We had a large group (24) on a pleasant (not Ontario balmy) Monday morning on our “away trip” to Colony Farm Regional Park in Coquitlam. Hi-lites were: Virginia Rails, Northern Shrike, Yellow-rumped Warblers and lots of other neat stuff. Check out the photos of the outing on our DNCB Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding.
Three car loads of birders left Petra’s shortly after 8:00 a.m. on the expected 45 minute drive to Colony Farm. Nice to have former Nats Rick & Marg visiting us from Duncan on the Island. The drive was horrendous. River Road was snail-slow with trucks, then the Alex Fraser Bridge was chocker-block because the Pattullo Bridge further up the Fraser River had an accident. Terry navigated me through a bunch of back streets in New Westminster to “avoid” traffic congestion. Not sure how much longer that took. Anyhow, we got to the Colony Farm parking lot at 9:20 a.m. where the horde of birders was waiting. They had seen a Western Meadowlark which peed me off even more. Following intros, especially of Larry Cowan, the local Bird Guru, we started off on the trail.
A flock of Golden-crowned Sparrows was in the tree at the edge of the parking lot. Lots of newly-arrived Tree Swallows flying over, some being chased by Crows (?). Lots of Great Blue Herons too, flying over the Farm from their nearby Colony, which Larry reported had about 80 birds hanging around it on the weekend. In the slough we saw a Pied-billed Grebe with some Mallards, then a pair of Gadwall, a pair of Hooded Mergansers and a pair of Common Goldeneye, all in beautiful plumage.
When we got to the Coquitlam River Bridge, the sun was shining, so we took the obligatory Group Photo (only 23 of us as Johnny McF had not yet arrived from his 2 hour adventure on the Pattullo Bridge).
It was a lot “quieter” birdwise than it will be in few weeks there, but people were obviously enjoying themselves, because there was no way anyone could hear a bird singing with the incessant and inane (I had to use that word) chatter going on. Some even claimed, uninterestingly, to understand what Gerhard was saying.
We got to the pond where Larry and others had seen the Virginia and Sora Rails. A few diving Buffleheads and a pair of Northern Shovelers were feeding around another Pied-billed Grebe. We heard Virginia Rails, and finally caught a glimpse of one flitting from one marsh to another. Several Marsh Wrens also there, as the brilliant male Red-winged Blackbirds were already guarding their territories. About six Great Blue Herons were regally posing on top of the Tree Swallow boxes.
Half of the group continued on the walk while others stayed to get better looks at the Virginia Rails, which they did.
We had been searching for, and were finally rewarded with, a Northern Shrike, perched not too far off the path, a brilliant adult. Then, in the same bush two Yellow-rumped Warblers appeared (first sightings this year at CF), and some got great looks at them in the scope. Further along a flock of Bushtits caught our attention in the trees, then on the way back, we finally saw Lorna’s Belted Kingfisher. A couple of Red-tailed Hawks were our only raptor sightings, other than the seemingly too common Bald Eagles around. We saw other relatively common stuff (House Finches, American Goldfinches, Spotted Towhees, etc); in fact, we saw a lot more stuff than many of us had expected at this early time of the season there.
We left CF around 12:30 p.m., some going to Swiss Chalet in Coquitlam. I drove smoothly back to Petra’s in about a half hour or so, hardly phased by Kitty (who is of Dutch heritage) and Gerhard speaking gibberish in the back seat. Despite the commute (I’m so happy to be retired), it was a very enjoyable morning with a lot of fun folk.
On Tuesday morning about 8 volunteers, including several Delta Nats (Ken B & Anne, Kitty, Jonathan and me), helped Peter, Ken H, Shanna and Kathleen install 10 Bird Nest Boxes at Reifel Bird Sanctuary. We plan to use Peter and Ken H’s side-opening, “Cascade” Boxes when we replace ours in BBRP next October. While cleaning and closing a bunch of other boxes on the driveway into Reifel, we had close encounters with a Pileated Woodpecker, and a Mink. (See photos on http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding.)
Don’t forget our Scotch Broom removal “party” on Thursday, March 22, meeting at Cammidge House at 10:00 a.m. – goodies to follow at 1:00 p.m.
I will be at Petra’s next Monday, March 26 for departure at 8:00 a.m. on another “away” outing on Trail #7 on the Marine Drive Foreshore of Pacific Spirit Regional Park. For those meeting us there, along with Trail Expert Bev Ramey, there is a Parking lot along Old Marine Drive right at the trailhead. We should be there about 8:45 a.m. As usual, comments encouraged, check out our DNCB Blog at www.dncb.wordpress.com, and let me know if you want off this List. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society