DNCB Outing No. 2013-27 to Tsa Tsu Heronry, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Alaksen and Reifel

DNCB, WRSN & Shannon - click on photo to see large version

DNCB, WRSN & Shannon – click on photo to see large version

Photos by Terry, Jonathan, Marion, Glen, Roger & Ken will be added soon!

I persuaded/conned my naturalist friend Justin Peter with Worldwide Quest Nature Tours to write the DNCB report for our “local” outing on Wednesday morning to the Heronry at Tsa Tsu Shores, the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, through the Tsawwassen First Nations territory and Ladner fields to Alaksen Wildlife Refuge and then Reifel Bird Sanctuary.  Justin was visiting BC and gave his presentation on the Galapagos Islands on Monday in Victoria, Tuesday in Tsawwassen, and last night (Wednesday) in Vancouver, which several Nats attended.  We had nearly 25 participants on our outing (Wow!  I lost count) and it was an awesome outing on a glorious morning in our Delta paradise, with an eclectic group of weirdoes, interspersed with the occasional nugget of normalcy.

Hi-lites of the morning, other than the strenuously erratic and garbled conversation, included: approximately 400 nests of Great Blue Herons with its guardian Eagle nest, several newly arrived Shorebird species (Whimbrels, Yellowlegs, Dowitchers, Western Sandpipers), Black Oystercatchers, beautiful female Belted Kingfishers (PB Lorna’s favourite), several Warbler species (Yellow, Common Yellowthroat), an Eagle-Red Tailed Hawk fight, Willow Flycatcher, Barn Owl (and interesting pellet dissection), almost losing Mikey in Reifel’s Prohibition era booze cellar at Alaksen, and the coup-de-grace was the scrumptious ice cream sundae with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries at Emma Lea’s Farm.  Check out the photos on our DNCB Picasa site link.

Next Wednesday, July 17, our outing will be to another new destination (for me) to Brydon Lagoon and Hi Knoll Park near the Surrey/Langley border (see .pdf map).  I will leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. and meet others, including our outing experts White Rock Al and Ken B at the Hi Knoll parking lot around 8:30 a.m.  NOTE no access via 192 Street from the north: you have to go past it & then come back via 200 St & 50th Ave.  (see GOOGLE map link)
• continue on Highway 10, turn right at Fraser Highway
• turn right at 200 Street
• again RIGHT on 50 Avenue, which becomes Colebrook Road at the Langley/Surrey border.
• parking lot is on the right, about 100 metres after said border.

As usual your comments are encouraged and let me know if you want off my list to receive these annoying messages.  Now, enjoy Justin’s report below!  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

DNCB bird report – July 10, 2013 – by Justin Peter

Glorious weather greeted us today for our weekly DNCB excursion today.  The focus was on local birding.  The first order of the day was a quick stop at the heronry.  Besides the many obvious Great Blue Herons present, we saw a Bald Eagle milling about, as well as some flyover Brown-headed Cowbirds.  We then moved on towards the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.  Part-way down the road, some participants spotted a large shorebird on the right-side of the causeway.  It appeared to have a straight bill and it was thought that it could have been the Willet that had been reported in the same general vicinity.  We stopped at the pullover area further along before the ferry and walked a short distance towards the ferry.  Within a couple of minutes, three Whimbrels landed before us on shore and promptly began feeding.  A couple got some good close-up photographs of them.  At the ferry pick-up point, we saw 14 Harlequin Ducks, 2 Greater Scaup, a Pelagic Cormorant and the ubiquitous Glaucous-winged Gulls.  The male ducks were already going into their non-breeding, summer “eclipse” plumage and some were barely discernible against the causeway rocks!  On the return from the ferry along the causeway, we stopped once again and spotted one, and then two Black Oystercatchers.  Their nervous behaviour at one point made us believe that they had young somewhere amongst the boulders.

