Photos by Brian Avent (BA), Chris McVittie (CMcV), Glen Bodie (GB), Terry Carr (TC), Jack MacDonald (JMacD), Nance Forster (NF), Roger Meyer (RM). More photos at our DNCB Flickr site.
With a beautiful, sunny morning and a panoramic view of the North Shore mountains and a chilly –6 degrees, sixteen hardy souls met in front of Cammidge House for the final “Birds on the Bay” outing of the year. Our leader, Tom, tanned and rested after a six week holiday in Australia, delivered an inspirational speech (can’t remember the content) and left us to fend for ourselves. So, off we headed to the beach with Terry and myself (Roger) the designated leaders!
Our first stop on our regular route was south of the parking lot at the pond where we usually find lots of ducks. No ducks, as the pond was frozen! On the ice, though, were a number of Red-winged, and Brewer’s Blackbirds, and the bushes around the pond had a number of sparrows, White-crowned mostly.
Right from the start, and throughout the walk, we were favoured with loads of Bald Eagles (loads means more than 20) perching, doing aerial acrobatics, or flying over the ducks on the water.
I’m not going to mention the usual Northwestern Crows and European Starlings, which were everywhere.
Onward we went to the beach where the tide was not far out, but the shore line had a zone of solid ice followed by another of slush before the open water. The first part of open water was lined with ducks, all American Wigeon at first, but as we moved along the beach, other species started to mix in. A small flock of Black-bellied Plover flew by, and then a few Dunlin very low over the water.
From the beach, we moved in to the trail between the sand and the parking lot. Here we had a mix of a few Spotted Towhees, and more Gold and White-crowned Sparrows as well as our first Northern Harrier.
Footprints in the snow provided an indication of the high rabbit population. Arriving at the viewing tower, we took the obligatory group photo. Gerhard had departed by this point, and Jim hadn’t arrived yet, and I was taking the photo… so that gave us a total of 17 on the walk! (Two others, Jean and Margaretha joined us later at Cammidge House).
The “Bird of the Day” award went to Nance for sighting a pair of Western Meadowlarks on the trail just after the tower.
Our species count got better as we approached the pump station. On the small cove between the trail and water we had our first shorebirds, Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer.
We could now make out large numbers of Canada Geese, and Brant, a lifer for a few of our newcomers. On the inland side of the dyke we had the usual Great Blue Herons spotted around the field and in the trees.
At the outfall from the pump station where the fresh water was not frozen we had enormous numbers of ducks and geese. Jammed together were American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and Mallards.
Scanning over the mass of ducks we were able to find at least three Eurasian Wigeon. (Just a note: my spell-check doesn’t like Wigeon, but doesn’t mind Widgeon but all the books have Wigeon? …thought you might find that interesting). What was interesting, though, was watching a female Northern Harrier flying back –and-forth over the packed waterfowl only a few feet above them and then making the odd dip as if it was going to pick up a duck?
From the viewing platform we observed more Killdeer and Greater Yellowlegs in the canal paralleling the outer dyke, as well as more Green-winged Teal (couldn’t find any Common Teal).
Leaving the beach, we began the return trip via the inland path. The water between the dyke and pump house had a number of Mallards and a pair of Hooded Mergansers. On descending the stairs to the path a few of our participants were treated to a Ruby-crowned Kinglet close to their feet (I hope we have some good photos of this).
Moving along through the fields we added a few Mourning Doves, Black-capped Chickadees, Purple Finches, several (several means less than 20) House Finches,
a male and female Northern Harrier, lots of American Robins, a single Northern Flicker (one, I believe, had been seen at the beginning of the walk as well). Just as we were arriving back at Cammidge House another Western Meadowlark flew right in front of us.
Finally, cold and tired, we arrived back at Cammidge House to be greeted with hot coffee and an assortment of goodies thanks to Don and Rochelle, Jennifer, and Elizabeth… greatly appreciated by all!
Also appreciated was the effort Mike put in carrying our heavy Delta Nats Telescope and tripod… thanks, Mike!
It was nice to have six newcomers come to join us and hope they enjoyed the trip enough to join our Tuesday morning outings.
Next Tuesday December 20, we will go to Blaine, Washington. Meet at Petra’s at 7:30, at Peace Arch parking lot (behind Duty Free) at 8 am, at Blaine Harbour 8:15 am.
Report by Roger Meyer