photos by Liz (LS), Terry (TC), Glen (GB), Pascale & Alberto (P&A), Rick (RW), Roger (RM) at DNCB Picasa site
Twenty-five DNCBers enjoyed a gorgeous, warm and sunny Wednesday morning on spectacular Burnaby Mountain, and then a visit with David Lanks and his Ruffs at his “chicken coop” laboratory at Simon Fraser University (SFU). This was a first-time destination for me and many others, surprisingly even BC locals. Check out the photo evidence on our Picasa site at: https://picasaweb.google.com/113357506005013094897.
Thirteen of us left Petra’s around 7:30 a.m. car-pooling nicely in 4 vehicles. I followed Roger since he was born and raised in Burnaby and “knows” the area well. Of course, as always, we took Roger’s short cuts and arrived at the Burnaby Mountain parking lot at 8:45 a.m., 20 minutes after everyone else. Not only did we pass every house where Roger slept during his misspent youth, but I think every car on the road past us on the way. Anyhow, the spectacular views from the top of Burnaby Mountain made us quickly forget the dreary drive getting there. Following introductions, we walked past the Horizons Restaurant and the Japanese Totem Poles and “Flower Cranes” to another amazing view of Deep Cove and up Indian Arm. Liz got a nice shot of a Pacific Slope Flycatcher here. Roger and Tony took the Group Photo (23) here, before time-challenged Alberto & Pascale arrived.
We followed the trail through the woods, heard lots of birds singing, but didn’t see much. A Downy Woodpecker, then a beaut Red-breasted Sapsucker gave Rick and a few others a thrill. Pacific Wrens were calling around us, as was the occasional Swainson’s Thrush. Little birds were flitting in the tree tops and we identified a Junco, that became a Black-throated Gray Warbler, and the photo evidence proved it to be a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s). That’s Casual Birding at its finest. Of course, we saw several common species such as Song and White-crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhees and American Robins. Our “florist” Wayne identified a few Fern species as well as a number of other flora species, for the neophytes who have already forgotten their names.
The trail ended at SFU and we wandered through the campus buildings to a former laboratory in the woods with chicken coops attached where Biologist and SFU Professor David Lank met us. David has been breeding and studying Ruffs, a migratory shorebird, for more than 30 years. He currently has about 350 birds in this outdoor facility. We wandered past the pens of female (Reeves), male and mixed-sex pens while David explained the complex genetics of Ruffs. Three genetically distinct male types (Territorial, Satellite and female Mimics) have different but evidently successful mating behaviors. Fascinating stuff, especially when a female was introduced into a flock of the three types of males. A brief explanation of David’s study is at: https://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2014/ruff-courtship-a-matter-of-genes.html. While thanking David for his enlightening tour and presentation, a Chestnut-backed Chickadee flitted in the conifer beside us.
David directed us up the hill to the Campus Eateries, where our group separated to different establishments. I along with about 10 others chose an outdoor restaurant and I had a Pabst Blue Ribbon with fish & chips. The beer was delicious, the conversation with White Rock’s Chuck & Audrey very decent, but the food was brutal. I should have foregone the beer (no way) and had a sub like the others. The walk back down to the parking lot was eventful, only because we passed through a Uni Fair of booths and displays of SFU clubs, organizations and interest groups, and I got a free Candy Floss (felt like a kid again). The drive back to Ladner with Rick & Marg (and without Roger’s guidance) took less than half the time it took to get there. Not a lot of bird species seen on this outing (blanked on the Sooty Grouse), but the views, walk, Ruff Talk, and the occasional conversation (when the ILB was not monopolizing it) were magnificent.
Next Wednesday, May 27, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Maplewood Flats Conservation Area where we expect to meet in the parking lot around 8:45 a.m. Check out our DNCB Blog at www(dot)dncb(dot)wordpress(dot)com for directions and other reports, photos and Delta Nats info. As always, comments welcome and please advise me if you want off the List to receive these verbose missives. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society