DNCB Outing No. 2017-03 to White Rock Pier and Blackie Spit

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Only nine keeners weathered Tuesday’s rain, and enjoyed a surprisingly productive and fun morning at the White Rock pier and then Blackie Spit Park.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-03 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Vivian drove Chris, and Mike drove Terry and me from Petra’s at 7:30 am. It was cool (but above freezing) and spitting rain, which is much like it was a lot of the morning, but the ride to White Rock was smooth.  We arrived at the parking lot (Free until 10:00 am) above the Pier at about 8:15 am, and Richmond Brian and newbie Langley Ralph were waiting, and bonding.  Gareth joined us a few minutes later, and time-challenged Margaretha arrived as we were leaving the Pier.

The water/tide was very high and rafts of Scoters (Surf, White-winged, blanked on Black), Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, Common Goldeneye and Common Loons were all up-close-and-personal near the shore.  As we were scanning the shoreline Gareth spotted a couple of Dunlin foraging, and then a small flock of Black Turnstones landed near the “White Rock”.  I was unable to ID a Ruddy Turnstone among them, although one had been seen here recently.  While I was searching in vain for a Black Scoter with our “million dollar” scope (which needs a “wiper” for the rain), Mike and Gareth saw a couple of Red-throated Loons just on the other side of the boardwalk.  All these neat sightings kept the bitching about the miserable weather down to a minimum.

We walked to the end of the jetty and Terry took a few Group Photos.  Two Ruddy Ducks diving beneath the roosting Double-crested Cormorants excited me, but didn’t do much for the others.  The sighting of a brilliant pair of Harlequin Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers was neat too, but most of us were more fascinated with Langley Ralph’s 25 year association/membership with the Sailing Co-op that owned and operated six of the sailboats parked along the breakwall.  We could see a DNCB Sailing Birding Outing around the Gulf Islands in our future.  It was getting a bit windy and uncomfortable, and we couldn’t spot any pelagic birds or Long-tailed Ducks, so we meandered back down the pier, enjoying the views of the White Rock hillside and the passing trains.  Approaching 10:00 am, and the end of our free parking, we decided to move on to Blackie Spit.

The Ring-billed Gulls welcomed us at Blackie Spit, but again, the water was very high and no large numbers of ducks were around.  We walked to the end of the spit, where only a little of it was left above water.  A few hundred Dunlin were huddled on the “bit of the spit”, and suddenly they rose and flew off.  I blamed Chris for scaring them, then saw the Peregrine Falcon fly by and land on a pylon in the Nicomekl River.  We got good views of the Peregrine in the scope, and also spotted a Pacific Loon in the distance, giving us three Loon species for the day.  Walking back to the parking lot, we were surprised by a flock of Wigeon foraging on the grass.  We picked out one Brant Goose and at least nine male Eurasian Wigeon in this flock of about 50, and Gareth pointed out the male American/Eurasian hybrid (Check out photo in Sibley’s Guide, and Terry’s on our Flickr site).

Walking to the Rene Savenye area of the Park, there were surprisingly few little birds around; however we weren’t really looking, and frankly didn’t care.  Chris photo’d a Northern Flicker and Terry a lonely Green-winged Teal.  We got to the Purple Martin pylons and nesting boxes where both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants were roosting with wings spread.  Not much else here until four Common Mergansers landed on the far side.  While scoping them, four birds flew towards us, and then turned away as the screaming “Curlew and Godwits” made even me jump and almost poke my eye out in the scope.  The three Marbled Godwits and lone Long-billed Curlew were indeed beaut sightings, and they landed close by for our photogs.

The excitement of the day was far too over-bearing.  We were all relatively dry, it was about 11:15 am, so we decided to call it a day and go to the Townhall Pub on King George Boulevard for lunch.  Another super decision.  I don’t know why, but Breakfast Specials turn me on after DNCB outings, especially with two glasses of the pub’s Special Draught Beer.  And funnily enough, this eclectic group of seven DNCB weirdoes provided some really entertaining conversation.  Home by 1:30 pm and Sandra was relatively pleased as we entertained new grandson Thomas, while Erica showered.

