DNCB Outing No. 2017-20 to Burnaby Lake

15 Tom-less Casual Burnaby Lake Birders (RM)

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

More photos of this Outing are on our Flickr website at: www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-20 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Fifteen Delta Naturalist Casual Birders arrived at 8:30 am at the Nature House in Burnaby Lake Regional Park, where we were greeted by a crèche of over a dozen Canada Goose goslings guarded by a ferocious gander and his mate.  A beautiful Anna’s Hummingbird was at the hummingbird feeder, and several Brown-headed Cowbirds were gorging themselves at another feeder.

We headed down to the wharf at Piper Spit where we saw over a dozen pair of Wood Ducks, and many Mallards, but the highlight was a Pied-billed Grebe in breeding plumage, swimming and diving amongst the water lilies.  Some Red-winged Blackbirds were in the reeds on the shore and Barn, Violet-green, and Tree Swallows flew over the water.  Roger took the group photo at the end of the pier.  As we returned towards the Nature House, a Canada Goose revealed a clutch of eggs it was trying to hatch.

From there, we meandered west along the Cottonwood Trail through a mix of cedar, spruce, and cottonwood along trails, following the north shore of the lake.  We heard Wilson’s and Yellow-rumped Warblers, and saw a Northern Flicker.  An Orange-crowned Warbler was sighted high in the crown of a deciduous tree, and there were several Black and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, as well as Spotted Towhees and Robins.  There were also some highlights: a Swainson’s Thrush, a Willow Flycatcher and a Pileated Woodpecker.  Four Pacific Wrens flitted amongst the undergrowth, and a Brown Creeper wound his way up the trunk of a tree.  There were also several very bold and hungry Douglas squirrels enjoying sunflower seeds left by a previous passerby, and a tiny shrew basking in the sun by the side of the path.

Heading east on the Brunette Headwaters Trail, we saw Rufous Hummingbirds and lots of Cedar Waxwings.  The Black-headed Grosbeaks and Swainson’s Thrushes were making lots of noise, and occasionally showed up for a photo op.  A Bald Eagle flew overhead, and and an Osprey fished in the water near the Western Painted Turtles beach.  We even managed to identify a Northern Rough-winged Swallow, just for Tom!

We finally reached the east end of the lake and the Cariboo Dam on the Brunette River.  A Great Blue Heron was fishing on the dam spillway but, sadly, we could not find any Kingfishers or American Dippers.

We headed back to the Nature House around 11:30 and were then on our way home at around noon.  It was a lovely outing – we even had some sunshine.

Report by Nance Forster

Next week’s outing, Wed. May 31st, will be to the Semiahmoo FGC/Little Campbell River Hatchery with Roy Thomson, followed by a birding walk at nearby Brooksdale EC (A-Rocha) with Stan Olson.  Leave Petra’s at 7:30 am, arrive at Hatchery parking around 8:15 am, to Brooksdale EC ~10:30.  If you want to stay for lunch at Brooksdale (and have not already told Ken) please contact Ken at kenborrie@gmail.com ASAP so that the cook has an idea of the numbers to prepare for.

“The meal would be largely prepared with produce from the large organic farm on site, and served outdoors, weather permitting, overlooking the LCR valley where the habitat has been enhanced for the endangered Salish Sucker and for Pacific salmon species, etc.  Cost would be $5.00 per person.

The menu would be limited to the dish of the day, and Brooksdale is not a licenced establishment, so no drinks are for sale.”  Stan Olson

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Brown Creeper, Burnaby Lake, Douglas Squirrel, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Osprey, Pied-billed Grebe, Pileated Woodpecker, Shrew Mole, Swainson's Thrush, Willow Flycatcher, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

BBRP – Swallow Box Activity Report

by Chris McVittie (May 23, 2017)

Swallow eggs, taken with endoscope (CMcV)

These last few days, I have either opened or used an endoscope to check the boxes.  Up until this opening I have just observed nest box activity [on a number of outings].

The nest boxes are quite active with eggs being laid.  Only one nest has chicks [House Sparrow], hatched in last 2-3 days.

House Sparrow nests                         10
Tree Swallow nests with eggs          13
Tree Swallow nests no eggs               5
Chickadee [probable]                          1
Empty [or not checked]                     30  [4 were not checked due to undergrowth, 3 of these are probable House Sparrow, 1 I was unable to open]

Total # boxes                                     50 [19 new this year]


1.  Activity in new boxes is light

12 along dyke [1 swallow nest 5 eggs, 3 nests partially built, 8 empty]
5 in interior along fence [1 swallow nest 3 eggs, 1 being fought over Sparrow and Swallow, 3 Empty]
2 behind pump house inside [1 swallow nest 4 eggs, 1 Empty]

2.   One box [107] that was Tree Swallow was taken over by Sparrows.

Result 1 dead Swallow.  Something similar might happen at [103] Swallow nest observed last week, house sparrow in and out on Saturday.

