Six intrepid Casual Birders (John, Roger, Lorna, Marg, Rick and Anne) decided to go for a walk in the pouring rain this morning . We were minus Kay, who decided she wasn’t going to get soaking wet, and minus our famous leader Tom who’s off having fun elsewhere.
It was my bright idea to go to the dyke since the tide was high and the shorebirds would be close to shore, giving us better views. We saw shorebirds alright but they were just as blown around as us, since the wind was ferocious and from the south. Multiple flocks of Dunlin, several thousand altogether, kept flying at head height from the neighbouring fields and over the dyke. It seemed something had scared them from feeding inland, perhaps the young Eagle we saw. There was no bare sand for the Dunlin to land on since the tide was right up to the dyke, surprising Marg who had never seen it that far in. Waves were moving the rafts of torn up eelgrass around, but the Dunlin kept settling precariously on them. They fed by poking around among the flotsam, while keeping their balance on the floating vegetation. Very unusual and entertaining to watch and it kept us occupied as we strode west along the dyke to check out the construction work going on between 104th and 96th. They are strengthening the dyke, digging out the foot of it and piling up the rip-rap (rock bank) with two large diggers. The workers and flag woman thought we were mad to go for a walk in the wind and rain. After about 40 minutes so did we, and we turned around and headed back. We saw and heard numbers of Black-bellied Plover flying over, but they had no beach to land on. Small flocks of Northern Pintail, Mallard and Green-winged Teal were also seen but the big rafts of ducks that are usually on the bay must have moved off into the fields or further offshore. Two Snow Geese were away from their usual area at the mouth of the Fraser. We counted three Bald Eagles but no falcons.
We said goodbye to Marg and Rick and the rest of us came back to Tsawwassen via the North 40. Since our last visit, the Municipality have put in a garbage bin for dog owners and a plastic bag dispenser for poop-scooping, with the result that the paths were clean and pleasant to walk on. There were not many other people around as we walked around this old town site, admiring the fall colours of the many exotic trees. The birds were staying hunkered down because of the rain, but Lorna enjoyed the large numbers of Black-capped Chickadees and we spotted a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets among the flock. Roger and I got excited about a couple of Wilson’s Snipe zigzagging through the sky overhead and we rounded off the morning with a Northern Flicker posing for us by the entrance, but otherwise there weren’t many birds to be seen.
We cut the birding short to go and dry out, so were home by 10.30 am. Of course, shortly after that, the wind died off and the rain ended!
I expect Casual Birders will be gathering next Monday at Petra’s in Tsawwassen at 7.30 am for departure at 8.0 am.