DNCB Outing No. 2019-02 to Serpentine Fen and Mill Lake

Photo by Noreen Rudd

Nineteen, actually 22, DNCBers enjoyed a two destination outing on another sunny Tuesday at Serpentine Fen in Surrey, and Mill Lake Park in Abbottsford. Lighting and weather was super for our photogs, check out the spectacular evidence on our Flickr site at: https://www.flickr.com/search/?group_id=3027315%40N23&text=2019-02&view_all=1.

I couldn’t see two feet in front of me while driving in the fog from Ladner to Petra’s at 7:00 am. But it seemed to clear nicely as we drove at 7:40 am to Serpentine Fen, into the brilliant sun rise. Gareth Pugh, our Serpy Expert, was there to meet us. We had our normal introductory greeting and love-in, then Colin and I scanned the Barn (of course via the No Entry gate), but only found squirrels and no Barn Owls. It was chilly, but the ice on the trees and bushes sparkled and, as the morning passed, it even rained melting drops under the trees (seemed funny, at least to me).

Very quiet for birds as we wandered to the first Lookout, then the trail through the middle of the park. We saw a few little birds: Kinglets, both Ruby- and Golden-crowned, Bushtits, Anna’s Hummingbird, Finches, both House and Purple, and Sparrows, Song, White- and Golden-crowned, and Brian got a photo of a Savannah Sparrow. I think I/we saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Red-tailed Hawks landed a couple of times to flash their red tails and a Northern Harrier cruised by. Lots of Bald Eagles cavorting and, on the less common side, a Peregrine Falcon flew by and a Cooper’s Hawk posed in a bush.

As the sky cleared and the sun warmed us, more waterfowl in beautiful breeding plumage were in the thawed bits of water in the fen. We had glorious looks at Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails (also a hybrid Northern Pintail/Mallard, I think), Green-winged Teal, American Coots, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallards and Canada Geese (which were almost Cackling Geese). In the Serpentine River were rafts of Common Goldeneye, Greater/Lesser Scaup, several Common Mergansers, a pair of brilliant Hooded Mergansers and Bufflehead. Someone saw a Pied-billed Grebe and Common Loon. While focussing on the Belted Kingfisher and weird Pintail Hybrid, I missed the flock of Killdeer that flew over.

Time-challenged Margaretha and Gabby met us on the river trail. David had already taken the Group Photo earlier of 17 of us at the beginning of the river trail, so these happy-go-lucky Germanics were not in the picture. We saw lots of other common stuff (Robins, Towhees, Redwings, Chickadees, etc.); 46 species seen today are recorded on our eBird DNCBlist. 

The walk in Serpy Fen was magnificent in the warm sun, but we sort of raced around because some wanted to leave early and go to Mill Lake to see the Cape May Warbler. Thus, we got back to the parking lot around 10:45 am. and Mike, Terry, Glen and I left for Abbottsford. We stopped on the way at 272nd St to see the Great Egret, but couldn’t find it. All we found was Angela A who surprisingly had decided to join us.

At Mill Lake Park shortly after Noon, we followed the walkway around the lake, along with tonnes of other folk enjoying the nice day. The lake had lots of the same diving duck species (in beautiful plumage) that we had seen in the Serpentine River, but some Ruddy Ducks and Pied-billed Grebe were nice additions to our menu. We found the yellow flowering Mahonia bushes (Oregon Grape) near a boardwalk and almost immediately spotted the magnificent Cape May Warbler flitting from flower to flower. Terry and Glen got their award-winning shots, so we moved on back to the car. The walk around the lake, dodging baby carriages, took about an hour; we also saw more Kinglets, Bushtits, Hummingbirds, American Goldfinches and Juncos. We learned later that DNCBers Marion, Marti and Kirsten had visited Mill Lake earlier this morning and saw the same species.

The hour drive back to Tsawwassen was a smooth nap for me as the boys chatted. Now 2:30 pm, only Mike and I stopped at the Rose & Crown Pub for lunch. Lovely Leila served us both the Daily Special of Ham & Egg sandwich with a multi Vegetable, potato, mushroom Soup which was delicious, especially with a pint of Great Western Brewing’s Original Sixteen Draught Lager. I got home at 3:30 pm, in time to fill my bird feeders which a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds has found and is costing me a fortune. Nonetheless, it was another awesome DNCB day.