3.   Two boxes by raptor trail 26 and 27 both have Swallows in with eggs

4.    Use of endoscope without ladder makes it easier on nest checker AKA “Swallow Whisperer”

5.    Checking boxes takes quite a while as many people [a dozen] were interested in finding out about the project.  Conversations were quite long.

Posted in *DNCB, *DNS, BBRP, Nestbox | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-19A in Brisbane, Australia

            Powerful Owl (AM)

A cast of two participated in an “away” outing in Brisbane, Australia on
Thursday (local time). We also lucked out on some beaut sightings. Two of us
car-pooled from South Bank at 7:30 am, with Brian chauffeuring. Driving was
a breeze as we headed west out of town to a secret destination. We arrived
at 7:45 am and walked up a wooded trail for ten minutes where we almost
immediately found copious amounts of splat in a dry creek that soon revealed
our target bird, a Powerful Owl, roosting in a shady tree (photos
forthcoming). Our party of two then left that woodland and headed further
west for about an hour, on a winding but empty road. Various common Aussie
birds were observed flying over, including Sulphur-crested Cockatoos,
Rainbow Lorikets, Striated Pardelotes, Willie Wagtail and Welcome Swallows.
A Satin Bowerbird was a bit of a surprise. Bell Miners called from the trees
– they are expanding their range and drive all other creatures nuts with
their weird and incessant calls. We arrived at our grassland destination
within an hour. Brian immediately spotted a Tawny Grassbird, one of several
observed. Australian Pipits (very similar to American Pipits; different
accent) were everywhere. Brightly-coloured male Red-backed Fairy-Wrens posed
on the fence posts while their grass-coloured females lurked on the ground.
Golden-headed Cisticolas were singing and posting too. Some distant fence
post birds drew us up the track and closer views revealed a number of
singing Horsfield’s Bushlarks.
Their plumage reminded me of longspurs but Brian told me they are totally
unrelated and he knows everything about bird taxonomy. We wanted
Black-breasted Button-Quail but our visit to the owl had put us an hour too
late and it was too sunny and bright. The button-quails were all hiding in
the long grass and staying quiet. We heard one call in the distance but that
was it. At 11:45 am, we headed back stopping at interesting places. A
wetland held about twenty species including Azure Kingfisher, White-necked
Heron, Australasian Grebes,  Darter, Australian White  Pelican, and the
usual Wood Ducks and Hardheads. A couple of Nankeen Kestrels were hanging
out and a Brown Falcon came by. A pull out park further up the road also had
a stream with water running in it, which attracted a lot of little birds.
The odd call of a Restless Flycatcher (also called Scissor Grinder) alerted
us to its presence and it was fun to watch as it fluttered around, calling
and catching bugs. A male Rainbow Bee-eater was perched on a tree, a small
flock of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins and two Double-barred Finches came to
drink at the water, and a beautiful male Rufous Whistler showed off its
plumage above us. Brian was excited to show me two Wedge-tailed Eagles
soaring overhead (wings in a
dihedral) as these are one of his regular garden birds. There were a bunch
of other birds here too. A Yellow-tailed Cockatoo was feeding on an
overhanging tree as we drove by looking for somewhere for a snack as it was
now 3 pm and we had had no lunch, both of us having forgotten to bring food
or drink. The few cafes along the quiet country road were all closed.
We reached Sampsondale (or Sampsonvale, or some such name) where Brian swore
there would be food. All the cafes except one had stopped serving lunch, but
we finally found a place that served us tea. I had an apple muffin and Brian
had a sort of Nanaimo bar dessert, but green inside not white, rather oddly
served with a side of ice cream that he had not requested but ate anyway.
Our server was a lad from Middlesborough (England; football team just been
relegated; much discussion). We then drove back to Brisbane through rather
heavy traffic. Species count about 56.

