About 25 folk participated in various aspects of Wednesday’s “erratic” DNCB outing to Boundary Bay at 104th and 96th Streets, then Reifel Bird Sanctuary. This was the alternate destination as our Mt. Baker outing (poor weather) was postponed to next Wednesday, Sept. 23. There is some super photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.
Seven of us left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m., comfortably in two vehicles (Roger K took Glen and Mike B, Terry & I rode with Rob & Marylile). We got to the foot of 104th Street at the Delta Heritage AirPark where several folk met us, including Duanne and a few others from the Alouette Field Naturalists’ Club. It was sunny, cool, and the tide was in (a rare occurrence for DNCB outings). Lots (hundreds, probably thousands) of Black-bellied Plovers and Peeps were relatively close to shore for decent viewing. We identified Dunlin, Sanderling and Western Sandpipers, and some saw Least Sandpipers and perhaps even an American Golden-Plover. We didn’t have the expertise to ID some of the other Sandpipers as Baird’s or Pectoral, and we learned that other birders saw Red Knots there that morning. But I’ll bet the other birders didn’t experience the inane conversations that DNCBers enjoyed throughout the morning.
First we walked east to get the rising sun behind us. A flock of Caspian Terns was resting near the shoreline, among the mostly Ring-billed Gulls. As we walked west toward the Mansion, lots of little birds were in the shrubs and grass on the farmland side of the trail. We saw many Sparrow species including White-crowned, Golden-crowned (none by me), Song, Savannah, Lincoln’s (Gareth). Several beaut Yellow-rumped Warblers posed for photogs while others, Orange-crowned and Common Yellowthroats, were not as obliging. Several flocks of American Pipits were flitting about on both sides and in the harvested potato fields. Barn Swallows were numerous and we saw a few Violet-greens on the telephone line; someone saw a Tree Swallow too although most of these have already gone south (Bank Swallow also sighted by “others”). Surprisingly, a Downy Woodpecker landed in the low shrubs in our binocular view. Our Group was generally widely spread out along the dike trail. However, we managed to gather 21 of us for a Group Photo taken by Alberto and ILB Tony.
Our prime focus here was the Shorebirds, and we got a decent look at the huge numbers when a Merlin flew past and they all rose and flew about for a minute or so in their acrobatic swarms before returning to feed. At the Mansion, the Merlin posed in a tree for our ecstatic photogs. There were hundreds/thousands of Waterfowl in the distance, but in the slough entrance to the Bay at the Mansion were easily-seen Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Gadwall and Mallards, and one Killdeer. A Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the Tower and several Northern Harriers gave fly-pasts. We were blanked on the Godwits (Hudsonian, Marbled and Bar-tailed) and didn’t see a Peregrine Falcon either. Before leaving for Reifel, Scoutmaster Alan and Roger F did yeoman duty taxiing drivers from 96th St. back to their vehicles at the Delta AirPark.
At Reifel (around 10:30 a.m.), we belatedly met WR Al, Otto, Liz, Anne and her ace birder friend Joan Czapalay from Nova Scotia, at various spots in the Sanctuary. It was an erratic outing as the Leader spent most of the morning trying to determine where outing participants were. In a middle pond was a female Redhead (it’s a waterfowl/duck species) with a Hooded Merganser diving with her. Some may have seen the House Wren. At the Tower, while I was looking at Yellowlegs (mostly Lesser), a Sora ran across an opening between the reeds. Others also saw a Virginia Rail. A Long-billed Dowitcher was also feeding there. The Red-winged Blackbirds were particularly tame today, entertainingly eating from people’s hands. As always at Reifel, the up-close-and-personal sightings are the best in the Lower Mainland; other species seen, and not mentioned earlier, include; Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfisher, Sandhill Cranes, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Eurasian Collared-Doves, Northern Flicker, Dark-eyed Juncos, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and a Scaup species.
We left Reifel around 1:00 p.m. and 10 of us (Rob & Marylile, Terry, Paula & Roy, Otto, ILB Tony & Reifel Laura, WR Al and me) went to Speed’s Pub in Ladner for lunch, surrounded by the crew filming the serial “Minority Report”. The Hamburger Special and 1516 Beer were delicious, favourably priced and the service was surprisingly fast. It was a super outing, but this Report is far too long.
Next Wednesday, September 23, we will try again to do our Mt. Baker outing. Check our website for info and directions. As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if you want off my List to receive this verbal diarrhea. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society