Next Tuesday, January 24, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am on an outing to Stanley Park.  As usual, we will meet others at the Swimming Pool parking lot, I expect around 8:15 to 8:30 am, depending on traffic.

BTW, watch for the new Delta Nats Facebook Page that Jim K is working on.  As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website for more reports, photos and info, and let me know if these meandering missives annoy you and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Blackie Spit, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Long-billed Dowitcher, Marbled Godwit, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, Ruddy Duck, White Rock Pier | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-02 to Iona Regional Park

Photos by Terry Carr (TC), Brian Avent (BA), Pat Smart (PS), Liz Stewart (LS), Chris McVittie (CMcV), Maureen Sinilaid (MS), Roger Meyer (RM)
more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

DNCB at Iona RP (photo by Roger M)

DNCB at Iona RP (photo by Roger M) click on photo for larger version

Twelve DNCBers enjoyed a cool but dry, sunny and very pleasant Tuesday morning at another prominent birding spot in the Lower BC Mainland, Iona Regional Park.  Check out some amazing shots of the mornings sightings on our FLICKR site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-02 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Five of us (Mike, Terry, Roger 2, Chris and me) car-pooled nicely from Petra’s at 7:30 am in my new (to me) Range Rover.  HOV lane through the tunnel was quick and easy and we got to the Iona parking lot around 8:00 am.  Roger One and others were waiting there and the front pond was frozen so not much on it.  Seeing the Snow Geese in the Bay, we decided to head to the beach first.  There were about 3000 Snow Geese close to shore and we saw V’s above of another 2000.

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We found one Blue Morph Snow Goose among them,

Dunlin (TC)

Dunlin (TC)

and several flocks of Dunlin flew by too.

Richmond Donna even spotted a Whale, which turned out to be a wave going over a sand bar.  The brilliant sun was rising behind us, so good for photogs.

Before starting our wanderings through the Park, Roger and Tony took a couple of Group Photos of us facing a flock of Mew Gulls resting on the frozen pond.

The Dirty Dozen were: Rogers 1&2, Mike B, Terry C, Richmond’s Brian A & Donna T, sisters Pat & Maureen, ILB Tony M, Liz S, time-challenged Margaretha and me.  The regular Iona stuff was in the bushes including Spotted Towhees, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, House Finches, etc. with Northern Flickers and the occasional Anna’s Hummingbird providing a bit of excitement.

Keen-eared Brian A heard a Virginia Rail, and another Park visitor Keith said we missed a Pied-billed Grebe.  The inner pond was frozen too with only a few Canada Geese and Green-winged Teal on shore

Bald Eagle (TC)

Bald Eagle (TC)

and a pair of Bald Eagles in a tree overlooking the scene.  So we simply enjoyed our communal chatter as we walked to the back gate of the Sewage Ponds.

There were tonnes of birds in the Sewage ponds, mostly in the northwest open pond.  Lots of Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Mallards with Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks.

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Roger finally found our Target Bird, a Tufted Duck, and our photogs got good shots.

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A Red-tailed Hawk was in the tree but we couldn’t find a falcon.

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Long-billed Dowitchers (TC)

While photographing an accommodating group of Long-billed Dowitchers, a Wilson’s Snipe called and quickly flew by beside us toward the Fraser.  We tried in vain to find it again and get a better look.  Dunlin and Killdeer were there too.

We left the sewage ponds and walked through the trees and along the Fraser River.  Nothing new seen, but the vistas along the river and of the city and mountains were spectacular, as usual.

Great Blue Heron (TC)

Great Blue Heron (TC)

Great Blue Herons are always photogenic.

We were blanked on normally-seen Western Meadowlarks and Northern Shrikes.

We got back to the parking lot shortly after 11:00 am and decided it was time for a DNCB Lunch.  Of course, the wayward Margaretha finally found us here and nine of us went to the Flying Beaver.  We arrived before 11:30 am so some of us had the huge Breakfast Special (poached eggs, bacon, sausage, spuds, toast) of course with a pint of Okanagan Springs Pale Ale, also on special.  A glorious finish to another very enjoyable DNCB outing.

