Photos by Ken (KB), Glen (GB), Marion (MS), Pascale & Alberto (P&A), Jim (JK), Liz (LS) & others at DNCB Picasa site
Because the southeastern part of the park was visited last July, it had been decided to explore the northern section. Thus at about 8:15 on another fantastic Wednesday morning, twenty one avian enthusiasts began flocking together in the parking lot off 16th Avenue. Campbell Valley Park, which is apparently a little larger in area than Stanley Park, contains several ponds, a tree farm, a scout camp and has 29km of trails including an equestrian trail of 11km and a new 5km long bicycle track. Settlers from the east started to arrive in the valley in the 1880s. Alexander Annand from Nova Scotia began clearing the land for cattle and hay in 1886 and later built a house and barn which are still standing. Len Rowlatt owned the farm from 1918 to 1973 when it and surrounding properties were acquired by Metro Vancouver for parkland.
The group photo taken at the kiosk depicts the happy faces of sisters Pat and Maureen, Johnny Mac, Richmond Bill, Glen, Ladner Jack, Jim K, WR Al, PB Lorna, Liz, Langley Joanne, Marian, Pauline, Roger M, Tom, Gerhard, Hans, Marion, picture taker Ken with Anne, and Kirsten.
Upon marching off into the forest after the photo shoot, we were approached by a dog walker, who turned out to be a keen birder. Christine Bishop indicated that she was involved with bird studies in the park and she invited input from interested parties. After exchanging information with her, we headed toward the Vine Maple Trail, a narrow winding pathway with little traffic.
The many Red Cedar stumps visible along the trail are reminders that the area was logged more than a hundred years ago. However, nature has exuberantly reclaimed the land and everyone marveled at the re-grown forest. The dominant coniferous trees seen were Douglas Fir, Red Cedar and Western Hemlock, but the occasional Sitka Spruce and Grand Fir were also spotted. Because of the abundant deciduous greenery – made up mainly of Big Leaf Maple, Poplar, Alder, and diverse smaller trees and bushes – it was difficult to spot, not to mention photograph, the birds which were singing in the dense foliage. For some of us, the songs and calls of a number of Swainson’s Thrushes, Purple Finches, Pacific-slope Flycatchers and one Western Wood-Pewee were audible, but we never sighted any. We did see several Brown Creepers and Pacific Wrens, as well as a Wilson’s Warbler and Hairyet Woodpecker (female Hairy). Some heard and got a glimpse of a singing Vireo which was likely a Cassin’s but could have been a Red-eyed. Also observed was Huckleberry Lauk as he popped in and out of the understory along the path to pick various berries. While Gerhard feasted contentedly, Roger tried but failed to convince Tom that the little green fruit of the European/Bittersweet Night Shade in his palm were delicious.
After about an hour on the narrow trail, we connected with the Little River Loop. There we promptly met up with latecomers Pascale and Alberto and dog walker in training, Wim, carrying Nelly, his new puppy; that brought the total to twenty five participants. Near and on the Listening Bridge, both male and female Black-headed Grosbeaks posed for great pictures, and snapshots of Yellow Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, Brown-headed Cowbirds as well as a Willow Flycatcher and a Steller’s Jay were also taken. Most members of the group walked through the open meadows to the historic Langley Speedway which was in operation from 1960 to the 1980s. Recently, an attempt was made to reopen the facility, but that failed because of strong opposition from environmentalists and area homeowners. When we walked through the track last July, a Disney movie was being filmed. Tom tried to convince the crew to engage our troop as extras but, alas, his request was denied.
While a Townsend’s Chipmunk was photographed, and Langley Joanne enticed a Black-capped Chickadee or two to feed in her hand, there was little activity along most of the route back to the starting point. However, in the vicinity of the second bridge over the Campbell River, Marsh Wrens were rattling, a Common Yellowthroat was sounding off and flying about, and Pascale reported listening to the harsh call of a Virginia Rail. Because the little river was overgrown with reeds and almost invisible, no waterfowl or shorebirds came into view. Moreover, no swallows or raptors were seen or heard on our 4km trek. Although only 20 or so avian species were observed – of which 14 were photographed – and about 10 were heard only, everyone had to agree that it was another fabulous DNCB expedition. After all, the weather had been excellent, the trees, bushes and groundcover were in their finest green, and the scenery was great. And the berry-tasting-fest and the wonderful camaraderie certainly contributed to the success of our outing.