Lorna, Gerhard and I spent a miserable Monday morning at Alaksen National Wildlife Area (NWA) and Reifel Bird Sanctuary. It rained all morning; through our often fogged up binocular we saw nothing earth-shattering. Hi-lites were: Peregrine Falcon roosting next to a Bald Eagles nest, lots of Duck and Shorebird species up-close-and-personal and of course Lorna’s PB sandwich supplemented with Gerhard’s “compensatory” supply of almonds and M&M Nuts. Check out Gerhard’s photos as soon as Terry puts them on our Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding.
Since it was raining so hard, I thought no one would show up at Petra’s this morning, but diehards Lorna and Gerhard were there, all smiles and dressed in their Arctic wet suits. We decided on Reifel as the only place where visibility might be half decent. The ride through the TFN Reserve and farmers’ fields was uneventful, except to note that construction is moving ahead with the TFN Business Logistics Area and the SFPR overpasses. At Westham Island Bridge, we stopped to check out a Peregrine Falcon roosting right beside the Bald Eagle’s nest. Four Mute Swans and one of the resident White (Muscovy?) Geese were at the bridge. A flock of Eurasian Collared-doves was on the wires at Emma Lea’s Farm. Since it was before Reifel’s opening at 9:00 a.m., we went into Alaksen and showed newbie Gerhard the CWS offices in the old Reifel mansion and the collection of handouts available for visitors. The normally interesting Bird Tree behind the BSC offices was devoid of birds.
In the pond behind the Reifel entrance shop were lots of duck and shorebird species, up-close-and-personal and some already in breeding plumage, including Wood Ducks (my favourite), Green-winged Teal, Mallards, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler and Hooded Mergansers. Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs were beside each other on an island with Long-billed Dowitchers in the same view frame. A Peregrine Falcon did a fly-past, raising duck heads, and landed in a nearby tree for us to scope, with Reifel’s new dual scope/camera that almost worked. We walked the trails toward the outer dike; a couple of the resident Black-crowned Night Herons were in their tree. American Coots were the only different species seen among the many ducks and shorebirds in the other ponds – other than, about six different Sandpipers that I could not ID (perhaps Baird’s and/or Pectoral, possibly a bobbing Spotted) because my glasses were too wet and foggy (That’s the excuse I’m using to hide my birding limitations). We could barely see the Georgia Strait beyond the marsh.
A couple of Northern Harriers glided by and lots of Red-wing Blackbirds around and squawking. A Northern Flicker posed nicely for us near the tower. On the path we saw several Sparrow species including Song, White- and Golden-crowned (early?), and several newly-arrived Dark-eyed (Oregon) Juncos. Gerhard’s consistent and incomprehensible chatter (fortunately Lorna occasionally translated for me) was placated by the tasty almonds and M&M nuts he brought as compensation for his feeding frenzy at last week’s outing. I promise not to say anything nasty about him, in future. Former Nat Laura took a couple of Group Photos at the Reifel sign; we were the only visitors in Reifel all morning. Who else was dumb enough to be out in this weather? We got back to Petra’s before noon, almost dry, and Lorna and Gerhard were still smiling, and talking. A fun morning.
This is a big week for Delta Nats with our hosting the BC Nature Weekend and Fall General Meeting; 180 people from all over the Province are registered to attend and participate in some of the more than 17 various field trips and Presentations. Next Monday, October 3, the DNCB group may piggy-back with Nature Vancouver on a Bear Walk in North Vancouver which meets at the Super Store in North Vancouver at 11:00 a.m. Contact me for details. Again, comments welcome, and advise if you want off my list.
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society
Photos by Gerhard