DNCB Outing No. 2018-49 to Terra Nova Park, Richmond

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

DNCB at Terra Nova – photo by Noreen Rudd

A large group of keen Delta Nats birders gathered on a frosty morning in the Terra Nova parking lot.  Despite the chilly morning, it was beautifully sunny, perfect for finding birds, and good for the photographers among us.  Their great photos are much appreciated.

I arrived a bit late only to see the group disappearing into the woods.  Birders tend to dawdle now and then so I was soon able to catch up with them.  They had a list of birds for the blog that had already been spotted – Northern Pintails, Mallards, and American Wigeon.  Also found was a number of  Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Eurasian Wigeon, Green-winged Teal and Bufflehead.

As we walked on the path Into the trees several sparrow species were observed – Song, Fox (Sooty) and Golden-crowned.  The trees here were quite alive with birds such as American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon), Black-capped Chickadees and Spotted Towhees.  Also flying about  were several Downy Woodpeckers that were  first heard and then located in the higher parts of the trees.

Brian Avent, our leader then took us along a path into parts of the park that most of us (make that me) had never been on before.  It proved to be very good habitat with water on one side and trees on the other.  In this general area were even more good sightings: Northern Flicker, Pacific Wren, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets as well as our usual regulars, House Finch and quite a number of American Robins.

Several Bald Eagles, both adults and juveniles, were seen throughout the park perched high in the trees.  A number of other raptors were spotted, many at a distance, partly obscured and somewhat tricky to identify.   A short discussion followed over two of these hawks, and the  eventual identification for both was that they were Red-tailed Hawks.  Since Brian had located a Northern Goshawk in this location the previous day, we had hoped to find it again.  This prompted the particularly careful scrutiny of any hawk perched in a tree, no matter how far away.  The Merlin and the two Northern Harrier were more closely seen and so easily identified.

A particular delight for the group was the sudden flight into the sun of a beautiful pale Barn Owl.  In those few seconds David, Terry and Brian  managed to snap several good photos of the owl, which for many was the bird of the day.

We also walked along the edge of the marsh where hundreds of Dunlin could be seen feeding along the shore.  Also seen was a Marsh Wren, Great Blue Heron and Double-crested Cormorant.  Several times during the morning flocks of Snow Geese were heard honking and observed as they flew overhead.

By the time we arrived back at the parking lot, we had seen a few other species that are often found here: Northwestern Crows and Rock Pigeons.  A number of the group stayed a bit longer and were rewarded with finding several Hooded Mergansers and the elusive Wilson’s Snipe.  Certainly not a species that can be easily found.  It would prove to be a second bird of the day for those who had stayed later.

Our group this morning included: Johnny Mac, Marion, Marti, Lidia, Roger 1, Roger 2, Terry, Gabriele, Mike 1,  Marguerite, Noreen, David, Glen, Mike 2, Jack, Pat, Maureen, Brian our excellent leader, and me (Jean).

Quite a good day out birding as usual and as always interesting and fun.  A thank you goes out to Brian for leading the trip.

Report by Jean Gartner

Next week, on Wednesday 12 December, is our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing. We will meet at and leave historic Cammidge House at 9:00 am on our 2 ½ hour walk in Boundary Bay Regional Park, returning to CH at 11:30 am for the famous Delta Nats Ladies’ Goodies (see Rochelle’s poster below).  With any luck, we will have our leader Tom Bearss back from his adventures (walkabout?) in Australia!


Poster & photos by Rochelle Farquhar

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barn Owl, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-tailed Hawk, Terra Nova, Wilson's Snipe | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-48 to Drayton Harbor/Semiahmoo Spit

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

With the  preceding few days of heavy rain and more forecast, we were expecting more of the same for our regular Tuesday outing.  Fortunately, the five members showing up at our Peach Arch Park meeting spot were rewarded with one of the most beautiful, sunny, days yet!  Mike, David, Terry, Jack and myself (Roger) passed through the US Customs with no wait, and turned down the road to the pier in Blaine.

It should be mentioned that there was a very high tide today leaving very little shoreline exposed.  Our first stop at the base of the jetty yielded a raft of Mallards, and a few Canada Geese in the distance, and little else.  Parking at the  lot at the end, we walked to the observation deck looking across to the Semiahmoo Spit, and found the following birds on the water: several Common Loons, Horned, Red-necked and Western Grebes, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Common Goldeneyes, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and some Red-breasted Mergansers.  Far out on the water, some Long-tailed Ducks and a cluster of Brant could be barely made out.

