DNCB Outing No. 2015- 39 to Elgin Park and Blackie Spit

Starting at about 8:00 on another great Wednesday morning, twenty seven enthusiastic members of the Flighty Flock assembled at the Historic Stewart Farm for an outing through Elgin Park and later around Blackie SpitThe land along the Nicomekl River was pre-empted by John Hardy in the 1880s and then settled by John Stewart who built the fine Victorian farmhouse in 1894.  For over 5 decades, the Stewart family operated a hay farm and helped build the local school, church, community hall and river dykes of the historic community of Elgin.

After the customary hellos and the introduction a refreshingly new recruit, grade ten exchange-student and avid photog Sergio from Madrid, the eclectic assembly wandered through the grounds toward Ward’s Marina on the river, where the obligatory group portrait was taken.  Not in the snapshot were the five lost souls who had driven to the other parking lot in the park; once they joined the troupe, the number of participators grew to thirty two, just too many to list in this short report.  A glance at the diverse photos will indicate who was there.

On the way to and near the marina, Northern Flickers, a boy Pileated Woodpecker, a Brown Creeper and a Yellow-rumped Warbler were seen and photographed.  As well, a Great Blue Heron was perched on the mast of a sailboat, a Northern Harrier soared over the fields on the other riverbank, and someone also observed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Separate clusters of chattering birders continued through the dense forest, where some heard the calls of Bewick’s and Pacific Wrens, to the western section of the park.  There, the varied biosphere made up of fen, ponds, rows of deciduous trees and the riverbank yielded Fox-, Song-, Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows, a male Downie Woodpecker and Steller’s Jays, grappling with acorns, not to mention Chickadees, Towhees, Red-winged Blackbirds and Gold- and House Finches – their Purple cousins were later recorded at the Spit.  No Rails were spotted, and the Barn Owls did not venture out of their raised abode.

Attention was drawn to the northern bank of the Nicomekl, where the WRSNaturalists had conducted a massive shoreline cleanup with the assistance of up to forty nine volunteers including individuals from the Delta and Langley Clubs.  The three day venture in spring netted ten tonnes of debris including 3200 lbs of Styrofoam, twenty seven wheels with tires and seventy bags of garbage containing 7700 individual items, all deposited in three forty yard dumpsters.  The continuation of the project is set for October 10 at 9:30.

From Elgin Park, the group motored to Blackie Spit where many Common Loons, some still in their summer garb, Cormorants, both types of Yellow Legs, several Red-necked Grebes, the expected four species of dabbling ducks and several floating Harbour Seals were waiting.  The spotting of six American Pipits feeding along the shoreline was the first highlight of the morning.  Also seen was our old friend, the Long-billed Curlew, but without his Godwit buddies.  A flock of Western Sandpipers entertained by taking off, flying in formation and landing again in proximity to the path.

On the way to the Savenye Conservation Area, a Cooper’s Hawk was spotted in a thicket and a Kestrel flew over and landed on top of an oak tree.  While Pascale, Alberto and Al decided to follow Ken and Anne to the pump house area – the latter two made it all the way to the Dunsmuir Community Gardens – all the other participants including Tom were worn out and called it a day.  As a consequence, they missed the highpoint of the day, the fly-by of an Osprey.

All in all, the group enjoyed a great day with fine fall weather, the accustomed idle chatter, sightings of forty two species and wonderful photos taken.  Check out the photo evidence by Terry, Liz, Glen, Jonathan, Marion, Pascale & Alberto and newcomer Sergio on our DNCB Picasa site.

Al Schulze

Next Wednesday October 7, our destination is Serpentine Fen where we expect to arrive at the “Barn Owl Barn” parking lot from Petra’s around 8:00 a.m.  Check our website for updates.  Also, you can call (cell 778-994-4726) or e-mail Tom.

