DNCB Outing No. 2016-5 to Point Roberts, WA

Point Roberts Birders (RM)

Point Roberts Birders (RM) – click on photo to see large version

Twenty-three DNCBers, including several Newbies, enjoyed a beautiful Tuesday morning in Pt. Roberts (see participants’ names at end).  Check out the photo evidence by Roger (RM), Terry (TC), Glen (GB), Brian (BA), Jim K (JK), Marion (MS) and Chris (McV) on our DNCB Picasa site.

Fourteen of us met at and left Petra’s at 8:00 a.m., car-pooling with limited success to the Border.  Even with our weak Canadian dollar, several participants wanted to drive to buy gas, which continues to be cheaper in Point Bob at US 51 cents/litre.  Border was smooth and we met the other 8 at Lighthouse Marine Park, before the scheduled 8:30 a.m.  Following introductions, I struggled, as always, to coral the “chat room” of many, seemingly long, lost friends to take the Group Photo.  Plus, our new KOWA Scope aroused an inordinate amount of attention and excitement.

Not a lot of birds in the bay here, but several species were seen clearly, especially through our new scope, including: Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Red-necked and Horned Grebes (perhaps a Western too), Red-breasted Merganser, Common Loons, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Greater Scaup, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and a Long-tailed Duck.

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Three Black Turnstones were spotted on the pier, below a perched adult Bald Eagle.  Some identified a Thayer’s Gull, a few Brandt’s Cormorants flying by, and a raft of Brant Geese in the distance.  A Steller Sea Lion close to shore raised its huge head out of the water for our photogs.  Then it seemed to jump at a Common Loon which scampered away across the water; not sure if it was hit because it ran on the water rather than flying.  Weird sighting.

We walked the path toward the Lighthouse (that doesn’t exist and was never built).  Pigeon Guillemots were the attraction here, with at least one in breeding plumage.

Several gorgeous Harlequin Ducks here too.

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Roger 2 & flounder

Roger Two successfully stole a Flounder from the bill of a feeding Glaucous-winged Gull.  A flock of Sanderling flew by as did three Black Oystercatchers.  Later we were surprised by two of the Oystercatchers doing a mating ritual and dance – captured by Roger M’s video.

Some saw a Merlin being harassed by a Crow.  We walked back to the parking lot via the inland Park trail.  Again, much quieter than normal re. birds calling or singing.  Some heard Bewick’s and Pacific Wrens.  Several golden-crowned Sparrows aroused a bit of interest.

We drove from Lighthouse Park to the Marina.  A pair of Gadwall were in the slough along the road and lots of American Wigeon and Mallards in the pond on the left.  The break wall at the Marina didn’t produce much new stuff other than a Killdeer.  No Snow Buntings, Belted Kingfishers or Western Meadowlarks.  More Harlequins, Turnstones and Oystercatchers which were nice.

So we continued on to Lily Point Park.

From the lookout at Lily Point, we scoped many of the same species down below that are mentioned earlier.  It was mild and clear and the view across to the San Juan Islands, White Rock and Mt. Baker was spectacular.  Veering from our normal walk in the woods, we decided to descend down the cliff to the beach.  The long and winding trail down was fortunately well-groomed and fairly easy for us old folk.

GB_2016 Pt Roberts 0399 - Witch's Hat

Witch’s Hat (GB)

The inimitable (i.e. deranged) Roger M picked and tasted a brilliant red mushroom; I think he’s still alive.

Resting on the beach was very pleasant; we chatted about the few remnants still there of the many buildings associated with the APA (Alaska Packers Association) Cannery.  We gazed at the many “lines” on the cliff and wondered what activities created them over the past thousands/millions of years.  Nine playful Bald Eagles entertained us above, with their circling and claw grabbing.

Kinglets were flitting in the bushes; we saw both Ruby- and Golden-crowned.  The walk back up was eventful for sighting three Woodpecker species, Downy, Hairy and Northern Flicker (blanked on the Pileated).

