More photos from DNCB Picasa site will be added soon!
Another massive crowd of 29 DNCBers (named at and) toured Serpentine Wildlife Management Area (SWMA) in Surrey on a pleasant Tuesday morning. It was a another spread-out, gabfest, but we got lots of neat sightings. Check out the beaut photo evidence, including shots of birds, flowers and people, on our DNCB Picasa site.
Ten of us car-pooled from Petra’s at 8:00 a.m., but Roger counted 17 vehicles in the small Serpentine Fen parking lot, so not commendable car-pooling. Before taking the obligatory Group Photo at the Serpy Gate, some of us snuck into the barn, but the Barn Owl was not inside. White Rock Al, a linguistic giant, gave a bit of not-quite-boring history of the Serpentine WMA. Then, we wandered along the path to the first Lookout Tower; saw some common regulars (Spotted Towhees, House Finches, etc.) but didn’t hear or see any Kinglets, got Ruby-crowned later. From the tower we could see that the water level was very high throughout the Fen, even covering many of the fields. Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Mallards and American Wigeon were pretty much everywhere (interestingly, I didn’t see a Gadwall). We saw at least 5 or 6 Eurasian Wigeon too. A Bald Eagle and a Red-tailed Hawk were perched respectively on two poles. Descending the tower, a Bewick’s Wren was calling and we got good looks at it. Further along the trail, Marsh Wrens were calling everywhere.
Entering the open area, with the valuable assistance of our venerable Scope Bearer Chris McV, we canvassed the ponds with our new hi-calibre Kowa Scope. A few Tree Swallows were hawking insects around Gareth’s Bird Boxes. Lesser Scaup and “flotillas” of American Coots were in the ponds but we were blanked on “hopefuls” Cinnamon Teal (Marion got photos later in day), American Bittern, and even Pied-billed Grebes. However, we focussed in on two pair of Ruddy Ducks (nice sighting), and a Merlin gave a flypast. At the Serpentine River, a Belted Kingfisher posed on a pylon in the distance, above some Red-breasted Mergansers (some saw Common Mergansers too) and a raft of Common Goldeneye. A couple of FOY Rufous Hummingbirds were flashing their gorges brilliantly for our excited photogs.
Wandering along the path toward the second Lookout, along with the Hummers, LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobs) captured our imagination. We identified four Sparrow species, White- and Golden-crowned, Song and Fox, plus Bushtits, Juncos, tonnes of Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds and European Starlings (in various plumages), Northern Flickers, and the always photogenic Great Blue Herons. We saw Greater Scaup in the river and captured the differences with the earlier seen Lesser Scaup (of course, we’ll forget these ID differences by next week). Later on some saw a Peregrine Falcon and the elusive, and unusual for Serpentine Fen, Pileated Woodpecker that we heard but I couldn’t find. Northern Harriers were around too.
Following the river trail past the second Lookout, we stopped at the bushes to see a flock of flitting and elusive Yellow-rumped Warblers. I saw an Audubon and others identified Myrtle too. Past the remnants of the Oyster Farm in the river, photogs Alberto and Maureen caught a Double-crested Cormorant swallowing a fish/Flounder. A Violet-green Swallow flashed its colours above us. At the third Lookout, some heard the Virginia Rail, but didn’t see it. By now, our group was really spread out and when I got back to the parking lot at 11:30 a.m., many had already gone. White Rock Al’s species count came to 45 – a very respectable number!
Ten of us decided to have lunch at the Town Hall Public House at King George & 32nd in South Surrey, under the now brilliant sun. Good choice as my “brunch” of poached eggs, bacon, potatoes and fruit was delicious, and cheap. Of course, washing it down with a couple of sleeves of their specialty lager Draught Beer hit the spot. It was another gorgeous, enjoyable, and productive DNCB morning.
We 29 were: Ken Borrie & Anne Avery; David Hoar & Noreen Rudd, welcome back to Vancouverites Janet & Bryan King, sisters Pat & Maureen, time-challenged Pascale & Alberto, Glen B, White Rock Al S, wanderer Gerhard, WRSN President Liz W and “Bird Box” Gareth, newbie Ontarian/BC resident Janice M, Roger M & Mike B, biker Margaretha S, Jim K, Scope Bearer and new BFF Chris McV, Guru Mary T, “Uma” Denise, Marion S, Richmond’s Brian A & Donna T, North Van Roy, North Delta Liz S and me.
Next Tuesday, March 22, we will leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. for a “special outing” to UBC’s Botanical Garden with Debbie H, and then Pacific Spirit Park. Meet at Botanical Gardens parking lot ~8:45 a.m.
As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if you want off my List to receive these meandering missives. Cheers: Tom (watching the male GHO in my back yard, but still not sure where exactly Mom is on their nest)
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society