DNCB Outing No. 2017-48 to Blaine and Semiahmoo Bay, Washington

RM_DNCB_Group_Drayton Harbour

DNCB at Drayton Harbor – photo by Roger Meyer

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Finally, a sunny Tuesday!  Twenty DNCBers enjoyed a beautiful clear and cool day at various spots around Drayton Harbour and Semiahmoo Bay in Blaine, Washington.  Plus, we had a lot of really neat sightings.  Check out the photo evidence, including spectacular scenery shots, on our Flickr site at: www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-48 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

From our 7:30 am start at Petra’s, to the Peace Arch Park parking lot, then all of us meeting at Blaine Marine Park at 8:30 am, everything worked out very smoothly.  Lots of good car-pooling, no Border issues, and the beautiful weather created lots of smiling faces.  However, the high King Tide meant no shoreline and therefore no shorebirds at our first stop.  But there were huge rafts of waterfowl, mostly at scope distance.  Roger M took the Group photo (of course Rose in the front middle) with the Peace Arch, White Rock and the mountains in the distance behind us.  The beautiful vistas enjoyed all day of clear skies and snowy mountains was a common cord in many conversations.

As we walked from Blaine Marine Park to the Lookout at the end of Marine Drive, some “diver” species seen included Common Loons (surprisingly no Pacific Loons seen today), Surf and White-winged Scoters, Bufflehead, both Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye, Scaup (mostly Lesser), Red-breasted Mergansers (David had a pair of Common Mergs), Horned and Red-necked Grebes.  Thousands of “dabblers” too, mostly Northern Pintail, American Wigeon and Mallards.  Among the Pelagic Cormorants roosting at the Lookout were several Black Turnstones.  We searched in vain for an Eared Grebe, especially among the yachts in the marina where we have seen them in the past.  Long-tailed Ducks were far out in the Bay, but we eventually got a close-up view, and photo, of one outside the Semiahmoo Resort restaurant at Tongue Point.  The resident Belted Kingfisher gave a flypast as did two Trumpeter Swans, and a V of Snow Geese.

We left Blaine Marine Park and drove our convoy through Blaine and around the Harbour to the Semiahmoo Park Museum parking lot on Semiahmoo Bay spit.  On the Semiahmoo Bay side were lots of Scoters, but we couldn’t find a Black Scoter that we normally see here.  Our first Harlequin Ducks were spotted here.  On the Drayton Harbour side, lots of rafts of ducks; Gareth and others spotted a small raft of Ruddy Ducks.  We couldn’t find a Canvasback.  Gareth found a Red-throated Loon and later a Western Grebe.

As we were leaving the Museum parking lot, someone spotted a flock of Pine Siskins, and our Guru Anne found one of at least two Common Redpolls among them (a rare sighting for me).  David also found an Anna’s Hummingbird and Golden-crowned Kinglet here.  Of course, the common birds were “common”, such as Robins, Towhees, Juncos, Song, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows, House and American Goldfinches.

We continued on to the Marina where we found a flock of Sanderlings scooting along the pier, even racing past a small flock of Dunlin huddled together, and a few more Black Turnstones too.  A beautiful Harlequin Duck pair were up-close-and personal, as were a few Red-breasted Mergansers and Horned Grebes.  More Scaup around, and the Barrow’s Goldeneyes were doing their “dancing ritual”.  Harbour Seals would occasionally pop up to have a look at us.  Munching on cones In a Pine Tree at the Marina were several colourful Red Crossbills; our photogs went nuts at this sighting.

Exhausted from the Crossbills, we wandered around to Tongue Point at the resort.  We finally found a Black Scoter here, along with a closer Long-tailed Duck and hundreds of Brant Geese in the distance.  And it was Noon, perfect timing to head into the Packers Oyster Bar for lunch.  Fifteen of us enjoyed the five-star setting next to the wall of windows looking out onto the Bay.  It was an awesome feeling as the sun shone on our faces, and I wolfed down a whole Pepperoni Pizza and two pints of Kulshan Lager, plus a few of Colin’s and Jack’s Fries.  Neither the 15 minute Border line-up nor Ladner Jack’s snoring were a bother on the drive back, and I was happily home at 2:30 pm.  Another very enjoyable DNCB outing.

We Twenty were: Roger & Rose Meyer (on another of their seemingly weekly “getaways”), David & Noreen, Richmond Brian, Glen B, Terry C, Roger “Two” K, White Rock Al, Guru Anne M, Mike B, Marion S, Pauline, Jean G, returnee world-traveler Colin H, Jim K, Ladner Jack Mac, Lidia J, Langley/Surrey Guru Gareth P and me.