Hairy Woodpecker (BA)

Hairy Woodpecker (BA)

Back at the washroom parking lot, nearing 1:00 p.m., nine of us decided to return to Canada and have lunch at Mario’s in Tsawwassen.  Good decision.  My Steak Sandwich and Fries was not only delicious but the tab was gratefully “picked up”, including for the two beer (a German draught lager and a Coors Lite).  Obviously, another awesome DNCB outing.

Next Tuesday, February 9, some will meet at and leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. on our outing to Blaine and Semiahmoo Bay, USA.  Car-pooling at the Peace Arch Park parking lot (behind Duty-Free shop) will leave there at 8:30 a.m. to meet at the regular spot at Blaine Marine Park around 8:45 a.m.  I will be visiting friends and relatives in Niagara Falls and Dorset, Ontario next week so hopefully you kids can manage without me.

Tonight (Tuesday), over 70 folk attended our Delta Nats monthly meeting to hear Ian Thomas give a passionate and riveting presentation about his adventures with the Birds of the Coffee Forest.  As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website for more Nats info, reports and photos, and please let me know if this meandering drivel has finally exhausted you to the point that you want to be removed from my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society (3:00 a.m. – bedtime)

The 23 Participants included: Anne M, Roger M, Terry, Liz, Chris McV, Sisters Pat & Maureen, Rob & Marylile, Kirsten & Marion, Mike B, newbie BC resident Janice M, Mary T, Jim K, Ladner Jack, Roger Two, Glen B, Margaretha, Newbies David & Nora, Richmond Brian and me.

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Filed under *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Brandt's Cormorant, Harlequin Duck, Lighthouse Marine Park, Lily Point Park, Long-tailed Duck, Merlin, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Steller Sea Lion, Thayer's Gull

DNCB Outing No. 2016-4 to Stanley Park

Report by Kirsten Walsh and Bev Ramey

A hardy little group of 7 birders met at a drizzly Second Beach at the appointed time.  Brian, Stormcat Paula, Nance, newbies Susan & Gail, and Kirsten were joined by Bev Ramey, whose tidbits of information were really helpful.  Pat and Maureen came a bit later, but kept their own pace.  We spent some time, while waiting for Tom and the others to arrive, studying the Glaucous-Winged and Ring-Billed Gulls, and searching the American Wigeon for any unusual plumage, learning they used to be called Baldpates.

After chatting with some BCIT Fish & Wildlife students who volunteer for Stanley Park Ecology Society and were out in the rain doing weekly seabird surveys, we decided to set off without our (usually) trusty leader.  Nance decided to warm up with a brisk walk to Siwash Rock, and saw three pair of Harlequin Ducks perched on rocks in that water, and a flock of 25 Black Oystercatchers on the beach at Ferguson Point.  They were worth getting drenched to see!

Kirsten phoned Tom and learned that the rest of the group (which had numbered 3, including Tom) had bailed after coffee at Petra’s.  (Such wimps!)

Sightings at Second Beach included Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Pelagic Cormorant, and American Wigeon.  Along the path to Lost Lagoon we enjoyed hand-feeding a flock of at least 12 Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and other close-up sightings included Towhees, Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows, & Black-capped Chickadees.  In the channel were several friendly (or just curious?) Lesser Scaup (males showing the greenish-purplish iridescence on their necks), Hooded Mergansers, and Wood Ducks – Bev pointed out the almost hidden, but distinctive blue and green on the female’s speculum.  With the ducks so close, we were all able to have good looks at the female plumage.  It was indeed helpful the birds were right up close, because our binoculars by this time were quite hazed by the rain.

Continuing in the rain, we circled Lost Lagoon and saw Coots, Mallards, Canada Geese, several Cackling Geese, Great Blue Heron, several Common Mergansers, some female Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, a Hooded Merganser pair and a Bald Eagle.  No River Otters were to be seen, just a fat Raccoon at the water’s edge.  We also chatted with a team of three from the Stanley Park Ecology Society.  They were patrolling with wire mesh screen and hands-on task to install mesh around certain trees, to protect the trees from the industrious beavers.