Next Tuesday, January 17, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for an outing in White Rock.  We’ll meet at the WR Pier around 8:00 am, to take advantage of the early free parking.  Following our jetty walk, we’ll go to Blackie Spit.

As always, check out our website for more reports (especially last week’s at Brunswick Point), photos and info, and let me know if this verbal diarrhea annoys you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

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Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Dunlin, Iona, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mew Gull, Red-tailed Hawk, Ring-necked Duck, Sewage Lagoons, Tufted Duck, Virginia Rail, Wilson's Snipe | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-01 to Tsawwassen Ferry Port & Brunswick Point

DNCB at Brunswick Point - Roger Meyer photo click on photo to see large version

12 DNCB at Brunswick Point (Roger Meyer photo) click on photo to see large version

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Part 1:  Sightings with Tom (by Tom Bearss)
Ferry Terminal:  Scaup (probably Greater), one Brant, rafts of thousands of ducks, mostly Mallard, Northern Pintail and American Wigeon (at least one Eurasian),

Ducks - mixed flock (GB)

Ducks – mixed flock (GB)

Bufflehead, both Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye, both Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Green-winged Teal, a swarm of over 3000 Dunlin,

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Dunlin (GB)

all three Scoter species on the south side of causeway (Surf, White-winged and less common Black), Red-breasted Mergansers,

Horned Grebes, Gadwall.  Several Bald Eagles arousing the waterfowl.

I did not see any Harlequin Ducks or Black Oystercatchers or Black Turnstones.  No Shovelers.  GBH’s.

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GBH (LS)

Brunswick: two cold Killdeer, Mute Swans, lots (~100) Trumpeter Swans including a neat family of 5 parading,

many Black-bellied Plovers (posing on pylons, no Golden’s),

swarms of Dunlin and probably Western Sandpipers too.  A flock of Long-billed Dowitchers flew by.

Raptors included Red-tailed Hawks (one eating a frozen Red-necked Pheasant), Northern Harriers,

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Peregrine Falcons, and two target birds Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged Hawk.  Many waterfowl too, including a Common Merganser.

Lots of Song, Fox, White- and Golden-crowned Sparrows.

Dan Tyson showed me a Lincoln’s and Savannah Sparrows.  We were blanked on Lapland Longspurs and American Pipits.  Blanked on Swamp Sparrow, Rock Wren and Rails too.  House Finches, American Goldfinches, Spotted Towhees, lots of Northern Flickers, European Starlings, Robins, Chickadees, Juncos, Eurasian Collared Doves.

Northern Flicker (JMacD)

Northern Flicker (JMacD)

Also saw Western Meadowlarks.  Large flocks (V’s) of Snow Geese flying overhead.  Northern Shrike.

Liz also photographed a Cooper’s Hawk, an Otter swimming in the sea ice.

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Otter in sea ice (LS)

While the group was enjoying beer and lunch, Tom was at Star Wars movie (Rogue One), with Sandra and son Scott, in “moving” seats with 3D glasses.  Super day and super outing.

Part 2:  Post Tom Sightings by Roger Meyer

Too bad you couldn’t have made the lunch.  We decided on Speeds and had to arrange 6 tables to accommodate all of us… even Rose joined us.  Good food and quick service.  As for the remainder of the trip:  we went as far as the platform with the flag in front of the farm house.  The only new bird was a good look at a Northern Shrike.

Northern Shrike (LS)

Northern Shrike (LS)

We also saw more swans (lots more), more flights of Dunlin flocks roused by a Peregrine,

Peregrine Falcon (LS)

Peregrine Falcon (LS)

and the high-light was being overflown by a sinister looking drone… we couldn’t see where the controller was though!

The walk back was uneventful with the exception of more owl gymnastics and an opportunity for a fairly close up shot (mine was blurry).  We didn’t see Danny and failed to find the Savannah and Lincoln’s  Sparrows… no sign of the Rough-legged either.  Everyone enjoyed the outing, and the birds we saw were pretty good.

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Next Tuesday, January 10th, we will Leave Petra’s at 7:30 for an outing to Iona Regional Park & Sewage Lagoons, meeting at Iona washroom parking lot around 8:15 am.

