It was another glorious Wednesday morning for 8 DNCBer’s (Bryan & Janet, Jane Z, Mike B, Kay G, Alan P, Jackie D and me). We started at the Tsawwassen Ferry Port, drove to and toured Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and then climaxed the morning with delicious ice cream sundaes at Emma Lea’s farm. Some neat hi-lites included; Harlequin Ducks, Whimbrels, Black Oystercatchers, cygnet Mute Swans, lots of Shorebirds including both Yellowlegs, both Dowitchers, Western Sandpipers and a Spotted Sandpiper, a Great-horned Owl, two Cackling Geese, Merlin and several Warblers. Check out Bryan’s photos on our DNCB Picasa site. (Let me know if you want the coordinates of this site). (first link under “Blogroll” in the right column)
Mike B and I drove from Petra’s around 7:30 a.m. with two carloads toward the ferry port. We stopped on Highway 17 to watch a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (no red tail) being mobbed by a couple of crows. Construction on the causeway prohibited us from parking on the north side, so we parked under the “No Parking” sign near the Gulf Island jetty on the south side, near the terminal. There were no Black Turnstones, and we did not see a Surf Bird, but there were lots of Harlequin Ducks around, mainly juveniles and females. We walked along the rocks and found several Black Oystercatchers and some young. Kay also found three Whimbrels that excited us. We did not see the Willet, but the Tsa Tsu Heronry was certainly successful this year; Great Blue Herons were everywhere.
Not much activity through the TFN lands, a Northern Harrier and several Eurasian-collared Doves. We stopped at the lookout onto the Fraser River at Canoe Pass. Two Mute Swans with seven Cygnets cruised by closely so even rookie photog Alan could get a decent shot. Two Bald Eagles perched on pylons near a flock of Canada Geese on the other side of the river. About 20 Killdeer were feeding on the shoreline near the Westham Island Bridge.
We got to Reifel just before 10:00 a.m. so we had 1 ½ hours to roam there before having to leave to meet violinist Bryan’s early afternoon “work” commitment. The water was low in the ponds; many Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (neat to distinguish the species by size) were near the entrance building. Four baby Barn Swallows, snuggled together in their mud nest, stared at us as they waited for parental food. One Black-crowned Night Heron was perched in a “regular spot”. We posed at the Reifel information signage for Bryan to take the mandatory Group Photo; he’s even slower than Roger at setting up. We walked the east dike trail to the viewing platform. Some participants illegally gorged on blackberries while others enjoyed the two Red-breasted Nuthatches flitting above us, then landing on a trunk upside down as two Brown Creepers landed on a neighbouring trunk climbing up. Interesting reverse habits of these two species. We also saw several Warblers, which we think were Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned (we’re still casual, not professional). A few Wood Ducks, although not yet in their nice plumage, are always nice to see.
At the tower there were tonnes of Shorebirds. We identified Yellowlegs, Dowitchers and Western Sandpipers. We met Ian MacGregor from Seattle with his Swarovski spotting scope, who also picked out a few Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, and differentiated the Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitcher species (again, we’re casual and could not tell the difference). He also reported that the Wilsons and Red-necked Phalaropes along with Stilt, Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers were in the next pond. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, so we began to head back to the entrance. On a log in the water near the Outhouse was a beaut Spotted Sandpiper. It also posed for Alan. Further along, Ian found one of the two juvenile Great Horned Owls that have been regularly seen at Reifel. DNCBer’s love seeing owls, and this one was especially good though Ian’s Swarovski scope. Further along, two Cackling Geese (Canada Goose subspecies) came begging to my feet. I arrogantly corrected Mike, who thought they were baby Canada Geese, as I fed them some of my stale peanuts.
We left Reifel at 11:30 a.m. and stopped at Emma Lea’s Farm for the obligatory fruit and ice cream. A number (one is a number) of us had an enormous Sundae with Tayberries, Strawberries and Blueberries.
Most enjoyed a small/ reasonable size sundae along with Kay’s Russian power bars and Jane’s Swedish cookies. Jane’s PB & Jam sandwich was a delicious compliment. While gorging our treats, a Merlin cruised by landing in a willow tree across the road. A fitting end to a very enjoyable morning. The drive back to Petra’s was very mellow as Bryan, Janet and I mused while Jackie chatted continuously into the breeze.
Next Wednesday, August 22, we are planning a DNCB “away trip” to Manning Park. We’ll leave Petra’s at 6:00 a.m. but will be gone most of the day, so bring a lunch. Let me know if you are going so we can arrange car pooling. Update from Tom, Aug. 18: We will be leaving Petra’s at 6:00 a.m… it will take 2 to 2 ½ hours so we will meet at the Lodge in Manning Park around 8:30 a.m., for those meeting us there. I expect we’ll leave the Park in the mid afternoon to be home around Supper time. But we’re flexible. Bring a lunch, and nuts for the Clark’s Nutcrackers.
Delta Nats will have its Display at “Starry Night at Deas Island Park” this Saturday, Aug. 18, from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. Join us if you can. As always, comments are welcome, check out our DNCB Blog (do you know the coordinates? If not, ask me), and let me know if you want off the list to receive this verbal diarrhea.
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society