Note also that our Delta Nats monthly meeting (very short) is next Tuesday, October 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen.  Christine Terpsma will give us a Presentation on What’s New at the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust.  You are all encouraged to attend.  Also, you are welcome to join me and Metro Vancouver staff at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, October 5 at our Barn Owl Box in BBRP for the lowering, examining and cleaning of the box.  Congrats to Jonathan & Lorraine on the arrival of their 7th grandchild.  Bienvenidos Sergio.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

Leave a comment

Filed under *DNCB, American Kestrel, American Pipit, Blackie Spit, Cooper's Hawk, Elgin Heritage Park, Harbour Seal, Long-billed Curlew, Osprey, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-necked Grebe

DNCB Outing Report No. 2015-38 to Mt. Baker

Fourteen DNCBers enjoyed a beautiful, sunny, first day of Autumn, wandering a few of the trails in Mount Baker National Forest.  We saw a few neat birds (American Dippers) and animals (Mountain Goats), but the spectacular scenery was the winner again, as it is on most of our annual Baker outings.  Check out the magnificent photo evidence of the vistas, flora and fauna species, and the “beautiful people”, on our DNCB Picasa site.

Eight of us met at 7:30 a.m. at the Peace Arch Park parking lot and car-pooled nicely in two vehicles (ILB Tony took Baker Expert Terry and almost-refined Marion & Kirsten, Rob & Marylile took Stormcat Paula and me).  After a very quick and smooth Border crossing (low Cdn dollar means little traffic), and a beautiful drive through the north Washington State farmland (and repository for many old, dilapidated vehicles that excited Marylile even more than Rob), we got to the Mt. Baker Service/Ranger Center just before 9:00 a.m. (right on time).  The other six (keen-eyed Liz & Scoutmaster Alan, bewildered sisters Pat & Maureen, rambling Alberto & voluble Pascale) arrived around the same time, like clockwork.  The Service Center was closed, Planned Power Outage(?), so we saved the 5 buck daily Park Fee.

Following introductions, a mandatory Group Photo, and pee break, five vehicles convoyed up the 23 mile winding road to Picture Lake.  Before circling the lake (~45 minutes), a Gray Jay (Whiskey Jack) did a fly past, but none came close for hand feeding.  The circle trail was quiet too, but the mirror image of Mt. Shuksan on the pond is always a photog’s delight.  A single Horned Grebe was the only pond resident, and no Blueberries were on bushes along the trail: early Fall has arrived on Baker.  Colourful orange poisonous mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) were attractive.  We saw a Northern Flicker and Liz’s photo of a Woodpecker species looks like a Sapsucker (possibly Red-breasted).  Terry and I saw a flitting Kinglet and his photo evidence confirms it to be a Golden-crowned.  A Hooded Merganser was the lone bird on the adjacent pond divided by the intriguing stone Andesite columns.

Next stop was the Heather Meadows Visitor Center (HMVC, also closed because of “Planned Power Outage”?).  From here, we walked the Bagely Lakes Trail (~one hour) and found several of our destination species, American Dippers.  This sort of drab songbird was bobbing and swimming in the fast-flowing, rocky stream just like it is supposed to do.  Some saw a Pacific Wren, Chickadees (possibly Mountain), Steller’s Jays and Squirrels but no Marmots.  It was a gorgeous walk with continuous spectacular scenery.  Although most wildflowers were finished blooming, the brilliant red, yellow and green ground/leaf cover was stunning.  Back at the HMVC, approaching Noon, we munched on our sandwiches, peanut butter & crackers, trail mixes, or whatever, before driving to the top parking lot at Artist Point.

To give perspective, Artist Point is at 5000 feet above sea level and Mt. Baker’s glacier-covered summit is about 12,000 ft.  Our Coastal Mountains are also about 5,000 ft. high and Whistler’s summit is about 7,500 feet.  From Artist Point, we walked the Chain Lakes Trail (~ 1 ½ hrs return) along a steep precipice to a lookout opposite Mt. Baker.  Other Park visitors continued on to the glacier on the mountain; we took photos of the almost completely cloudless peak, and enjoyed the Ravens and a Red-tailed Hawk flying by.  On the trail back, while enjoying the spectacular vistas of surrounding peaks and Baker Lake, we noticed two white things moving on a grassy knoll below. We don’t often see the Mountain Goats (Antelope species) here so this was a treat.  We got back to Artist Point at the scheduled 2:30 p.m., exhausted and leg-weary, but thoroughly satisfied.  The Chipmunks (but no Pikas) acknowledged our departure, as we began the drive down the mountain and back to the Border.  For obvious reasons, the inattentive and distracted ILB’s almost-fuel-empty vehicle had to be escorted to the closest gas station, which we fortunately reached without incident.  Then, some stopped in Blaine for Mexican beer and burritos, while others continued on through the unusually-quiet Border.  Another glorious DNCB outing.