Returning to the van, we drove to the marina gate and went down to the floating docks where we saw only another Common Goldeneye and one Horned Grebe!  On the rock breakwater I took a photo of a gull that turned out to be a California when I processed it on the computer.  As we were leaving, we were joined by the late riser Brian bringing our trip total up to six.  Did I mention that it was a beautiful sunny day?  …you lazy sleep-ins!

Leaving the pier at Blaine, we headed to Semiahmoo Spit, which  I calculated to be a long par 5 distance away (maybe a par 6 for Tom), a twenty minute drive around Drayton Harbor (ok… that’s the last time I spell harbor this way, even though my spell-check is trying to make me do so)!  Our first stop on the way was at Dakota Creek Park where the creek meets Drayton Harbour.  There is a bird feeder at the side of the house beside the trail down to the water, and there were Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, and Towhee enjoying it.  There was nothing to see on the water itself.

We then circled around the base of the harbour, and, due to the lack of birds because of the  high tide, continued to the base of the Semiahmoo Spit where we parked.  The only Belted Kingfishers we saw were along this south road.  On the Boundary Bay facing side of the spit, we had large numbers of Surf Scoters, some Buffleheads, Red-breasted Mergansers, distant Long-tailed ducks, and more Common Loons.

Crossing the road to the east, we found more Scoters, but predominantly White-winged (something we noticed in previous trips).  Also, we found the first Ruddy Duck.  We had hoped to encounter Canvasbacks, but came up empty.  It’s possible there were some there, but the angle of the sun made it difficult to scan out to the middle of the harbour where we usually see them.  Most of the action here was along the shore line where the  high tide probably worked to our advantage forcing the Black Turnstones and Sanderlings right up to the road where we had amazing looks at them.  They didn’t seem concerned with pedestrians passing by on the sidewalk, and our photos should be spectacular.  Walking along the beach, we encountered a number of Golden-crowned Sparrows.

Just before the marina, there are linked floats that extend several hundred meters out into the harbour.  Near the shore, the first float had a resting Black Oystercatcher and a Whimbrel with its head tucked in.  It wasn’t until it uncurled it’s head and the shorter curved beak and striped head could be seen that it could be distinguished from a long-billed Curlew.  I’d say this bird was probably the sighting of the day!  At the farthest end of the line of floats there were dozens of sleeping Harbour Seals and Double-crested Cormorants!

Walking around the top of the spit, we turned into Boundary Bay proper and finally had some close-up views of the Long-tailed Ducks, male and female.  Also, there were some Red-throated Loons but no Pacifics like we had on the previous outing here where we had dozens of both species.

DNCB_Group at Blaine_TC.JPG

DNCB at Semihmoo Spit – photo by Terry Carr

On the pier looking across to the white-painted, white rock of White Rock (wasn’t painted when I was a kid!) we had a passer-by take  our obligatory group photo, and then went inside the resort to have our lunch (coincidentally, it was exactly 12:00 noon, and the restaurant had just opened… perfect timing).  While eating, we were able to see most of the birds we had seen earlier pass below us outside our picture window.  If it had rained, we could have birded from the restaurant!

We had a great time today, and lucked out with the weather and lots of great birds… check out the group’s photos to see what you wimps lost out on by staying in bed!

Because of the Semiahmoo Spit, Drayton Harbour is like a bay-within-a bay, and I keep referring to my Anne Murray’s “Nature Guide to Boundary Bay” that lists all of the sources of water that drain into the Bay.  We all know of the Nicomekl, Serpentine and Little Campbell,  but the Dakota and California rivers are important sources, of which most of us have probably never heard (check the “Publications” listed on the right side of our blog).

For a complete list of species seen today check out Brian’s e-Bird list at:https://ebird.org/shared?subID=UzUwMjY1Mzg5&s=t

Report by Roger Meyer

Next week, Tues. Dec. 4, DNCB will visit Terra Nova Park, Richmond; leave Petra’s at 7:30 am, meet at west end of River Road ~ 8:15 am.

Later on Tuesday Dec. 4, our monthly DNS meeting will feature speakers Noreen Rudd & David Hoar, describing their adventures in Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica.  Meeting at 7:30 pm, at Benediction Lutheran Church

Tom on Top of Down Under
Not too much from Tom this week, but he seems to be  having too much fun!

“A tough but enjoyable morning trudging through the jungle to find one of the 13 Tunnels  in Yalgorup National Park.  Beautiful vista to follow over Preston and other surrounding lakes.”