We twenty-two were:  Langley’s Gareth Pugh, eBirders and photogs David & Noreen, Richmond Brian, our Organizer Terry C and Photog Guru Glen B, Mike B, White Rock’s Colin & Warren, Richmond newbie Angela A, WRSN President Liz, time-challenged Germanics Margaretha & Gabrielle, Photog Pat S, Johnny Mac, Jean G, North Van Richard H, Patrick O’Gee and me, plus the three ladies at Mill Lake Marion S, Marti W and Kirsten W.

Next Tuesday, January 22, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am for Iona Regional Park. We expect to meet others at the Park’s wash room parking lot around 8:00 am. For more info on this and other outings, reports and photos, check out our website at www.dncb.wordpress.com. As always, if these long-winded, boring missives of my drivel annoy you, let me know and I’ll delete you from my email list. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society 

eBird list

Serpentine Fen, Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
15-Jan-2019 7:58 AM – 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.515 kilometer(s)
44 species (+2 other taxa)
Cackling Goose X
Canada Goose 130
Northern Shoveler 20
Gadwall 4
American Wigeon X Dozens
Mallard X Numerous
Northern Pintail 8
Mallard x Northern Pintail (hybrid) 1
Green-winged Teal 4
Greater Scaup 6
Greater/Lesser Scaup 10
Bufflehead 4
Common Goldeneye 18
Hooded Merganser 1
Common Merganser 8
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 1
American Coot (Red-shielded) 1
Killdeer 12
Glaucous-winged Gull 5
Common Loon 1
Double-crested Cormorant 4
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 5
Northern Harrier 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Bald Eagle 4
Red-tailed Hawk 5
Belted Kingfisher 1
Northern Flicker 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Northwestern Crow X
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Bushtit 8
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 12
House Finch 6
Purple Finch 5
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 6
White-crowned Sparrow 12
Golden-crowned Sparrow 12
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 5
Spotted Towhee 4
Red-winged Blackbird 12
View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S51725473

Mill Lake, Abbotsford, Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CA
15-Jan-2019 12:05 PM – 1:35 PM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 kilometer(s)
Comments: Tom, Terry, Mike and Glen plus sightings by Marion, Marti and
Kirsten from earlier that morning
22 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose 3
Northern Shoveler 6
Mallard X
Lesser Scaup 10
Bufflehead 8
Common Merganser 12
Ruddy Duck 10
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 2
American Coot 20
gull sp. X
Bald Eagle 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northwestern Crow X
Black-capped Chickadee X
Bushtit 12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
American Goldfinch 10
Dark-eyed Junco X
Song Sparrow X
Spotted Towhee 2
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Cape May Warbler 1 Has been seen here for a few weeks
View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S51737584

Combined Serpentine Fen and Mill Lake species total is 49

Posted in *DNCB, Cooper's Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Ruddy Duck, Serpentine Fen | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2019-01 to White Rock and Blackie Spit Park

Twenty DNCBer’s broke in the New Year with our first chilly but dry Tuesday morning outing to White Rock and Blackie Spit Park. It was a particularly good birdy morning with lots of neat sightings that you can enjoy by clicking on our DNCB Flickr site

Some left Petra’s at 7:30 am, and we all met around 8:00 am at the Museum on the White Rock boardwalk near the storm-devastated historic pier (destroyed on December 20, 2018). Of course, construction fences blocked access to the pier, but we were able to walk along the railroad walkway and see the pelagic birds close to shore as the tide was high. Sightings included: several rafts of Surf and White-winged Scoters (no Black Scoters found today), Common Goldeneye and Terry got a shot of a Barrow’s Goldeneye; Common Loons and Anne saw a Red-throated Loon and others saw a Pacific Loon; Buffleheads, Horned Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers (Marti and Marion saw a Common Merg) and a few pairs of Long-tailed Ducks; Double-crested Cormorants and common Canada Geese, Mallards and American Wigeon there too.

It was kind of weird watching the trains going right by us toward the USA border, first the AMTRAK Cascades passenger train, then a long empty Coal train, then a tanker, lumber and container train. A jogger told me that 26 trains go by daily.

We left the boardwalk around 9:00 am, and drove to Crescent Beach and Blackie Spit Park. Noreen took the Group Photo in front of the Blackie Spit Park sign.