At the far side of the lagoon we decided to forego the additional excursion to Beaver Lake, as we were quite soaked, and headed back.  A great morning in the rain, testing various inclement weather gear (Kirsten’s “authentic” Sou’wester from Nova Scotia failed miserably!), but we missed the banter of the group leader and the expert photographers.  Sorry folks, no group photo was taken.

Next week, Tues. Feb. 2, we leave Petra’s at 8am to reconvene at Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts around 8:15 am.

At 7:30 pm on Tues. Feb. 2, come to our DNS Monthly Meeting at Benediction Lutheran Church, Tsawwassen to hear guest speaker Ian Thomas talk about the Birds of the Coffee Forest.

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Filed under *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Oystercatcher, Cackling Geese, Harlequin Duck, Lost Lagoon, Pelagic Cormorant, Raccoon, Second Beach, Siwash Rock, Stanley Park

DNCB Outing No. 2016-3 to White Rock Pier and Blackie Spit

DNCB at White Rock Pier (Kristen, Alberto & Pascale came later)

DNCB at White Rock Pier (Kirsten, Alberto, Pascale came later) – click on photo for large version

A decent weather forecast brought DNCBers out en masse and we had 27 participants (see List at end, and Ken’s photo on our DNCB website) Tuesday on our White Rock Pier and Blackie Spit outing.  It was a beaut day with lots of neat sightings; check out the brilliant photo evidence by Jim K (JK), Brian (BA), Liz (LS), Pascale & Alberto (P&A), Marion (MS), Terry (TC), Pat (PS) and Ken (KB) on our DNCB Picasa site (just click here).

Ten of us left Petra’s in umpteen vehicles (poor car-pooling) at 8:00 a.m. and we met at 8:45 a.m. (right on time) at the start of the White Rock Pier.  We decided to make the Pier our first stop because parking is free there until 10:00 a.m. (DNCBers are a frugal lot).  The first thing we noticed was that the trees and bushes along the shore above the “White Rock” were all removed; don’t know why (blocking sight line of residents?).  The tide was very high with no beach showing, so there were lots of species close to shore and the pier; namely, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye (some saw a Barrow’s), Common Loons, Horned Grebes, Northern Pintail and Mallards.  Photogs were ecstatic getting up-close-and-personal shots.  We meandered to the end of the pier, basically in small Chat Groups.  The pier got crowded, but there was no place to go, so assembling for the Group Photo was not as arduous as on most outings.  It was neat to see Greater Scaup swimming beneath us; we normally see Lesser Scaup in the fresh water lakes and ponds.  And a flock of Black Turnstones was flitting very close to us among the pier boulders.

We had a couple of good Scopes (thanks Jean, Brian, Ken & Roger) with us and were able to see Pacific and Red-throated Loons in the distance.  We couldn’t find our target bird, an Eared Grebe, among the many Horned.  The always-attractive Long-tailed Ducks, and Red-breasted Mergansers came close enough for good views and shots (photography not gun). Both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants were diving there too and, of course, a Bald Eagle was posted on a pylon.  Approaching our 10:00 a.m. parking curfew, we decided to leave the pier for Blackie Spit.  However, Lidia advised that Black Scoters were seen at the end of the boardwalk parking lot, so we stopped there for a squint.  A very fortuitous stop, we got the Trifecta of Scoters (Liz’s terminology) and some photogs even got all three species in one frame.

Blackie Spit was productive too.  Among the large numbers of Northern Pintail, American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal we found one Marbled Godwit.  There have been four (?) Marbled Godwits and a Long-billed Curlew resident there the past few Winters.  Ken and Anne saw two Godwits at the Pump House near the Gardens, and Marion saw the Curlew with three Godwits.  Interestingly, among the Wigeon in this park, we saw at least 25 male Eurasian Wigeon (which means there were probably 25 females there too).  That’s a higher number than we normally see.  We wandered out to the spit; saw a small flock of Sanderling (~dozen birds) and a larger swarm of Dunlin fly by.  Two Dunlin landed at the spit for their photo shoot.  Lots of Ring-billed Gulls among the Glaucous-winged.

