DNCB Outing No. 2013-39 to Tsawwassen Ferry Port and Alaksen National Wildlife Area

Photos by Terry Carr & Bryan King
Click on any photo to see larger versionDNCB%20groupSeven hardy DNCBer’s (Terry, Hans, Lorna, Gerhard, Bryan & Janet and me) braved the elements on Monday morning on a “local” outing to the Tsawwassen Ferry Port, through the Ladner fields then to Alaksen Wildlife Refuge.  Hi-lites included nice looks at some Warblers, a Merlin and three Black-crowned Night Herons.  Check out Bryan and Terry’s photos on the DNCB Picasa link.

Because it was raining, I thought (hoped) no one would be at Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. on Monday; never underestimate the keenness of a DNCBer.  We car-pooled (2 vehicles) nicely to our first stop at the pull-off on the causeway to the Tsawwassen Ferry Port.  The tide was low and it was windy and cold.  Double-crested and a couple of Pelagic Cormorants were on the spit with about a dozen Caspian Terns huddled among them and the Gulls, perhaps California and Glaucous-winged.

Five Horned Grebes were diving close by and a couple of Common Loons were in the distance as was a small raft of Scoters, probably Surf.  We moved to our next stop at the south berth and parked at our regular spot under the No Parking sign.

The Black Turnstones and a few Harlequin Ducks were there, but we were blanked on the Tattler, Surfbirds and Longspurs that have been seen there recently.  On the drive out, we stopped for the always impressive Halloween-coloured Black Oystercatchers.

Next stop was the Kingfisher Bridge on Tsawwassen First Nations land.  As usual, no Kingfisher, but Bryan and Terry got nice shots of a Common Yellowthroat Warbler in the bushes.

Not as many Great Blue Herons around as there normally are, being so close to the Tsa Tsu Shores nesting site.  We did see a couple of Bald Eagles during the day; our/my first sightings in a few weeks.  Other common sightings that often looked like rare birds kept our interest up including, Northern Flickers (even Yellow-shafted), Barn and Tree Swallows, a gliding Northern Harrier, even American Robins and Northwestern Crows.

The drive through the Ladner fields was eventful only for the large number of Killdeer and Brewer’s Blackbirds in potato fields and a flock of Savannah Sparrows at an equestrian farm.

There may have been some Brown-headed Cowbirds among the flocks of Starlings, which were in various plumages.  Our stop at Canoe Pass lookout produced our first of several flocks of newly-arrived Snow Geese seen over Westham Island.

Because it’s “all about Bryan”, we decided to go to Alaksen National Wildlife Area, rather than Reifel.  We parked next to the old Reifel homestead and Lorna checked us in.  The office doors are security locked now.  Don’t know why; I guess the Environment Feds fear possible terrorist activity on their secretive stuff.  Before touring the grounds, Bryan took the obligatory Group Photo.  The “Tree” behind the new building was as it often is, very productive.  Song, White-crowned, Golden-crowned and Fox Sparrows, House Finches and American Goldfinches visited it while we were there.

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Then a Merlin posed for his photo op.  On our wanderings around the buildings, and then along the circular path out by the Fraser, we saw many Yellow-rumped Warblers (perhaps other warbler species and Kinglets too in the “fall-out”), flocks of newly-arrived Dark-eyed (Oregon) Juncos and more of various Sparrow species.  No owls seen, but lots of pellets around.

Three Black-crowned Night-Herons, one wide awake, were in trees by the slough adjacent to Reifel.

Black-crowned Night-heron

Black-crowned Night-heron

Always exuberant Lorna heard a Cowbird, but it turned out to be a Cow mooing.  A flock of Dowitchers flew over us and Terry even got a shot “on the wing”.

Dowitchers in flight

Dowitchers in flight

A Peregrine Falcon flew by too.  We got back to the vehicles at about 12:30 p.m., wolfed down Lorna’s PB sandwich (no beer again for the umpteenth outing), and then made the leisurely drive back to Tsawwassen.  Surprisingly, the rain held off most of the morning and it turned out to be a very enjoyable outing with a “bona fide eclectic group of weirdoes”.

Next Monday, October 7, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Iona Regional Park.  It’s already snowing on Mt. Baker, so our outing there has been postponed until next year.  As always, comments welcome and let me know if you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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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, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Harlequin Duck, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, TFN, Tsawwassen Ferry Port. Bookmark the permalink.

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