Starting at about 8:00 on another great Wednesday morning, twenty seven enthusiastic members of the Flighty Flock assembled at the Historic Stewart Farm for an outing through Elgin Park and later around Blackie Spit. The land along the Nicomekl River was pre-empted by John Hardy in the 1880s and then settled by John Stewart who built the fine Victorian farmhouse in 1894. For over 5 decades, the Stewart family operated a hay farm and helped build the local school, church, community hall and river dykes of the historic community of Elgin.
After the customary hellos and the introduction a refreshingly new recruit, grade ten exchange-student and avid photog Sergio from Madrid, the eclectic assembly wandered through the grounds toward Ward’s Marina on the river, where the obligatory group portrait was taken. Not in the snapshot were the five lost souls who had driven to the other parking lot in the park; once they joined the troupe, the number of participators grew to thirty two, just too many to list in this short report. A glance at the diverse photos will indicate who was there.
On the way to and near the marina, Northern Flickers, a boy Pileated Woodpecker, a Brown Creeper and a Yellow-rumped Warbler were seen and photographed. As well, a Great Blue Heron was perched on the mast of a sailboat, a Northern Harrier soared over the fields on the other riverbank, and someone also observed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Separate clusters of chattering birders continued through the dense forest, where some heard the calls of Bewick’s and Pacific Wrens, to the western section of the park. There, the varied biosphere made up of fen, ponds, rows of deciduous trees and the riverbank yielded Fox-, Song-, Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows, a male Downie Woodpecker and Steller’s Jays, grappling with acorns, not to mention Chickadees, Towhees, Red-winged Blackbirds and Gold- and House Finches – their Purple cousins were later recorded at the Spit. No Rails were spotted, and the Barn Owls did not venture out of their raised abode.
Attention was drawn to the northern bank of the Nicomekl, where the WRSNaturalists had conducted a massive shoreline cleanup with the assistance of up to forty nine volunteers including individuals from the Delta and Langley Clubs. The three day venture in spring netted ten tonnes of debris including 3200 lbs of Styrofoam, twenty seven wheels with tires and seventy bags of garbage containing 7700 individual items, all deposited in three forty yard dumpsters. The continuation of the project is set for October 10 at 9:30.
From Elgin Park, the group motored to Blackie Spit where many Common Loons, some still in their summer garb, Cormorants, both types of Yellow Legs, several Red-necked Grebes, the expected four species of dabbling ducks and several floating Harbour Seals were waiting. The spotting of six American Pipits feeding along the shoreline was the first highlight of the morning. Also seen was our old friend, the Long-billed Curlew, but without his Godwit buddies. A flock of Western Sandpipers entertained by taking off, flying in formation and landing again in proximity to the path.
On the way to the Savenye Conservation Area, a Cooper’s Hawk was spotted in a thicket and a Kestrel flew over and landed on top of an oak tree. While Pascale, Alberto and Al decided to follow Ken and Anne to the pump house area – the latter two made it all the way to the Dunsmuir Community Gardens – all the other participants including Tom were worn out and called it a day. As a consequence, they missed the highpoint of the day, the fly-by of an Osprey.
All in all, the group enjoyed a great day with fine fall weather, the accustomed idle chatter, sightings of forty two species and wonderful photos taken. Check out the photo evidence by Terry, Liz, Glen, Jonathan, Marion, Pascale & Alberto and newcomer Sergio on our DNCB Picasa site.
Next Wednesday October 7, our destination is Serpentine Fen where we expect to arrive at the “Barn Owl Barn” parking lot from Petra’s around 8:00 a.m. Check our website for updates. Also, you can call (cell 778-994-4726) or e-mail Tom.
Note also that our Delta Nats monthly meeting (very short) is next Tuesday, October 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen. Christine Terpsma will give us a Presentation on What’s New at the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust. You are all encouraged to attend. Also, you are welcome to join me and Metro Vancouver staff at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, October 5 at our Barn Owl Box in BBRP for the lowering, examining and cleaning of the box. Congrats to Jonathan & Lorraine on the arrival of their 7th grandchild. Bienvenidos Sergio. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society