Only 15 days left, Tom… make the best of it!


Tom attacked by killer Termites

Posted in *DNCB, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, California Gull, Harbour Seal, Long-tailed Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Loon, Ruddy Duck, Sanderling, Whimbrel | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-47 to BC Ferries Causeway/TFN Lands/Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

With a beautiful morning to look forward to, the Petra’s group departed for the Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty, where we met those who had gone directly there.  Parking at the pull-out near the terminal, we scanned the compensation lagoon and tried to identify the large number of birds on the water and shoreline.

On the north side of the jetty birds seen included a small group of Black Turnstones and Black Oystercatchers feeding on the shore rocks.  On the water there was a Common Loon failing to swallow a flatfish after working at it for several minutes.  Also, there were large flocks of Pintail, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallards, Surf and White-winged Scoters, scattered Buffleheads, and Horned Grebes.

Several Double-crested Cormorants were diving.  Looking farther off shore we saw recently arrived Brants and some Western Grebes.  On the south side of the jetty we were looking into the rising sun which made it difficult to see clearly but there were many more Black Oystercatchers, and Black Turnstones as well as a small group of Harlequin and Surf and White-winged Scoters.  The only raptors included a few Bald Eagles on lamp posts, and what might have been a juvenile Peregrine Falcon.

Driving through the TFN lands, there were very few birds seen.  A small number of Green-winged Teals were in the Kingfisher Slough, and a Red-tailed Hawk in a distant tree.  The pond at the end of the TFN road had only a few Green-winged Teal, and there was a dark raptor that we thought was a very dark Red-tailed.

On the dyke just west of the Westham Island bridge, we scanned the river but saw only a small (unidentified) flock of gulls and didn’t see the Mute Swans until we were on the bridge!  In a field just before the Reifel gates there was a small flock of Snow Geese but we didn’t encounter the really large numbers seen in the last week.

DNCB at Reifel Bird Sanctuary – photo by Noreen Rudd

Arriving at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, we met the remainder of our birders including our “guru” Anne Murray bringing our total to 26!  Once again, with such large numbers, it was impossible to collate what everyone had seen, as we got so spread out over the trails… so for exact numbers, see Brians e-Bird report!

Heading past the gift shop we made our first stop to look at the three wintering Black-crowned Night-herons.  All along this beginning stretch Black-capped Chickadees, Song, House, White-crowned, Golden-crowned, and Fox Sparrows were waiting to be fed.  At one point three Sandhill Cranes flew overhead heading to the fields to the north.  We initially thought the three were the resident cranes, but when we got to the fields adjacent to the east trail, we saw the three plus five others for a total of eight… the high-light of the day.  *(See the interesting Sandhill Crane aside at the end of this Report).  Half-way along the east trail, Marion spotted a Red-breasted Nuthatch.  I had hoped to see a Brown Creeper, but it was not to be.

All along the east trail we kept our eyes open for owls but, again, none to be seen.  Turning south, we walked the west trial where we encountered more of the same birds wanting to be fed.  Arriving at the tower, the more energetic of us climbed to the top to scope the ponds and outer shore line.  In the distance we could make out small clusters of Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese, and large flocks of ducks.  A few Northern Harriers were cruising the marsh, but no Short-eared Owls – strange, as just across the river there are so many at Brunswick Point!  Along the short trail to the tower we encountered a flock of Bushtits.

From the tower, we split into two groups, with a few heading south-east on the inner trail, while the rest of us spread out along the outer path along the marsh.  In the west-field marsh the ducks were mostly Northern Shovelers, Pintail, with some American Wigeon, Mallards, with a few Gadwall thrown in.  On the outside of the dyke path we had a Marsh Wren.  Farther south, the east end of the west field had a large number of Dowitcher species (probably Long-billed).  Also at this spot, we saw a Northern Shrike sitting at the top of a tree at the west end of the pond!

The south-west marsh had the largest number of species, with American Coots, Ring-necked Ducks, the persistent Trumpeter Swan, more Shovelers, Buffleheads, Mallards, three Pied-billed Grebes, etc.  The highlight for some of us was hand feeding the Swan without losing any fingers.  Kathleen, the refuge manager, told me a few days ago that there was some concern that the swan might, accidentally, be able to pull a small child into the water while being fed?  So far, we’ve had no explanation as to why the swan had not left the reserve for the summer with the rest of them?

Finishing the South-west Marsh loop, a few of us back-tracked to the raised viewing platform on the west side of the marsh where we saw more of the same ducks and fed some more chickadees.  Also, Terry managed a photo of a Golden-crowned Kinglet on the side of the trail.