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Scoter, Black-bellied Plover, Brunswick Point, Cooper's Hawk, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mute Swan, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Ring-necked Pheasant, River Otter, Short-eared Owl, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Western Meadowlark, Western Sandpiper | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2016-52: Ladner Christmas Bird Count

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Ladner “Area I” groups reconvene at Petra’s for lunch (photo by Roger M) – click on photo for large version

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Our regular DNCB Outing date fell on the day of the Ladner CBC, so we decided to make the Ladner CBC our last outing of 2016!

The count is part of the regional Christmas Bird Count, which is part of a much larger count across the continent.  Counts happen in over 2,000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere.  The CBC started in 1900, with the Ladner count starting in the 1950s.  It is an ongoing project of the National Audubon Society in the United States, and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada.

Each Christmas Bird Count is conducted on a single day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.  They are carried out within a 24-kilometre diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. The Ladner count includes Tsawwassen, Point Roberts and south Richmond.

19 gathered at Petra’s, and split into 3 groups under the leadership of Roger Meyer, Tom Bearss and Brian Self to cover Ladner Area I (Tsawwassen East of 56th St). There was one group that met leader Mary Taitt at Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and other groups that met to enumerate other South Delta areas.

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Roger’s Group – Centennial Beach to Beach Grove (RM)

It was a spectacular morning when we set out, with clear skies and sunshine.  Each group was assigned an area (and a map) to record the numbers of each species seen in that area.  The plan was for the 3 East Tsawwassen groups to reconvene at Petra’s at noon, to tally provisional numbers, and to plan how to cover areas not yet tallied.  Tom was detained by a Radio Canada (French) T.V. interview at Earthwise, to whom he explained in English (and some French) what the CBC was about, and Brian’s group arrived at 12:30.

After lunch, some set out to complete the areas not yet covered, while others went home.

Area I Section #3 Sightings – Report by Roger Meyer
Leaving Petra’s after a confusing grouping of the 19 volunteers, the Section #3 group – consisting of Mike, Jim, Ken and Anne, Patrick and Joanne, and myself (Roger) – left for the parking lot at the foot of 12th Avenue.  Joanne graciously offered to be the recorder and did an incredible job (thanks so much, Joanne!)  We had two spotting scopes between us which were absolutely necessary for the offshore rafts of birds.  Our route was an exact repetition of the Birds on the Bay outing from a few weeks back, and differed only in the absence of a few of the expected birds from that previous outing such as the Western Meadowlarks and Northern Harriers… when have we not seen the  Harriers there?

Leaving the parking lot, we walked the bay side dyke.  Across the road from the beginning of the trail we were puzzled by a raptor in a tall tree in Section #1’s area and finally decided it was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (we really needed Anne Murray at several times on this trip).  The brush along the path had numerous song birds (juncos, Song, Golden-crowned, and one Fox sparrows.  On the water side there were few ducks in the lagoon… Pintail, Mallards, Wigeon and two, or three, Green-winged Teal.  The highlight here was the Hooded Merganser couple.  A few adult, and juvenile, Bald Eagles were seen throughout the trip flying over the water and perched in trees.  The canal prior to the pump station yielded more Mallards and a few female Buffleheads.  I don’t think we need to mention the dozens of robins and crows constantly about (thereby mentioning them I guess).

Arriving at the observation platform the fun began!  Thousands of waterfowl and gulls on the shore and way out into the water.  Various rafts of Brant, Canada Geese, Pintail, Wigeon (we searched but failed to come up with a Eurasian), and smaller numbers of Green-winged Teal.  Between us we decided to arrive at percentages of each species, estimate the total number in the mix and multiply by the individual percentages giving us results with only + or –  37% accuracy (the last figure entirely made up).

Proceeding south from the pump house we encountered more rafts of the same ducks.  Most of the gulls we saw were Glaucous-winged, Mew, a few Ring-billed, and even fewer Herring and Thayer’s.  Across the spit from the small lagoon we had seen a few flocks of shorebirds and decided to go out to the shoe line.  There we were able to identify the flocks as consisting mainly of Sanderlings and a few Dunlin.  I was pretty sure a single Black Turnstone had flown by but I didn’t trust my id without verification by someone else (but I’m sure it was, so there!).  The rest of the walk from there to the concession stand was uneventful except for some House Finches and rabbits.