Next Wednesday (not Tuesday), December 13 is our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park.  We will meet at and leave from historic Cammidge House at 9:00 am, returning at 11:30 am to socialize and enjoy some home-made goodies by the Delta Nats Ladies.  It’s free and open to all.

On Tuesday, we had a full house for our Christmas Nats monthly meeting which included a very interesting and informative presentation on Bats by Felix Martinez of the South Coast Bat Action Team.

As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website for more info, reports and photos; and, let me know if you want off my List to receive this weekly drivel.  Cheers:  Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Scoter, Black Turnstone, Blaine Marine Park, Common Redpoll, Drayton Harbor, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Red Crossbill, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, Ruddy Duck, Semiahmoo Spit, Trumpeter Swan | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-47 to Burnaby Lake Park

During the rainstorm. Guess who returned to the car?

DNCB on Piper Spit Pier – photo by Jack MacDonald

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Seven DNCB “Martyrs” endured the 4th miserable and rainy Tuesday in a row at the normally beautiful & bountiful Burnaby Lake Park.  Our Leader Roger M was at Petra’s, but unfortunately was called away to a Family “Taxi” emergency.  Only two photos taken by Ladner Jack on our Flickr site www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-47 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

It wasn’t raining when four of us (Roger Two drove Terry, Ladner Jack & me) left Petra’s in Tsawwassen at 7:30 am.  But it started after the tunnel and never stopped all morning.  We drove some convoluted way through Burnaby and the masses of traffic and got to the Nature House parking lot at Burnaby Lake Park at 8:45 am.  Richmond Brian and our fisherman friends, Roy & Solveig, were bundled up waiting for us.  The conversation continued, basically about “What the hell are we doing out in this?” and “Why don’t we go for lunch now?”.

We persevered and strolled out the boardwalk onto the lookout.  The water was high and rushing, and there were tonnes of birds, many in beautiful breeding plumage.  We recognized many through the water drops in our binocs: Wood Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail, American Coots, American Wigeon and Mallards.  Common little birds, Song & Fox Sparrows, Marsh Wren, Towhees, etc.  Jack reluctantly took a Group Photo on the Lookout with his cell phone.

We walked back to the Nature House and three soaked DNCBers snuck into the warmth of their car while four weirdoes continued on the trail walk, all the way to the Fish Ladder bridge.  We walked for about an hour and half in the pouring rain.  A few Chestnut-backed Chickadees excited us, then a pair of Hooded Mergansers at the Turtle Nesting area.  An American Dipper at the Fish Ladder was the culmination of our excitement.  We quickly walked back through the woods to the Nature House.  The warm, dry threesome were waiting, but it was too early (10:30 am) for lunch.  Lots of smiles when we decided to “abort” this mission.

We drove relatively quickly back to Tsawwassen, and to the Rose & Crown Pub by 11:15 am.  Interesting that as we pulled into Tsawwassen, the rain stopped.  Just sayin’, that’s why we live in Delta.  The Pub was cozy and warm, and I learned from my wet underwear that my “rain resistant” pants were not rain proof.  Leila lit the fireplace, and my Roast Beef Sandwich, Fries and Tea (yes Tea), hit the spot.  Mike B joined us for lunch, and I had a tasty Granville Island Lager so I didn’t break my Luncheon Beer Streak, like Eli Manning.  Anyhow, it was another frustrating DNCB outing, but made enjoyable by the very interesting and like-minded company.

Next Tuesday, December 5 is our outing to Blaine, Washington and Semiahmoo Bay.  We’ll leave Petra’s at 7:30 am and meet at and car-pool from the Peace Arch Park parking lot (behind the Duty-Free) at 8:15 am.

Our monthly DNS Christmas meeting is also next Tuesday December 5, at 7:30 pm at the Benediction Lutheran church in Tsawwassen at 7:30 pmFelix Martinez of the South Coast Bat Action Team will give a presentation on Bats and their Contribution to our Ecosystem.  Visitors welcome, Free.

Check out our website for more info, reports and photos at.  As always, your comments are welcome, and let me know if you want off my e-mail list to receive this weekly drizzle.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, American Dipper, Burnaby Lake, Hooded Merganser | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-46 to Iona Regional Park

David, Noreen & Tom in front of Iona banding station (photo by David R)

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

It was another miserable Tuesday so only three of us battled the rain at Iona Regional Park.  And, as always happens, it was a very enjoyable and almost comfortable outing, with lots of brilliant sightings.  Check out David’s photos on our Flickr site at: www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-46 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

David Hoar & Noreen Rudd with Mike Betts were waiting at Petra’s when I arrived at 7:20 am.  It was pouring rain, and the forecast was for rain all day.  I had been cooped up indoors for a couple of days so was keen to go despite the weather.  Mike decided to go to “work” instead.  So David chauffeured Noreen and me through the usual horrendous rush hour traffic to the Iona RP parking lot.

