Wood-Peewee were audible, but we never sighted any.  We did see several Brown Creepers and Pacific Wrens, as well as a Wilson’s Warbler and Hairyet Woodpecker (female Hairy).  Some heard and got a glimpse of a singing Vireo which was likely a Cassin’s but could have been a Red-eyed.  Also observed was Huckleberry Lauk as he popped in and out of the understory along the path to pick various berries.  While Gerhard feasted contentedly, Roger tried but failed to convince Tom that the little green fruit of the European/Bittersweet Night Shade in his palm were delicious.

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Wim & Nelly (KB)

After about an hour on the narrow trail, we connected with the Little River Loop.  There we promptly met up with latecomers Pascale and Alberto and dog walker in training, Wim, carrying Nelly, his new puppy; that brought the total to twenty five participants.  Near and on the Listening Bridge, both male and female Black-headed Grosbeaks posed for great pictures, and snapshots of Yellow Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, Brown-headed Cowbirds as well as a Willow Flycatcher and a Steller’s Jay were also taken.  Most members of the group walked through the open meadows to the historic Langley Speedway which was in operation from 1960 to the 1980s.  Recently, an attempt was made to reopen the facility, but that failed because of strong opposition from environmentalists and area homeowners.  When we walked through the track last July, a Disney movie was being filmed.  Tom tried to convince the crew to engage our troop as extras but, alas, his request was denied.

While a Townsend’s Chipmunk was photographed, and Langley Joanne enticed a Black-capped Chickadee or two to feed in her hand, there was little activity along most of the route back to the starting point.  However, in the vicinity of the second bridge over the Campbell River, Marsh Wrens were rattling, a Common Yellowthroat was sounding off and flying about, and Pascale reported listening to the harsh call of a Virginia Rail.  Because the little river was overgrown with reeds and almost invisible, no waterfowl or shorebirds came into view.  Moreover, no swallows or raptors were seen or heard on our 4km trek.  Although only 20 or so avian species were observed – of which 14 were photographed – and about 10 were heard only, everyone had to agree that it was another fabulous DNCB expedition.  After all, the weather had been excellent, the trees, bushes and groundcover were in their finest green, and the scenery was great.  And the berry-tasting-fest and the wonderful camaraderie certainly contributed to the success of our outing.

Al Schulze

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Filed under *DNCB, Campbell Valley, Cassin’s Warbler, Townsend’s Chipmunk, Virginia Rail

DNCB Outing No. 2015-24 to Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Grant Narrows Gang (RM)

Grant Narrows Gang (RM) (click on photo to see larger version)

Photos by Roger (RM), Terry (TC), Glen (GB), Jonathan (JM), Pascale & Alberto (P&A), Eric (EL) & Liz (LS) at DNCB Picasa site

Twenty-three DNCBers enjoyed another glorious and very warm Wednesday morning on an “away” outing to Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area, aka Pitt Lake, Pitt Polder, Grant Narrows, north of Coquitlam.  Lots of beaut sightings; hi-lites included: Eastern Kingbirds, Western Tanagers, Bullock’s Orioles, Cliff Swallows, River Otters and a Bear Cub.  You can see the photo evidence (by Roger, Pascale & Alberto, Liz, Terry, Jonathan, Glen & Eric) on our DNCB Picasa site.

Nine of us left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. in three cars.  We followed the SFPR, some took the Golden Ears Bridge, others chose a longer convoluted way.  It was almost 9:00 a.m. when we met Roger and the other DNCBers at the Catbird Slough.  We joined them on the path around the slough and were thrilled to see several Eastern Kingbirds, Common Yellowthroats and brilliant Yellow Warblers, Cedar Waxwings and American Goldfinches.  Some saw Gray Catbirds there, but late arrivers missed them.  One brilliant DNCBer saw a couple of Western Tanagers which the inexperienced DNCBers missed.  We drove on to the Grant Narrows parking lot, where we were scheduled to meet around 8:30 a.m.  It was now 9:45 a.m. so Roger took the obligatory Group Photo (20).  Sisters Pat and Maureen were not in the photo as they arrived at 8:00 a.m. and got tired of waiting for us so were wandering on their own.