We walked toward the spit, and there was very little on the beach side but lots of ducks on the Nicomekl River side. Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, American and several Eurasian Wigeons (we even got good at identifying female Eurasian Wigeons). More Cormorants, Common Loons, Horned Grebes were diving in the river. Then a huge aerial display emerged at the spit. Ten thousand Dunlin (I counted them, but if someone said 60,000 I’d believe them) were weaving back and forth above the water in their always spectacular display. When they landed and huddled it created a beautiful carpet covering the spit.

We continued our walk back from the spit toward Savenye Trail. We got Greater Yellowlegs in the scope, then we identified three reddish-brown “clumps” as the two Marbled Godwits and Long-billed Curlew, our Target Birds for here. We got different views of these sleeping birds, although they never showed their bills. Small birds got our attention; both Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets were seen flitting low among the bushes. Some saw Anna’s Hummingbirds, and other commonly-seen sparrow species, Northern Flickers, lots of Bald Eagles, etc. We have an e-Bird List which you can now see at DNCBlist (David Hoar is our eBird Guru; we had 42 species today), and is reprinted at the end of this Report.

Gareth led us through the woods to the Crescent Beach pier where we saw more of the afore-mentioned diving ducks, and more wigeons. Back at the parking lot, and approaching Noon, eleven of us decided to go to the Ocean Park Pizza Pub at 16th & 128th. Some had pizza, but I had their weekly special of Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding with a Salad and Annie’s chips, plus two sleeves of Okanagan Springs 1516 Lager. It was scrumptious, and a fitting end to a glorious beginning to our 2019 DNCB outings.

Next Tuesday, January 15, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for Serpentine Fen, meeting near the barn at 8:00 am. (Park at Art Knapp’s or near the barn).

Check out our website for info on this and other outings. As always, if these weekly missives of my unabashed drivel annoy you, let me know and I’ll remove you from my email list. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society.

We twenty DNCBers were: Mexico-bound Roger M & Mikie B, Guru Anne & Organizer Terry C, eBird experts David, Noreen and Richmond Brian, Marion & Marti, Photog Pat S, local experts Gareth P, Colin & Stephanie & Warren, Owler Mike B2, new member Richmond Angela A, always-happy & “timely” Margaretha, Ladner Bryan & Masae and me.        

White Rock Beach, Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
8-Jan-2019 7:55 AM – 9:09 AM White Rock Beach
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
18 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 60
Mallard X
Surf Scoter 60
White-winged Scoter 80
Long-tailed Duck 4
Bufflehead 20
Common Goldeneye 25
Barrow’s Goldeneye 1
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 50
Glaucous-winged Gull X
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid) X
Red-throated Loon 1
Common Loon 2
Bald Eagle 3
Northwestern Crow 14
European Starling 4
White-crowned Sparrow 4
Song Sparrow 1

Blackie Spit (Incl. Dunsmuir Farm & Nicomekl estuary),Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
8-Jan-2019 9:29 AM – 11:59 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.7 mile(s)
32 species

Canada Goose 60
Gadwall 6
Eurasian Wigeon 15
American Wigeon X Dozens
Mallard X
Northern Pintail X Hundreds
Green-winged Teal 12
Surf Scoter 2
Bufflehead 1
Barrow’s Goldeneye 1
Common Merganser 1
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Horned Grebe 4
Anna’s Hummingbird 2
Long-billed Curlew 1
Marbled Godwit 2
Dunlin X Thousands
Greater Yellowlegs 11
Mew Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 60
Common Loon 5
Double-crested Cormorant 15
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 15
Bald Eagle 3
Northern Flicker 1
Northwestern Crow 18
Common Raven 1
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Spotted Towhee Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
8-Jan-2019 9:29 AM – 11:59 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.7 mile(s)
32 speciesCanada Goose 60
Gadwall 6
Eurasian Wigeon 15
American Wigeon X Dozens
Mallard X
Northern Pintail X Hundreds
Green-winged Teal 12
Surf Scoter 2
Bufflehead 1
Barrow’s Goldeneye 1
Common Merganser 1
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Horned Grebe 4
Anna’s Hummingbird 2
Long-billed Curlew 1
Marbled Godwit 2
Dunlin X Thousands
Greater Yellowlegs 11
Mew Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 60
Common Loon 5
Double-crested Cormorant 15
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 15
Bald Eagle 3
Northern Flicker 1
Northwestern Crow 18
Common Raven 1
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Spotted Towhee

42 Species total

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barrow's Goldeneye, Blackie Spit, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Long-billed Curlew, Long-tailed Duck, Marbled Godwit, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Loon, White Rock Pier | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-52 Ladner Christmas Bird Count

Some Delta Nats took part in the Ladner Christmas Bird Count on December 22.  The cold windy weather resulted in a lower than usual count in nearly all the count areas.  At least the rain held off.