Anne Murray

Posted in *DNCB | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-19 to Colony Farm

DNCB at Colony Farm (RM)  (click on photo to enlarge)

A cast of “thousands” participated in our away outing to Colony Farm Regional Park (CF) in Coquitlam on Wednesday. The decent weather and prospect of some neat sightings brought out over 30 DNCBers (see List at end). We really lucked out with some beaut sightings. 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 2017-19 to “DNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Ten of us car-pooled beautifully in two vehicles from Petra’s at 7:30 am. Terry chauffeured five of us in Margaretha’s van and Chris took three with him. Although new Highway 17 was a breeze, the Patullo Bridge and driving through New Westminster was a nightmare, horrendous traffic and very slow (not to mention Terry’s “shortcut”). We got to the Community Garden “make shift” parking lot behind the Psycho Institute (construction/paving at regular parking lot) at 8:45 am, where Roger and the edgy masses had already begun the search for Lazuli Buntings, our target bird. We all amalgamated and started our huge queue of chatterboxes along the lower Garden Trail. Lots of Warblers around; we saw many Wilson’s, a few Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and Common Yellowthroats (lots of yellow, eh). Warbling Vireos too. Tonnes of Swallows hawking insects, including Tree, Violet-green, Barn and we even identified several Northern Rough-winged. A Crow eating a snake and a male Northern Harrier capturing a mole were entertaining sightings.

A pair of Otters also entertained us in the Coquitlam River. We saw some neat ducks too including gorgeous pairs of Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Gadwall, and both Wood Ducks and Mallards with ducklings. Most of us gathered on the Millennium Bridge where Roger took a Group Photo. We ran into cycling Colony Farm Guru David Schutz who said the Yellow-headed Blackbird he saw last week was here today in a different form, a Redwing behind a yellow flower. While chatting with David, our Hamiltonian visitor Lyle spotted, and photographed, a Lazuli Bunting. He and a couple of others saw the bird but we were not able to re-locate it, or another one, all morning. Sad, but at least we know they’re there. We were blanked on Western Tanagers, but CF’s David saw a pair of Black-headed Grosbeaks.

Walking the Pumphouse Trail toward the Grebe Pond, we got good looks, and photos, of more Warblers and Sparrows, including Savannah and Song  Sparrows. A Red-tailed Hawk circled above, and we may have seen a Peregrine Falcon on a hydro tower. Several Bald Eagles around. At the Grebe Pond, some of us saw one Pied-billed Grebe, but didn’t see the mate or their nest. No Rails seen or heard either, but the Swallows were entertaining, and here is where we got good looks at a pair of Yellow Warblers. My three hockey buddies, Lyle, Tim and Dave, who crashed our outing, got bored after losing sight of the playful Otters and left us here

On the walk back, we got good looks at a number of Flycatchers, other than the Bunting.  We saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a Western Wood-Pewee, and an Eastern Kingbird (see photos). Number One Colony Farm Guru (self-proclaimed) Larry C joined us here and led us to the Village Green Trail in search of Lazuli’s. No luck, and we were even rebuffed at the Work Shed by an overly-protective MV Parks staff from continuing our search beyond the shed. A singing Purple Finch, along with House Finches and American Goldfinches, a beaut female Belted Kingfisher, along with some low-flying Vaux Swifts, closed out our very successful and enjoyable CF outing.

Ten of us went for lunch at the famous and very busy Gillnetter Pub in Port Coquitlam.  My Daily Special of a huge Prawn Pasta with Garlic Toast, along with two 1516 Lagers was worth the wait. The ride back to Tsawwassen was a satisfying snoozer, interestingly followed by another afternoon snooze.

Next Wednesday, May 24, Roger will lead an outing to “his” Burnaby Lake Park. I will be at our son’s Wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Leaving Petra’s at 7:30 am, the group should meet at the Burnaby Lake Park parking lot by the Nature House at the end of Piper Ave around 8:30 am. For more outing info and directions, and other reports and photos, go to our website at: www.dncb.wordpress.com. As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these mindless missives annoy you and you want off my e-mail List. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

We 31 were: Roger M, Terry C, Glen B, Hamilton Lyle J, Margaretha, David & Noreen, Jonathan & Lorraine, Pat & Maureen, Chris & Jim, Johnny Mac, Prince Rupert’s Roy, Solveig & “long lost” Gordon, Alan & Liz, Valerie W, Richmond Brian, Aussie Nance, Adventurist Marylile, White Rock Al, local Gurus Larry C, David S and David ?, Hockey Players Lyle F, Tim W & Dave N, and me.


Posted in *DNCB, Colony Farm, Lazuli Bunting, Northern Harrier, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Olive-sided Flycatcher, River Otter, Wilson’s Warbler, Wood-Peewee, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

2017-18A Mother’s Day Tea with the Birds

Someone must have appeased the weather gods; Mother’s Day was a bit cool and windy, but the sun was shining, making it a very pleasant day for the annual Tea with the Birds.

Estimates varied but there were 80 to 100 visitors enjoying the displays and refreshments and 40 or more on the birding walk led by Tom Bearss.

