Thirteen, there’s that number again, casual birders traveled to Burnaby Lake hoping to find the Rusty Blackbirds that had been there for the past few weeks. Lorna, Sheila, Kay, Hans and I (Roger) met at Petra’s and joined Jonathan, Ken and Anne A, Brian and Janet, Mike, Marion S, and newcomer, Lee Perry, at the Burnaby Lake Nature House. Spending a few moments watching the feeders in front of the house yielded some Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows and an overhead Raven. Moving down along Eagle Creek we saw Mallards, Green-winged Teal and Wood Ducks.
On the spit boardwalk we found the Rusty Blackbirds had moved on but, after a slow start the species count began to pick up. On a lump of mud an American Pipit was sighted (identified by Bryan), and along the muddy shore a single Dunlin,
a single Dowitcher sp, while on the water were a pair of Pied-billed Grebes, some American Coots, a few Hooded Mergansers, and somehow Bryan managed to spot a Northern Shrike (confirmed by Ken’s scope) on a beaver lodge half a kilometer away. (Apologies if I missed giving credit for sightings as I don’t have Tom’s incredible memory). Earlier Bryan had seen a Peregrine Falcon startling the ducks. Some also had sighted a Belted Kingfisher over the spit. The only other raptor we sighted was a single Northern Harrier cruising the shoreline. At the end of the spit we paused for the traditional group photo.
Having exhausted the spit we decided to walk the east trail to the dam on the Brunette River. Along the way we had (accompanied by the familiar “Bird Alerts” from Lorna) large numbers of American Robins, incredibly large flocks of Pine Siskins, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, House Finches, a few Purple Finches (we missed you, Anne M, with your expertise here), Dark-eyed Juncos, a single Downy Woodpecker, Song Sparrows, American Goldfinches, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Northwestern Crows, Canada Geese (flying by along the river) and some late Yellow-rumped Warblers. There were many sites showing the work of Pileated Woodpeckers but not a one to be seen. We were hoping to see and American Dipper below the dam, but the lake was so filled with water from the recent rain that the runoff was too rapid.
At the dam we were able to watch large salmon (we were told they were “chum”) entering the fish ladder from the river up to the lake level. Having run out of time we retraced our steps to the Nature House where the usual ingestion of peanut butter sandwiches, etc, occurred.
Next week’s trip will be to the White Rock Pier. By popular demand (that would be Kay) it was decided that the departure time would be changed to 8:00 am. If we leave Petra’s at 8:00 am we should be at the pier by 9:00 am to meet those coming from Vancouver, Surrey, etc. Hopefully there will be an abundance of sea birds and the recently sighted Clarke’s Grebe (do your homework people) will still be there. Tom, if you can get this way down under, we miss your guidance and I certainly miss your blog writing skills!
Roger Meyer, Delta Naturalists