Next Wednesday, September 30, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Elgin Park and then Blackie Spit in South Surrey.  Check out our website for info on Outing destinations and previous reports and photos.  As always, your comments are encouraged and please advise me if you want off the list to receive these verbose missives.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

PS: ILB is my affectionate nickname for Tony, the Indian Land Baron.

Leave a comment

Filed under *DNCB, American Dipper, Chipmunk, Gray Jay, Mountain Goat, Mt. Baker, Red-tailed Hawk

DNCB Outing No. 2015-37 to Boundary Bay and Reifel Bird Sanctuary

About 25 folk participated in various aspects of Wednesday’s “erratic” DNCB outing to Boundary Bay at 104th and 96th Streets, then Reifel Bird Sanctuary.  This was the alternate destination as our Mt. Baker outing (poor weather) was postponed to next Wednesday, Sept. 23.  There is some super photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

Seven of us left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m., comfortably in two vehicles (Roger K took Glen and Mike B, Terry & I rode with Rob & Marylile).  We got to the foot of 104th Street at the Delta Heritage AirPark where several folk met us, including Duanne and a few others from the Alouette Field Naturalists’ Club.  It was sunny, cool, and the tide was in (a rare occurrence for DNCB outings).  Lots (hundreds, probably thousands) of Black-bellied Plovers and Peeps were relatively close to shore for decent viewing.  We identified Dunlin, Sanderling and Western Sandpipers, and some saw Least Sandpipers and perhaps even an American Golden-Plover.  We didn’t have the expertise to ID some of the other Sandpipers as Baird’s or Pectoral, and we learned that other birders saw Red Knots there that morning.  But I’ll bet the other birders didn’t experience the inane conversations that DNCBers enjoyed throughout the morning.

First we walked east to get the rising sun behind us.  A flock of Caspian Terns was resting near the shoreline, among the mostly Ring-billed Gulls.  As we walked west toward the Mansion, lots of little birds were in the shrubs and grass on the farmland side of the trail.  We saw many Sparrow species including White-crowned, Golden-crowned (none by me), Song, Savannah, Lincoln’s (Gareth).  Several beaut Yellow-rumped Warblers posed for photogs while others, Orange-crowned and Common Yellowthroats, were not as obliging.  Several flocks of American Pipits were flitting about on both sides and in the harvested potato fields. Barn Swallows were numerous and we saw a few Violet-greens on the telephone line; someone saw a Tree Swallow too although most of these have already gone south (Bank Swallow also sighted by “others”).  Surprisingly, a Downy Woodpecker landed in the low shrubs in our binocular view.  Our Group was generally widely spread out along the dike trail.  However, we managed to gather 21 of us for a Group Photo taken by Alberto and ILB Tony.

Our prime focus here was the Shorebirds, and we got a decent look at the huge numbers when a Merlin flew past and they all rose and flew about for a minute or so in their acrobatic swarms before returning to feed.  At the Mansion, the Merlin posed in a tree for our ecstatic photogs.  There were hundreds/thousands of Waterfowl in the distance, but in the slough entrance to the Bay at the Mansion were easily-seen Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Gadwall and Mallards, and one Killdeer.  A Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the Tower and several Northern Harriers gave fly-pasts.  We were blanked on the Godwits (Hudsonian, Marbled and Bar-tailed) and didn’t see a Peregrine Falcon either.  Before leaving for Reifel, Scoutmaster Alan and Roger F did yeoman duty taxiing drivers from 96th St. back to their vehicles at the Delta AirPark.

At Reifel (around 10:30 a.m.), we belatedly met WR Al, Otto, Liz, Anne and her ace birder friend Joan Czapalay from Nova Scotia, at various spots in the Sanctuary.  It was an erratic outing as the Leader spent most of the morning trying to determine where outing participants were. In a middle pond was a female Redhead (it’s a waterfowl/duck species) with a Hooded Merganser diving with her.  Some may have seen the House Wren.  At the Tower, while I was looking at Yellowlegs (mostly Lesser), a Sora ran across an opening between the reeds.  Others also saw a Virginia Rail.  A Long-billed Dowitcher was also feeding there.  The Red-winged Blackbirds were particularly tame today, entertainingly eating from people’s hands.  As always at Reifel, the up-close-and-personal sightings are the best in the Lower Mainland; other species seen, and not mentioned earlier, include; Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfisher, Sandhill Cranes, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Eurasian Collared-Doves, Northern Flicker, Dark-eyed Juncos, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and a Scaup species.

