Hans-Ulf, John & Kay and I spent Monday morning (before the snow storm) driving around Delta fields on our way to Reifel. First stop was the Kingfisher Bridge at the entrance to the Tsawwassen First Nations Reserve. No Kingfisher but lots of Mallards, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers and one Dunlin in the creek. We stopped at the other end of the Reserve and walked the path to the dyke. We scoped the several hundred Brant Geese in the Bay along with the thousands of other ducks, mostly dabblers. Hundreds of Dunlin were foraging along the shore with many Black-bellied Plovers among them. In the bushes next to us we spotted an adult Northern Shrike. While it was posing for us a Western Meadowlark flew overhead and landed on a stump nearby. We were frustrated, but excited, trying to look at both these rare sightings at the same time. Along the bushes we also saw many Sparrows including Golden-crowned, White-crowned, Song and Fox, with many Robins, Spotted Towhees and Dark-eyed Juncos (Oregon) there as well. We left there and drove toward Reifel, dodging the endless stream of large dump trucks headed to the Reserve to dump their dirt. Several Northern Harriers and Bald Eagles were flying around. We stopped to see a Rough-legged Hawk in a tree on 33A Avenue, which may be the same bird we watched at length later on our return to Tsawwassen.
Along 34th Street toward River Road and Canoe Pass, we pulled over at a farm house to watch a large flock of Brewers Blackbirds (adults and juveniles without the “beady eye”), next to a flock of Starlings (in both summer and winter plumage). A Northern Flicker (red-shafted) posed on a pole for us, while several species of Sparrows and Juncos foraged beneath the feeders. We did not see any Eurasian Collared Doves which are habitually in this area, although eight Trumpeter Swans (4 juveniles) were in a field near River Road.
In the Fraser River at Canoe Pass were several Common Mergansers, a nice male Common Goldeneye, a few Mute Swans, several Double-crested Cormorants, but no Grebes (athough Hans said he saw one about 10 miles away). On Westham Island we saw a few Hooded Mergansers in the creek next to Reynolds farm. Several thousand Snow Geese were in the fields. We stopped to watch a Northern Harrier feeding on a dead Snow Goose. On entering Reifel, a Cooper’s Hawk was being photographed sitting in an open tree in the parking lot. We got good looks at it before I scared it away. We watched a Lesser Scaup among the Wigeon and Green-winged Teal in the bit of open water behind the shop. A juvenile Snow Goose was guarding its broken-winged parent on the ice; a bit disturbing, but likely a future meal for another predator. It was noon so we did not have time to enter Reifel to see the 10 Sandhill Cranes, Ring-necked Duck or Piliated Woodpecker that I saw there on Sunday.
It was a very productive and enjoyable morning. We also had a very enjoyable Christmas Cheer.