In front of the Fuller-slough Lookout, some visitors were feeding the Wood Ducks which were tame enough to sit on their hands.  Also, the Sandhill Crane was there on its own, and was keeping back from the hand-feeding.

Arriving back at the entrance at noon, we decided to call it a day with the only addition being a Northern Harrier in a roadside tree on the way home.

It was a bit of a cold start to the day, but had warmed up considerably by the end.  I haven’t listed everyone’s name (too many), but I’m pretty sure you will be able to identify yourself in Noreen’s group photo.  We were pleased to have a new visitor, Hadas, and hope she will be a frequent participant in the future… I forgot Tom’s practice of making the newbie carry the telescope!  Also, it was great to see Maureen back after her injury recovery.  And, nice to see Lorna again, even if she didn’t come up with her trademark Belted Kingfisher.  Roger 1

*The interesting Sandhill Crane aside you were waiting for:  In a previous visit, Gabrielle asked Kathleen whether the Sandhill Crane colt was male, or female.  Kathleen said if the colt responded to the male parent’s call by repeating it, then it was a male and would be called Louis.  If the sounds it made were different, it would be a female, it’s name would be Louise!  (Well, I thought it was interesting!)

For a complete list of birds seen and their number, to two places of decimal, check Brian’s e-Bird list at https://ebird.org/shared?subID=UzQ5NzI3OTE2&s=t

Next Tuesday, November 27, we will visit Blaine & Semiahmoo Spit; leave Petra’s at 7:30 am; carpool from Peace Arch parking lot 8 am, and meet at Harbor Rd 8:15 am.

Tom on Top of Down Under

Some more exciting moments from our leader down in Australia:

”I birded along the Mandurah Estuary yesterday.  Saw lots of neat stuff.  First a Whimbrel among the Silver Gulls and White Pelicans.  Then the egrets, Little (like Snowy), Great, Intermediate, Western Reef and Cattle (in reddish breeding plumage).  Lots of Terns, Caspian, Crested and Fairy. Pied Oystercatchers, and then a lone Yellow-billed Spoonbill (always my Target bird).  Some first-time sightings this trip included: a beaut Buff-banded Rail, Common Greenshanks (like Yellowlegs), Common Sandpipers, Yellow-rumped Thornbill (like our Warbler), Western Warbler (formerly Gerygone), White-browed Scrubwren. Other sightings, lots of parrots, including brilliant Red-capped. Honeyeaters, New Holland, Brown, Singing.”

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Harlequin Duck, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mute Swan, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, Peregrine Falcon, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-tailed Hawk, Reifel, Ring-necked Duck, Sandhill Crane, TFN, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-46 to Boundary Bay at 104 St

DNCB_BoundaryBay_Nov 13 2018_Noreen.JPG

DNCB at Boundary Bay – photo by Noreen Rudd

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

Just after dawn on a chilly morning, 19 Delta Nat’s  birders arrived at Boundary Bay and 104 St.  All of us had found our warm mitts and taken extra jackets so we were snug and warm as we headed east from 104 St.

Our first good sighting of the day was found by Roger 1, who spotted a Blue Goose in a very large flock of Snow Geese.  Several Bald Eagles were hunting on the edges of the field  where they were grazing.  Of course, this caused the flock to take flight several times giving everyone great views of these beautiful geese.  On the bay side of the dike we could see hundreds of ducks, mostly Pintails and thousands of Dunlin.  The huge Dunlin flocks once again displayed their amazing ability of both graceful and perfectly coordinated flight.  Mixed in with the Dunlin flocks were small numbers of Black-bellied Plovers.

Besides the eagles, a Merlin, a Peregrine and a Northern Harrier were also seen.  Several people also reported seeing a Wilson’s Snipe and a Northern Shrike.  As we headed west, the rising tide quickly reached the dike driving the shorebirds to seek whatever bit of land they could find along the shoreline.

Quite a number of birds were spotted as we scattered along the dike.  They included a Fox Sparrow, some White-crowned Sparrows, a Western Meadowlark, Black-capped Chickadees and several Golden-crowned Kinglets.  Probably the most prized sighting was the Palm Warbler that most of us were able to see  flitting about among the bushes.  A small flock of Canada Geese landed in the farm field where several Great Blue Herons were stalking prey.  We also observed  the usual birds we can  find here, such as  Northern Flickers, American Robins and House Finch.

