Six of us, Kay, Lorna, Sheila, Terry, Hans and myself (Roger), met at Petra’s on a cool and foggy morning and left to meet the others at the Burnaby Lake Nature House. We were all happy to have Hans return to the fold after his back surgery. “I’m back to normal said Hans”, and we will have to assume he meant in a physical sense.
With such a dismal day our expectations were not great, but we ended up having a bumper crop of birds including the rare Red-flanked Bluetail. At Burnaby Lake we met up with Mike, Jonathan and Lorraine, Marty, Marion, Janet and Bryan, the Mighty Quinn and her father, Paul, and her grandparents Peter and Margaret.
Right away we had some good looks at a Varied Thrush and a Downy Woodpecker. Bryan spotted an immature Goshawk which flew ahead of us along the trail giving us good views of its powerful wing beats.
A few of us saw the Pacific Wren that Janet heard and pointed out. The fog was fairly heavy and we were concerned we would not be able to see Crossbills in the tree tops. Along the way we saw a few large flock of Pine Siskins but no Redpoll mixed in with them. Marty pointed out a Bushtit nest hanging overhead but since Tom was not with us at that point we had no one willing to squeeze the nest to see if it was occupied. (*Note… we wouldn’t have done this anyway, and the comment was a thinly veiled reference to some past event, details of which are available on request.) Along the path we noticed what appeared to be a white fungal growth on vegetation which turned out to be “Hoar Frost”. (*Google it for details.)
Under the spruce trees along the path were piles of cones indicating Crossbill activity and we finally saw a flock of Red with a few White-winged ones mixed in but difficult to get a good look at because of the fog and poor light. However, a short distance on we had good looks at both species as they came down lower to drink from a small creek. Hopefully, Jonathan and Terry will have some good photos they can share with us.
Other species seen along the trail were the usual Towhees, Robins, Fox and Song Sparrows, both Chestnut-backed and Black-headed Chickadees, several Brown Creepers, and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Janet was able to hear a Bewick’s Wren as well. Just before arriving back at the Nature House we observed a large Alder filled with noisy Red-winged Blackbirds.
On the Burnaby Lake spit we met up with the delinquent Tom who had arrived with his brother, Bill, from Ontario. On meeting Bill, Sheila commented,”how strange, he seems quite normal”. The lake offered up the usual waterfowl; Green-winged Teal, Pintail, Mallards, Lesser Scaup, Wood Ducks, Buffleheads, and several Ruddy Ducks. Marty had seen the only shorebird, a Long-billed Dowitcher.
Back at the vehicles Lorna shared her peanut-butter sandwiches and Quinn, her chocolates. Before leaving for Queen’s Park someone, Janet, I think, spotted a Hairy Woodpecker (no Sheila, I don’t know why it’s “hairy” but will try to research that) and a Downy Woodpecker and we had very close-up looks at both.
At Queen’s Park in New Westminster we lucked out in finding the Red-flanked Bluetail that has been creating the big stir in the local birding community. It was on our leaving that Terry overheard someone refer to our group as the “Delta Force” …I kind of like that… makes us sound like militant birders to be reckoned with!
Next week Tom intends to lead the group to the Terra Nova area to look for Common Redpolls. Meet at Petra’s for an 8:00am departure or by the washrooms at the end of River Road, at the mouth of the Fraser River in Richmond at 9:00, or thereabouts. Cheers! Roger