We got there about 8:40 am, and there wasn’t a soul around.  Except a mature Bald Eagle that landed beside the car and scooped up a Snake and carried it off to the Eagle Tree on the other side of the pond by the sewage lagoons.  We fumbled getting out of the vehicle, so didn’t get photos.

We walked to the beach; the tide was very high so nothing on shore.  Surprisingly, no rafts of waterfowl on the water either, only a couple of Common Loons and Cormorants.  As we walked back to enter the park trail, a Peregrine Falcon landed in the parking lot tree and posed for us.  Then on the main pond we noticed a diving Canvasback (neat sighting too).  Three other “divers” were with the Canvasback, and we think they were Scaup species.

As we entered the park trail the regular “little birds” were flitting in the bushes, but not posing as the rain pushed them deep into the shrubbery.  We saw, Song, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, House Finches, Juncos, etc.  A small flock of perhaps Red Crossbills flew by above us (Noreen recognized the call).  The north pond was interesting with a group of Ring-necked Ducks among the Gadwall, American Coots and American Wigeon.  I think we saw the Pied-billed Grebe between the rain drops on my bins.  Another diving duck was unidentifiable, however, on the way out we searched for it again, and got great views and photos of a Ruddy Duck.  We’re persistent DNCBers.  David took the obligatory Group Photo as we three stood in front of the Bird Observatory building where Wild Research band birds.

We entered the back gate to the sewage ponds and the first south west pond was full of Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail and American Wigeon, and a few Green-winged Teal (Mew Gulls too).  Dunlin were scattered in all the ponds feeding in the mud.  We saw a few Peeps with them, Western Sandpipers, we think, and a couple of other sandpipers which may have been a Spotted and/or Pectoral Sandpiper.  Several Long-billed Dowitchers there too, all up-close-and-personal for photos, but we couldn’t confirm that we saw the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that has been regularly seen in these ponds.  Along the path between the ponds were mixed flocks of hundreds of European Starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds.  We picked out a few Brewer’s Blackbirds, and Noreen saw the Rusty Blackbird, but we didn’t get a photo.  Six Great-blue Herons weren’t bothered by us as they wandered with us along the path.

We wandered right to the back (really the front) pond and spotted a Scaup among the Pintails.  Then, on closer examination, there were more than a dozen Lesser Scaup there.  We searched for other different species among the hundreds of waterfowl and shorebirds in the ponds, but didn’t catch anything unusual.  We heard Marsh Wrens buzzing in a bush right in front of us, but they wouldn’t pop out to see.  A flock of Snow Geese circled us and flew right into David’s face.  Noreen prayed that no white-wash would fall as they passed above.  We exited the back gate, and before leaving the park, checked out the Canvasback again in the front pond where a pair of Hooded Mergansers was also diving.

It was already Noon, the time seemed to whizz by, and we were starving.  We decided to return to Tsawwassen and have lunch at the Rose & Crown Pub.  As we left the park, the tide was receding, and there were hundreds of Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers feeding on the shore very close to the road, and us, with muddy-faced Snow Geese.  We would have liked to stop here longer, but our stomachs were grumbling.  Our Lunch Specials in the R&C Pub, Vege Soup & Sandwich (mine was Bacon & Egg, of course with a pint of Canadian), were hot and delicious, with Leila’s superb service.  We bonded and warmed up nicely and I learned a helluva lot about Genetic Health Care.  I was home by 2:00 pm, with the Avocados, Milk & Bread as ordered, and in plenty of time to pick up granddaughter Juliette at school at 3:00.

Next Tuesday, November 28, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for Burnaby Lake Park, meeting in the Park parking lot by the Nature House around 8:30 am.  Our Burnaby Lake guru Roger Meyer will lead this outing.

