More photos at our DNCB Flickr site
It was a dark and dreary looking morning with a sprinkling of rain, a day when normal people would have stayed in bed… but not hardy birders! Six of us (hardy birders) met at Petra’s, and, assuming we would be the only ones, were amazed to find ten others waiting for us at the Fen parking lot! It was nice to see White Rock Al and Alice, having not seen either for quite a while. Al would have to leave us for an exercise class, and Alice was recovering from a leg injury, which would explain their absence from the group photo. Glen arrived near the end of the Serpentine part of the trip.
As we would usually do, an examination of the barn produced no Barn Owl… disappointing, as not having Tom with us to scare it away, we thought our chances were pretty good. Tom, by the way, was luxuriating in the sun on a Cuban beach, beer in hand while we watched an approaching very dark rain cloud! Somewhat obscured in a tree was a shape that we eventually determined to be a Red-tailed Hawk. Walking down the road to the beginning of the loop trail we saw the usual lbjs* (see below), Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Golden, and White-crowned Sparrows.
Arriving at the trail beginning, we decided to follow tradition and proceeded counter-clockwise and climbed to the top of the first viewing tower. From the top we scanned the ponds and found lots of Mallards, Pintail, American Wigeon, some Buffleheads, and a few Gadwall. Coming out of the trail to the first open grassy area, David took our group photo. I’m (Roger1) not allowed to take group photos anymore due to the disaster at the White Rock Pier last week. Personally I thought the blurry effect gave it an Impressionistic look!
Up on the dyke along the Serpentine River we had only a few species on the water. In the distance we had a flock of what were, as I identified, Common Mergansers (later turned out to be Barrow’s Goldeneyes… anyone could make that mistake). Several Double-crested Cormorants, a female Common Merganser, and a Harbour Seal were seen fishing as well. A single Downy Woodpecker flew into a tree behind dyke. Only a few of us climbed the viewing tower along the dyke, but nothing new was to be seen.
About this time a heavy rain started to fall, and we picked up the pace, stopping only at the last tower, mainly for shelter. However, from the top, our newbie Colin spotted a Eurasian Wigeon and a Hooded Merganser.
The rain having abated, we walked fairly quickly back to the cars. Surprisingly, several very hardy individuals reminded me of my “guarantee” to provide a look at a Long-eared Owl at 104th… so off most of us went!
We met at the parking lot of the Delta Air Park at the foot of 104th (Embree Road). Once up on the dyke I expected to look east to where the usual photographers would have found the owls for us… no one was there! Also, the darkest clouds one could imagine were approaching from the west, and you could see the rain falling. We walked to the end of the air park property, took the correct number of steps from there, and looked in the trees across the canal. Where the owls were sitting in the open yesterday, in the sun, there were none visible! It took some effort in order to find one male Long-eared Owl hidden behind several branches, and with the heavy rain starting to fall, but everyone, to my relief, managed a look. I’m including my photographs from the day before so they can see the complete bird.
Back at the parking lot, with everyone soaking wet, no one seemed interested in going for lunch (it was only 11:30) so we called it a day!
*“lbj” refers to “little brown jobs”, those little birds fleeting through the undergrowth that make you waste time trying to get a look at them, only to find they are only lbjs, and not some rarity – but you have to look, just in case!
Next week, Tue. Jan 23, we will be at Iona Regional Park; leave Petra’s @ 7:30 am, meet at parking lot near washrooms around 8:15 am.
Report by Roger Meyer (for absent Tom Bearss, who is in Cuba!)