We left the Spit and walked to the Rene Savenye area of the Park.  Roger and Marion saw Greater Yellowlegs; we saw House Finches, Northern Flickers, Song and Golden-crowned Sparrows, an Anna’s Hummingbird, and a fly-by flock of Snow Geese.

Perhaps we didn’t see much during the last half hour of our outing because the group was apparently starving and the focus was on a Lunch venue rather than Birds.  Approaching Noon, we decided to abort the outing and ten of us went for lunch at the Ocean Park Village Pub.  Another good decision, two pints of Okanagan Springs 1516 Lager and a delicious Seafood Pasta Pie with garlic bread hit the spot.  Another awesome DNCB outing.

We 27 were: Roger M. Mike B, Anne M, newbie Margaretha & David M, Terry, Rob & Marylile, Jim K, Ken B & Anne A, Mary T, White Rock Al, Jean G & Pauline O, Marion S & Marti W, Lidia, Brian A, Liz S, Pat S, Fern F and Aussie Nance, and time-challenged Kirsten W and Pascale & Alberto, and me.

Next Tuesday, January 26, we will be going to Stanley Park and Beaver Lake, leaving Petra’s at 8:00 a.m.; meeting at Second Beach parking lot (near Swimming Pool) around 8:45 -9:00 a.m.  Note this CHANGE from scheduled outing to Whytecliff/Lighthouse Parks in West Vancouver.

As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website, and let me know if you don’t want to receive these weekly mordacious missives.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Scoter, Black Turnstone, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Long-billed Curlew, Long-tailed Duck, Marbled Godwit, Pelagic Cormorant, Red-breasted Merganser

DNCB Outing No. 2016-2 to Iona Regional Park & Sewage Lagoons

Twelve impressive DNCBers braved the crappy weather on Tuesday and enjoyed seeing a bunch of neat species at Iona Regional Park and the adjacent Sewage Lagoons.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

Rain was forecast all day so only three of us (Terry, Anne and me) met at Petra’s at 8:00 a.m.  I drove, a Peregrine Falcon flew over our car on Highway 17, the rush hour traffic was heavy, and we had an almost accident-free drive to Iona.  We stopped along the Iona Airport road to photograph a Northern Shrike sitting on the fence.  We got to the Iona parking lot before 9:00 a.m. where Liz, Marion & Marti, newbie Nat Richmond’s Brian A, Richmond’s Donna T & Almost-Newbie Carol R, and Professor Mary T were waiting (Jean G and Roger M came later).  We learned that some saw a Short-eared Owl on the airport road on the drive in.  We missed it, perhaps because we were trying to avoid hitting the hundreds (thousands?) of Snow Geese that were feeding along the road and around the parking lot.  Following introductions, especially of newbie Brian (who had a top quality scope and carried it himself, my new BFF), we walked toward the beach where a flock of a dozen or so Western Meadowlarks were flitting along the grass.  Not much else around or in the Bay (very high water, no beach for Shorebirds), so we turned around toward the Iona ponds, where a Virginia Rail called to us.

Surprisingly, both the first and second ponds were quiet, except for a few Bufflehead and Mallards.  The surrounding bushes had some life in them with Purple and House Finches, Song, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Northern Flickers, Spotted Towhees and Red-winged Blackbirds.  We saw our second Northern Shrike here . Small flocks of Double-crested Cormorants flew by overhead and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks were entertaining in the air as they “danced together”, clutching claws.