Check out more outing info, reports and photos on our website. As always, your comments are welcome, and please advise if these miserable reports waste your time and you want off my e-mail list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society (going to Wednesday Noon Hockey, and the sun is shining)

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Black-bellied Plover, Canvasback, Dunlin, Hooded Merganser, Iona, Long-billed Dowitcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, Peregrine Falcon, Pied-billed Grebe, Red Crossbill, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Rusty Blackbird, Sewage Lagoons, Spotted Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-45 to Stanley Park

Delta Nats braving the rain

Braving the rain at Stanley Park – photo by Jack MacDonald

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

It was a miserable, rainy and cold Tuesday morning; nine hard core DNCBers sort of enjoyed a shortened, and relatively productive outing, to Stanley Park in Vancouver.  Check out Jack’s, Brian’s and Terry’s beaut photos, despite the rain, on our Flickr site at: www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-45 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

The nine were: Mike drove Roger Two, and Terry, Richmond Brian and Aussie Nance came alone, Marion & Marti parked by Lost Lagoon, Ladner Jack drove me.

We left Petra’s, or Ladner, at 7:30 am and the traffic in the rain was horrendous, as expected.  Fortunately for the HOV lane and the decent conversation (with Jack’s son Jeff), the drive into and through Vancouver to the Swimming Pool in Stanley Park was relatively calm and serene.  When Jack and I arrived at 8:45 am, the others were waiting, all bundled up in the rain.  Following the usually conversation about retiring to the Pub immediately, we begrudgingly paid the 7 bucks to park, and walked past the multitude of Movie Set vehicles to the sea wall (I forgot to enquire what movie or other production was being made).

There were large rafts of Barrow’s Goldeneyes close to shore in beautiful plumage. Scanning through them, we picked out several Buffleheads and Harlequin Ducks (beauties too).  Lots of American Wigeon and Mallards there too and both Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants flying by.  We walked along the sea wall path toward Siwash Rock, but turned around after about half an hour before reaching the rock.  Interestingly, almost all the runners who passed us were female; don’t guys run there, or was the weather too bad for them?

We saw a few Common Goldeneye among the Barrow’s, and some males were tilting their heads back in their ritual mating manoeuvre.  Several Surf Scoters were there two, and two Western Grebes cruised by, escorted by a Horned Grebe.  I think I saw a couple of Red-necked Grebes in the distance too.  A passing Bald Eagle raised all the ducks just as we were looking at a Red-throated Loon (Bird of the Day) very close to shore.  So the photogs finally retrieved their cameras from the car and Jack took the mandatory Group Photo before we left the sea wall trail and crossed the road toward Lost Lagoon.

Not many little birds seen or heard in the rain; Song and Fox Sparrows, Towhees, Chickadees, Juncos, and Marion had a Pacific Wren and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  At the bridge near the Lagoon, we spotted a Pied-billed Grebe.  It dove, and while searching for it, a River Otter sprung up right where the Grebe dove.  We (or some DNCB weirdos) thought the Otter had eaten the Grebe.  The Grebe arose later and we got good photos of it posing.

Among the shrubbery around the Lagoon, 5 pair of gorgeous Wood Ducks were cavorting as an American Coot watched.  We walked a bit further and saw some Hooded Mergansers in the distance with a couple of Common Mergansers diving with them.  Another raft in the distance we thought might be Ring-necked Ducks (Tufted Duck?), but were more Wood Ducks as confirmed later by Brian, Marti and Marion who completed the walk around the Lagoon.  The rest of us, except for Aussie Nance who bailed earlier to walk her dog, returned to the parking lot to ponder the future.  It was 10:45 am; we each claimed we weren’t wet or cold because we were all “dressed appropriately”, but Thank God the decision was to go for an early lunch.

Six guys drove to the Milltown Bar & Grill in Richmond (situated in the middle of the Fraser River with access only via Vancouver), and it was a glorious decision.  The pub was cozy and warm, Diamond’s service was excellent, my Fish & Chips and 1516 Okanagan Springs lager was delish, and we solved all the problems in the world.  That’s what DNCBers do.  The ride home was smooth too, arriving at 12:30 pm, earlier than usual.  All’s well that ends well.

Next Tuesday, November 21, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for Iona Regional Park.  Meet at parking lot near washrooms 8:15 am.

For more info, reports and photos, check out our website.  As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if this drizzling drivel annoys you and you want off my e-mail list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society (going to my Wednesday Noon Hockey, in the sunshine)

Posted in Bald Eagle, Barrow's Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Hooded Merganser, Lost Lagoon, Pelagic Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, River Otter, Siwash Rock, Stanley Park | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-44 to Terra Nova Park, Richmond

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Eighteen DNCBers spent a cold but dry Tuesday morning at Terra Nova Park in Richmond.  It was a particularly successful outing with several rare and photogenic sightings (e.g. Red Crossbills, Rough-legged Hawk, etc.).  Check out the photo evidence on our Flickr site at:  www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-44 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Some car-pooled at 7:30 am from Petra’s and we all met at the River Road “washroom entrance” to the Park around 8:10 am.  There were tonnes of Cormorants , mostly Double-crested, in the River, but what caught our attention was two pair of entertaining Hooded Mergansers.  The males would swoop around the females, raising and lowering their white hoods.  Large V’s of thousands of Snow Geese flew over us, heading to feeding areas in Richmond and Delta.

