Casual birding outing #73 Alaksen

Belted Kingfisher at Kingfisher Bridge

Nine birders (Val, Don & Rochelle, John & Kay, Hans-Ulf, Roger, Terry) joined me on Monday morning on an outing via the Tsawwassen First Nations Reserve and South Ladner farmers’ fields to Alaksen NWA. It was an off-and-on rainy morning but relatively mild. Our first stop was the “Kingfisher Bridge” on the First Nations Reservation, and the female Belted Kingfisher obliged us by posing on one of her regular roosting branches. The water was very high and the only ducks there were 4 Green-winged Teal. A Northern Flicker dropped by for a look at us on a telephone pole just above us. Then a pair of Bald Eagles “squawked and mounted” in a nearby tree, entertaining us for a few seconds. We stopped again at the end of the Reserve and saw a Merlin cruising along the dike. A Golden-crowned Sparrow posed in a nearby bush and two Red-tailed Hawks rested on telephone poles along the path. We left the Reserve following “Pete Davidson’s bike route” toward Alaksen. We saw several small flocks of Trumpeter Swans, but could not pick out any Tundra’s. We unsuccessfully searched for the Gyr Falcon at Deltaport Way, but Kay spotted a neat Peregrine Falcon in a tree near 28th Avenue. We also scoped other Red Tails, but could not transform any of them into Gyrs. We “may” have seen the Rough-legged Hawk that is regularly there. We were also blanked on the American Kestrel, often seen in this area. The shrubs housed a number of White-crowned Sparrows and House Finches. North of Deltaport Way we found the field of Western Meadowlarks; Roger counted nine – nice to see these birds here in Winter. Several other raptors were sitting in trees and Northern Harriers cruised by frequently. Lots of American Robins, Spotted Towhees and House Sparrows in the shrubs along the roads.We stopped at Wellington Park near the fish plant, but the California Sea Lion was not there. We saw a few Common Mergansers, American Wigeon and Double-crested Cormarants. A huge swarm of Dunlin caught our attention in the distance as it weaved over Steveston. We drove quickly over the Westham Island Bridge to Alaksen, glancing at the four Western Grebes and raft of Green-winged Teal at the bridge. We did not search for the Eurasian Green-winged Teal that has been seen there. We drove by several flocks of Trumpeter Swans in various fields.

Barred Owl

At Alaksen, we photographed the two Barred Owls in the conifers lining the entrance drive; of course, Kay and Roger spotted them first. Roger opened one of the many pellets littering the ground under the trees, most contain Townsend Vole skeletons. We also saw a flock of about 50 American Goldfinch. Hooded Mergansers swam in the pond near 20 lounging Great Blue Herons. Bufflehead and Common Mergansers were in the river. We visited the Feds’ Offices in the old Reifel Home and enjoyed interesting chats with Dave Smith and then Pete Davidson of Bird Studies Canada (BSC). Leaving Alaksen on Westham Island Road, Kay spotted another raptor which at first we thought was an immature American Kestrel, but then later determined it to be a Merlin (Pacific Black). See the photo attached, along with other outing photos taken by Rochelle Farquhar and Terry Carr. We returned to Petra’s around 1:15 p.m.; I think I may have missed reporting on some sightings, but I’m sure some of the outing participants will remind/correct me. It was another very enjoyable outing. ine birders (Val, Don & Rochelle, John & Kay, Hans-Ulf, Roger, Terry) joined me on Monday morning on an outing via the Tsawwassen First Nations Reserve and South Ladner farmers’ fields to Alaksen NWA. It was an off-and-on rainy morning but relatively mild. Our first stop was the “Kingfisher Bridge” on the First Nations Reservation, and the female Belted Kingfisher obliged us by posing on one of her regular roosting branches. The water was very high and the only ducks there were 4 Green-winged Teal. A Northern Flicker dropped by for a look at us on a telephone pole just above us. Then a pair of Bald Eagles “squawked and mounted” in a nearby tree, entertaining us for a few seconds. We stopped again at the end of the Reserve and saw a Merlin cruising along the dike. A Golden-crowned Sparrow posed in a nearby bush and two Red-tailed Hawks rested on telephone poles along the path. We left the Reserve following “Pete Davidson’s bike route” toward Alaksen. We saw several small flocks of Trumpeter Swans, but could not pick out any Tundra’s. We unsuccessfully searched for the Gyr Falcon at Deltaport Way, but Kay spotted a neat Peregrine Falcon in a tree near 28th Avenue. We also scoped other Red Tails, but could not transform any of them into Gyrs. We “may” have seen the Rough-legged Hawk that is regularly there. We were also blanked on the American Kestrel, often seen in this area. The shrubs housed a number of White-crowned Sparrows and House Finches. North of Deltaport Way we found the field of Western Meadowlarks; Roger counted nine – nice to see these birds here in Winter. Several other raptors were sitting in trees and Northern Harriers cruised by frequently. Lots of American Robins, Spotted Towhees and House Sparrows in the shrubs along the roads.We stopped at Wellington Park near the fish plant, but the California Sea Lion was not there. We saw a few Common Mergansers, American Wigeon and Double-crested Cormarants. A huge swarm of Dunlin caught our attention in the distance as it weaved over Steveston. We drove quickly over the Westham Island Bridge to Alaksen, glancing at the four Western Grebes and raft of Green-winged Teal at the bridge. We did not search for the Eurasian Green-winged Teal that has been seen there. We drove by several flocks of Trumpeter Swans in various fields. At Alaksen, we photographed the two Barred Owls in the conifers lining the entrance drive; of course, Kay and Roger spotted them first. Roger opened one of the many pellets littering the ground under the trees, most contain Townsend Vole skeletons. We also saw a flock of about 50 American Goldfinch.

Hooded Mergansers swam in the pond near 20 lounging Great Blue Herons. Bufflehead and Common Mergansers were in the river. We visited the Feds’ Offices in the old Reifel Home and enjoyed interesting chats with Dave Smith and then Pete Davidson of Bird Studies Canada (BSC). Leaving Alaksen on Westham Island Road, Kay spotted another raptor which at first we thought was an immature American Kestrel, but then later determined it to be a Merlin (Pacific Black). See the photo attached, along with other outing photos taken by Rochelle Farquhar and Terry Carr.

Merlin

We returned to Petra’s around 1:15 p.m.; I think I may have missed reporting on some sightings, but I’m sure some of the outing participants will remind/correct me. It was another very enjoyable outing.

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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