For one of the biggest trips, as far as attendance is concerned, we will have one of the shortest blogs due to master-blogger Tom’s absence, and I (Roger) will not list all the names due to a) my poor memory b) large numbers. Please refer to our incomplete group photo to see if you were there, or not.
The trip started out, as usual, with the locals meeting at Petra’s and was joined by some others at the Tswaassen ferry jetty where there were few species but a few remarkable sightings such as hundreds of Horned Grebes, Pintail and Wigeon. The usual suspects were present; Black Oystercatchers, Common Loons, Mallards, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and Scoters (all White-winged?).
Moving on through the TFN lands some saw the resident Kingfisher. A few other members arrived making it an 8-car procession which drew the attention of a passing Delta policeman who motioned us to move along. Nothing more was seen but a Red-tailed Hawk on top of the TFN Longhouse.
Arriving at the River Road dyke the only addition to our list was the five Mute Swans we usually see there. On moving on to the Canoe Pass Bridge someone (alright, it was me) spotted some shorebirds on the shoreline and stopped the procession to have a look. They turned out to be Killdeer accompanied by Green-winged Teal. Unfortunately, someone at the end of the line of cars took exception to our blocking the road and yelled at us to move along. The figure yelling at us and waving her arms turned out to be Kathleen from Reifel. Sorry Kathleen, I take full responsibility and apologize (Roger)!
Arriving at Reifel, we were met by several others including the White Rock contingent, with Al’s guests from Finland, Benny and Valma Roiha, and the welcome return of our guru, Anne Murray! (At this point the catalogue of species becomes incomplete as the large group became spread out and discontinuous so I will list those that my group had seen and rumours of what the others observed… feel free to send omissions to editor Ken!)
Although the Black-crowned Night Herons are reportedly back, I don’t think anyone in our group observed any. Walking down the north dyke trail we saw lots of Canada Geese in the Alaksen fields but no Greater White-fronted. The usual Black-capped Chickadees, Song Sparrows, Spotted Towees, Robins, Mallards, Wood Ducks, and Eurasian Collard Doves were seen and the puzzling song we heard turned out to be a Fox Sparrow.
At the big tower a Peregrine Falcon flew over. Some Snow Geese were seen on the distant shoreline, but as we walked along the outer dyke many long “V” shaped flocks flew by and by counting the number of “V’s” and multiplying by the average number in each we reached a total of 5,000 individuals (Otto said there were 5,001). Several Northern Harriers patrolled the marsh and the usual numbers of GBH’s stood guard.
We were very fortunate to have three Soras parading for us, actually right below our feet at the first viewing platform… great photo opportunity!
The ponds yielded Wigeon, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and Green-winged Teal along with many Long-billed Dowitchers. The ponds to the south-east had large numbers of Long and Short-billed Yellow-legs… nice to see them side-by-side for comparison.
All-in-all, it was a quiet day for the number of species, but the weather was perfect and the large flocks of Snow Geese and close-up views of the Soras provided the high-lights. Please go to the Picasa links on the side-bar to view our great photographers contributions to the day!
Next week we go to Iona Island. The locals will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am to meet the rest at the Iona parking lot somewhere between 8:00-8:15 am. I’m sorry for missing some species seen but, again, please forward any omissions to Ken to be included. Also, prepare to be conscripted to author future blogs while Tom is relaxing in the Australian sun for the next few months. I’m just thankful for spel chek! Cheers, Roger