Without Tom, or Anne, our small but determined group consisting of Eleanor, Lorna, Lorraine and Jonathan, Hans, Gerhard, Roger, Bryan and Janet, left Petra’s at 8:00am and headed for the first stop at Ferry Road and Windjammer in North Ladner along the river. There we met Ken and Anne from Surrey and walked along the slough leading to the Cove Links Golf Course. Our target bird was the Redhead Duck which we found immediately with a number of male and female Ring-necked Ducks.
Walking towards the golf course we picked up a Downy Woodpecker, Common and Hooded Mergansers, several Double-crested Cormorants, Mallards, American Wigeon, and in a feeder at the back of one of the houses were a number of American Goldfinches. Also at the feeder were a number of European Starlings, House Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Juncos. I hope Tom doesn’t mind my pointing out the fourth hole trees that are a favorite target for his errant drives. On the way back to the cars we were treated to the sight of one of the cormorants trying to gulp down a fairly large fish (carp?).
From the slough we drove directly to Alaksen, slowing down only to look at the Ring-necked Pheasant sighted by Eleanor, and on getting out of the vehicles were greeted by two Barred Owls calling to each other. A brief search by Ken lead to some great views of one of them.
Bryan and Janet were able to locate a Brown Creeper and Hutton’s Vireo by sound, Bryan using a frequency altering BirdFinder device which allows one to hear the higher pitched songs reduced to an audible level (correct this, Bryan, if I’ve got it wrong…Roger). Walking along the trail to the river we encountered a large flock of Pine Siskins with some Common Redpolls mixed in with them. Always difficult to see because they are so high up in the trees and constantly flitting, it was difficult to pin-point the Redpolls and only about half of us managed a reasonable look (any photos anyone?). On the river, and at a considerable distance, we were able to make out two Red-throated Loons, a Western Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, and a number of Buffleheads. A few Red-tailed Hawks were seen and, of course, a number of Bald Eagles. Ken took our customary Group ( I’m sure I said “Group” and not, thanks Ken, “Grope”! …Roger) photo.
Additional birds seen in the fields were Pintail, Wigeon, Canada Geese, and Trumpeter Swans.
Moving over to Reifel the regular suspects were found; the Black-crowned Night Herons (5 this time), Gold-crowned, Fox and Song Sparrows, Rock Doves, Juncos and Black-capped Chickadees which fed out of our hands. All three Merganser species were seen in the big pond facing Alaksen, along with a single Pied-billed Grebe. A pair of Wood Ducks were hogging one of the feeder along with Red-winged Blackbirds. Again, we came up empty regarding Saw-whet Owls…a really low number this year. Actually, we only have seen one at Reifel this winter. A few Northern Harriers were in the inner fields but it was an unusually quiet time at the sanctuary. On the way out we stopped to feed some Sandhill Cranes and then saw two Brown Creepers and a Bewick’s Wren interacting. A vocal alarm from Lorna alerted everyone (in the sanctuary) to a passing Northern Flicker. From the small viewing tower we located a mixed group of Greater, and Lesser, Scaup and a large number of Mallards. The inner pond yielded four Canvasback Ducks, which were useful for comparison to the Redhead we had seen earlier. On the way back to Petra’s one of the vehicle occupants were treated to a Rough-legged Hawk sighting.
All, in all, it was a pretty good day species-wise with the highlights being the Redhead, hearing the Barred Owls, and seeing (for the lucky few) the Common Redpolls. The plan for next Monday is to do the Steveston side of the Fraser River. The locals can meet at Petra’s for an 8:00am departure and the White Rock/Surrey/Richmond birders can meet us at the small park at the south end of Number 5 Rd on the river around 8:30am. Hopefully, Ken, Jonathan, and Hans will post their photos on the Picasa site https://picasaweb.google.com/DNCBirding. See you all next Monday.
Substitute for the President Tom Bearss