Following introductions of newbies and returning old-timers, Richmond Brian led us on our walk into the newly renovated, child-activity park.  Little birds were around (Juncos, House Finches, Sparrows – Fox, Golden-crowned, Song, Towhees, Chickadees but no Mountain, etc.) but only Anne saw a Warbler, Yellow-rumped.  David took the mandatory Photo of the Awesome Group at a bench near the pond.  Then the Sightings began!

Two Peregrine Falcons flew right above us, harassing a pair of adult Bald Eagles in a tree.  A Red-tailed Hawk harassed a juvenile Baldie.  Then at the Community Gardens a Northern Shrike posed for us. Purple Finches were neat too.  Then several Varied Thrush flew and landed in bushes around us for their photo ops.  Then a Cooper’s Hawk (or a Sharp-shinned Hawk, I think we saw both hawk species today, but they are difficult to distinguish for me) posed for us before flying off and scaring five small birds from a Pine Tree.  We followed the little birds, that Janet and Anne had recognized from their calls.  They were Red Crossbills, and we all got super looks and photos, even feeding upside down on pine cones.  A perched Red-tailed Hawk and several Northern Harriers gliding over the marsh were almost boring after these spectacular sightings.

We continued our walk inland past the mansions toward the golf course.  Some saw a Pacific Wren, but no Kinglets that we expected to see.  Glen pointed out the brilliant red Fly Amanita mushrooms.  We got to the dike trail where more, or the same, Red Crossbills flew by.  Also, a small flock of Pine Siskins flew the other way down the trail. We walked through the line of shrubs to the edge of the marsh and the river.  Ducks, mostly American, Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Mallards in the marsh, and Glen’s photogenic Great Blue Herons.  The weather was warming up a bit when Aussie Nance took a panoramic photo of us on the path along the shore.

We followed an inland trail beside the dike trail back to the parking lot.  Lots of Northern Flickers, and a Downy Woodpecker seen.  Then Newbie Wayne spotted a Rough-legged Hawk just arriving from the Arctic as it circled and characteristically hovered above us.  We got back to the parking lot before 11:00 am, and although very early, decided that the day’s sightings were so exhausting (and some of us were freezing, or inappropriately dressed) that we would retire to the Flying Beaver for an early lunch.

On the drive out along River Road, hundreds of Snow Geese had landed and were feeding on the grass and in people’s lawns.  Photogs, including us, stopped among them, and the birds were undisturbed.  Ten of us at the Flying Beaver warmed up nicely, and ordered breakfast before 11:30 am.  My Beaver Hash Special of Cheesy Poached Eggs on a Chorizo Sausage concoction of some sort was weird, for me, but delicious.  Of course, washed down with a pint of Sapporo Draught helped.  We left the Beaver before Noon having enjoyed another fantastic DNCB outing, and Sandra was pleased with my earlier arrival home, with her customary Timmy’s Iced Cap and Sour Cream Glazed Donut.

We eighteen were: Richmond Brian (today’s leader), Roger & Mike, Guru Anne (whose presentation last night on Seabird Colonies in England, Iceland & Peru was brilliant), returnees Bryan & Janet, Langley Ralph and his educated friend Newbie Wayne, Aussie Nance, our BO Box Team of Jim, Chris & Jack, North Delta’s Johnny Mac, David & Noreen, Glen B, Terry C and me.

Next Tuesday, November 14, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for an outing in Stanley Park.  We plan to meet at our regular spot, the Swimming Pool Parking lot around 8:30 am.

