Winter Birds on the Bay

Pair of Northern Pintail enjoying the shallow lagoon at Boundary Bay Park. Photo: Jonathen Mwenifumbo

On a gorgeous Saturday morning, March 20, Delta Naturalists’ Society hosted the last “Winter Birds on the Bay” Casual Birding outing in Boundary Bay Park in Tsawwassen. We had 35 participants who began, and finished, the 2 ½ hour walk at historic Cammidge House. We had an auspicious start as an immature Bald Eagle posed for photographers in the tree behind Cammidge House, and then a Rufous Hummingbird dropped by in the shrubs for good looks. Some people saw two Purple Finches, one a beautifully bright male. We wandered over toward the pond at Centennial Beach where about 50 American Wigeon were feeding. We did not see a Eurasian Wigeon, but a colourful male Northern Shoveler was with them along with a female Brewers Blackbird. A mature Bald Eagle watched over us from the “eagle tree” in the Park.  At the shoreline of the beach, the tide was out, and I was a bit worried because there were no birds near shore.  The rafts of ducks were far out in the Bay. We walked along the shore path and were surprised by a beautiful Western Meadowlark on a bush. Unfortunately, some of the “chat group” at the back missed seeing it. As we got closer to the Point, more waterfowl were near shore. Among a flock of Green-winged Teal, “Brant Guru” Richard Swanston found a Common or Eurasian Teal.   A female Greater Scaup was also there along with about 20 Yellowlegs, mostly Greater but a few were Lesser.  A few Northern Pintail and of course Mallards were also there. One flock of Brant Geese entertained us with a neat symmetric flying display before landing in unison.  None of the Brants were out of the water so we did not see any leg bands. We saw a flock of about 25 Dunlin fly by; perhaps the 100,000 birds we saw a few weeks ago have gone north, as I guess have a lot of the ducks. Several Mew Gulls were with the flock of Glaucous-winged Gulls.

We turned back at the Point, taking the inland trail. A couple of Northern Flickers caught our attention.  Several Tree Swallows were circling and one beauty landed on a stick to pose for the photogs. Terry McComas of Delta Nats recently cleaned and closed the many Bird Boxes in the Park, just in time for the Swallow arrival. We saw lots of raptors, including Red-tailed Hawks and a very interesting pair of Northern Harriers that entertained us with their pre-mating acrobatic displaying. A few of our participants were “turned on”. Of the many LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobs), we were able to identify Song, Fox and Golden-crowned (and perhaps White-crowned) Sparrows and House Finches. Some saw a Bewick’s Wren and we heard many Marsh Wrens. Finally a Marsh Wren rose to the top of a bullrush giving us a good view. American Robins, Spotted Towhees, colourful Red-winged Blackbirds and Black-capped Chickadees were everywhere.

Red-winged Blackbird

Thanks to the Delta Nats Ladies (Mary, Jennifer and Mary) for the delicious goodies at Cammidge House to end the walk. Also thanks to our “Boundary Bay Guru” Anne Murray and “scopers” Roger Meyer and John Garnham for contributing credibility and guidance to our outing.  And to Mai and Jonathan for their photos; other photogs can send me theirs.  It was also very enjoyable to have the friendly members of Langley and White Rock Surrey Nature Clubs join us. Hopefully too, some of the new birders gained an appreciation of Boundary Bay Park and the sport of casual birding.

 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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