On Wednesday, Sept. 12, following the quarterly Birds on the Bay outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park (BBRP), fourteen “volunteers” left Cammidge House around Noon to open, clean and examine the 30 Bird Nesting Boxes installed in the park. The initiative was arranged at this time, not only because we have to do this each Fall to prepare the boxes for the Winter to prevent “other things” such as rats from using the boxes in the off-season, but also because Delta Nats “Super Friends” Peter Ward and Ken Hall have offered to guide us on our Bird Box Program and to construct new boxes to replace the worn out ones. So, we were: Peter and Ken and their two guests, Taiwan Simon and Finn, with Delta Nats including “Recorder” Donna Thomson, Anne Murray, Terry Carr, Lorna Clements, Kay Gotoh, Ken B & Anne A, and newbie Paul Wright with his “home-schooled” daughter, pig-tailed Quinn, and me. See the two attachments Map of BBRP Bird Boxes and Donna’s Report and Notes BBRP Bird Boxes Report. Also check out Ken’s photos of the outing on our DNCB Picasa site (right column, first link under *Photos).
The first box we checked was No. 26 behind Cammidge House. We removed the nest and Peter explained that it was a successful House Sparrow box, but the hole is too big and it is a worn out box, so it needs replacing. We cleaned it out, and then left the box open for the Winter. We wrote the Box number on it and the support pole. This is the procedure we used for all the boxes examined today. Then we walked into the park to the two boxes (Nos. 23 and 24) near the Brink memorial sign. A Northern Harrier gave us a great show. Quinn led the way through the swamp to these boxes. Interestingly, the contents of these boxes were different, as Peter explained when we examined the nests on removal. One was a very clean, compacted mossy nest made by Chickadees, and the other a messier but more organized than House Sparrow, and was a successful Tree Swallow box.
Next we moved on to the cluster of boxes near the Lookout Tower (Nos. 18 to 22). One of these had fallen down and others needed “explorer expertise” to get at because of surrounding reeds and prickly bushes that surrounded them in the marsh. Intrepid “Explorer” Ken Hall sacrificed his body to cut his way through, after which Kay staunched the bleeding and patched him up so that we could send him in again.
We returned to Cammidge House and drove to the 12th Avenue parking lot to start examining the rest of the boxes which are closer to that end of the park. The boxes near the entrance were okay to access, but the vegetation growth at the ones (Nos. 8-12) near the Pump House was too dense for even our Explorer to access. So we abandoned them, at least for now. We may re-visit them later on when the protecting vegetation dies down. Under Ken H’s leadership, we were able to get at a few boxes (Nos. 13, 15 and 16) in the swamp near the dike.
Approaching 2:30 p.m., Peter, Ken and their guests along with Donna, had to leave us in order to avoid the rush hour Tunnel Traffic and lane closures at 3:00 p.m. Terry, Anne, Lorna, Kay and I trudged on in the heat to complete the opening, cleaning, examination, and occasional removal (Nos. 13 and 30), of the remaining boxes located off the inland trail. Peter has agreed to make 15 new boxes for us and will advise us of “workshops” starting in October where Nats can volunteer to help him. We will also consider adding a Barn Owl box somewhere in the park. Of course, Delta Nats will gladly reimburse/contribute to Peter’s expenses. We will organize future outings to replace old and install new boxes, and to clean and close the other boxes (February?) prior to the arrival of the birds in Spring. It was another glorious afternoon in Paradise, and we were exhausted at the end, but felt really good about what we were doing. Comments/suggestions encouraged. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society