Samantha Woods, Metro Vancouver Parks Interpreter, Drew Bondar and his colleague from Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust and Catherine Jardine from Birds Studies Canada all had interesting displays related to the theme of Stopping Points: Helping Birds along the Way.  People were captivated by the Goshawk and Harris’s Hawk from Raptor Ranch.  Delta Naturalists Society display, manned by Terry Carr, Jim Kneesch, Chris McVittie, Anita DenDikken, Valerie Fuller and Valerie Whitlam was as educational and entertaining as always. Boundary Bay Park Association’s Volunteer Coordinator Justine Nelson was showcasing the new BBPA poster board and volunteer brochure she created.

Don Brodeur dropped by with his Model T which also got lots of attention.

Metro Vancouver staff, led by Jennifer Cote, were efficient, cheerful and helpful and BBPA volunteer JoAnne McAllister and new BBPA member Lauris Williams were a great help, particularly when it came to serving refreshments.

The only thing which could be improved in future is the visibility of a couple of the displays.  The two which were around the corner of the porch probably didn’t get their fair share of visitors.  If the weather permits, we could look at having more displays on the lawn.

See Jim Kneesch and Terry Carr’s photos at:



E. Perrin

Posted in *BBPA, *DNCB, Cammidge House, Mother's Day | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-18 to Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

DNCB at Queen Elizabeth Park (RM)

More photos of this Outing are on our Flickr website at: www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-18 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

We had 19 participants (names at end) enjoying a, finally, rainless Wednesday morning at spectacular Queen Elizabeth Park in downtown Vancouver. The gardens were gorgeous and we saw some neat birds too. Check out the beaut 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 2017-18 to “DNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Eleven of us carpooled nicely from Petra’s in three vehicles at 7:30 am (Glen B chauffeuring Margaretha’s van, Roger Two, and D&N driving). The drive into the city was relatively smooth , for a change, through rush hour traffic, and we got to the Golf Course parking lot at the Park before 8:30 am. The masses were waiting there for us, underneath an active Bushtit nest watching the parents going in and out. We introduced the Newbies, annual visitor Lyle from Hamilton Ontario, Aussie Nance’s sister Vickie, returnee Richmond Bill, and the Vagabond Roger M (we never know where he is going or coming from). A nice lady took our Group Photo (without time-challenged sisters Pat & Maureen) outside the Golf Shop office; no Hummingbird feeders hanging there, although we did see several during the morning, both Anna’s and Rufous.

We started our walk among the trees around the golf course. There was lots of Warbler activity. We got good looks at Wilson’s and Yellow-rumped (mostly Audubon), but couldn’t identify Townsend’s, Nashville, MacGillivray’s, or Orange-crowned that were reported there this week. Several Nats got nice photos of a Black-throated Gray Warbler later and Dave Boyd saw a Tennessee Warbler near the Love Lock Structure. Lots of Warbling Vireos around too, but we couldn’t find the Cassin’s (or Hutton’s) Vireo. Three Olive-sided Flycatchers surprisingly posed on a high tree top. While watching the Flycatchers, an American Kestrel gave a fly-past. Vaux Swifts were high in the clouds.

We continued circling the park walking around the restaurant; everyone was bubbling over about how beautiful were all the different gardens. Longtime Gardener Ned said they were 9 days late blooming this year, but we picked a perfect day as everything seemed to be in full bloom and in spectacular colour. Nat David was particularly good at identifying many of the trees, especially those with name plaques (e.g. Handkerchief Tree). In the “bowl” we saw the nesting Anna’s Hummingbirds, feeding two relatively large babies in the nest. At the Love Lock Structure, the nesting Red-breasted Nuthatches were around, but only fleetingly. Roger pointed out the Cooper’s Hawk nest, and some could see activity in it, but I gave up after staring at it from all sides for 20 minutes. They were either very deep in the nest, or I need glasses.

In the pond, a pair of Mallards was shepherding about 7 ducklings. Nearby, while looking at Warbling Vireos and Hummers, a Western Tanager popped into Liz’s view. Then there were at least 8 Tanagers flitting in the tall Cedars, for brilliant views and photos. So there was a lot of excitement this morning for our Photogs with not only the beautiful bird sightings, but also the dazzling flowers, the spectacular views of the city and mountains, and of course, the casual shots of DNCBers, if you can catch them when they’re not chatting.