We had hoped the ponds at Centennial Beach would provide a Eurasian Wigeon but to no avail.  There were more American ones, Mallards, and our first Brewer’s Blackbirds and few Red-winged.  Walking out to the beach we scoured the waters and found rafts of Surf and White-winged Scoters far off shore.  We also had a few Red-breasted Mergansers.  We did see, along the way, the odd Great-blue Heron but far fewer than expected.

The return trip was inland and, again, was very sparse in species.  We particularly searched for the elusive harriers, again fruitless.  We came up with more finches, House and some Purple, and one tree with a number of Northern Flickers.  Also, in spots along the dyke trail, we had the  usual groups of Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrow.

The weather, up to the end was perfect… sunny and without wind.  As we got back to the parking lot the clouds had come in and a light rain had begun to fall… perfect timing, and we were ready to return to Petra’s for lunch.  All, in all, a great day for the count and a great group with everyone contributing, especially Joanne with the important job of keeping track of the numbers.

From Terry:

Thanks to everyone who took part in the count for Area I (Tsawwassen east of 56th St).

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Anna’s Hummingbird f. (RM)

Area I counted 70 species and 5166 birds.

Highlights included a Red-breasted Sapsucker near Boundary Beach School,

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Red-breasted Sapsucker (RM)

a Western Grebe very close to shore, and 3 Barn Owls at Earthwise.
Jude Grass says (Dec. 29) Ladner CBC preliminary total 134 or 135 species (final number will be posted soon).  Victoria had 140 species.

Here is a link to some photos taken during the count:
https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=dncb%202016-52


News articles about Ladner CBC:

Delta Optimist, Dec. 28, 2016:
Ladner bird count numbers down again

Vancouver Sun, Dec. 29, 2016 article by Larry Pynn (p.A1 & A7)
Feathers fly in Ladner’s Christmas Bird Countonline article includes short video with Jude Grass & John Gordon photos of rare birds

Wildlife centre says dozens of eagles electrocuted by power-pole perch in Delta


  • Monday, January 2, 2017 The White Rock CBC 2016/7.  Anyone who would like to participate is encouraged to come out for excellent birding.
    Area B:  Meet at the small car park beside King George Highway just west of Highway 99 at 8 am.  There we will sign in, get maps, species lists, rare bird forms and then divide up into groups.
  • Next Tuesday, January 3, our first DNCB Outing of 2017 will be to the Ferry Causeway and Brunswick Point, leaving Petra’s at 7:30 am.
  • Also on January 3 is our first Delta Nats monthly meeting, at Benediction Lutheran Church starting at 7:30 pm.  Guest Speaker will be Joey Foy at VERY short notice!, with a presentation on Endangered Species in B. C. (the blue text links to more details of topic and speaker).  Note that the originally-scheduled Speaker Emma Langson was forced to cancel due to weather conditions at her home.
Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barn Owl, CBC Ladner, Dunlin, Herring Gull, Mew Gull, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Red-tailed Hawk, Thayer's Gull | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2016-51 to Drayton Harbour & Semiahmoo Spit, USA

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site.

Ten DNCBers enjoyed a cool (~7 degrees Celsius), but dry and comfortable Tuesday morning of birding around Drayton Harbour and Semiahmoo Bay in Blaine, Washington.  Check out the photo evidence on our Flickr site at: https://www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, enter DNCB 2016-51 in top Search box.

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10 DNCB at Drayton Harbour – photo by Roger Meyer click on photo to see large version

Five of us (Roger, Mike, Glen, Chris and me) left Petra’s at 7:30 am, met sisters Pat and Maureen at the Peace Arch Park Parking lot at 8:15 am, then proceeded across the Border (only 5 minutes) to Blaine Marine Park.  While waiting for White Rock Al, Leona and Mai to arrive, we scanned the huge flotilla of waterfowl in this little Bay as we looked back at the Peace Arch.  There were huge numbers of Northern Pintail, Mallards, Surf and White-winged Scoters, a few Green-winged Teal and Scaup (Greater and Lesser), and a few Yellowlegs (Roger said Lesser, Leona said Greater, I said both) on the small bit of shoreline.

