Thirteen birders (John & Kay, Rick & Marg, Jonathan & Lorraine, Anne & Roger, Lorna & Eleanor, newbies Donna & Deborah and me) enjoyed a cool Monday morning of casual birding on the way to/from and at Reifel Bird Sanctuary. Our destination bird was a Wood Sandpiper and we did not see it. We drove through TFN construction and Delta farmland, stopping occasionally: to search a dilapidated barn for Barn Owls (nothing there), to photograph a perched Merlin, and to see Red-tailed Hawks and a Peregrine Falcon, Killdeer, White and Golden-crowned Sparrows and many flocks of thousands of Snow Geese flying in V’s all around us. A flock of around 17 Sandhill Cranes was in a field across from Stan Reynold’s place on Westham Island. While I was getting gas in Ladner, Rick and Marg’s vehicle stopped at Hugh Reynold’s barn and they saw the resident Barn Owl.
At Reifel, three Black-crowned Night Herons were awake on their perches near the entrance. We walked the trail around the perimeter of the sanctuary and saw several raptor species including Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles. Species that caught our eye along the west trail included: Fox and Song Sparrows, beautiful Wood Duck pairs, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Spotted Towhees, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and two Brown Creepers. A big flock of Long-billed Dowitchers was resting at the base of the tower, but no Sharp-tailed or Wood Sandpipers seen, frustrating the many other searching birders there; albeit the tide was still low this morning. We walked the outer dike and there were lots of ducks in the ponds including: Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, American Coots and a few newly-arrived Scaup. Hunters’ gun shots were heard sporadically and the noise of the thousands of Snow Geese flying around us made it difficult to hear any other birds singing or calling. A brilliant Northern Shrike perched on a post in the marsh giving us a nice view of our perhaps “bird of the day”. We took the obligatory Group Shot in the parking lot which you can view on Rick’s Picasa site at: http://picasaweb.google.com/crossfyre, along with other sightings of the day.
On the way back to Tsawwassen, some stopped at the field of several thousand Snow Geese and saw a few Blue Phased among them. My car stopped for a nice look at a cock Ring-necked Pheasant. I had been told earlier at Reifel that the local Gun Club had released some in the area recently. All in all, a very enjoyable morning.
Sandra and I leave next Monday, October 25 for 6 weeks holiday visiting friends and relatives in Western Australia, returning on December 7. The DNCB’s will continue to meet, the next outing being Monday, October 25, meeting at Petra’s around 7:30 a.m. for departure at 8:00 a.m. Future departure times may differ.