Casual Birding Outing #105
On Wednesday, August 18, eight participants (John & Kay, Rick & Marg, Lorna, Terry, rookie Bev and me) spent an enjoyable morning wandering through south Delta farmland and then at Alaksen National Wildlife Area, located next to Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island. First stop was the Kingfisher Bridge at the entrance to the Tsawwassen First Nations Reserve where a Wandering Tattler had been seen on Tuesday. The tide was low; no Tattler seen (my life story-another Lifer missed), only a couple of Greater Yellowlegs. The Belted Kingfisher gave a brief appearance. In the corn field at the corner of 33A Ave and 41B St. was a mixed flock of Red-winged Blackbirds and Starlings. Rick spotted and photographed a Yellow-headed Blackbird. Check out this bird and other shots of our outing on Rick’s Picasa site at: http://picasaweb.google.com/crossfyre/AlaksenNatureWildlifeArea#. Next stop was a brief walk at Brunswick Point. The tide was very low and the flocks of shorebirds were too far out to identify. A white bird (Trumpeter Swan or Snow Goose? [or that white Canada Goose that has been seen first at Pitt Lake then at Boundary Bay? Ed.]) was resting among the many Canada Geese. The American Goldfinches were colourful and the blackberries tasty. We stopped at Canoe Pass to show our first-timer Debbie a Eurasian Collared Dove and a juvenile Bald Eagle perched near the nest at the Westham Island Bridge. Several Killdeer were feeding along the river’s edge.
I decided to check out Hugh Reynolds’ barn and we lucked out as two Barn Owls were there. They did not stay long but Terry got a few photos. See one attached, and let me know if you want to see his other shots of the outing.
We finally got to Alaksen and in the tall dead tree in the field behind the building were several Cedar Waxwings, then a few Yellow Warblers flew in. A larger yellow bird joined the warblers; it may have been a Western Tanager. We visited the Pacific Wildlife Research Centre to check out the info give-aways and to chat with Peter Davidson of Bird Studies Canada. Barn Swallows were feeding young in the nests under the buildings eaves. Pete said earlier nests had been predated (egg shells found on the ground), perhaps by Barred Owls which have begun to hang around Alaksen over the past few years.
We walked the loop trail which starts and finishes at Ewan Slough. Not a tremendously productive walk, but we did see another Belted Kingfisher, a few Brown Creepers, Downy Woodpeckers, several unidentifiable Warblers (we’re casual, not yet pro’s) and an osprey-like juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. We heard a River Otter but did not see him; we enjoyed their antics last visit to Alaksen. On the Fraser River were many (>12) fishing boats, bumper-to-bumper, trawling for salmon. A flock (200+) of Black-bellied Plovers gave us a nice fly-past. On the drive back to Tsawwassen we checked out Hugh’s barn and the corn field, but were blanked on both the Barn Owls and Yellow-headed Blackbird respectively.
Mount Baker (August 19/2010)
Today (Thursday), Rick, Marg and I joined the WRSN group on an outing to Mt. Baker in Washington State. We got to Heather Meadows parking lot (two miles from the top), and it was too foggy to go higher, so we abandoned the climb. Interestingly, the temperature there was 8 degrees C whereas it was 20+ at the base. We descended to view Nooksack Falls, then lunched at Silver Lake where a circle of conifer trees seemed to be flooded with a mixed flock of Warblers. We got good looks at Black-throated Gray, Yellow-rumped, Wilson’s, Townsend’s as well as Chestnut-backed and Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed (Oregon) Juncos, a Flycatcher (Willow?) and a Swainson’s Thrush. I hope/plan to re-visit Mt. Baker in September, when there should be less snow (and fog). A last stop on the way home was Semiahmoo Spit, a lovely setting near Blaine with a beautiful view of White Rock across the Bay. We saw Common Loons, a small flock of Sanderling with two Killdeer, and a Pigeon Guillemot. Crowded together on the break-wall was a very interesting mish-mash of birds including two Black Oystercatchers, two Harlequin Ducks, two Double-crested Cormorants, about 40 Caspian Terns and several species of Gulls (Ring-billed, Western, Glaucous-winged and other unknowns).