DNCB Outing No. 100 to Serpentine Fen Wildlife Area

Casual Birding Outing #100

Nine participants (Hans, Lorna, Anne, Rick & Marg, Roger, Linda, Aussie visitor Sally Hoedemaker and me, Eleanor wimped out after coffee at Petra’s) spent a gorgeous morning at Serpentine Fen in South Surrey on Wednesday, July 14.  It was our 100th Outing, and the group surprised me at Petra’s with the presentation of a beautifully engraved walnut plaque to mark the occasion.

My car-load birded the Fen parking lot for 15 minutes waiting for Roger and his group to arrive at Roger’s habitual Model T speed; singing Song Sparrows and Spotted Towhees (with interesting song variations), Black-capped Chickadees and the occasional Rufous Hummingbird entertained us.  At the first Lookout Tower we saw lots of Cedar Waxwings (they were everywhere), Swallows (4 species on the day; Barn, Tree, Violet-green and Cliff), and too many Brown-headed Cowbirds.  Along the first “shrub-lined” trail, we heard lots of Common Yellowthroats and Marsh Wrens, and got good looks at a few (M, F and Young).  In the ponds we saw Mallards and Gadwall with ducklings, and one immature Pied-billed Grebe posed for us.  No other duck species seen today, nor Hans’ American Bittern that we saw there last visit.  Approaching the Serpentine River, a Willow Flycatcher sang for us from his perch on top of a tree, hawking insects between songs.  The tide was about ¾ in on the river, and we watched a Spotted Sandpiper foraging along the rocks near the water.  Further along, in a muddy bit near the second Lookout Tower, we saw a Yellowlegs (probably Lesser), our only other shorebird seen there today.  It took a while before we saw finches, but we did see several American Goldfinches and of course, House Finches.  A White-crowned Sparrow was even misidentified by someone as a House Finch. Savannah Sparrows were a little easier to ID.

Lots of Great Blue Herons around, and of course Bald Eagles, and a Northern Harrier cruised by us being mobbed by crows and Red-winged Blackbirds.  A couple of Mourning Doves gave us a fly-past, and a sole Caspian Tern coasted along the winding river toward the Bay.  I think the only Woodpeckers we saw were Downy’s, perhaps a Northern Flicker too, but I forget.

Some of us enjoyed a second outing at 3:30 p.m. for a couple of hours at the Back Forty near Boundary Bay Airport.  Val Fuller has trouble getting up in the morning and she wanted to see a Lazuli Bunting.  So she and Sally and I met Rick & Marg and Roger there. I had hoped the two pair of Buntings that we saw a few weeks ago might nest there.  Unfortunately, I think they skipped town; I have not heard of anyone seeing them for a week or so. We were also blanked on the Bullock’s Oriole, but I think they’re still there.  The Red-tailed Hawks have fledged and gone from their nest.  We watched a Bushtit pair taking food into their hanging nest close to the main road.  Hundreds of Swallows (mixed species similar to earlier at Serpentine’s Fen) around, as well as “candy bird” Common Yellowthroats.  A couple of guys in their lounge chairs enjoying suitable refreshments in the shade of some fruit trees gave us an interesting break from birding.  As did the several varieties of almost-ripe Plums, which quenched my dry mouth a bit. It was a hot but enjoyable afternoon.  Hope our rookies Sally and Val had fun; doesn’t really matter cause I did.

Rick and Marg have a website of “easily viewed and accessible” photos of our DNCB Outings at: http://picasaweb.google.com/crossfyre/SerpentineFensJuly142010#.  You can check out Serpentine Fen and Back 40 files for DNCB Outing #100 photos.

Tom Bearss

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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