Counts are carried out within a 24-km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year.  The Ladner Christmas Bird Count area includes Tsawwassen, Point Roberts and south Richmond.  Ladner and Victoria compete for the most species in Canada – usually over 140.  The Ladner count area is divided into 11 sub-areas.

I went to the post-count gathering at Reifel. 4 of the 11 areas were not represented.  The preliminary Ladner count without them was 128.  Reports from feeders will be added later too.  I will let you know when I hear the final tally.  The Ladner total in 2017 was 139.

Area I (Tsawwassen east of 56th) found 56 species.  In 2017 we found 71 species.  In 2016 we found 69 species.  We did find the Ruff that has been around for the last few weeks.  That was the only species that no other Ladner count group found.  We did not find the Harris’s Sparrows, but some other groups did.  We did not find the Red-breasted Sapsucker that had been in the same tree, near Boundary Bay School, the previous 2 years.

Area K (Tsawwassen west of 56th) found 60 species.  They found the 6 Snow Buntings on the ferry causeway.

The Point Roberts group saw 91 species including Virginia Rail, Western Meadowlark, Red Crossbill and 266 Golden-crowned Kinglets.

The area including the landfill had 1032 Bald Eagles.

There are photos on the DNCB Flickr site.

Terry Carr

Don’t forget our first DNS Monthly Meeting of 2019, Wednesday Jan 2 at 7:30 pm, at Benediction Lutheran Church.  After the regular business is concluded, Paul and Carol Rennie will be our guest speakers, speaking about The Galapagos Islands and the Peruvian Amazon.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019 will be the first DNCB Outing of 2019.  We will meet near White Rock Pier (WR Pier broken, boats smashed etc. December 20th, 2018, see https://www.surreynowleader.com/news/white-rock-pier-damaged-by-storm/) and then bird at Blackie Spit.  Watch this spot for more details!

Update January 7, 2019

Our plan is still to leave Petra’s at 7:30 and arrive in White Rock about 8.

Although the pier and east promenade are closed, we will park by the museum immediately west of the pier to see what we can see from shore.  Then park again at the west end of the beach before the road goes uphill.  Parking is free before 10am.

Then we will go to Blackie Spit.  We usually park at end of the road in the gravel area, and start by walking out on the spit.

Posted in *DNCB, Red Crossbill, Ruff, Snow Bunting, Virginia Rail, Western Meadowlark | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing 2018-51 to Tsawwassen Ferry Port and Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Fourteen brave souls endured a surprisingly dry and very birdy Tuesday morning along the Tsawwassen Ferry causeway and then at our “Mecca”, Reifel Bird Sanctuary.  Check out/click on the photo evidence of some rare and gorgeous sightings on our DNCB Flickr site.

Because of the rainy forecast, on Monday we changed Tuesday’s outing destination from Burnaby Mountain to local.  When I arrived at Petra’s at 7:15 am, it was pouring rain.  But when we left at 7:40 am, the rain had stopped and it never rained again until lunch time when we were in Speed’s Pub in Ladner.  “Someone” is looking after us DNCBers.

Our first stop was the pull-off along the Tsawwassen Ferry causeway.  The tide was high, and we eventually found our “destination bird”, the Snow Bunting.  We saw three, but Roger said there were six around earlier this week.  Lots of other neat sightings in the Bay between the two terminals, including: Common Goldeneye, Common Loons, Bufflehead, flocks of Brant Geese, an uncommon Black Scoter among a raft of Western Grebes, a flock of Dunlin, Double-crested Cormorants, only a couple of Horned Grebes.  The resident Black Oystercatchers and Black Turnstones were also up-close-and personal.

On the south side of the causeway were various rafts of White-winged and Surf Scoters, and more Goldeneye.  Interestingly, Terry took a Group Photo here, of ten of us squinting into the beautiful rising sun.

2018-51 DNCB_group_TC

10 DNCB at Tsawwassen Ferry Port – minus photographer Terry Carr

We learned later that Margaretha had ridden her bike to see the Buntings, but we missed her.