We then headed to 72 St where a Long-eared Owl had been reported.   It is always a delight to see these beautiful owls tucked away inside the bushes.

Glen photographed a bird which he later identified (and Anne confirmed) as a Swamp Sparrow.

We then headed off down the dike with its several ‘corners’ to reach the ponds near
64 St.  On our way, we were able to get a great view of a Rough-legged Hawk as it hovered over the marsh.  In the  ponds, we found a Pied-billed Grebe, Eurasian Wigeon, several Gadwalls and quite a number of  American Wigeon.  We managed to catch good views of several brilliant plumaged Yellow-rumped Warblers, both Myrtle and Audubon, as they hopped about in the trees.  We managed a few quick looks at a lovely bright yellow Wilson’s Warbler as well a Spotted Towhee and a Marsh Wren.  There was also a Ring-necked Pheasant that was observed close the parking area.

The group included: Glen, Patrick, Roger 1, Pat, Chris, Roger 2, Mike 1 & 2, Margaretha, Lidia, Gabriele, Terry, Brian, David, Johnny, Noreen, Richard and myself (Jean).  Apologies to anyone I missed, it only proves that my memory is not as good as Tom’s or Roger’s.  Our morning was  particularly birdy, and, as always, congenial and enjoyable.

Report by Jean Gartner

Next Tuesday, November 20 we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for an outing to Reifel Bird Sanctuary, via Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal & TFN lands.  Meet at Reifel parking lot at opening time 9 am.

Posted in *DNCB, 104 Street, Bald Eagle, Black-bellied Plover, Blue Goose, Boundary Bay, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Long-eared Owl, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, Palm Warbler, Peregrine Falcon, Pied-billed Grebe, Ring-necked Pheasant, Rough-legged Hawk, Swamp Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Wilson's Snipe, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-45 to Iona Regional Park

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

With a much brighter start to the morning now that we’re off of daylight saving time, I sat alone at Petra’s wondering if I had turned the clock the wrong way.  7:20 am and the late risers arrived, but by the leaving time there were only five of us… Mike, Terry, David, Anne, and myself (Roger).

From the start, there were two flocks of about 80 Snow Geese that flew over Petra’s, and several hundred more were in the fields west of the 17A stretch between Ladner Trunk and the Tunnel!  The traffic once again was a problem with tie-ups at the tunnel and a lengthy delay as we approached the Oak Street bridge trying to exit onto Bridgeport!   It took an hour to arrive at Iona, a trip that would usually be 20 minutes!

Arriving at the Iona Beach parking lot we hooked up with the rest of the group with most of them having experienced frustrating traffic problems as well.  For Tom’s sake… they included Marion, Kirsten, Colin, Brian, Richard, Jean, Pat, Nance, Lydia, Roy and Solveig for a total of 16.  We had a bit of a breeze, but it was very cold and, although the sun was out there was a heavy black cloud overhead.   (Tom… I would like to know how you do that thing where you coerce the first person that you make eye contact with to carry that very heavy telescope… I certainly wasn’t able to make it work!)

The early arrivals had already scoped the outer pond and had identified a Ruddy Duck, some Canvasbacks, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, a male Hooded Merganser, a Pied-billed Grebe, and an American Coot.  Before heading inland we had a quick scan of the shoreline and could see a large number of Snow Geese, various gulls, and a flock of shorebirds we were pretty sure were Dunlin.

Pausing on the path between the outer ponds, we checked each access point and found several Ring-necked Ducks in the north one, and a coot.  In the pond on the south side it was difficult to see the birds, with the heavy scope I was carrying, due to the angle of the sun.  Several House Finches were in one of the shrubs beside the trail, a Brown-headed Cowbird, but not many other small birds.

As usual, with a large group, we started to fragment, and did not all see the same birds.  So, I’ll try to put together what I can gather from what I’m told when they come to look through the heavy scope I was carrying.  I do, though, have to thank Mike for carrying my comparatively light scope.  Also, check out Brian’s e-Bird report which will provide a complete list including accurate numbers of each species… I think he missed a few Snow Geese!

Entering the ponds, all of which were full of water, we walked east on the middle path, returned to the intersection in the middle and then north to the river side and completed the circuit around to the gate.  Each pond seemed to have its own unique species.  The south-east pond was virtually empty of birds, while the north east was full of Northern Pintail.  The north west had a mixture of American Wigeon, Mallards, Green-winged Teal, etc.

