Casual Birding #86
Ten participants (I like to list them because they love to see their names in print: Roger with Hans-Ulf, rookies Jonathan & Lorraine and Eleanor in his car, and John & Kay, Lorna and Jim with me) spent a chilly but pleasant Easter Monday morning at Serpentine Fen in Surrey. We had Roger’s walkie-talkies to communicate between vehicles; it would have been a “record report” if any of the claimed walkie-talkie sightings were actually seen. Our first stop on the way was Beach Grove Park to search for the Great Horned Owl family. The guarding Dad was on his regular perch in the tree beside the washroom, and he gave us a few nods and winks. We searched in vain for Mom and the nest. Several American Goldfinch, in nice breeding plumage, and a couple of really loud Downy Woodpeckers entertained us there as well.
We took the back roads, stopping on 36th Avenue to see a Peregrine Falcon perched on a hydro tower. Then at the Turf Farm on 52nd Street there were 15 Bald Eagles on the back mound and 14 in the tree at the front. So we estimate over 50 are hanging around that farm. Of course, lots of ducks (mostly Mallards and American Wigeon) are still in the fields with Northern Harriers frequently gliding over. But we saw no Shorebirds today, not even a Killdeer.
At Serpentine Fen, from the first Lookout Tower near the parking lot, we saw lots of duck species in the pond below, including: Northern Shovelers; Scaup (we think we identified both Lesser and Greater today), nice Ring-necked Ducks and a few Hooded Mergansers, lots of Bufflehead. In other ponds and in the Serpentine River (Tide was high) we saw many Green-winged Teal, a few Gadwall, one Northern Pintail and lots of American Coots. A Pied-billed Grebe tried to elude us, but we got him between dives. In one pond we found a beautiful male Eurasian Wigeon among the Americans. A couple of Great Blue Herons entertained us with their intense feeding poses. Marsh Wrens and Red-winged Blackbirds (no Yellow-headed seen, although Roger thought he may have heard one) were noisily singing everywhere. Some saw a Rufous Hummingbird, which was not surprising as Flowering Currant shrubs were quite common, and in bloom. Dark-eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees, Golden-crowned and Song Sparrows were abundant and a Savannah Sparrow posed and sang nicely for us. John found the Northern Shrike which posed briefly for us on a post in the vineyard across the river. We expected to see more Warblers, and finally did get good looks at a few Yellow-rumped Audubon’s in the shrubs along the path back to the parking lot (where we saw the Dusky Flycatcher last year). A few Bushtits were there as well. It was a fun outing, everyone kept warm with their own or borrowed clothing, the bush washrooms were clean (according to Jim and the ladies), the nuts were tasty, and the brilliant sun and warmth finally arrived, albeit as we finished our walk. Some took photos which I hope they will send me; I may forward them to you.