DNCB Outing No. 2011-27 to Alaksen and Reifel

It was a beautiful, sunny Wednesday morning, so sixteen birders (some new, some old, too many to name all, but newbies were Al and Julie and sophomore attendee “young-eyes” Christie) enjoyed a very pleasant outing through the Tsawwassen First Nations (TFN) Reserve, Alaksen National Wildlife Area (NWA) and then a few hours wandering through our “home course” Reifel Bird Sanctuary.  Hi-lites were zip that I recall, other than Marion’s Fig Newton cookies and the fresh Strawberry Sundae at Emma’s Farm, but I am hoping as I write this that some neat hi-lites will come to memory. Check out our Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding for Terry’s and Roger’s photos (hopefully soon), and our Blog at https://dncb.wordpress.com/.

First stop was the Kingfisher Bridge at the entrance to the TFN Reserve (which, since the TFN signed the latest Treaty, is I am told no longer a Reserve, just TFN property).  As usual, no Kingfishers seen, but lots of Barn and Tree Swallows (Violet-green seen later), House and American Goldfinches, Cedar Waxwings, Northern Flicker and Downy Woodpecker, Great Blue Herons (a few even seen standing on nests at the TsaTsu Shores Heronry across the no. 17 highway).  The Spotted Sandpiper we saw there last year at this time must have left, but a couple of Caspian Terns flew by.  We drove the farm roads toward Westham Island, saw nothing exciting, fly-bys by a Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk and lots of Baldies.  The tide was fairly high when we stopped at the Fraser River lookout near the Westham Island Bridge.  I think we saw resident Mute Swans (no Cygnets seen) and Eurasian Collared-doves there. We heard Common Yellowthroats singing; perhaps one of our congregation saw one.

Dodder Infected Sea Asparagus on TFN Property Foreshore

At Alaksen, the best location for sightings was the dead tree behind the Bird Studies Canada office where some saw the Bullock’s Oriole, and at various times several other species landed including: Rufous Hummingbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Willow Flycatchers plus other common species. On our wanderings around the old Reifel family home (now Environment Canada offices) property, we were blanked on the Great Horned Owl and Barred Owls, including young, which are apparently seen there every other day.  This was apparently an “other” day.  Lots of Canada Geese around as the smelly feet in my SUV will attest to, and we heard a Pacific Slope Flycatcher. Marion arrived late to join us at Smoko, and her Fig Newtons, which I had not tasted in years, were delicious.  Most ignored Eleanor’s “smarty-infested” Trail Mix, which won’t go to waste on future outings.

Reifel in Summer is not nearly as productive as in the other three seasons, but some saw two of the resident Black-crowned Night Herons, lots of Wood Duck chicks (a good year), a Black-headed Grosbeak and a Red-breasted Nuthatch with the Black-capped Chickadees and Spotted Towhees (Kinglets heard).  We were blanked on the Common Nighthawk and the resident Sandhill Crane family.  Duck species all looked the same in their drab “eclipse” or summer plumage, but we picked out some Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon among the Mallards and Gadwalls which both breed there heavily.  We were hoping to see arriving Shorebirds, but only saw a few Killdeer, two Greater Yellowlegs and Roger snuck away to find some Dowitchers and the oft-reported errant Roseate Spoonbill. We took the mandatory Group Photo at the base of the lookout tower.  To conclude the morning, we stopped at Emma’s Farm for a scrumptious freshly-picked Strawberry Sundae which really took the sting out of an otherwise almost exciting and productive outing. But as affable Lorna (who stiffed us this week on the PB sandwiches) correctly says, we still had lots of fun.

Provided my car repairs are concluded and no golf games or theatre plans scheduled, I will be at Petra’s next Wednesday, July 13 for departure at 7:30 a.m. on an outing “somewhere around the Bay”.  Again, comments, corrections and criticisms welcome.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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, Alaksen NWA, Reifel, TFN, TsaTsu Heronry, Westham Island. Bookmark the permalink.

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