Eleven hardy, or silly, DNCBers spent a miserable, rainy Monday morning walking the dike path at Delta Heritage AirPark (104th St.) and then in the North Forty “Dog” Park (near Boundary Bay Airport). Check out the photo evidence when Roger posts them with this Report on our Blog soon.
Seven of us (Roger with Mike, PB Lorna and Kay, Gerhard & Otto with “lucky” me) car-pooled nicely in two vehicles from Petra’s just after 8:00 a.m. We took the back roads to 104th Street stopping occasionally to case out the Trumpeter Swans and a flock of over 50 Bald Eagles huddled in a group on the ground at the Turf Farm on 72nd. Eagles are certainly wintering in Delta as we saw hundreds of them today. Lots of Gull flocks in the fields too, but we didn’t stop to search for rarities, such as Glaucous gulls. At the AirPark parking lot, Jean and Bryan & Janet were waiting; Donna joined us on the trail later. Our Indian Land Baron Tony called to advise that he had aborted his mission to join us.
Following our normal introductory “confab”, we gathered on the dike. It was pissing down rain but the tide was in so we were a bit elated when we saw the thousands of Dunlin foraging along the entire shoreline, quite close to us for a change. We casually wandered along the trail toward the Mansion, occasionally casing both the sea side and the farm side. We saw a few common “regulars” such as Fox, Song and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Towhees and Robins, but nothing unusual. Growth on both sides of the path has been cut down and back a lot. Several hunters were walking in wet suits beyond the Dunlin, so not much waterfowl close in for viewing. We learned later from a couple of hunters that Brant Season is open from March 1 to 15. Our “expert” Roger identified a line of Canada Geese in the distance. After several minutes we noticed that their necks weren’t moving. They were Decoys. A few Green-winged Teal were among the Dunlin, but we could not find any other “expected” Shorebirds with them (i.e. Black-bellied Plovers, Sanderling). Some Killdeer were in the fields and Northern Harriers occasionally glided by. I was hoping for a Gyrfalcon, but alas we were blanked on all falcons, including Peregrine and Merlin which are often seen here.
We got to 96th St. and a hunter took one of our mandatory Group Photos with Otto’s camera (apparently useless as he does not have computer skills to circ photo). The birding was not terribly productive, so we decided to head back. Not much likelihood of seeing anything on the walk back as the chatter escalated; last night’s OSCARS program was a favourite topic. A few Brant Geese were seen in the distance and following a few thunderous shots, we saw one hunter successfully retrieve a kill. A small flock of White-crowned Sparrows was feeding near the AirPark gate. Back at the vehicles, PB Lorna snuck me a couple of hard-boiled eggs and buttered buns, a change from PB, but welcomed and appreciated. I wanted to wash this down with the Granville Island beer that Otto gave me (finally someone responded to my pleas, thanks Otto), but I decided to save it for later. Roger took another Group Photo of the eleven. Since we were already soaked but not cold, and it was only 10:30 a.m., we decided to check out the North Forty Park and our Delta Nats Barn Owl Box there.
Lots of dog-walkers at the North Forty, despite the now light rain. Our “expert” Roger again identified a Rough-legged Hawk with a distinct bill and body of a Bald Eagle. A Red-tailed Hawk was perched in a tree near its regular nest. Our Barn Owl Box looked in good condition. When Roger and I wandered off the path to examine it, we found several fresh Barn Owl pellets around the base of the pole. We were all very excited and pleased with this promising discovery. We will try to confirm residency once we learn how and when to check the box without badly disturbing possible nesting owls. We meandered back along various old Wireless Station streets, checked out the Monkey Tree, and lamented the lack of birds in the Park. At 11:45 a.m. we left the North Forty, happy that we saw a few birds, had a nice walk, enjoyed some not-so brilliant conversation, and had a happy ending with the Barn Owl Box discovery.
Our next DNCB outing is Wednesday (not Monday), March 12, meeting at and leaving from Cammidge House at 9:00 a.m. for our quarterly Birds on the Bay walk in Boundary Bay Regional Park (BBRP). Don’t forget our monthly Delta Nats meeting at Cammidge House at 7:30 p.m. next Monday, March 10. Sofi Hindmarch, very appropriately, will give a Presentation on Barn Owls and her investigation on the Effects of Poisons (rat) on Wildlife in the Lower Mainland.
As always, comments welcome and let me know if you want off my List. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society