We entered the back gate to the Sewage Ponds, and the ponds were full of ducks.  Lots of Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, American Coots, and Ring-necked Ducks.  Roger M arrived with his two Guides and pointed out our Target Bird, the Tufted Duck, among the Ring-necked and Scaup.  We think we all saw it, but no one got great photos (today, but lots the day before and day after).  Mary also spotted a Ruddy Duck, which I saw too, but our photogs were unable to get a good shot of it either.  We got Pintail-Ruddy look-a-likes, but not the real thing.  The birds were swimming back and forth and mixing in groups and it was uncomfortably raining, thus our concentration was affected.  For example, there was a flock of Dowitchers among these birds which we only noticed when looking at Terry’s photographs later that evening.  Begrudgingly, Terry took the Group Photo here.

We continued around the southwest pond, where the best sighting was a Sharp-shinned Hawk posing on a branch, then flew right over our heads.  A flock of Dunlin flew by.  We exited at the back gate and followed the path to the river. We were blanked on Warblers, even Kinglets, but at least saw an Anna’s Hummingbird.  Across the river a few Trumpeter Swans were hiding in the reeds. We could see them clearly through Brian and Jean’s Swarovski Scopes (a plug?).  We wandered back to the parking lot/washrooms, and enjoyed the Shrike and Meadowlarks again.  It was 11:30 a.m. and still spitting a bit, so we decided to end the outing and go to the Flying Beaver for lunch.

On way to the Beaver, we stopped at Shannon Road and walked to the dike path and back in search of Redpolls.  Unsuccessful, downcast, and approaching our vehicles, four beauties landed in a tree above Terry’s head.  They posed for photos, then they joined the flock of about 30 birds that circled us and flew off toward the airport.  Now rejuvenated, we jumped in our vehicles and drove happily to the Beaver, sucked back a delicious 1516 Beer, wolfed down the Special, a fancy-named Kraft Dinner, and suffered the usual hackneyed conversation.  A Red-breasted Merganser and a “funny toe car” pulling a float plane added to the Beaver entertainment.  On re-reading this report, it sounds depressing.  In reality, we had a lot of brilliant sightings, the participants were the hi-calibre (non-wimpy) DNCBers, and it was a tonne of fun.

Next Tuesday, January 19, we will leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. for White Rock Pier, where we expect to meet others around 8:45 a.m.  We may do Blackie Spit or another spot (TBD) after seeing the Eared Grebe at the pier.

As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website, and let me know if you find these weekly heralds so irritating that you want off my List.  Apologies for late report but I was busy trying to live a normal non-bird-report-writing life, with some hockey, golf, Grandparent Daycare, and seeing The Revenant.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, Common Redpoll, Dunlin, Iona, Long-billed Dowitcher, Northern Shrike, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-tailed Hawk, Ruddy Duck, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Short-eared Owl, Trumpeter Swan, Tufted Duck

DNCB Outing No. 2016-1 to Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty, Ladner Fields and Alaksen WMA

Only five DNCBers ventured out in the rain yesterday (Tuesday) on a “revised” local outing to the Tsawwassen Ferry Causeway, through Ladner Farmers’ fields to Alaksen Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Westham Island.  We postponed our scheduled outing to Bowen Island because of the inclement forecast.  Although the weather was crappy, it wasn’t too uncomfortable and we saw some neat birds and had a surprisingly enjoyable morning.  Check out Jack and Terry’s photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

We five (Dave M with Terry and Gerhard, and Ladner Jack took me) left Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. to the lookout on the causeway, where it was blowing rain and we had no Scope.  Lots of waterfowl in the Bays on both sides of the highway.  We saw Common Goldeneye, Surf Scoters, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Loons, both Horned and Pied-billed Grebes, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants and of course many American Wigeon and Mallards.  A couple of resident Black Oystercatchers showed up for their photo shoot.  We walked along the causeway searching, in vain, for the Whimbrel, Snow Buntings and Redpolls.  We found a Song Sparrow.  A pair of Brant Geese on shore aroused our interest.  One had a silver leg band (KB: see photos) on right leg.  We drove on to the Terminal, stopping to photograph a beautiful pair of Harlequin Ducks.  Some saw a flock of Dunlin fly past, and I’m sure there were other species of Scoters (White-winged, perhaps Black) and Brandt’s Cormorants around, but without a scope we couldn’t be sure.