We left Reifel around 1:00 p.m. and 10 of us (Rob & Marylile, Terry, Paula & Roy, Otto, ILB Tony & Reifel Laura, WR Al and me) went to Speed’s Pub in Ladner for lunch, surrounded by the crew filming the serial “Minority Report”.  The Hamburger Special and 1516 Beer were delicious, favourably priced and the service was surprisingly fast.  It was a super outing, but this Report is far too long.

Next Wednesday, September 23, we will try again to do our Mt. Baker outing.  Check our website for info and directions.  As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if you want off my List to receive this verbal diarrhea.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

Leave a comment

Filed under 104 Street, 96 Street, American Golden-Plover, American Pipit, Bald Eagle, Bank Swallow, Boundary Bay, Caspian Tern, Dunlin, House Wren, Least Sandpiper, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red-tailed Hawk, Redhead, Reifel, Sandhill Crane, Sora, Virginia Rail, Yellow-rumped Warbler

DNCB “Birds on the Bay” Outing No. 2015-36 in Boundary Bay Regional Park


BOTB group (TC photo)

Photos by Tony (TM), Terry (TC), Marion (MS), Jim (JK), Glen (GB) & Pascale & Alberto (P&A)

more photos at DNCB Picasa site

Almost 40 folk (Wow!) from all over the BC Lower Mainland participated in our Delta Naturalists’ quarterly “Birds on the Bay (BOTB)” outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park (BBRP) on Wednesday (this morning).  A few neat sightings, and it was another gorgeous sunny day in our Delta paradise.  Check out the photo evidence “soon” by our several talented photogs on our DNCB Picasa site.

We all met at historic Cammidge House (CH) at 9:00 a.m.  Following introductions, especially of the many “newbies”, we began our massive parade out the driveway toward the recently-planted native plant garden and Centennial Beach.  In the bushes along the roadway were our first of seemingly endless sightings of

Waxwings.  Bushtits and a Savannah Sparrow were also in these shrubs.

  At the “bubbling green” pond in the Park, only Mallards were swimming, but a lone White-crowned Sparrow posed briefly on a fence post.

White-crowned Sparrow (GB)

White-crowned Sparrow (GB)

  With the usual required cajoling, the eclectic group was assembled here for the mandatory Group Photo.  Terry took a “long shot”; the garrulous ILB Tony took a “ground shot” while the jovial interloper, Optimist’s Gord Goble, took “sideways shots”.


BOTB Group (TM photo)

We strolled to the beach, and as is seemingly normal for our BOTB outings, the tide was way out and not favourable for Shorebird sightings (good planning?).  Anyhow, the view was magnificent, and a Brown-headed Cowbird that turned into a Brewer’s Blackbird aroused some excitement.

Brewer's Blackbird (TC)

Brewer’s Blackbird (TC)

No Sandpipers close to shore, and only Canada Geese, Glaucous-winged Gulls and Great Blue Herons seen on the mudflats.  We continued along the trail, searching the bushes for activity.  An Anna’s Hummingbird (Rufous have gone South) with its incandescent gorge was a bit of a stimulation along with a few not-very-colourful American Goldfinches.

We tried unsuccessfully to turn American Robins, Black-capped Chickadees and Spotted Towhees into exotic sightings.  At the Lookout we gathered annoyingly for another Group Photo, claiming it’s a DNCB “tradition”.

Back on the dike trail, we saw Northern Flickers, Barn Swallows and then, in the mud, some small “Peeps”, which our Guru Anne identified as Western Sandpipers (black legs) and Least Sandpipers (yellow legs).  A few Killdeer were also there.

As frustrated Leaders normally do, I asserted that all the neat Shorebirds, including Bar-tailed Godwits, Black-bellied and Golden Plovers, Red Knots, Sanderling, Yellowlegs, etc. were “on the other side of the Bay” at 96th and 104th Sts.  Not much at the PumpHouse either.  We missed the Caspian Terns that Terry saw earlier in the morning.  The Tree Swallows have gone South, but the invasive House Sparrows continue to hang around our Nats Nest Boxes.

House Sparrow (TC)

House Sparrow (TC)

On the inland trail back to CH, I did not see or even hear two common marsh-nesting birds, Common Yellowthroat and Marsh Wrens.  Others saw/heard Bewick’s Wrens and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  As for Sparrows, we saw Song, Savannah, White-crowned and Gareth saw a Golden-crowned.