Check out our website for more outing info, reports and photos.  As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if you want off my List to receive these less-than-dynamic missives.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Hooded Merganser, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, Peregrine Falcon, Red Crossbill, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Terra Nova, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-43 to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and Reifel Bird Sanctuary

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Thirty (Wow! See names at end) folk enjoyed another brilliant Fall Tuesday morning in Delta on our DNCB outing to Roberts Bank (aka Salish Sea or Georgia Strait) at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, then through the Ladner and Westham Island farmers’ fields to Reifel Bird Sanctuary.  Lots of beautiful photos, especially of some rare/uncommon sightings, on our Flickr site at:  www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-43 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

A bunch(12?) of us met at Petra’s at 7:30 am and car-pooled to our first stop at the pull-off on the causeway to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.  The tide was fairly high, but receding.  Several Black Oystercatchers along the shore with rafts of Green-winged Teal (GWT) close by.  Near the spit and in the bay between the causeway and the Container Port were rafts of thousands of ducks, mostly American Wigeon, Northern Pintail and GWT.  We also saw Common Loons, Bufflehead (finally arriving), Scoters (mostly Surf), Northern Shovelers, a number of Eurasian Wigeon among the Americans, and a couple of Lesser Scaup (obviously Scaup have not yet arrived).  Lots of great Blue Herons, probably from the Tsatsu Heronry, on the mudflats too.  Flocks of Shorebirds occasionally whizzed by, Dunlin mostly.  We saw hundreds of Dunlin feeding in the mud there the next day (Wednesday) with the visiting Pender Island Naturalists.

On the south side of the causeway were large rafts too, mostly Surf Scoters.  Grebes were there, too, and we saw the three relatively common species, Western, Red-necked and Horned.  Both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and we finally located a few Harlequin Ducks.  The exciting discovery and our Target Bird was the Whimbrel, which posed for us among the resident Black Turnstones and Oystercatchers.  We drove to the terminal, searched in vain for the King Eider, and left our parking spots under the No Parking sign at the urging of the Terminal Police.  We were blanked on Snow Buntings and Horned Larks too.

The drive through the TFN was interesting seeing all the new development and Halloween-decorated front lawns, a Brewer’s Blackbird at the Kingfisher Bridge, and other common stuff, Eurasian Collared-doves, Finches, Northern Harriers.  Similarly, through the Ladner farmers’ fields and Westham Island (WI) only regular stuff seen (Woodpeckers/Flickers, Juncos, Robins, Mute Swans at WI Bridge).  We were searching for fields full of Snow Geese and flocks of Trumpeter Swans; also for Rough-legged Hawks, and perhaps early arriving Western Meadowlarks.  We saw Red-tailed Hawks and on Wednesday, did see a Rough-legged on Westham Island on Reynolds Farm, along with a flock of 5000 Snow Geese.

We got to our Mecca, Reifel Bird Sanctuary, at 9:40 am (only 10 minutes late) and there was a cast of thousands waiting.  Walking past the wintering Black-crowned Night Herons, we gathered at the Reifel Info signage for the Group Photo (27 w/o Johnny Mac, Richmond Brian and Jim K who were impatiently touring ahead).  Brown Creepers were in a nearby tree and some saw a Merlin at the entrance.  We followed the east dyke trail and the DNCB kiddies got their thrills as the Chickadees fed off their out-stretched hands.  Among the Mallards and Wigeons along the trail were several pair of gorgeous Wood Ducks which always thrill me.  I only saw Golden-crowned Kinglets, no Ruby-crowned, and heard Pacific Wrens.  Lots of Sparrows, Song, Fox, Golden-crowned, but we couldn’t find the Lark or Clay-colored Sparrows which were allegedly seen there days earlier.  We searched in vain for the Great-horned Owls, and perhaps an early arriving Sawhet.  Some saw a resident Barred Owl at Alaksen next door.

On an inner trail before going to the Tower for another partial Group Photo (21), we checked out Roger’s weird coloured spotted orange Mushrooms (Amanita Muscaria, poisonous, but of course Roger had a bite).   From the top of the lookout tower, while hand-feeding the brilliant Red-winged Blackbirds, a Northern Shrike landed in a nearby tree.  Since hunting season is open, the whole shoreline was lined with Snow Geese; I estimated 200,000 which is more than I have seen here since arriving in 2006.  There was also a flock of about 20 Trumpeter Swans there too, and swarms of Shorebirds occasionally weaving by in the distance.  Harriers and Red-Tails flying over the marsh, but we didn’t spot any Short-eared Owls this day.  The views across to the Islands and north at the mountains, on a clear day is always spectacular, especially with the thousands of birds surrounding you.

Taking the outer trail, we heard Virginia Rails but couldn’t coax them to visibility.  Several Greater Yellowlegs, maybe some Lesser’s too, in the pond, then a flock of Long-billed Dowitchers landed close for our photogs.  Some tried to pick out Short-billed Dowitchers in the mass.  We saw a few Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, American Coots and Hooded Mergansers in these ponds too (missed the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Pied-billed Grebes, the dozen Sandhill Cranes that are wintering here, and the Long-tailed Duck).