We drove on to the Kingfisher Bridge on TFN land; the Belted Kingfisher was apparently there yesterday (the story of our lives).  A few Green-winged Teal were in the slough.  A Red-tailed Hawk was in the hydro tower and lots of Bald Eagles around.  We didn’t see the juvenile Golden Eagle which has returned again this year to 72nd Street near Kings Links Golf Course.  Driving through TFN, flocks of LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobs) turned out to be common stuff; House Finches, House Sparrows, Golden- and White-crowned Sparrows, immature Red-winged Blackbirds, Spotted Towhees, Northern Flicker, and Black-capped Chickadees.  We finally found and photographed a Rough-legged Hawk on a pole near the TFN construction at 41B St. and 27 B Ave.

We continued on to fellow Nats Darrel & Judy’s farm (Llamas) home on 36th Avenue to see the Northern Mockingbird.  Our luck continued, and we didn’t see it either.  But we had a nice chat with Darrel and his neighbours and watched Bushtits, Juncos, Robins, Finches and a nice male Downy Woodpecker in the tree where the Mockingbird should have been ( see Roger M’s Mockingbird photos taken on Monday). Northern Mockingbird 2.JPG

Northern Mockingbird.JPG

An Anna’s Hummingbird showed up too.  On our drive through Westham Island to Alaksen we stopped to photograph a flock of a dozen Trumpeter Swans in a field.  Interestingly four were adults and eight were juveniles; a good year for swans perhaps.  We also saw a second Rough-legged Hawk by the swans.

At Alaksen we chatted with Environment Canada’s Ken Brock & Rene McKibbin, and Karen Devitt of Bird Studies Canada, about our NatureKids NatureBlitz scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27 at Reifel.  We gave them our new “hot-off-the-press” brochures “Experiencing Birding in Delta”.  Terry looked in vain for the Barred Owls in the Cedar trees.  It was 11:30 a.m. and still raining, so we decided to end early and go to Speed’s Pub in Ladner for lunch.  Good decision.  The Fish & Chips Special with a pint of Canadian hit the spot and, as always, the conversation was uninspiring.

Next Tuesday, January 12, we will leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. for Iona Regional Park (note change from Queen Elizabeth Park).  We expect to be at the Iona washroom parking lot at 8:45 a.m.  I am creating a 2016 Tentative DNCB Outing Destination List which will be posted on this website soon.

On Tuesday night (January 5th), SFU Professor David Lank gave a very informative and interesting presentation on his 30 year study of Ruffs at our first 2016 Delta Nats monthly meeting.  Ruffs are certainly a fascinating and weird Shorebird species, both in appearance and behavior.  As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these babbling reports perturb you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society (P.S. We forgot to take the obligatory Group Photo)

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Filed under *DNCB, Alaksen WMA, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Harlequin Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, TFN, Tsawwassen Ferry Port

DNCB Outing No. 2015-52 to Burnaby Lake Park

Twenty DNCBers enjoyed a gorgeous Tuesday morning wandering the trails of Burnaby Lake Park then on to the beaut vistas, and Pine Grosbeaks, on Burnaby Mountain.  Check out Terry’s, Ladner Jack’s, Roger M’s, Pascale’s and Glen’s photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

We car-pooled nicely from Petra’s at 8:00 a.m., (Chris McV had Glen B, Roger M had Ladner Jack, Rob & Marylile had Terry and Jim K, Mikie B had Hans and me).  I don’t know what it is about Roger, but every time we go on Away Outings, he leads us on his “Shortcuts” that always take longer to reach our destination.  No exception to Burnaby Lake Park, we drove up and down every hill in Burnaby before reaching the others at the Nature House in the Park.  Very little holiday season traffic, so we got there before 9:00 a.m., and waiting for us were Lidia, North Van’s Richard, Stormcat Paula & Ray, Prince Rupert’s Roy & Gordon, Pascale & Alberto and our long-time absentee DNCBer, Jack H.  DNCBers like their names in print, so that’s done now, for all 20.