The south west, however, was the one that caused the most concern as, in very poor lighting, a controversy arose as to whether, or not, a particular bird was a female Redhead or a Canvasback duck!  The most recent e-mail from Marion, which has gathered agreement from the others, confirms it to be… a female Redhead!  Check out the Flicker photos to see what you think!

Raptors were very few this day.  Using the heavy scope I was carrying, we located a single Red-tailed Hawk in a distant tree, and someone pointed out a Northern Harrier cruising over the water outside of the ponds.  We did see the odd Eagle, but usually we have a Peregrine Falcon, or Cooper’s?

Leaving the ponds, we headed north along the fence on the path to the river.  On the north shore there was a large flock Snow Geese, which Brian counted, but the rest of the trail back to the parking lot was virtually birdless!  Anne, using her fairly light telescope, picked out a Merlin in a cottonwood tree.  I don’t know how she could have picked it out with all the coloured leaves it had blended in with so perfectly!  I hope Terry has a photo to show us.  Brian adds that he has seen a Marsh Wren as well.

Having completed a thorough coverage of the area, some of us headed to the Flying Beaver for lunch.  I’d like to point out that my route would have got us there just as well as one I was made to take.  The only reason I missed the turn was because my shoulder was sore for some reason which slowed my reaction time.  On the way back to Petra’s, the 17A location from this morning had a much larger population of Snow Geese… must have been in the thousands.

For a complete list of birds seen and their number, to two places of decimal, check Brian’s e-Bird list at https://ebird.org/shared?subID=UzQ5NzI3OTE2&s=t

Next Tuesday, November 13 we wll leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for a walk on Boundary Bay Dyke at 104th St; meet at Delta Heritage Airport parking lot at 7:50 am.

Report by Roger Meyer (the scope bearer)


“Tom on Top of Down Under”….the continuing adventures of our absentee leader who is suffering in the Australian summer sun.

Sorry, not too much in the way of birding reported and most of his photos involve liquid refreshment.  He did, however, manage this photo of the Australian Spoonbill (in a zoo!)

“Saw this beauty yesterday.  One of two species of Spoonbill.  I also saw these in the Aussie wild.”

PerthZoo_Yellow Billed Spoonbill

Yellow Billed Spoonbill at Perth Zoo


Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Canvasback, Dunlin, Hooded Merganser, Iona, Merlin, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-tailed Hawk, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck | Leave a comment

DNCB 2018-45A birding trip around Fraser delta with Pender Islanders

November 5, 2018

Pender Island birdwatchers Bob Vergette, Julie Johnston, Roz Kempe and son Nick joined Chris, Glen, Jack and I for a full day of birdwatching in the delta on Monday November 5.  The group had intended to meet on the previous Thursday but forecasts for heavy rain postponed the trip and meant a few islanders had to drop out.  Chris drove the Delta team and provided door-to-door service for me and Glen.  We left for the BC Ferries jetty meet-up before 9am, but having such a short distance to go, we were of course second to arrive, as Bob and the Pender gang were already there!


DNCB on the Dyke – missing latecomer Jack & photog. Glen Bodie

The weather and visibility were both excellent so we crossed the jetty and walked along the north side spotting huge flocks of American Wigeon out in the bay, with at least one Eurasian in among them.  There were also Northern Pintail and some Northern Shoveler and Mallard.  Gulls included Glaucous-winged, Icelandic (aka Thayer’s), Mew and a California.  In the distance, nearer the port structures and in deeper water, were many Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, a dozen or more Western Grebe, Horned Grebes and probably a couple of Red-neckeds too.  The usual cormorants, Common Loon, and Great Blue Herons were also seen.  We didn’t walk all the way along to the pull out as we were mindful of time, but returned to the car along the same grassy path on the north side.  A flock of Black Oystercatchers were seen in flight on the south side.

From the jetty, we drove through the Tsawwassen First Nation reserve and up scenic back roads to Ladner to pick up patiently waiting Jack, then on to Iona Regional Park, through the usual heavy highway traffic.  Julie was thrilled with a coyote that trotted over the road in front of our car as we drove into the park, and the ponds immediately awarded us with a beautiful male Canvasback, my first of year.  Two river otters cavorting in the water were a nice sight, as were the two Bald Eagles having a bath off the log across the pond.  No Meadowlarks were spotted, and bushes were fairly quiet as we only found a handful of Fox and Song Sparrows, an Anna’s Hummingbird buzzing overhead, Spotted Towhees, and House Finches.