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The tide level was very high.  We took our obligatory Group Photo here with the Peace Arch behind us and a Belted Kingfisher calling.

Belted Kingfisher (PS)

Belted Kingfisher (PS)

We drove down closer to the Lookout at the end of Marine Drive.  Lots of Loons in the Bay here; mostly Common, but I think some picked out a Red-throated or two.

What caught my attention was seeing four Grebe species, Western, Horned, Red-necked and a Pied-billed.

We were blanked on the Eared Grebe.  More Barrow’s Goldeneye here, but we also saw Common Goldeneye too.

Both Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants were roosting on the rocks.

Rafts of Brant Geese were a bit further out, but beautifully seen through our DNS Scope.  Mike was very pleased at my return since he avoided having to have shoulder surgery from carrying the Scope the last couple of months.

Next stop was the Boat Ramp near the Marina and railroad tracks.  A pair of Gadwall were here along with many of the afore-mentioned waterfowl species.  We didn’t stay long here because the bright sun (yes, I’m not lying) was shining right at us, poor for photography.  We followed Leona to the next new spot, but Chris and Glen were blathering so much that I missed the turn.  So we spent 15 minutes unsuccessfully searching for the other two vehicles.  We gave up, and decided to continue across Dakota Creek and around to Semiahmoo Bay Park.  From the Lookout here onto Semiahmoo Bay, we saw the three Scoter species, together and up-close-and-personal; Surf, White-winged and the less common Black.

Leona, Mai and WR Al found us here, and merely smirked at our incompetence.

Across the road on the harbour side were lots of ducks, and in the distance we saw a raft of Canvasbacks.  We wished they were closer, but at least we recognized them.  I didn’t see a Ruddy Duck, but I think others did.  They are usually here.  A small flock of Sanderling flitted along the shoreline. As we left here, a few Dunlin were on the shore too for close-up photos. Next stop was the small parking lot south of the Semiahmoo Marina. We walked from here toward the marina. Flocks of Golden-crowned Sparrows and House Finches were in the bushes. At Mai’s request, the Black Oystercatchers were on the dock, and with them were both Dunlin and Sanderling.

In the Bay were lots of Scaup , Red-breasted Mergansers and some brilliant Harlequin Ducks.

Harbour Seal (PS)

Harbour Seal (PS)

Harbour Seals occasionally popped their heads up.  From the Marina, WR Al drove me back to my car and we drove to the Resort parking lot.

Off the lookout here toward White Rock, we saw more Loons, Mergansers, Grebes and Goldeneye, but couldn’t find a Long-tailed Duck.

Lots of Mew Gulls among the Glaucous-winged.  We were also blanked on other seabirds like Pigeon Guillemots, Rhinoceros Auklets and Murres.  No worries; we (all 10) entered the Resort Restaurant and enjoyed a delicious lunch along with two delectable Kolsch Draught beer.  They make their own pizzas here; Mike and I each had Pepperoni & Cheese and it was scrumptious.

Mike & Tom with Pizzas (RM)

Mike & Tom with Pizzas (RM)

It was refreshing to be back on a DNCB outing and listen to the gibberish, especially about Roger’s storied teaching career and some of his wild and weird students (Maureen?).  We left the resort around 1:30 pm, but the Border was brutal (45 minute wait) so we didn’t get back to Tsawwassen until 3:15 pm.  Nonetheless, it was an awesome outing.

This is my first report since early October, but Roger has done some entertaining linguistic gems while I was in Western Australia, and I encourage you to check them out on our website.  Terry, as expected, did a super job organizing the outings, and our webmaster Ken has really enhanced the reports with photos, etc. on our site.

Crab traps (CMcV)

Crab traps (CMcV)

Next Tuesday, December 27, is the Ladner Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  We will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 8 am in designated groups to survey south Delta.  Some may choose to do Westham Island and meet at Reifel’s entrance at 8 am.