Downy Woodpecker (P&A)

Downy Woodpecker (P&A)

A Downy Woodpecker was among another flock of waxwings and Jonathan and others saw a Merlin do a quick flypast.  We did see one Northern Harrier, but expected to see more of these local residents.  We listened in vain for Soras and Virginia Rails, but the din of constant chatter prevented any success.  And frankly, for us Casual Birders, the chatter is much more important than the impact on the occasional missed sighting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of us got back to CH at 11:20 a.m., ten minutes early, but the Delta Nats Ladies were waiting and smiling with their scrumptious array of home-made scones, cookies, squares, egg-salad sandwiches, etc.  Thanks again to Rochelle (& Don), Elizabeth, Jennifer, Sandra and Eleanor.  We/they cleaned up and closed CH by Noon; another super Birds on the Bay outing.

Next Wednesday, September 16,  Boundary Bay (96th St & 104th St) and Reifel.  Mount Baker trip postponed until September 23.  See Maps & Directions link for more info.  As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if this senseless drivel aggravates you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

Leave a comment

Filed under *DNCB, BBRP, Birds-on-the-Bay, Centennial Beach, Least Sandpiper, Merlin, Northern Harrier

DNCB Outing 2015-35 to Barnston Island

Barnston Birders (Roger Meyer photo)

Barnston Birders (Roger Meyer photo)

See more photos at DNCB Picasa website

Eleven weather-hardy Birding Brigaders assembled on that rainy Wednesday morning at the ferry dock in North Surrey for only the second tour of Barnston Island.  The island, named in 1827 for Hudson Bay Company clerk George Barnston, is just over 1,500 acres of farmland and has about 150 residents including 50 members of the Katzie First Nation.  Because of the steady rain, it was decided to motor along the 10 km perimeter road, stopping at and exploring interesting sites on foot.  During the five minute crossing of the Parson Channel on the tug-and-barge ferry, Tom spotted someone frantically waving in the parking lot we had just left.

The latecomers and newbies from the North Shore caught up to us at our first stop, Robert Point at the north-western tip of the island.  The obligatory group portrait, taken by Roger, depicts the smiling faces of Rob and Marylile, Gerhard, first-timers Ray and Paula, real White Rockers David and Marg, PB Lorna, Terry, Mike, Tom and me, WR Al.  The short walk from the kiosk through the mini-park yielded only Violet-green and Barn Swallows snapping up insects over the river, a Song Sparrow or two and, possibly, a Cooper’s Hawk.  Damage done by the previous Saturday’s mega-windstorm became obvious; several fallen trees and broken branches, including one from a walnut tree, littered the pathway and impeded our progress.

On the way to our next halt at a sheep farm, Brewer’s Blackbirds and Cowbirds were seen while a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Killdeer were only heard.  While we were looking at a flock of the woolly beasts and their buddies, Buster and Dorothy the donkeys, we noticed two, three and then seven Turkey Vultures soaring over the Russel farmstead; three landed and settled down in a poplar.  As the rain stopped and the sun made an appearance, Photog Terry unsheathed his camera to take fine pictures of the Vultures, several juvenile White-crowned Sparrows, a GB Heron and two Northern Harriers flying over and roosting on posts and mounds in a cranberry field.  Before leaving that location, we were joined by sisters Pat and Maureen who had circled the island in the opposite direction, bringing the total to 15 participants.

Our last destination was Mann Point at the eastern tip of the isle.  Again storm caused debris and the rain soaked trail slowed our trek through the forest – indeed one individual took a tumble over a downed limb – but the great views of the Golden Ears Bridge proved to be worth the effort.  Moreover, in addition to seeing honking Canada Geese, Glaucous-winged Gulls, a couple of resting Double-crested Cormorants, we enjoyed watching an Osprey transporting a stick to a nest and then roosting there.  However, some in our group were disappointed that we encountered no naked people, who are rumored to frequent the site in sunny weather.  But as the final group photo shows, Mike did find conclusive proof that a beach party had taken place recently.