Following introductions, we walked to the spit on the Lake where tonnes of waterfowl were in beautiful breeding plumage, and up-close-and-personal.  Wood Ducks, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded and Common Mergansers, Pied-billed Grebe, Gadwall, Long-billed Dowitchers, American Wigeon, Canada Geese and Mallards.  We gathered relatively peacefully on the Lookout for Pascale to take the Group Photo as kayakers and “workers” paddled by.  We left this magnificently productive spot to follow the newly-raised and renovated Park trail. Saw a Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pacific Wren and lots of the common stuff, Fox, Song and Golden-crowed Sparrows, House/Purple Finches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees, Flickers and Downies, etc.  We were blanked on the Red Crossbills (see Pascale’s photos of them on Picasa taken earlier this week, as well as the Hoary and Common Redpolls).

We reached the Cariboo Bridge and Salmon ladder/water gates where, after a long search, Marylile spotted the American Dipper.  It performed nicely for us.  The walk back through the woods was uneventful, birding replaced by continuous holiday chatting.  Back at the Nature House, around 11:00 a.m., we decided to check out Burnaby Mountain.  Only a ten minute drive up the mountain to SFU, and the flock of 19 Pine Grosbeaks were feeding and posing in the Cherry Trees behind the Horizons Restaurant, with a horde of photogs watching them.  We got great views and photos of males, females and the “Russet” variant, plus threw a couple of snowballs, just because we could.  It was clear and sunny and the view down the river over Vancouver and Richmond was spectacular.

Horizons was closed so thirteen of us (see Roger’s photo) decided to have lunch at the pub in Greystone Village, just down the hill.  Once the welcoming party of screaming fire alarms and fire trucks left the scene, we enjoyed a delicious feed of Chicken Pot Pie & Chips washed down with two tallboys of Pabst Blue Ribbon (reminded me of my teenage days in Niagara Falls NY).  Watched the Canadian Juniors win in a Shootout versus the Swiss.  On the way home, some of us decided to stop at Queen Elizabeth Park, but were blanked on the Hoary and Common Redpolls seen there all last week.  However, we were entertained by a group of guys playing Frisbee Golf, assisted with their accompanying bags of liquid nectar.  Fun holiday times.

Next Tuesday, January 5, BOWEN ISLAND TRIP POSTPONED.  Instead we will leave Petra’s at 8am for Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and Alaksen Wildlife Area.

Also, the evening of Jan. 5 is our first 2016 Delta Nats meeting at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen (7:30 p.m.) with Professor David/Dov Lank presenting on his 30 year Study of Ruffs.  Join us if you can.  As always, comments welcome and let me know if you want off my List to receive these missives.  Meanwhile, wishing each of you and your families a very happy and healthy 2016, full of love, luck and some good birding.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under *DNCB, American Dipper, Burnaby Lake, Long-billed Dowitcher, Pine Grosbeak

DNCB Outing No. 2015-51 to Alaksen and Reifel

About 15 DNCBers participated in our Tuesday outing to Alaksen National Wildlife Area (NWA) and Reifel Bird Sanctuary.  We saw lots of neat stuff, up-close-and-personal, at our “DNCB Mecca” for birding.  Check out the photo evidence by Liz, Pat, Glen, Jack and Jim K on our DNCB Picasa site.

Leaving Petra’s at 8:00 a.m., six of us car-pooled nicely in two vehicles (Roger K took Mike & Jim K , Chris McV took Glen & me) on our drive through Tsawwassen First Nations (TFN) land and the Ladner fields.  First stop was the Kingfisher Bridge and, as always, the Kingfisher missed the meeting.  We did see a raft of Northern Shovelers and a Northern Flicker.  Next stop was the west end of the TFN land where a Red-tailed Hawk posed on a telephone pole.  Above us, a Bald Eagle was squabbling with a Rough-legged Hawk and the Rough-legged flew right over us for great looks.  Next stop was the Lookout at Canoe Pass on the Fraser River.  The tide was high, the water flat as a pancake, and the sun was shining brilliantly on the snow covered mountains across the Strait on Vancouver Island.  No birds here, but a glorious vista.

