Thirty plus DNCBer’s (WOW) congregated on this beautiful Monday morning for a very productive outing at Reifel Bird Sanctuary, our “DNCB Mecca”. Hi-lites included: Great-horned and Saw-whet Owls, Rough-legged Hawk, Merlin and American Kestrel, Northern Shrike, Ring-necked Pheasant and lots of other species in gorgeous breeding plumage. Check out photos on the DNCB Picasa link.
Ten of us (Roger with Hans, PB Lorna and Mike, Otto with Glen, and Terry, Sheila and Jim with me) left Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. for our first stop at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal causeway. The boat ramp side of the causeway was closed (locked gate, don’t know why) so we stopped at the pull-off on the north side of the highway. Not as many birds here as we normally see, but we did see “regulars” like Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants (no Brandt’s), Common Loons, Scaup, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon and Mallards. A flock of Dunlin was resting on an island, and three Black Oystercatchers gave us a nice fly-past. We walked both sides of the causeway, but the wimpy group got cold, so we did not go to where the Snow Bunting has been hanging out.
In the warmth of the 4 vehicles (Donna had joined us), we drove through the Tsawwassen First Nations (TFN) lands, admired the mall construction, and saw some House Finches, Northern Flickers, Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks. Further along, on 33A Avenue, we stopped to watch an American Kestrel (my Bird of the Day) on a wire eating prey, perhaps a bird or a vole. Then while watching a flock of White-crowned Sparrows, a Cooper’s Hawk flew up from the ditch into the hedge-row further along. We turned onto 34th Street and scoped in vain for the Prairie Falcon at the farm on River Road. Eurasian Collared-Doves were on the line near our regular stop at the Canoe Pass Lookout. Not much here except for a few Common Goldeneye and a couple of Harbour Seals. Roger’s (who else?) car saw a Merlin around here.
Already 9:30 a.m., we drove quickly over the Westham Island Bridge to Reifel where the “masses” were waiting. These included: “nose-hair photog” Tony, Marion, Kirsten & Marti, Kay, Kitty B, Jonathan & Lorraine, Vancouver Dave and Sally, Richmond Bill, White Rock/Surrey/Langley contingent of Al, Gareth, Leona, Anne G, Pauline, Alice and newbie’s Tony & Erika (actually from Vancouver). That’s 30 folk (plus me); they love their names in print and I deserve a medal for remembering them. The sun was brilliant and it really warmed up for us. The Sandhill Cranes and Black-crowned Night Herons were near the entrance to welcome us, as was Reifel’s affable Laura.
We were all strung out in several splinter groups as we made our way to the Tower. Lots of small birds along the west/north trail including the “regulars”: 3 more Sparrow species (Song, Fox, Golden-crowned), Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, both Hairy (not so common) and Downy Woodpeckers, Brown Creeper, “Oregon” Juncos and Spotted Towhees. Red-winged Blackbirds, including lots of females, were everywhere. In the ponds, many gorgeous Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers shone for the Candy Birders. Umpteen Bald Eagles stared down at us from many perches throughout the Sanctuary.
At the bend in the path, we found two of our “target” species, a Great-horned Owl and a Saw-whet Owl. Very nice!!! At 11:00 a.m. following what seemed like interminable cajoling, pushing and shoving, we all congregated at the Tower and Roger took the obligatory Group Photo.
I think some missed the photo as they were focussing on the Northern Shrike perched in a tree behind the tower. We took the outer dike trail; some saw/heard a Virginia Rail. Marsh Wrens were around and although parts of the ponds were frozen, in the open parts additional species we saw included American Coots, Greater Scaup, a Ring-necked Duck and a Pied-billed Grebe. Several elegant Trumpeter Swans and a small flock of Snow Geese were hanging out just off shore. Normally reliable Hans let us down so we were blanked on the American Bittern. We got back to the entrance, again in various splinter groups, around 12:30 p.m.; some stayed to “picnic” while others left.
The “Tsawwassen vehicles” were stopped on Westham Island Road by a beautiful cock Ring-necked Pheasant, sunning on the side of the road. Then, further along on the TFN land, a Rough-legged Hawk posed for our photogs. We did not stop for Lorna’s resident Belted Kingfisher on the wire at Tsawwassen Springs Golf Course. Another awesome DNCB outing.
Next Monday, February 10, the DNCB outing will be to Stanley Park and probably Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. Some will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 8:00 a.m., meeting others around 8:45 a.m. at the Second Beach parking lot (near the swimming pool). Sandra and I are leaving for Ontario tomorrow morning to visit friends and relatives, so the almost always reliable and “prevaricating birder” Roger will lead the group.
Don’t forget our Nats monthly meeting at Cammidge House (7:30 p.m.) on the same Monday evening, Feb. 10, where Tamsin Baker will be giving a Presentation on Sand Eco-Systems on BC’s South Coast. As always, your comments are encouraged, and please let me know if you want off my List to receive this long-winded drivel.
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society