DNCB Outing No. 94 Songbirds near the airport

Casual Birding outing #94
Eight participants (Roger, John & Kay, Lorna, Hans, Anne, Rochelle and me) enjoyed a fruitful outing to the old residential area that was expropriated when Boundary Bay Airport was expanded.  This area off 72nd Street is, I believe, now owned by Delta Corp and is basically used by dog-walkers.  I was told that the houses and other buildings were torn down in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but there is evidence of streets and foundations beneath the overgrown grass, shrubs and trees.  It has become a super habitat for birds.   I went there about two years ago to see a nesting Great Horned Owl.  I had not been back since; we went here on Monday to follow-up on Roger’s Sunday sighting of a Lazuli Bunting.  We were meant to leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m., but because some people (including me) did not read my instructions in Report #93, we did not leave until 8:25 a.m.

We drove to this “park” via Highways 17 and 10 to avoid the overpass construction for the SFPR on 64th Street, and the related detour.  After parking and peanuts, we wandered along the main road past the entrance barrier, avoiding the dog scat and several herds of dogs, with their “walkers” somewhere in the distance.  The flying schools at the airport had not yet begun their daily non-stop operations, so we heard lots of singing birds.  Common Yellowthroats, Savannah Sparrows, Red-wing Blackbirds and Spotted Towhees were common throughout the park.  Anne heard, and spotted, an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Bewick’s Wren.  As we approached Roger’s Lazuli Bunting tree, we saw a Willow Flycatcher.  It posed for us, and did its fly-catching thing.  Of course, there was no bunting around, until Hawk-Eye Hans spotted a blue-headed bird in the distance.  It was a Lazuli Bunting which flew back and forth from shrub to tree to shrub, in front of us.  To our knowledge, this is only the second recorded sighting of a Lazuli Bunting in Delta [Actually we found out another one was seen earlier this year – Anne], and this brilliant guy gave us all good looks.  Interestingly, about an hour later at the other end of the park, we saw another Lazuli Bunting, so we wonder whether (hope) they may stay and nest here.

Bullock’s Oriole by Roger Meyer

While viewing the bunting, a Bullocks Oriole was seen at the top of a tree.

And a gorgeous iridescent Rufous Hummingbird buzzed by several times, then posed for us beside the Willow Flycatcher.  We strolled along the almost completely covered side streets and saw lots of the “regulars”, i.e. Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Brown-headed Cowbirds, beautiful American Goldfinch and of course lots of Black-capped Chickadees. Yonder, “kettling” over the Dump, we saw more than a dozen Bald Eagles.  A couple of Red-tailed Hawks were there too.  Black-headed Grosbeaks and lots of Tree and some Barn Swallows around. And several Vaux’s (pronounced Vox or Vo, your choice) Swifts [Actually I think they were all Black Swifts, there were lots very high up too – Anne] were also seen circling above us.  We scoped the Bald Eagle’s nest with Mom standing guard, but we did not see evidence of young.  The nest is deep and we only watched it for about five minutes.  Another flycatcher landed near us.  We first thought it to be another Willow, but on closer examination our gurus Anne and Roger determined it to be an Olive-sided Flycatcher.  We wandered off the trails behind the “water cistern hill”, to view the Red-tailed Hawk’s nest. Again, we scoped the nest for about 5 minutes while one parent circled us, but we did not see the chicks. Roger photographed two chicks in the nest on Sunday.  (Ed’s note: There is at least one chick in the Red-tailed Hawk’s nest on 34th Street just south of 33A Avenue in Ladner).  At the entrance/exit, as we took the obligatory group photo (sans Roger?), a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned Hawk flew past being mobbed by crows.

Tom Bearss

Red-tailed Hawk with young by Roger Meyer

Willow Flycatcher by Rochelle Farquhar


First view of the Lazuli Bunting by Rochelle Farquhar

Lazuli Bunting by Roger Meyer


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.
This entry was posted in *DNCB, Cooper's Hawk, North Forty/VWS, Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk. Bookmark the permalink.

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