We left the causeway in a convoy of nine, yes 9 vehicles (brutal car-pooling), through the TFN and Ladner fields.  The best sighting was a perched and posing Peregrine Falcon on a telephone pole just entering Westham Island.  Several groups of Trumpeter Swans in various fields was nice too, and the Mute Swans were under the Westham Island Bridge.

At Reifel we met the others and Glen took the Group Photo of the 13 (without him) by the George Reifel memorial stone.

The bunch

13 DNCB at Reifel – minus photographer Glen Bodie

A wintering Black-crowned Night-Heron was sleeping in his customary trees.  We had a very pleasant walk, chatty as always, along Reifel’s trails.  Some of my special sightings included: the always brilliant Wood Ducks, Golden-crowned Kinglets, both Common and Hooded Mergansers in breeding plumage.  Actually, most of the wintering ducks here were in beautiful breeding plumage, making them easier to identify too.  The Black-capped Chickadees were voraciously hungry too, eating from our hands.  Interestingly, later on the trail we ran into a large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, almost all males, and they were ravenous too; see photo on Flickr of them eating from my hand and on my hat.

In the ponds near the Tower were Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Coots and, of course, Mallards and American Wigeon.  A flock of Long-billed Dowitchers was resting in the next pond.  Near the dowitchers, a Virginia Rail flitted across the water and hid in the reeds.  Anne and others were patient and finally saw another, and deducted from sounds that there were three rails there.  Over the marsh along the shore were thousands, yes thousands, of Lesser Snow Geese, occasionally rousted for a mass uprising by a passing Bald Eagle.  A beautiful sight.

Back on the inland trail, we saw several Ring-necked Ducks and a few Lesser Scaup, but were blanked on the Canvasback and any owls (Sawhet and Great-horned seen earlier this week).  Some saw a Cooper’s and a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Belted Kingfisher.  We saw lots of the common little birds, Sparrows (Golden-crowned, Fox, Song), Spotted Towhees, etc.  Richmond Brian recorded 52 species on our new DNCB eBird list.  We got back to the entrance approaching Noon, and six of us decided to go to Speed’s Pub in Ladner for lunch.  Only one pint of 1516 beer, but it was delicious with my regular Special, two pieces of Cod and Chips.  Another awesome DNCB outing.

The fourteen were: our Organizers Terry & Roger, Guru Anne, photogs Ladner Jack, Glen B & Richmond Brian with newbie Gary H, lunch specialist Mike B, White Rock Colin with graduating newbie Warren, North Delta Jean, new DNCBers Ladner Bryan & Masae, and me.

This was our last official DNCB outing until Tuesday, January 8, when our destination will be White Rock Pier and Blackie Spit.

Meanwhile, there are a number of Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) open for participation, including the Ladner CBC this Saturday, December 22 (Nats are meeting at Petra’s at 7:30 am), the White Rock/Surrey CBC on Saturday, December 29 (I am meeting at small car park beside King George Highway just west of the Highway 99 (Exit 10) at 8 am).  Contact me if you’re interested in participating.

Also, our first 2019 Delta Nats meeting is Wednesday (not Tuesday), January 2, at 7:30 pm at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen.  Our own Nat, Paul Rennie, will be presenting on his adventures in the Galapagos Islands and the Peruvian Amazon. All welcome.

For more info, reports and photos, check out our website.

My driveling reports seem to be getting longer, and perhaps more boring, so let me know if you want off my email list.  Meanwhile, I hope each of you get what you want from Santa, and you and your families have a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2019, with the occasional special bird sighting.  Cheers: Tom (leaving now to start my Christmas shopping)

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Scoter, Black Turnstone, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Cooper's Hawk, Dunlin, Hooded Merganser, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mute Swan, Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk, Reifel, Ring-necked Duck, Snow Bunting, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Virginia Rail | Leave a comment

DNCB “Birds on the Bay” Outing No. 2018-50 in Boundary Bay Regional Park

IMG_5937 Resized Group BOTB .jpg

DNCB at BOTB Outing on Boundary Bay – photo by Noreen Rudd

I’m Baaaaack!  About 30 participants, including ten Newbies, enjoyed a sunny Wednesday morning walk on our quarterly Birds on the Bay (BOTB) outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park (BBRP).  Lots of neat sightings and, of course inane chatter.  Check out the brilliant photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

As we gathered at 9:00 am behind historic Cammidge House (CH) for the preliminary introductions, a Cooper’s Hawk posed in a tree overlooking us.  A nice start.  Terry tried in vain to take one of several Group photos here.  We wandered along the road toward the Park pond, scaring up a few Mallards in the slough.  A few Bald Eagles, mature and juvenile, were roosting in the tall Park trees.  The pond was full, but only with Mallards and a few American Wigeons, but both Brewer’s and Red-winged Blackbirds around it gave us a bit of excitement.