As always, if these incoherent missives annoy you, let me know, and I will remove you from my e-mail list.  Meanwhile, wishing each of you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Oystercatcher, Black Scoter, Blaine Marine Park, Drayton Harbor, Dunlin, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Mew Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, Ruddy Duck, Semiahmoo Spit | Leave a comment

Birds on the Bay Outing No. 2016-50 in Boundary Bay Regional Park

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DNCB at Centennial Beach (minus Gerhard, Jim & photog. Roger M) click on photo to see larger version

Photos by Brian Avent (BA), Chris McVittie (CMcV), Glen Bodie (GB), Terry Carr (TC), Jack MacDonald (JMacD), Nance Forster (NF), Roger Meyer (RM).  More photos at our DNCB Flickr site.

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With a beautiful, sunny morning and a panoramic view of the North Shore mountains and a chilly –6 degrees, sixteen hardy souls met in front of Cammidge House for the final “Birds on the Bay” outing of the year.  Our leader, Tom, tanned and rested after a six week holiday in Australia, delivered an inspirational speech (can’t remember the content) and left us to fend for ourselves.  So, off we headed to the beach with Terry and myself (Roger) the designated leaders!

Our first stop on our regular route was south of the parking lot at the pond where we usually find lots of ducks.  No ducks, as the pond was frozen!  On the ice, though, were a number of Red-winged, and Brewer’s Blackbirds, and the bushes around the pond had a number of sparrows, White-crowned mostly.

Right from the start, and throughout the walk, we were favoured with loads of Bald Eagles (loads means more than 20) perching, doing aerial acrobatics, or flying over the ducks on the water.

I’m not going to mention the usual Northwestern Crows and European Starlings, which were everywhere.

Onward we went to the beach where the tide was not far out, but the shore line had a zone of solid ice followed by another of slush before the open water.  The first part of open water was lined with ducks, all American Wigeon at first, but as we moved along the beach, other species started to mix in.  A small flock of Black-bellied Plover flew by, and then a few Dunlin very low over the water.

From the beach, we moved in to the trail between the sand and the parking lot.  Here we had a mix of a few Spotted Towhees, and more Gold and White-crowned Sparrows as well as our first Northern Harrier.

Footprints in the snow provided an indication of the high rabbit population.  Arriving at the viewing tower, we took the obligatory group photo.  Gerhard had departed by this point, and Jim hadn’t arrived yet, and I was taking the photo… so that gave us a total of 17 on the walk!  (Two others, Jean and Margaretha joined us later at Cammidge House).

The “Bird of the Day” award went to Nance for sighting a pair of Western Meadowlarks on the trail just after the tower.

Our species count got better as we approached the pump station.  On the small cove between the trail and water we had our first shorebirds, Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer.

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We could now make out large numbers of Canada Geese, and Brant, a lifer for a few of our newcomers.  On the inland side of the dyke we had the usual Great Blue Herons spotted around the field and in the trees.

At the outfall from the pump station where the fresh water was not frozen we had enormous numbers of ducks and geese.  Jammed together were American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and Mallards.tc_wigeon_mallard_pintail

American Wigeon, Mallard, Pintail & Green-winged Teal (TC)

American Wigeon, Mallard, Pintail & Green-winged Teal (TC)

Scanning over the mass of ducks we were able to find at least three Eurasian Wigeon.  (Just a note:  my spell-check doesn’t like Wigeon, but doesn’t mind Widgeon but all the books have Wigeon? …thought you might find  that interesting).  What was interesting, though, was watching a female Northern Harrier flying back –and-forth over the packed waterfowl only a few feet above them and then making the odd dip as if  it was going to pick up a duck?

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From the viewing platform we observed more Killdeer and Greater Yellowlegs in the canal paralleling the outer dyke, as well as more Green-winged Teal (couldn’t find any Common Teal).

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Leaving the beach, we began the return trip via the inland path.  The water between the dyke and pump house had a number of Mallards and a  pair of Hooded Mergansers.  On descending the stairs to the path a few of our participants were treated to a Ruby-crowned Kinglet close to their feet (I hope we have some good photos of this).

Moving along through the fields we added a few Mourning Doves, Black-capped Chickadees, Purple Finches, several (several means less than 20) House Finches,

a male and female Northern Harrier, lots of American Robins, a single Northern Flicker (one, I believe, had been seen at the beginning of the walk as well).  Just as we were arriving back at Cammidge House another Western Meadowlark flew right in front of us.