As the noon hour approached, our little convoy headed back to the ferry landing where all five drivers had no difficulty backing the respective vehicle onto the barge; after all, they had practiced the feat earlier while de-embarking onto the island.  Upon landing on the mainland after that fabulous five minute cruise, most of us decided to visit the Big Ridge Pub in Surrey for lunch and possibly a barley beverage.  To be sure, the weather had not been likeable at the outset, but it improved remarkably, and while the bird species count was meagre, everyone agreed that the outing around Barnston had been enjoyable and rewarding.  For those who came along and want to relive the experience and all the others who missed the trip, a fifteen minute dash-cam circle tour of the island can be viewed on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5mhD9jRszs

Report by Al Schulze


poster & photos by Rochelle Farquhar

Next week, Wed. Sept. 9, will be our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing, starting at Cammidge House at 9 am.

The following week, Wed. Sept. 16, we will be going to Mount Baker.  Leave Petra’s at 7am; leave Peace Arch Parking Lot at 7:30am. Bring passport and lunch.  Weather dependent.  See Maps & Directions link for more info.

Leave a comment

Filed under *DNCB, Barnston Island, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Harrier, Osprey, Turkey Vulture

DNCB Ferry Outing No. 2015-34 to Salt Spring Island

DNCB on ferry (Marg Cuthbert photo)

DNCB on ferry (Marg Cuthbert photo) – click on photo to see large version

Nine DNCBers spent another beautiful Wednesday on Salt Spring Island and riding the ferries among the Gulf Islands.  Not a lot of bird sightings, but a fun trip, climaxed with a pod of Killer Whales welcoming us to Tsawwassen Ferry terminal on our evening return.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.

We nine met on the 9:00 a.m. ferry  to Swartz Bay ($9.75 for Seniors to Salt Spring); Terry C, Mike B, Hans S, PB Lorna, Alberto & Pascale, Marian P, newbie White Rock’s Marg C (our Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society guru), and me.  We spent most of the trip very comfortably at the bow.  Our few sightings on crossing the Georgia Strait to Active Pass included: Surf Scoters, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, Harlequin Ducks, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots.  We cajoled another passenger to take our first Group Photo at the bow after medic Marg repaired our “fallen” PB Lorna.  A scraped knee certainly could not dampen Lorna’s enthusiasm.  Not many other birds seen through the islands to Swartz Bay, but the scenery, as always, was breath-taking.  After trying to avoid the bacon smell for an hour, I broke down and had the White Spot “Traditional” bacon & egg breakfast before landing. Delicious.

We landed at Swartz Bay (10: 40 a.m.) and transferred directly to the Skeena Queen to Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island.  Here we saw our first of at least four Belted Kingfishers resident at seemingly every Gulf Island harbour.  The Community Bus to Ganges ($2.25) was waiting for us, and we all got on (packed).  Pleasant drive past tiny churches, vineyards and farms on this heavily treed island.

Lunch in Ganges was at the over-rated Aunty Pesto’s on the harbour front.  Since I had “snuck” a meal on the ferry, a jug of very tasty local Salt Spring Beer was my repast.  Others had traditional lunches with varying degrees of enjoyment.  After lunch, we walked a harbour trail and saw no birds.  Meanwhile, Marg had lunch with her Saltspring friend Mike and saw California Quail and Anna’s Hummingbirds in their backyard.  We watched a large school of small fish (slightly larger than minnows) from the boardwalk; somewhat impressive.  Then Terry led us to Mouat Park behind the Artspring building.  It was a very pleasant walk in the woods, but again, no birds seen, although lots of Woodpecker evidence.  A carved face in a trunk and a couple of “hanging bells” were almost exciting.  We meandered back to the Bus Stop for the 3:00 p.m. ride to Long Harbour.

We caught the 3:30 p.m. ferry to Tsawwassen (only $5.00 for Seniors), with stops on Pender, Mayne and Galiano Islands.  We spent most of this three hour plus trip on the front deck enjoying the scenery.  We knew that Summer would be quiet bird wise, and it was.  No Pigeon Guillemots were seen near their nesting colony on the rocky cliffs of Galiano.  Interestingly, when we left Active Pass into the Strait, the excitement started.  Small rafts of Common Murres came close to the ferry for photographs.  We saw a lone Red-necked Grebe before it dove.  Then about half dozen Harbour Porpoises cruised by in front of the ferry.  Then, as we approached Tsawwassen terminal, a pod of Orcas (~20, probably J Pod) sort of lolly-gagged around us, flashing their white sides and identifying fins of various sizes.  There was a mother and baby diving together.  We saw lots of fish (Spring Salmon?) jumping out of the water, so I guess the whales were feeding on them.  The Pod was still there after we landed (6:45 p.m.).  It was another super DNCB outing.