We continued across the historic Westham Island Bridge to Alaksen NWA.  On arrival at Alaksen, we met Ladner Jack, Richmond Donna, North Van’s Roy & Gordon, and North Delta Jean who were watching both Common and Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon and “Shovelers shoveling” in the pond near the entrance.  We walked to the Reifel Homestead CWS (Canadian Wildlife Service) Office under the Fir trees and found lots of pellets but no Owls.  Behind the office buildings, a beaut Northern Shrike posed on top of a tree.  We walked past the old “prohibition beer” cellar to the other slough where more Hoodies, a Pied-billed Grebe and a couple of Lesser Scaup were cruising along near the shore.  Approaching 9:30 a.m., we left Alaksen to meet the others at Reifel, next door.

At the Reifel entrance, a flock of Cedar Waxwings (no Bohemian) caught a few people’s attention.  White Rock Al, Liz and Roger M were impatiently waiting for us at the office with Reifel Manager Kathleen.  Roger flaunted his photos taken earlier this morning of the Hoary Redpoll and 5 Common Redpolls taken at Queen Elizabeth Park.  Jean saw a Merlin fly by and some saw Dowitchers in the office pond.  I tried, in vain, to get everyone together for a group photo, then I got in a snit and went off alone up the trail.  A few Black-crowned Night-Herons were roosting in their regular spots.  All the regular little birds were on the path including Song, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Towhees, Robins, Juncos and, of course Black-capped Chickadees eating from one’s hand.  Gradually, the group caught up to me and we followed Kathleen on an Owl search.  One of the Great Horned Owl pair was in a tree where they regularly roost.  We couldn’t find the mate and don’t know where they will be (or are?) nesting. Kathleen also found a Barred Owl for us too.  These sightings got me out of my snit.

Further along the trail, Liz fed a Red-breasted Nuthatch from her hand.  Some saw the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, while others fed Red-winged Blackbirds from their hand too.  At the tower, we could see lots of Trumpeter Swans and Snow Geese along the outer shore.  I had made the group feel so guilty that they all gathered meekly on the tower steps for the Group Photo.  We corralled another Reifel visitor to take the photo using Roger M’s camera.

RM_DNCB_2015-51 Reifel2

DNCB at Reifel (photo by Roger)


We continued along the inland trail, avoiding/ignoring the No Entry tape and pumping machine (We’re real rebels).  Most waterfowl are in beautiful breeding plumage and at Reifel it is so awesome to see them so close. Pairs of my favourite, Wood Ducks, were plentiful.  Gadwall, American Coots and two Ring-necked Ducks were there too.  And the wild Sandhill Cranes that winter at Reifel seemed deceivingly tame as they ate seeds from our hands.  We sporadically got back to the entrance and many dispersed, while eight of us (all guys: Mikie B, Jim K, Prince Rupert boys Roy & Gordon, WR Al, Chris McV, Ladner Jack and me) decided to lunch at Speed’s Pub in Ladner.  We sat on the outside patio, enjoyed the Cod & Chips Special with two pints of Canadian, watched Mute Swans in the slough around the retired fishing boats, and solved the problems of the world.  It was a fitting end to another very enjoyable outing.

Next Tuesday, December 29, we will leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. for Burnaby Lake Park.  For more info, reports and photos, check out our website.  And join us on Sunday, December 27 for the famous Ladner Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  As always, comments encouraged, and let me know if this drivel annoys you and you want off my List.  Meanwhile, to each of you and your family, have a Merry Christmas and I hope Santa responds favourably to your Wish List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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Filed under Alaksen WMA, Bald Eagle, Barred Owl, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Horned Owl, Merlin, Red-tailed Hawk, Reifel, Rough-legged Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Westham Island