The Pied-billed Grebe family were in their usual pond, rather hard for some of us shorties to see over the tall reeds.  The main task of the day was sorting out all the duck species, including females and younger males.  In addition to the Canvasback, we saw Ring-necked Duck, Northern Pintail, Mallard, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, and Northern Shoveler, and some Green-winged Teal.  (The very next day’s DNCB trip yielded a female Redhead but we didn’t get it on Monday).  Brewer’s Blackbirds and some Red-wingeds were feeding on the muddy ground around the inner ponds.  The Peregrine Falcon was in its usual spot on one of the distant trees.

Our next stop was Terra Nova park across the river for picnic lunch.  Our Pender friends were able to get super close looks at the giant flock of Snow Geese in the field behind the community gardens, despite an increasingly drizzly rain shower.  Thousands of geese were gathered here making a lot of noise and getting thoroughly excited about something.  There were not many young ones in this flock but a later flock seen near highway 17A had plenty.  A short stroll near the pond was disappointing as some strange algae seemed to have invaded the water.  However, the dyke trail gave us another perched Peregrine Falcon, which I first mis-identified as a Cooper’s Hawk, following on from my triple misidentification of a large flock of American Goldfinches, where a number of alternative species was unhelpfully but enthusiastically shouted out!  I calmed down enough to see the Northern Harrier over the marshes, another neat bird for the islanders.

We decided on one other destination, as Nicky really wanted to see some owls, so we headed to the 72nd Street dyke at Boundary Bay around 4pm.  A beautiful stub of a rainbow lingered over the water to the east while immense flocks of Dunlin did their swirling flock murmurations far out over the water.  A few flocks of Black-bellied Plover were out there too, along with a big congregation of ducks.  Right on cue, Nick spotted a Short-eared Owl flying over the marsh towards us, soon joined by another over the golf course, giving us great views.  A male Northern Harrier perched in a tree and then chased the owls around.  A nice end to a fun day.

Pictures from Chris, Jack and Glen can be found on the DNCB Flickr site by searching for PIFN.

Anne Murray

Posted in *DNCB, 72 Street, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black-bellied Plover, California Gull, Canvasback, Coyote, Dunlin, Iona, Mew Gull, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Ring-necked Duck, Short-eared Owl, Terra Nova, Thayer's Gull, Tsawwassen Ferry Port | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-44 to Whidbey Island, Port Townsend/Fort Casey/Deception Pass and Rosario Beach

DNCB_Whidby Island_2018-10-30

9 DNCB at Whidbey Island – photo by Roger Meyer

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

“Optimists”… with weather reports for clouds and showers and a 110 mile drive ahead (2 hours and 11 minutes ), undaunted, Delta Nats Mike, Terry, David and Noreen, Roger 2, and Roger 1 (myself) left Petra’s to meet Pat, Brian, and Colin at the Peace Arch parking area to decide on “weather” or not to proceed!  After discussing all the negatives, we piled into two vehicles and headed south.  There were two open lanes at the border, but no other vehicles, and not much traffic on the way.

While David chose to take the Burlington route to Fidelgo Island, I decided to take the scenic Bow/Edison/Padilla Bay route (there were some groans from the back seat).  In the future I will refrain from using the term “short cut” in lieu of “alternate route”!  To be fair, we were still 15 minutes early for the 10:10 ferry to Port Townsend!  The route we took, though, allowed us to see several large flocks of Snow Geese that we wouldn’t have seen from the busy main route.  The weather all the way down was cloudy with even more clouds as we made the turn away from Anacortes and climbed upward on Fidelgo Island towards Deception Pass.  As we turned west at Coupeville, and headed down to Fort Casey, the clouds started to lift, and by the time we reached the ferry terminal we had bright sunlight!

Just a note about the ferry: for a distance similar to the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay route, the senior fare was US$1.70!  Tickets purchased with a credit card require a “zip code”.  For Canadians we give the 3 numbers of our postal code followed by two zeros (V4K4V2 becomes 44200).  We purchased two tickets, left the ferry at the Port Townsend side, and then re-boarded with the second ticket!

Unfortunately, there was a chop on the water, and a heavy breeze, making the spotting of birds on the water difficult.  At the terminal, we had a few 1st winter, and non-breeding adult, Bonaparte’s Gulls.  On the  pilings to the south we could see large numbers of cormorants, but the bright sunlight made it difficult to identify species.  Species seen on the way over and back included Heermann’s Gulls, Marbled Murrelets, Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, a Red-necked Grebe, and cormorants species.  On the pilings at the Port Townsend side, there were numerous cormorants that we spent considerable time trying to identify, and decided that most of them were Brandt’s.  I think looking at our photos later will confirm that!  The return trip was calmer, and we added a Belted Kingfisher. at the terminal, to our list.

