DNCB Outing No. 2016-52: Ladner Christmas Bird Count

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Ladner “Area I” groups reconvene at Petra’s for lunch (photo by Roger M) – click on photo for large version

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Our regular DNCB Outing date fell on the day of the Ladner CBC, so we decided to make the Ladner CBC our last outing of 2016!

The count is part of the regional Christmas Bird Count, which is part of a much larger count across the continent.  Counts happen in over 2,000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere.  The CBC started in 1900, with the Ladner count starting in the 1950s.  It is an ongoing project of the National Audubon Society in the United States, and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada.

Each Christmas Bird Count is conducted on a single day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.  They are carried out within a 24-kilometre diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. The Ladner count includes Tsawwassen, Point Roberts and south Richmond.

19 gathered at Petra’s, and split into 3 groups under the leadership of Roger Meyer, Tom Bearss and Brian Self to cover Ladner Area I (Tsawwassen East of 56th St). There was one group that met leader Mary Taitt at Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and other groups that met to enumerate other South Delta areas.

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Roger’s Group – Centennial Beach to Beach Grove (RM)

It was a spectacular morning when we set out, with clear skies and sunshine.  Each group was assigned an area (and a map) to record the numbers of each species seen in that area.  The plan was for the 3 East Tsawwassen groups to reconvene at Petra’s at noon, to tally provisional numbers, and to plan how to cover areas not yet tallied.  Tom was detained by a Radio Canada (French) T.V. interview at Earthwise, to whom he explained in English (and some French) what the CBC was about, and Brian’s group arrived at 12:30.

After lunch, some set out to complete the areas not yet covered, while others went home.

Area I Section #3 Sightings – Report by Roger Meyer
Leaving Petra’s after a confusing grouping of the 19 volunteers, the Section #3 group – consisting of Mike, Jim, Ken and Anne, Patrick and Joanne, and myself (Roger) – left for the parking lot at the foot of 12th Avenue.  Joanne graciously offered to be the recorder and did an incredible job (thanks so much, Joanne!)  We had two spotting scopes between us which were absolutely necessary for the offshore rafts of birds.  Our route was an exact repetition of the Birds on the Bay outing from a few weeks back, and differed only in the absence of a few of the expected birds from that previous outing such as the Western Meadowlarks and Northern Harriers… when have we not seen the  Harriers there?

Leaving the parking lot, we walked the bay side dyke.  Across the road from the beginning of the trail we were puzzled by a raptor in a tall tree in Section #1’s area and finally decided it was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (we really needed Anne Murray at several times on this trip).  The brush along the path had numerous song birds (juncos, Song, Golden-crowned, and one Fox sparrows.  On the water side there were few ducks in the lagoon… Pintail, Mallards, Wigeon and two, or three, Green-winged Teal.  The highlight here was the Hooded Merganser couple.  A few adult, and juvenile, Bald Eagles were seen throughout the trip flying over the water and perched in trees.  The canal prior to the pump station yielded more Mallards and a few female Buffleheads.  I don’t think we need to mention the dozens of robins and crows constantly about (thereby mentioning them I guess).

Arriving at the observation platform the fun began!  Thousands of waterfowl and gulls on the shore and way out into the water.  Various rafts of Brant, Canada Geese, Pintail, Wigeon (we searched but failed to come up with a Eurasian), and smaller numbers of Green-winged Teal.  Between us we decided to arrive at percentages of each species, estimate the total number in the mix and multiply by the individual percentages giving us results with only + or –  37% accuracy (the last figure entirely made up).

Proceeding south from the pump house we encountered more rafts of the same ducks.  Most of the gulls we saw were Glaucous-winged, Mew, a few Ring-billed, and even fewer Herring and Thayer’s.  Across the spit from the small lagoon we had seen a few flocks of shorebirds and decided to go out to the shoe line.  There we were able to identify the flocks as consisting mainly of Sanderlings and a few Dunlin.  I was pretty sure a single Black Turnstone had flown by but I didn’t trust my id without verification by someone else (but I’m sure it was, so there!).  The rest of the walk from there to the concession stand was uneventful except for some House Finches and rabbits.

We had hoped the ponds at Centennial Beach would provide a Eurasian Wigeon but to no avail.  There were more American ones, Mallards, and our first Brewer’s Blackbirds and few Red-winged.  Walking out to the beach we scoured the waters and found rafts of Surf and White-winged Scoters far off shore.  We also had a few Red-breasted Mergansers.  We did see, along the way, the odd Great-blue Heron but far fewer than expected.

The return trip was inland and, again, was very sparse in species.  We particularly searched for the elusive harriers, again fruitless.  We came up with more finches, House and some Purple, and one tree with a number of Northern Flickers.  Also, in spots along the dyke trail, we had the  usual groups of Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrow.

The weather, up to the end was perfect… sunny and without wind.  As we got back to the parking lot the clouds had come in and a light rain had begun to fall… perfect timing, and we were ready to return to Petra’s for lunch.  All, in all, a great day for the count and a great group with everyone contributing, especially Joanne with the important job of keeping track of the numbers.

From Terry:

Thanks to everyone who took part in the count for Area I (Tsawwassen east of 56th St).

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Anna’s Hummingbird f. (RM)

Area I counted 70 species and 5166 birds.

Highlights included a Red-breasted Sapsucker near Boundary Beach School,

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Red-breasted Sapsucker (RM)

a Western Grebe very close to shore, and 3 Barn Owls at Earthwise.
Jude Grass says (Dec. 29) Ladner CBC preliminary total 134 or 135 species (final number will be posted soon).  Victoria had 140 species.

Here is a link to some photos taken during the count:
https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=dncb%202016-52


News articles about Ladner CBC:

Delta Optimist, Dec. 28, 2016:
Ladner bird count numbers down again

Vancouver Sun, Dec. 29, 2016 article by Larry Pynn (p.A1 & A7)
Feathers fly in Ladner’s Christmas Bird Countonline article includes short video with Jude Grass & John Gordon photos of rare birds

Wildlife centre says dozens of eagles electrocuted by power-pole perch in Delta


  • Monday, January 2, 2017 The White Rock CBC 2016/7.  Anyone who would like to participate is encouraged to come out for excellent birding.
    Area B:  Meet at the small car park beside King George Highway just west of Highway 99 at 8 am.  There we will sign in, get maps, species lists, rare bird forms and then divide up into groups.
  • Next Tuesday, January 3, our first DNCB Outing of 2017 will be to the Ferry Causeway and Brunswick Point, leaving Petra’s at 7:30 am.
  • Also on January 3 is our first Delta Nats monthly meeting, at Benediction Lutheran Church starting at 7:30 pm.  Guest Speaker will be Joey Foy at VERY short notice!, with a presentation on Endangered Species in B. C. (the blue text links to more details of topic and speaker).  Note that the originally-scheduled Speaker Emma Langson was forced to cancel due to weather conditions at her home.
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About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
This entry was posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Barn Owl, CBC Ladner, Dunlin, Herring Gull, Mew Gull, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Red-tailed Hawk, Thayer's Gull. Bookmark the permalink.

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