Finally, cold and tired, we arrived back at Cammidge House to be greeted with hot coffee and an assortment of goodies thanks to Don and Rochelle, Jennifer, and Elizabeth… greatly appreciated by all!

Mike w. DNCB scope (CMcV)

Mike w. DNS scope (CMcV)

Also appreciated was the effort Mike put in carrying our heavy Delta Nats Telescope and tripod… thanks, Mike!

It  was nice to have six newcomers come to join us and hope they enjoyed the trip enough to join our Tuesday morning outings.

Next Tuesday December 20, we will go to Blaine, Washington.  Meet at Petra’s at 7:30, at Peace Arch parking lot (behind Duty Free) at 8 am, at Blaine Harbour 8:15 am.

Report by Roger Meyer

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, BBRP, Birds-on-the-Bay, Black-bellied Plover, Cammidge House, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Hooded Merganser, Mourning Dove, Northern Harrier, Purple Finch, Western Meadowlark | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2016-49: Boundary Bay Dike – 104th Street to the Mansion

Boundary Bay Birders (RM)

Boundary Bay Birders (RM) click on photo to see larger version

Photos by Roger Meyer (RM), Terry Carr (TC), Jack MacDonald (JMacD), Chris McVittie (CMcV), Brian Avent (BA), David Hoar (DH), Glen Bodie (GB).  More photos at our DNCB Flickr site.

By daybreak the snow had abated, but the roads were icy and it took 20 minutes to clear the car windows.  However, the main roads were clear and the sky cloudless and despite a –4 degree temperature, 7 birders, Mike, Terry, Glen, Chris, Roger (me), David and Noreen, appeared at Petra’s prepared to face the elements.  We departed at 7:30 am  for 104th Street and the Delta Heritage Air Park where we were joined at 8:00 by three other hardy members, Brian, Jack and Nance (who arrived an hour later after getting lost in the wilds of Surrey). There, we were treated to a beautiful sunrise and a panoramic view of the freshly snow-capped mountains.

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From the top of the dyke we could see large numbers of ducks away out on the water but the light was not good for  viewing.  Later we could see better and determined that most of the ducks were Northern Pintail and American Wigeon (we were not able to detect any Eurasian).  On the mudflat were groups of shorebirds which we later determined to be predominantly Black-bellied Plover and Dunlin.

Walking west along the dyke we saw more of the same shorebirds with a few Long-billed Dowitchers and Greater Yellowlegs (only two).  Birds of prey were scarce except for Bald Eagles, of which we saw at least 50!

There were only two Northern Harriers seen, one male and one female.

At one point Noreen requested a Short-eared Owl and within minutes one appeared flying over the incoming tide line… this was the bird high-light of the day!

We followed the dyke as far as the Mansion and the only excitement there was the formation flying of the thousands of Dunlin as they were spooked by Eagles flying overhead… always a great sight!

Dance of the Dunlin

Dance of the Dunlin video by Brian Avent

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We did see a large flock of Trumpeter Swans in one of the farm fields but the small birds were mainly White-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows, House Finches, and a few Spotted Towhees.  Also seen, as expected, were lots of American Robins, Northwestern Crows and Eurasian Collared Doves and a number of Great Blue Herons.

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At one point we made an effort to sort out the gulls and identified some Ring-billed, Mew and lots of Glaucous-winged.

The two  pet goats were present, as usual, at the  house at the beginning of 104th.

So, not so great as far as the number of species seen, but we were happy with the beautiful day and were glad we made the effort to get out of our warm beds to go out into the cold and dark.  Terry, Mike and I stopped along 72nd at the turf farm, but the Slaty-backed Gull was not to be seen.

Next week, on Wednesday December 14  is our quarterly Birds-on-the-Bay Outing.  We will meet at 9 am at Cammidge House.  See BOTB Poster.  We look forward to Tom’s return and hope he is able to adjust to the extreme temperature change!

Roger Meyer

Posted in 104 Street, Bald Eagle, Black-bellied Plover, Boundary Bay, Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mew Gull, Northern Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Trumpeter Swan | Leave a comment