Departing the ferry, we walked through the Fort Casey campground and had our bag lunch at a table at the waters edge.  We had seen a number of White-crowned Sparrows on the way, but not much else.  Following lunch, we walked up the hill to have a look at the gun emplacements and remaining fortifications.  We had hoped to see the California Quail from the previous outing there, but none were to be found.

Heading off to Deception Pass, the only pause was to try and get some photos of the American Kestrel that was perching on wires on the roadside to Coupeville.  It was a beautiful male, but not too cooperative at posing for us!

At the Deception Pass campground, we drove directly to the West Beach and parked at the farthest point north as we did on our previous visit.  We hadn’t seen any birds as we passed by Cranberry Lake!  On the rock outcroppings in the water, there were large numbers of Heermann’s Gulls and Black Oystercatchers.  Above us, a small flock of Gashawks* from nearby Ault Field were singing their “Sound of Freedom” call! (see footnote* for description of Gashawk)

On one rock we sighted a Black Turnstone, but it was accompanied by another solitary (not Solitary) Sandpiper which one of the other birders confirmed to be a Surfbird!  We all agreed that this was the “Bird of the Day”!

One of the ladies from the other birding group informed us that she could distinguish male-from-female Black Oystercatchers by examining minute marks in their pupils!  Right!  I think Brian, or David, would be able to explain those details.  Other birds on the water included Harlequin Ducks, Red-necked Grebes, and lots of cormorants in the middle of the pass… we saw these as we looked north-east across the pass towards Rosario Beach, which was our next destination.

Leaving Deception Pass Park, instead of doing our usual walk along the beach and through the woods, we headed across the bridge to Fidelgo Island and made a left turn off the highway onto Rosario Road, and turned west at the second intersection to go down to Rosario Beach.  We (ok… so it was me) made one mistake, turning at the first intersection, which took us down to Bowman Bay.  From the correct parking lot, we walked across a spit leading to a round trip up onto Lighthouse Point providing a view south-west across the pass to where we had just come from at the Deception Pass Park.

In the brush on the side of the trail side, we encountered a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets that frustrated the  photographers by refusing to stay still long enough for a decent shot.  Looking south, we had a closer look at the flock of birds which we now identified as Red-throated Loons.  Unfortunately, when the photos were examined at home, the loons became Double-crested Cormorants!  I’ve never seen a flock of them, heads turned upward, and all facing the same direction, like that… sure looked like loons, right Noreen?  From the top of the cliff at Lighthouse Point you can look down at large Bull-kelp beds and also have a panoramic view north and south along the coast!

With the trip concluded, we headed for home.  At the border there were no cars at all,  and we sailed right through getting back home by 5:00 pm!  What started out as an “iffy” situation turned out to be a fine day.  As usual, Terry’s organization was flawless… so “THANKS, Terry”!  Terry mentioned that the previous trip last fall was a week earlier and had produced many more species.  The water was calmer then though, and the chop experienced this year may have been a contributing cause to the lower number!  So, maybe schedule a week earlier next year?

Next DNCB Outing, on Tuesday, November 6, we will go to Iona Regional Park.  Leave Pera’s at 7:30 am, meet at Parking Lot near washrooms around 8:15 am.

Sorry you missed the trip this year, Tom, but I’m sure you’re having a great time on “Rottnest Island”… I think you need to elaborate on that one!  Your fans need a bit more information re your activities, bird-wise that is, as we need it for our:  Tom on Top of Down Under segment.  As you might expect, the Roseate Spoonbill count has been down since you left.  Several member keep asking about you – well, a few – well, Lorna actually, as she’s amassing quite a collection of pb sandwiches for your return!

Report by Roger Meyer

*Gashawka jet engine-powered species making loud screeching sounds while making touch-and-go landings at the nearby Naval Air Station day and night.  There used to be a sign on the highway, under two large retired planes, that said, “the Sound of Freedom”.   I think it was to make the locals feel guilty about complaining about the constant noise!  https://www.quietskies.info/flight-schedule

Posted in *DNCB, American Kestrel, Black Oystercatcher, Bonaparte's Gull, Brandt's Cormorant, Deception Pass, Fort Casey, Harlequin Duck, Heermann's Gull, Marbled Murrelet, Pigeon Guillemot, Port Townsend, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, Surfbird, Whidbey Island | Leave a comment