DNCB Outing No. 2012-17 to Serpentine Fen and Surrey Lake Parks

DNCB at Serpentine Fen

DNCB at Serpentine Fen (click to enlarge)

Thirteen Casual Birders (Roger, Anne M, Ken & Anne, Bryan & Janet, rookie Eric, Lorna, John McF, Marion S, Hans-Ulf, Kay and me), enjoyed a brilliant Wednesday morning at Serpentine Fen and then Surrey Lake Parks.  Hi-lites were: lots of early migrants, Yellow-rumped Warbler, both Kinglet species, Tree and Violet–green Swallows, Ruddy Duck, Steller’s Jays, and lots of water fowl species in breeding plumage.  Look for Ken’s, Eric’s and other’s photos “soon” on our Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding.

Annie drove five of us from Petra’s (after Gerhard’s pleasant intervention and departure) to Serpentine Fen Park where we met the others at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot.  Our Rookie, Eric, had been there since 8:00 a.m. and, before being castigated by the local Ranger, got a beaut photo of a Coyote carrying off its prey, a Ring-necked Pheasant.  We did see another pheasant, but wish we had seen the Coyote capture.  Following introductions, we wandered down the trail past the hay barn (The gate was locked so we did not check the barn for Barn or Barred Owls).  Lots of activity in the trees and bushes including good looks at both Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, a singing Fox Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, two Steller’s Jays, American Goldfinches, plus other common stuff (Sparrow species, Juncos, Towhees, Woodpeckers, etc).  Toward the Serpentine River, we saw a big flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds, and some Ring-necked Ducks in a pond with some American Coots and Northern Shovelers.

The tide in the river was falling, but fairly high.  A beautiful male Red-breasted Merganser shone next to a few Common Goldeneye.  A raft of Greater Scaup huddled together, and then later on in the less-brackish water we saw a couple of “more pointy-headed” Lesser Scaup.  A Bald Eagle was sitting on its nest on the hydro tower, but we could not find a Northern Shrike, or a Gyrfalcon. Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal (no Cinnamon Teal) and American Wigeon were also in the river, but we didn’t find a Eurasian Wigeon, nor any Shorebirds.

We climbed a viewing tower and Ken got the Ruddy Duck (my “bird of the day”) in his scope for everyone to see, then he took the obligatory Group Photo.  Marsh Wrens were everywhere and we got good looks at several singing, but missed seeing Pacific and Bewick’s Wrens.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Back at the ponds near King George Highway, we finally found a Pied-billed Grebe, which I think nest there.  Lots of Swallows flying around, including Violet-green, and Tree Swallows hanging around the WRS Naturalists’ Club’s nesting boxes.  Hans failed to find us an American Bittern.  Back at the parking lot, we gorged on Lorna’s chips and PB sandwich before agreeing to spend the next half hour at Surrey Lake Park (SLP), a new destination for me.

Five Pied-billed Grebes were the hi-lite at SLP along with lots of other waterfowl, e.g. Scaup & Buffleheads.  Some of us had to return at 12:30, but a sub-group of Janet & Bryan, Ken & Anne and Marion S continued around the Surrey Puddle trail, enjoying Rufous Hummingbirds and superb views of GC & RC Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Bushtits, BC & CB Chickadees, and a Pacific Wren.  Bewicks Wrens were audible, but hard to locate.  Near the Eagle nest, two Red-tailed Hawks attacked a Bald Eagle right near us – the Eagle tried to manouevre to grab the pesky Hawks, who may have been protecting a nest visible further in the bush.

I struggled to stay awake on the convoluted, “short-cut” ride back to Tsawwassen via almost every road in Surrey and North Delta.  But we had another glorious morning of Casual Birding.  I went to Point Roberts for gas and spent 10 minutes at Lighthouse Park; saw a raft of Surf Scoters, a couple of White-winged Scoters, Common Loons, Horned Grebes, Brant Geese, Common Goldeneye.

I will be at Petra’s next Wednesday, April 10, for departure at 8:00 a.m. on an outing to Point Roberts, USA.  Don’t forget your Passport.  Also, don’t forget our monthly Delta Nats meeting on Monday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Cammidge House.  Dr. Mindy Brugman will give a presentation on Lily Point in Point Roberts, a useful precursor for our DNCB outing next Wednesday.  Again, comments welcome, check out our DNCB Blog at www.dncb.wordpress.com, and let me know if you want off the list to receive this dribble.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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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.
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