Seven birders (Lorna, Kay, Marion S, rookie Jane K, Eric L, Anne M and me) got drenched on this morning’s “away” outing to beautiful Grant Narrows Regional Park (now operated by the Katzie Development Corp.) at Pitt Lake. Hi-lites included: beaut looks at several Warbler species, including a MacGillivray’s Warbler, nesting Ospreys, and finally seeing our target species, Gray Catbird and Bullock’s Oriole. Hopefully you will soon see Eric’s and Marion’s photos (already posted) of these and other sightings on our DNCB Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding.
We (5) left Petra’s and sunny Tsawwassen shortly after 7:30 a.m. and after an “unscheduled” stop (how can a Birder forget his Bins??) we eventually arrived at the Grant Narrows Park parking lot around 9:15 a.m. Photogs Eric and Marion met us there and we all soaked (pun?) in the beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains and the waterfalls. An unusual sighting of a pair of Long-tailed Ducks flying low over the water caught our attention.
We decided to walk the dike path along the river. We saw a few Brown-headed Cowbirds, Tree and Barn Swallows were darting overhead with both Vaux and Black Swifts among them. A Band-tailed Pigeon flew by, as did a couple of pairs of Wood Ducks. Then the rain started and didn’t stop until we left the Park around 1:30 p.m. Marion called in a Swainson’s Thrush, and nearby was a Willow Flycatcher in plain view too. A few often-forgetful Caspian Terns flying overhead caught Anne’s attention and several Rufous Hummingbirds posed brilliantly for us. We followed the trail for another half hour, got completely soaked, and decided to return to Anne’s van for goodies. Lorna’s PB and Egg sandwiches, Kay’s tarts, Marion’s cashew brittle and the regular smartie-loaded mixed nuts were wolfed down quickly as we tried to dry ourselves.
Not being quitters, we decided to walk the inland trail. While talking to Katzie Park Attendant Eli, behind the concession stand a Western Wood-Pewee was hawking insects like flycatchers do, returning to the same perch for photos. We walked for about another half hour, saw no birds (including no American Redstart nor Western Tanager which some possibly heard), got completely soaked again, and decided to turn back. The rain seemed to let up so we decided to walk the main road toward the Lookout to see the Osprey nests. A parent (probably female) was sitting on one nest while the other parent was on a post nearby. It’s always a treat to see the Osprey nesting. Lots of Warblers around, and we all got excellent looks at Wilson’s, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Common Yellowthroat and my “Bird of the Day, a “junco-like” MacGillivray’s Warbler, almost-quietly spotted by Lorna. One Mute Swan was in the “marsh lake” and several of the resident Cliff Swallows were hawking insects as well. We heard a Snipe, and thought we heard a Sora, but it was really just a Red-wing Blackbird imitator. Back at the parking lot again we watched a Raven being harassed by Crows. A flock of sleek Cedar Waxwings lined up on a branch for their photo-op while a brilliant Purple Finch sang behind them. About a couple hundred metres from the parking lot we decided to walk a trail, toward the nesting Sandhill Cranes, according to a sign. We did not walk very far when Kay spotted our Target Bird, a Bullock’s Oriole. Most of us saw it and Eric got a good shot, after scaring up the Small-Mouth Bass in the pond. Marion heard another Target Bird, Gray Catbird, and we finally saw it perched for a few fleeting moments before it flew away and hid.
It’s now approaching 1:30 p.m. We had finally found our target birds, the rain stopped, so we took the mandatory Group Photo and left for home. The numerous sightings this day must have exhausted the normally exuberant Lorna, the weather-challenged Kay, and our rookie Jane as they rested mutely in the van as I was challenged to keep Anne concentrating on safely negotiating her bird-mobile circuitously back to Ladner. Still soaked, we made it back to sunny Delta and raved about the grand day we all enjoyed.
I will be at Petra’s next Wednesday, May 30 for departure at 7:30 a.m. (note early time). Not decided yet where we will go. Par habitude, comments encouraged, check out our DNCB Blog at www.dncb.wordpress.com and, let me know if you want off my Recipient List.
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society