Next Wednesday, September 2, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Barnston Island in Surrey, planning to meet Leader Al Schulze and others at 8:30 a.m. at the Barnston Island Ferry parking lot.

Also, don’t forget our first 2015/16 Delta Nats monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Benediction Lutheran Church on 56th St. in Tsawwassen.  Renowned Naturalist George Clulow will be giving a pictorial Presentation on his Birding in Panama.  As always, your comments are encouraged, check out other Delta Nats info, reports and photos on our website, and please let me know if you want off my list to receive these annoying missives.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

Leave a comment

Filed under *DNCB, Common Murre, Gulf Islands, Harbour Porpoise, Harlequin Duck, Orca, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Red-necked Grebe, Salt Spring Island

DNCB Outing No. 2015-33 to Tynehead Regional Park

11 DNCB (plus Hatchery volunteer Joe) at Tynehead Park - click on photo to see large version

11 DNCB (plus Hatchery volunteer Joe) at Tynehead Park – click on photo to see large version

Eleven DNCBers enjoyed a very pleasant Wednesday morning wandering the trails of Tynehead Regional Park in Surrey.  Not many birds around, but  a few neat bird, flower and fish sightings and some decent conversation.  Check out the photo evidence (by Jonathan, Glen, etc.) on our DNCB Picasa site.


Hatchery volunteer Joe points out salmon waterways to Tom (KB)

Only three of us met at Petra’s at 7:30 a.m.; PB Lorna and I rode with Glen, very smoothly via the SFPR to Tynehead, arriving about 8:15 a.m.  The other eight (Ken B & Anne A, White Rock Al, returnees Jonathan & Lorraine, Jean G, “youngster” Eric L, and Pat S without her sister) met us at the Fish Hatchery parking lot.  The Hatchery was closed, but Tynehead Volunteer Joe gave us a tonne of information on its operations and the park.  Ken took the Group Photo with Joe before we left on the trail walk.  Our sightings were minimal, a few Robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpecker and Song Sparrows.  The neatest bird sightings were a Red-breasted Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Pacific Wren, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Lorna’s Belted Kingfisher.

WR Al kept us enthralled with his oft-repeated identification speech on the various tree species.  One would think after being shown, seemingly hundreds of times, the identifying characteristics of Grand Firs, Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars, Alders, etc. that we would be able to recognize them (not).  We did recognize the many “nurse” trees and some huge first-growth stumps left from the 19th century logging days.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And some of the flowers were pretty, even the invasive Himalayan Orchid (aka Policeman’s Helmet).

Several Salmon species use the Serpentine River for their spawning migration and, although currently very low (in some places dry) in the Park, with Eric’s guidance we did find several Coho Fry swimming in pools under bridges.

Coho fry (GB)

Coho fry (GB)

It was a very picturesque walk through the woods, even cool, but as the morning passed, it became much warmer, especially in the sun.  Jonathan was impressed with a number of the “carved faces” on tree stumps.  We got back to the parking lot around 11:00 a.m. where a crowd of young people were enjoying an “Employee Development Day” away from their office, playing silly games in the park.

Teamwork on the 4-person skis (KB)

Teamwork on 4-person skis (KB)

While eating PB Lorna’s peanut butter and banana sandwich, I reminisced about the “interesting” Employee Development Days I had some 40 years ago.

On the ride home, Glen, Lorna and I decided to check out Boundary Bay at 104th and then 96th Street.  The tide was way out so we saw no Shorebirds (expecting Hudsonian Godwits, Golden and Black-bellied Plovers, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, or even the escapee Ruff).  Glen got a shot of a Common Yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat (GB)

Common Yellowthroat (GB)

We got back to Petra’s around 12:30 p.m., pleased with another almost-exhilarating DNCB morning.

Next Wednesday, August 26, is our Gulf Islands outing.  We take the 9 a.m. Ferry to Swartz Bay, then 11 am to Fulford Harbour, Saltsping – check Maps & Directions page for outing details.  Also, join your Delta Nats Display Team at the Delta Animal Expo on Sunday, August 23 at Ladner Memorial Park, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if these incredibly verbose missives annoy you.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

Leave a comment

Filed under *DNCB