Nineteen insatiable birders showed up on a rainy Wednesday morning at Beach Grove Park and then the “North 40” (aka the war-time air base and Vancouver Wireless Station from 1941 to 1971 when it closed). We were: Roger M, Mike B, Kay G, Eleanor C, Hamilton Lyle, Ken & Anne, Judy K and Sis, Bryan & Janet, Johnny McF, PB Lorna, Photog Eric, Jonathan & Lorraine, Peggy K, Marion S and me. The morning turned out to be beautiful and sunny, and we had some neat hi-lites including: the family of Great-horned Owls, Merlin, tonnes of Warblers, several up-close-and personal, and a fun walk in a very interesting park with some almost-stimulating folk. Check out photos (by Eric, Jonathan, Roger, Ken) which I expect to see shortly on our DNCB Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding and on our DNCB Blog at www.dncb.wordpress.com.
It was sprinkling when our large group (as usual Marion S was late) got to Beach Grove Park. With 38 eyes, we easily found all four of the Great-horned Owl family perched in trees not far from their nest tree. The two young are big, but still fuzzy. Interestingly, in the Owl nesting tree, a young red-cheeked Northern Flicker was peering (seemingly for photos) out of its nesting hole waiting for parents to arrive with food.
We took a circuitous route (some people don’t listen to instructions) to 72nd Street and the North Forty Park, where it had stopped raining and cleared up beautifully. Several participants had never been to this dog-walking Delta Corp. Park and found the explanatory signage and old photos interspersed around the area very interesting. Along the main street near the entrance we saw our first Common Yellowthroat and of course, Savannah Sparrows. We walked the back streets of the old subdivision, under many different tree species, and got excited and frustrated by the many Warblers we saw and heard. Yellow-rumped, both Audubon and Myrtle, occasionally posed briefly for us.
We heard Wilson’s and Orange-crowned, and some got decent looks at both. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet also showed up. The resident Bald Eagles were perched beside their nest while many more circled above. No birds were in the Cooper’s Hawk nest, and we did not see them today. We were also early to see the Lazuli Buntings and Willow Flycatchers (regular migrants) and the Bullock’s Orioles, which nest there. A few Tree Swallows shone brilliantly in the sun. Rufous Hummingbirds occasionally buzzed by. While most of us were enjoying the excitement of flitting Warblers and Eric’s clambering through bushes and swamps to get photos, Ken got excited with a pair of Gadwall foraging in a field next door. Then he took the mandatory Group Photo.
Roger led us on his private trail to the Bear Tree. The single bear he originally discovered last year had inexplicably gained eight more brothers and sisters in the tree (see Roger’s photo).Then he showed us the spot where last week he saw and photographed an old moss-covered cabin, but it was gone the next day (the Park is a popular site for making movies). A Red-tailed Hawk was sitting on its nest while the other (future) parent was hanging around nearby. They both screamed when a Merlin flew by. A Fox Sparrow (resembling a Hermit Thrush to some) scraped the ground under a bush while others saw a “Cow Bird-like” Red-winged Blackbird. Before leaving the Park, the starving of us wolfed down slivers of Lorna’s PB sandwiches and Marion’s un-named Trail Concoction. It was a fun morning with a real eclectic group of weirdoes.
On the way back to Petra’s, I (with Lyle, Peggy, Lorna and Eric) stopped at the foot of 72nd St., no Snowy Owls around but Eric found a dead Short-eared Owl. He thinks it is the same bird he has been photographing all Winter, and may have been killed by Northern Harriers.
Sandra and I are going to Kelowna next week to participate in the BC Nature AGM. Roger Meyer will be leading the DNCB group next Wednesday, May 9, leaving Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. As usual, comments encouraged, and please advise if you want off my List.
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society