We then carried on to the so-called Kingfisher Bridge on the Tsawwassen First Nations Territory.  A couple of European Starlings were emitting alarm calls and the reason was made evident when a couple spotted a Cooper’s Hawk (with prey in talons) that was taking off from the area.  A female Belted Kingfisher was present almost as though on command just below the bridge.  A Northern Flicker flew in and perched on the dead branches at the top of a Douglas-Fir tree.  Multiple White-crowned Sparrows were audible at this point.  As we continued on towards our next spot, some heard Savannah Sparrows and a Spotted Sandpiper, and also saw a male Ring-necked Pheasant fly across the road and plunk down into the crops.  We also stopped momentarily for a couple of Eurasian Collared-Doves.  Our next stop was the regular stop at lookout at Canoe Pass, along the south branch of the Fraser.  There were Marsh Wrens heard singing from across the river.  A Harbour Seal was seen, and appeared to be playing.  Common Yellowthroats were heard here as elsewhere.  Waterfowl were unusually scarce, although a pair of Mute Swans with three cygnets appeared as Tom Bearss mentioned that there “should be” a pair there!

We then crossed towards Westham Island.  Just before, we saw one adult Bald Eagle perched on a hydro tower near the established nest.  We met Joannne and Tristan at Alaksen Wildlife Refuge.  There, we were treated to multiple Barn Swallows about (including fledglings), and multiple Bald Eagles, a couple of which were harassed in flight by a Red-tailed Hawk! We had several views of a male Yellow Warbler, which showed himself quite well.  Song Sparrows were singing here.  A couple of us looked for Barred Owls in the Western Red-Cedar trees along the entrance avenue but it was in vain.

We then made our way towards Reifel, where we would meet more participants, including Dave and Donna from Vancouver, and Anne, Al and a few others from White Rock and Langley.  Just before we got there as we drove along with windows down, one of us heard a singing male Swainson’s Thrush.  A committee of Canada Geese and Mallards greeted us at Reifel.  We inspected the first wetland area by the office and spotted a single Greater Yellowlegs dozing inconspicuously. We almost missed it!  We then took our group photo.

We carried along the path, and heard a Willow Flycatcher a couple of times before we all got a decent view of one perched at the time of a tree in plain view.  The tower proved to be a productive stop.  In the closest lagoon, we spotted several (20+) dowitchers, which by shape (“barrel” shape to the body) and impression appeared to be Long-billed Dowitchers.  We also spotted several Greater Yellowlegs and a single Lesser Yellowlegs feeding in the farther lagoon.  From the tower, we also spotted a couple of Purple Martins cavorting. We continued wandering along the dyke.  Several of us got great view of a singing male Common Yellowthroat.  A Cliff Swallow was present among multiple Tree Swallows over the 2nd lagoon, where we also spotted a small flock of Western Sandpipers feeding, along with more yellowlegs of both species.  A few Green-winged Teals were seen in the next lagoon, including males in eclipse plumage. Out over the vast expanse of marsh, we spotted a Northern Harrier that was seen being harassed by swallows.  Our return to the office provided some more birds of interest.  We scrutinized a number of generic-looking ducks and, besides Mallards, turned up 4 American Wigeons, a pair of Pintails and several Gadwalls.  Erica Bearss met up with our group just towards the end but by taking a different trail, saw 6 Sandhill Cranes!

Our excursion was then officially adjourned.  On the way to Emma’s for ice cream and fruit, a few of us visited a friend’s barn where we looked for Barn Owls.  We found copious amount of whitewash and regurgitated owl pellets.  Looking in the most obvious spot – UP – we spotted a dozing Barn Owl perched at the very highest point in the barn!


About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
This entry was posted in *DNCB, Alaksen NWA, Barn Owl, Black Oystercatcher, Harlequin Duck, Northern Harrier, Reifel, TFN, TsaTsu Heronry, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Whimbrel. Bookmark the permalink.

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