Around 11:30 am, we returned to the vehicles and 13 of us decided to have lunch at the Locus Restaurant on Main Street.  A great decision as the meals, breaky or lunch, were delish, and cheap, which we really like. Of course, the Jug of 1516 Beer went very well with my Elk (yes Elk) Sandwich, Home-made Veggie Soup and Salad. Another awesome, and dry, DNCB outing. We 19 were: our Phantom/Vagabond Leader Roger M,  Terry C, Chris M, Jim K, David & Noreen, Aussie Nance and Vickie, Richmond Brian A, North Delta Liz, sisters Maureen & Pat, our new Social member Valerie, Roger Two, Hamilton Lyle, Margaretha, Richmond Bill, Chauffeur Glen B and me.

Next Wednesday, May 17, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for Colony Farm (Lazuli Buntings?). We plan to meet at the CF Community Garden parking lot around 8:30 am, depending on traffic. Don’t forget Mother’s Day this Sunday, 12:30 to 2:30 pm, with our annual International Migratory Bird Day event at Cammidge House, with Tea, Displays, and a Bird/Nature Walk in Boundary Bay Regional Park. For more info on these and other Nats events, and to see reports on earlier DNCB outings, including two gems on our last two outings to Deer Lake in Burnaby and Tennant Lake in Washington, by Marion S and White Rock Al respectively, check out our website at: www.dncb.wordpress.com.   And, as always, let me know if these laborious and verbose ramblings are too annoying and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Black-throated Grey Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Queen Elizabeth Park, Warbling Vireo, Western Tanager, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-17 to Tennant Lake, Washington

DNCB at Tennant Lake (DH)

More photos of this Outing are on our Flickr website at: www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-17 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Ten weather-wary DNC Birding Brigadiers gathered with umbrellas in hand on a wet and nebulous morning at the Blaine Harbor parking lot for a second outing to Tennant Lake near Ferndale WA. After a quick check along the boat docks which netted only Horned and Red-necked Grebes, the first group portrait was snapped and then the convoy of vehicles headed south down the rain drenched Interstate 5. While eight of the participants arrived at the destination within 20 minutes, two drivers did not follow directions, took wrong turns and promptly got lost; one visited Terrell Lake and the other got to explore Ferndale. However in the end, the original group made up of Tom, Noreen, David, Chris, Mike, Terry, Roger M, Roger Two, Ladner Jack and WR Al got back together and was greeted by Sisters Maureen and Pat who had been waiting patiently at the Tennant Lake parking lot.

The weather had improved to the point where umbrellas and rain gear could be discarded.

While some individuals stopped to touch, smell and enjoy the beauty of the more than 200 different plants in the fragrance garden, others scrambled up the 15 metres to the top of the observation tower to view the lake and a couple observed several Yellow-rumped Warblers flittering about in an adjacent bush below. Then it was off on the path through the wetlands where Marsh Wrens were rattling, Red-winged Blackbirds were squeaking and Goldfinches and Yellowthroats were singing. Arriving on the observation platform of the elevated boardwalk, the troop espied a partly submerged Great Big Heron attempting to spear aquatic morsels. A number of Coots, Wood Ducks and Buffleheads were paddling in the lake covered with Water Lilies while Tree and Violet-green Swallows were catching insects over the water.

Observed from the narrow boardwalk loop, which meanders for about a kilometre just centimetres above the water through swamp and marsh habitats along the edge of the lake, were a Yellow Warbler, a male Rufous Hummer, a Pileated and then a Downy Woodpecker. A Baldy was perched on the very top of a wildlife tree guarding its massive nest in a Poplar, and a Purple Finch was photographed shouting at the top of its lungs. However, the highlight of the day had to be a Cinnamon Teal pair seen on the way back to the starting point at the Interpretive Center.

A ramble along the Hovander Homestead Trail, which borders and then crosses a slough, netted the expected four species of sparrows. At two locations, water flowing across the path forced everyone to walk the plank with limited success – there were a number of splashes. At the Heritage Farm, domestic geese, bunnies, chickens and sheep were about, and Cowbirds were busy beside their grazing four-legged namesakes in a grassy meadow. Some in our group managed to reach the Nooksack River to report that is was flowing too fast for any waterfowl.

After marching a distance of about 3.5 km at the two venues, all twelve participants thought that lunch at the Chihuahua Restaurant in nearby Ferndale was in order. Although only 30 or so avian species were observed and photographed and a couple of others were heard only, everyone had to agree that it was another great DNCB expedition. After all, the weather had improved from cool and soggy to almost good, the trees, bushes and wetland- and water plants were metamorphosing into their finest colours, the scenery was lovely and the Mexican food tasted awesome.

Report by Al Schulze

Next Wednesday, May 10, our outing will be to Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. We meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am and expect to be at the QE park parking lot by the Golf Course around 8:15 – 8:30 am, depending upon traffic.

Posted in Tennant Lake | Leave a comment