Following introductions, we started our walk along the forest trail around the marsh.  Earlier Roger saw and photographed the Bullock’s Orioles and Band-tailed Pigeons.  Most of us never saw these two destination species today, nor could we find the American Redstart even though it was singing very close to us; very frustrating.  But the hour walk to the Lookout was beautiful.  We did see another Gray Catbird, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Wood Ducks, Gadwall, Marsh Wrens and Mute Swans.  Willow Flycatchers were “fitz-bewing” and we got good looks at a couple. Lots of photogenic Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles around too, and large Beaver mounds.  At the Lookout we heard (and some saw) a Swainson’s Thrush.

Approaching 11:00 a.m. some chose to return via the same forest trail while others decided to continue along the longer and more open trail back to the parking lot.  Along this longer trail we saw lots of neat stuff. A calling Virginia Rail caught our attention in the reeds close to the trail.  Four River Otters were playfully swimming in the adjacent slough.  We saw some different Swallows, then found the rock face where a colony of Cliff Swallows was nesting and hawking insects for feeding young in their mud homes.  Then we spotted the Western Tanager, Liz’s Lifer, and got some good shots as it posed on a branch across the slough.  Several dried up Bullfrog bodies were lying on the path.  When we got to the Pitt River, an Osprey was sitting on its nest on a pylon. We saw three active Osprey nests (assume sitting on eggs).  White-crowned Sparrows were flitting along the shore (but no MacGillivray’ Warblers as seen last year) and four Common Mergansers were resting on a log in the river/lake.  An unusual leucistic Canada Goose seemed to be paired with a normal goose with several young parading behind them.  A Vaux Swift flew by above us (Roger saw a Black Swift), and some saw a Turkey Vulture too.

Back at the parking lot, we met the group again who were watching a Black Bear Cub, awake and watching us from its perch high in a tree.  We avoided going into the bushes surrounding the tree, fearing that the Mother may be close by.  Approaching 1:00 p.m., we decided to call it a day and ten of us went for lunch down the road to the Swan-e-set Golf Club.  In a majestic setting on the patio of the castle-like clubhouse, I scoffed a 1516 beer, clam chowder soup and a delicious sandwich while a squadron of four Harvard look-alikes (aircraft) soared in various flight formations around and over us.  As if this wasn’t enough entertainment, White Rock Al and Rob surprised us with their knowledge of historic British and German royalty.  Their jockeying back and forth with tidbits of interesting but useless info regarding Queen Vickie’s 10 kids was fascinating to some and boring to most.  A Black-headed Grosbeak was singing in the bushes by the first Tee Box.  Hans drove me home in quick, direct, and very comfortable fashion, via the Golden Ears Bridge and SFPR.  Another awesome DNCB outing to a magnificent wildlife area.

Next Wednesday, June 24, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Campbell Valley Park.  We will meet our Leader White Rock Al at the 16th Street entrance to the Park (note that this is different from where we have met in the past).  Don’t forget the Father’s Day Pancake Breakfast at Centennial Beach on Sunday, June 21.  Your Delta Nats Display will be part of the entertainment there.  Check out our website for more info, reports, photos, directions, etc.  As always, comments encouraged, and let me know if you want off the List to receive this gibberish.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

The 23 were: Roger M, Roger K, Terry, WR Al, Pat & Maureen, Rob & Marylile, Pascale & Alberto, Otto, Marion, Kirsten, Laurie, Hans, Glen, young Eric (welcome back), Richmond Bill, Jonathan (without Lorraine), Liz, Gareth, Jim K and me.

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Filed under *DNCB, American Redstart, Bald Eagle, Band-tailed Pigeon, Black Bear, Bullock's Oriole, Cliff Swallow, Eastern Kingbird, Grant Narrows, Osprey, Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area, River Otter, Turkey Vulture, Western Tanager