At the beach, the tide was very high with no feeding shoreline available, so no Shorebirds. Tonnes of waterfowl in the Bay; we got good Scope looks at Horned Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers, and further out were large rafts of Scoters, Surf and White-winged, and American Wigeon with the occasional Eurasian among them. Further along we saw a pair of Common Goldeneye, and Marti spotted a Barrow’s.  Marion & Marti had also spotted a small flock of Trumpeter Swans flying over as they drove in to CH.

We took the inland trail past the Concession Stand in search of little birds.  An Anna’s Hummingbird checked in, and some saw several Sparrow species, Fox, Golden- and White-crowned, Spotted Towhees.  Perhaps the Bird of the Day was the Harris’s Sparrow among the House and Purple Finches.  David & Noreen had seen a pair there earlier in the week, and we saw them a couple of times on this morning’s walk.

Jack took the traditional Group Photo at the Lookout.  We had met 30 plus Metro Vancouver Parks staff on their morning “workout” and they told us of a Peregrine Falcon capturing a Dunlin.  Just past the Lookout, the Falcon posed in a tree right beside the trail. Brilliant!

Continuing along toward the Pump House, the hordes of waterfowl were closer to shore; mostly Northern Pintail and a couple of Green-winged Teal and Gadwall.  Then a few large flocks of Brant Geese cruised in.  We searched in vain among the Gulls (mostly Glaucous-winged with some Mew and Ring-billed) on the spit for shorebirds.  We saw a couple of small flocks of Sanderling go by, and then a huge swirl of Dunlin weaving back and forth along gave a few of us a nice thrill.

At the 12th Avenue Lookout, Anne found two resting Yellowlegs (Greater?) in the grass.  We continued back to CH on the inland trail, showing our Tree Swallow and Barn Owl boxes to the newbies.  No spectacular sightings, but did see a Northern Harrier, Northern Flicker, Robin, photogenic Great Blue Herons, more Sparrows including the Harris’s.  Someone finally found a Marsh Wren.  We got back to CH spot on 11:30 am, just as the predicted rain clouds began to move in.

Delta Nats Ladies Jennifer and Elizabeth met us with their array of scrumptious home-made scones and cookies (Rochelle was there earlier to set up, and Margaretha brought some goodies too).  Of course, as expected, the horde of starving birders wolfed down these delectables with their normal frenzy.

The 29 participants I recall included:  ten Newbies Warren, Bryan & Masae, Don, Gillian & Jim, Betty & Steve, Una & Jack, and regular DNCBers Anne, Roger, Terry, Jim, Jack, Marion, Marti, Colin, David & Noreen, Mike B2, Margaretha, Gabriele, Gerhard, Richard H, Nats Rochelle, Elizabeth, Jennifer and me.

It was a very enjoyable return to the DNCB fold for me, although the beautiful warm, sunny weather of Western Australia was tough to leave.

Next Tuesday, December 18, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am for Burnaby Mountain, expecting to meet others at the Horizon’s Restaurant around 8:30 am.

Terry Carr and I have agreed (mostly Terry) to coordinate our Tsawwassen section of the Ladner Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 22.  We’ll meet at Petra’s at 7:30 am and arrange Count groups in the area; all welcome to participate.  You do not need to be an expert birder.  Spotters and recorders are needed, too.

For more info on outing reports and destinations, photos, and other good Delta Nats stuff, check out our website.  Roger and Jean’s excellent DNCB outing reports since September while I was away are well worth perusing.

As always, let me know if this dribble bothers you and you want off my email list.  Cheers: Tom (PS: The miniature Christmas Train Ride in Stanley Park among the Fireman brilliantly decorated trees was awesome last night with family, even in the rain.)

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barrow's Goldeneye, BBRP, Birds-on-the-Bay, Cooper's Hawk, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Harris's Sparrow, Mew Gull, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Merganser, Sanderling, Trumpeter Swan | Leave a comment

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