It was Noon when we got back to the entrance in sporadic groups, as expected with so many participants.  After reporting to Reifel Manager Kathleen, fourteen of us decided to try our old reliable Speed’s Pub in Ladner for lunch.

Before lunch, on leaving Reifel, I stopped at my friend’s barn on Westham Island to check for Barn Owls.  David and Noreen got some good shots of two roosting, but very aware of our intrusion.  Then my Fish & Chips Special with two pints of Okanagan Springs 1516 lager, also on special, hit the spot at Speed’s.  Mike too raved about his Schnitzel Madagascar Special.  David took a couple of table photos as the DNCB Hard Core shared lies and laughs.  It was another awesome DNCB outing.  I got back to Tsawwassen about 2:30 pm and home in time to share a bowl of Fruit Loops with our granddaughter Juliette who got off early from Kindergarten.

The 30 DNCBers included: Roger M & Mike B, Roger K & Glen B, David & Noreen, Guru Anne M, our Godfather Terry C, ILB Tony M, Webmaster Ken w/o Anne A, our DNS Bird Box Crew of Jim K, Chris M & Ladner Jack, White Rock’s Al & Alice, North Delta Liz & Alan & Johnny Mac, Langley Anne G, Newbies Ursula S & BSC’s James C, our Germanics Margaretha & Gabriele, our “real” birders Marion, Kirsten & Jean G, returnee Fern F, Richmond Brian, Denise K (aka Uma) and me (plus Gerhard (31) who met us at Petra’s). DNCBers love their name in print.

Next Tuesday, November 7, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for Terra Nova Park in Richmond.  We expect to meet others at the dyke parking lot by the washrooms around 8:15 am.

Also, next Tuesday evening at 7:30 pm at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen is our monthly Delta Nats meeting with Anne Murray presenting on Sea Bird Colonies in England, Iceland and Peru.  Learn more about this free event, and other Nats info and reports, on our website.


As always, your comments are welcome, and let me know if these seemingly longer and more whimsical messages irritate you and you want off my e-mail list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Brown Creeper, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Hooded Merganser, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mute Swan, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, Pelagic Cormorant, Red-necked Grebe, Red-tailed Hawk, Reifel, Ring-necked Duck, Rough-legged Hawk, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Whimbrel | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-42 to Deception Pass & Whidbey Island WA

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Terry and Roger organized a gem of an outing on Tuesday to Deception Pass and Whidbey Island in Washington State.  We had 21 participants under gorgeous sunshine spending an awesome day of birding and sight-seeing in this idyllic area of the San Juan Islands.  Check out the many beaut photos on our Flickr site at:  www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-42 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

At 7:30 am we mustered at the Peace Arch Park parking lot to car-pool for this day-long outing.  While waiting for the orienteering-challenged Laurie and Ka-Ling who sorrowfully did not make the trip, an American Kestrel entertained a few, along with FOSB’s Marg Cuthbert checking in to ensure we were all okay in her territory.

Terry took David & Noreen and Margaretha in her van, Chris took Jack, Jim and Anne, White Rock Al joined Rob & Marylile, Dutch Tom took his Langley crew of Wim, Joanne & Gareth, Roger took Mike and me.  Richmond Brian & Quilter Louise, and Lidia met us at the Ferry Terminal in Coupeville.  That’s our 21.

The Border was smooth, and it was a glorious 1 ½ hour drive down highway 5 and across 20 to the Deception Pass bridge and down Whidbey Island to the ferry terminal at Coupeville.  This being my first time on Whidbey Island, I especially relished the historical banter between Roger and Mike recounting their many visits to this area over the past six decades.  The exuberant 21 all arrived at the terminal around 9:30, shared pleasantries about how awesome the day already was, and then bought our ferry tickets ($1.65 each way) for the 10:00 am crossing of Admiralty Inlet (aka Strait of Juan de Fuca) to Port Townsend.  Some less-challenged in operating the ferry ticket machine (Canadians must input a numerical postal code) got to see the Western Grebe and Common Loons in the harbour.  Of course, only Roger saw the Pacific Loon.

Twenty of us went to the bow of the ferry for our Group photo (Rob was checking out the Beer stock in the café).  As the ferry took off the excitement crescendoed (Is that a word?).  Several Pigeon Guillemots were spotted, then a Common Murre came close, then a small flock of Marbled Murrelets flew by, then some saw a couple of Ancient Murrelets up close, then a Rhinoceros Auklet.  Five Alcids seen, but we were blanked on the Tufted Puffin which nests on nearby islands.  Then a spray was seen in the distance; it was a Gray Whale spouting.  Then four Harbour Porpoises approached us at the bow and whizzed by.  And the surrounding vistas, particularly of snowy Mount Baker in the distance were spectacular.  I wonder how many yellow spots were on the deck from DNCBers after experiencing these euphoric sightings.

