Casual Birding#71 Boundary Bay dyke

Six of us saw more birds than you can imagine this morning on Boundary Bay along the dyke between 88th and 104th Streets.  Anne, with daughter Cat(herine) and future son-in-law Chris visiting from NYC, Hans-Ulf and scope-porter Ron Dennett joined me. We drove the back roads to 88th and saw lots of Bald Eagles (they’re back; we saw more than 100), a few Northern Harriers, a flock of Trumpeter Swans (~50) in a field along Highway 99 and a couple of American Coots in a ditch. We stopped briefly at 88th Street and were amazed at the swarm of Dunlin. It stretched about 10 kilometres over the water and we estimated at least 100,000 birds.  The swarm would weave back and forth, splitting into smaller swarms of tens of thousand birds. The tide was high and these birds were continuously flying for the more than two hours that we were there.  The tide was receding at noon so we assume these birds would land to feed shortly after we left. Several flocks of Black-bellied Plovers (~50 birds each) also flew very close to us.  We were able to scope a flock that landed near us; the only shorebirds we saw on land.

Tens of thousands of ducks were also lounging along this east side of the Bay, mostly Northern Pintail, American Wigeon with a few Green-winged Teal and Mallards close to shore. The diving ducks, such as Greater Scaup were further out.  We were entertained a few times by the Eagles picking off the ducks and carrying them passed us to shore to feed. Occasionally the prey fell from the claws to the sea and surprisingly was abandoned by the eagle. Too much and too easy prey, I guess. We also saw a few Peregrine Falcons scaring the Dunlin, but we did not see any “hits”.  The Dutch SFU Research student apparently saw 5 hits this morning from her vehicle vantage point around 96th Street.

We also saw the 104th Street “destination bird”, the female Gyrfalcon, sitting on her normal perch on the tower. Neat bird.  House Finches, Sparrows (Song, White- and Golden-crowned), a couple of Marsh Wrens, Northern Flickers and a nice Ruby-crowned Kinglet were in the bushes/hedge rows along the dyke path.  A dozen Eurasian Collared Doves were in a tree along 104th and across the road a Cooper’s Hawk caught our attention perched in another tree. (Author’s note at 2:00 p.m.: Sandra and I just watched a Cooper’s Hawk capture a Bushtit at our backyard feeder). It was overcast and surprisingly mild (~9 degrees Celsius) with little wind on the dyke this morning, and the rain held off. So we had a glorious morning of birding, with some almost interesting chatter as well.

Our Delta Nats monthly meeting is this Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Cammidge House with Danny Catt presenting on his Adventures in Canada’s Arctic. 

Tom Bearss

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About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
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