DNCB Outing No. 2014-7 to Alaksen NWA

Fourteen DNCBers enjoyed a pleasant Monday morning of birding at the Alaksen National Wildlife Area (next door to Reifel).  Hi-lites included: read the report and select your own hi-lites.  Check out the photo evidence by Terry, Rick, Glen and hopefully others, on our DNCB Picasa site.

Ten of us (Roger with Mike, PB Lorna and Anne M, Glen & Terry, garrulous Otto, and our Island “returnees” Rick & Marg with me) left the rain and Petra’s around 8:00 a.m. for our first stop at the pull-off on the causeway to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.  Donna joined us here.  The tide was high and not many waterfowl in the Bay.  We saw the “regulars” such as Bufflehead, Common Loons, Scaup, Brant Geese, Double-crested Cormorants, and a few neat Black Oystercatchers.  We didn’t cross the road to check out the Snow bunting, but Rick and Marg saw it the day before (Sunday).  We drove to the Terminal where Terry got a nice shot of a Horned Grebe.  Other sightings on the way out along the causeway included; beaut Harlequin Ducks, Surf and White-winged Scoters.

We drove relatively quickly through the TFN and Ladner fields, stopping for a Coyote in one field, the Trumpeter Swans in another field, and a Ring-necked Pheasant on the side of the road.  We saw lots of “little Birds” (e.g. sparrow and finch species) in the hedge rows but were blanked on the Gyrfalcon, American Kestrel and the Prairie Falcon (which was seen today, Thursday).  Not much at the Canoe Pass Lookout either except for a couple of Common Goldeneye and Mute Swans looking like they were preparing their regular nest on the back of one of the float homes.  We continued across Westham Island Bridge, noting that the pair of Bald Eagles was tending/guarding their nest at the River Road entrance.  A flock of several thousand Snow Geese was feeding in the field near the Reifel/Alaksen entrance.  We got to Alaksen shortly after 9:00 a.m. where Jim, White Rock’s Al and Pauline were waiting.

While searching for the resident Barred Owls (and dissecting their Pellets) in the beautiful conifer entrance to the old Reifel mansion (now Environment Canada offices), PB Lorna finally scared one (Barred I was told) to fly out the end. At the same time, a Barn Owl (which Anne and I distinctly saw) flew above us and out the other end and over the office building.  We began our walk around the “loop” and it was very quiet, bird wise, but certainly not for the DNCBers whose incessant chatter and “catching-up” nicely filled the void.  This behaviour is a necessary ingredient of DNCB outings.

Rick Woolly Photo

Rick Woolly Photo

During the breaks in the conversations, we did see a posing Peregrine Falcon, both Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Brown Creeper, Bushtits, Fox, Song and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers and, at the end of the trail, Anne was ecstatic about seeing a herd of a hundred plus lounging Harbour Seals.

Alaksen Early-birders

Alaksen Early-birders

Roger begrudgingly took the Group Photo at this spot (which I have yet to see).  Interestingly Roger, our brilliant pseudo-biologist, identified a brilliant orange fungus on the trunk of a tree as Witches’ Butter; some of us had never seen this fungus before.

Voodoo?

Voodoo?

On the walk back to the parking lot, the sun shone, conversation escalated and sightings diminished.  Only Red-breasted Mergansers and Cormorants were seen in the Fraser, and a Muskrat (not the expected River Otter) scampered across the path in front of us, moving from slough to slough.  I wolfed down PB Lorna’s PB & Banana sandwich, trying in vain not to share with others (guess who Rick), and then we sang Happy Birthday to our Guru Anne.

It was another glorious outing, and I got home with Rick & Marg around 1:00 p.m., plenty of time for them to catch the ferry back to Victoria, and the peace and quiet of their Island mansion.  We (Terry and others) are “working on” a DNCB outing to Victoria, perhaps on March 24 or 31; info to follow.

The Late-comers Included

The Late-comers Included

Next Monday, February 24, Roger and I will be at Petra’s for departure at 8:00 a.m. on an outing to Tynehead Park (new destination), and possibly Surrey Lake Park (maybe Hi-Knoll) to follow.  For those meeting us there, we will take the new SFPR highway and I expect to be at the Tynehead Hatchery parking lot around 9:00 a.m. (96 Avenue, just West of 168 Street).  Tynehead Park Map

Note also the info that has been circulated to Delta Nats members on the Salish Sea Birding Cruise from Bellingham on Wednesday, July 9.  This is a joint outing with the White Rock/Surrey and Langley Naturalists’ Clubs (participation is limited).

We will be “cleaning and closing” our Bird Boxes in BBRP for Spring Tree Swallow residency on Tuesday, Feb. 25.  We will meet at the 12th Street parking lot at 10:00 a.m.  All welcome to attend and assist.  As always, your comments are encouraged and please let me know if you want off my List.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society


P.S.  Two new photos of the Terra Nova “Trenches” by Kirsten Walsh just added to DNCB Report 2014-4from January 27.

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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, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Black Oystercatcher, Canoe Pass, Coyote, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Muskrat, TFN, Tsawwassen Ferry Port. Bookmark the permalink.

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