At the Dover-like (white cliffs of) Port Townsend, we disembarked, then got right back on the ferry for the return trip.  Roger pointed out the historic Port Townsend brothel he apparently recognized (see Palace Hotel).  We saw many of the same species on the return trip, but often better views.  The Gray Whale, or another one, rolled and spouted for us again.  Lidia saw Orcas here yesterday (Monday).  We were unable to pick out a Brandt Cormorant among the Pelagic and Double-crested.  After disembarking at the Coupeville terminal we wandered around the adjacent Crockett Lake and Fort Casey State Park for an hour.  Some neat sightings included: more Heermann’s Gulls than most of us have ever seen (other Gulls were Ring-billed, California, Mew and Glaucous-winged), three Grebe species, Horned, Red-necked and Western, and a Belted Kingfisher.

On the trail up to the Fort Casey, originally built in the 1890’s, we saw lots of little birds including four Sparrow species, Song, Fox, White- and Golden-crowned, Anna’s Hummingbirds, House and American Goldfinches, and a beaut Cooper’s Hawk.  We took another Group Photo with the cannon behind us, on the Fort’s hill under the brilliant sun, gazing across the inlet at the twin Fort Worden.  Approaching 12:45 pm, we descended quickly to our vehicles so we could make Terry’s scheduled 1:00 pm lunch at the Front Street Grill in Coupeville.

Coupeville is a quaint little village on the water, Penn Cove.  We saw rafts of Surf Scoters from the restaurant’s window.  My lunch was simply superb: Mussels in wine sauce, with a bowl of Linguine and Garlic Toast, along with a 16 oz. glass (US ounces, smaller than ours) of a German Lager that Margaretha said was a “wheat yeast beer”.  I think all 21 of us, although squeezed into two long tables, were very pleased with their meals and service.

We left Coupeville around 2:30 pm and drove back up highway 20 to Deception Pass State Park just before the famous bridge.  Another beautiful park; we went to the West Point overlooking the Pass and up at the bridge.  More Heermann’s Gulls here, a Bonaparte’s Gull, Guillemots, grebe and scoter species, and some vividly colourful Harlequin Ducks.  Langley Tom led us along a beach trail to an 850 year old Douglas Fir tree.  We took another Group Photo here with our lovable “monkey” entertainer making a grand exit from the tree onto his tush.  We followed an inland trail through the woods and saw Golden-crowned Kinglets, Northern Flickers, Bald Eagles, some saw wrens.  Ring-necked Ducks were on Cranberry Lake, and we finally saw some Shorebirds, Killdeer and Greater(?) Yellowlegs.  I don’t tally species seen on the day, only neat ones I like, but Langley Gareth said we had 57 species on the day (not too shabby).  We got back to our vehicles around 4:30 pm, said goodbyes, and each car went their own way home.

Roger decided to take Mike and I on the scenic Chuckanut Drive along the coast to Bellingham.  It was magnificent too.  We saw an American Kestrel on a telephone wire, then a Short-eared Owl glided along side our van.  Then four Swans (early Trumpeters I guess) flew across the road in front.  I was too excited and couldn’t doze off as I usually do on these rides home.  We got to the border around 6:30 pm, no wait, and home by 7:00 pm.  Terry and Roger did a terrific job organizing this outing, and with the gorgeous weather, fantastic people, and spectacular sightings and scenery, this was one of my most enjoyable DNCB outings ever.

Next Tuesday, October 31 (Halloween), we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am for a local outing to Reifel and perhaps Alaksen.  I expect we’ll be at Reifel’s entrance around 9:30 am.

For more info on our outings, and reports and photos, check out our website at http://www.dncb.wordpress.com.

As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these long-winded, erratic missives bore or annoy you and you want off my e-mail list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society (1:00 am and exhausted)

Posted in *DNCB, American Kestrel, Ancient Murrelet, Bald Eagle, Bonaparte's Gull, Common Murre, Cooper's Hawk, Coupeville, Cranberry Lake, Crockett Lake, Deception Pass, Gray Whale, Harbour Porpoise, Harlequin Duck, Heermann's Gull, Marbled Murrelet, Mew Gull, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Red-necked Grebe, Rhinoceros Auklet, Ring-necked Duck, Short-eared Owl, Trumpeter Swan, Whidbey Island | Leave a comment