DNCB Outing No. 2018-47 to BC Ferries Causeway/TFN Lands/Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

With a beautiful morning to look forward to, the Petra’s group departed for the Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty, where we met those who had gone directly there.  Parking at the pull-out near the terminal, we scanned the compensation lagoon and tried to identify the large number of birds on the water and shoreline.

On the north side of the jetty birds seen included a small group of Black Turnstones and Black Oystercatchers feeding on the shore rocks.  On the water there was a Common Loon failing to swallow a flatfish after working at it for several minutes.  Also, there were large flocks of Pintail, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallards, Surf and White-winged Scoters, scattered Buffleheads, and Horned Grebes.

Several Double-crested Cormorants were diving.  Looking farther off shore we saw recently arrived Brants and some Western Grebes.  On the south side of the jetty we were looking into the rising sun which made it difficult to see clearly but there were many more Black Oystercatchers, and Black Turnstones as well as a small group of Harlequin and Surf and White-winged Scoters.  The only raptors included a few Bald Eagles on lamp posts, and what might have been a juvenile Peregrine Falcon.

Driving through the TFN lands, there were very few birds seen.  A small number of Green-winged Teals were in the Kingfisher Slough, and a Red-tailed Hawk in a distant tree.  The pond at the end of the TFN road had only a few Green-winged Teal, and there was a dark raptor that we thought was a very dark Red-tailed.

On the dyke just west of the Westham Island bridge, we scanned the river but saw only a small (unidentified) flock of gulls and didn’t see the Mute Swans until we were on the bridge!  In a field just before the Reifel gates there was a small flock of Snow Geese but we didn’t encounter the really large numbers seen in the last week.

DNCB at Reifel Bird Sanctuary – photo by Noreen Rudd

Arriving at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, we met the remainder of our birders including our “guru” Anne Murray bringing our total to 26!  Once again, with such large numbers, it was impossible to collate what everyone had seen, as we got so spread out over the trails… so for exact numbers, see Brians e-Bird report!

Heading past the gift shop we made our first stop to look at the three wintering Black-crowned Night-herons.  All along this beginning stretch Black-capped Chickadees, Song, House, White-crowned, Golden-crowned, and Fox Sparrows were waiting to be fed.  At one point three Sandhill Cranes flew overhead heading to the fields to the north.  We initially thought the three were the resident cranes, but when we got to the fields adjacent to the east trail, we saw the three plus five others for a total of eight… the high-light of the day.  *(See the interesting Sandhill Crane aside at the end of this Report).  Half-way along the east trail, Marion spotted a Red-breasted Nuthatch.  I had hoped to see a Brown Creeper, but it was not to be.

All along the east trail we kept our eyes open for owls but, again, none to be seen.  Turning south, we walked the west trial where we encountered more of the same birds wanting to be fed.  Arriving at the tower, the more energetic of us climbed to the top to scope the ponds and outer shore line.  In the distance we could make out small clusters of Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese, and large flocks of ducks.  A few Northern Harriers were cruising the marsh, but no Short-eared Owls – strange, as just across the river there are so many at Brunswick Point!  Along the short trail to the tower we encountered a flock of Bushtits.

From the tower, we split into two groups, with a few heading south-east on the inner trail, while the rest of us spread out along the outer path along the marsh.  In the west-field marsh the ducks were mostly Northern Shovelers, Pintail, with some American Wigeon, Mallards, with a few Gadwall thrown in.  On the outside of the dyke path we had a Marsh Wren.  Farther south, the east end of the west field had a large number of Dowitcher species (probably Long-billed).  Also at this spot, we saw a Northern Shrike sitting at the top of a tree at the west end of the pond!

The south-west marsh had the largest number of species, with American Coots, Ring-necked Ducks, the persistent Trumpeter Swan, more Shovelers, Buffleheads, Mallards, three Pied-billed Grebes, etc.  The highlight for some of us was hand feeding the Swan without losing any fingers.  Kathleen, the refuge manager, told me a few days ago that there was some concern that the swan might, accidentally, be able to pull a small child into the water while being fed?  So far, we’ve had no explanation as to why the swan had not left the reserve for the summer with the rest of them?

Finishing the South-west Marsh loop, a few of us back-tracked to the raised viewing platform on the west side of the marsh where we saw more of the same ducks and fed some more chickadees.  Also, Terry managed a photo of a Golden-crowned Kinglet on the side of the trail.

In front of the Fuller-slough Lookout, some visitors were feeding the Wood Ducks which were tame enough to sit on their hands.  Also, the Sandhill Crane was there on its own, and was keeping back from the hand-feeding.

Arriving back at the entrance at noon, we decided to call it a day with the only addition being a Northern Harrier in a roadside tree on the way home.

It was a bit of a cold start to the day, but had warmed up considerably by the end.  I haven’t listed everyone’s name (too many), but I’m pretty sure you will be able to identify yourself in Noreen’s group photo.  We were pleased to have a new visitor, Hadas, and hope she will be a frequent participant in the future… I forgot Tom’s practice of making the newbie carry the telescope!  Also, it was great to see Maureen back after her injury recovery.  And, nice to see Lorna again, even if she didn’t come up with her trademark Belted Kingfisher.  Roger 1


*The interesting Sandhill Crane aside you were waiting for:  In a previous visit, Gabrielle asked Kathleen whether the Sandhill Crane colt was male, or female.  Kathleen said if the colt responded to the male parent’s call by repeating it, then it was a male and would be called Louis.  If the sounds it made were different, it would be a female, it’s name would be Louise!  (Well, I thought it was interesting!)


For a complete list of birds seen and their number, to two places of decimal, check Brian’s e-Bird list at https://ebird.org/shared?subID=UzQ5NzI3OTE2&s=t


Next Tuesday, November 27, we will visit Blaine & Semiahmoo Spit; leave Petra’s at 7:30 am; carpool from Peace Arch parking lot 8 am, and meet at Harbor Rd 8:15 am.


Tom on Top of Down Under

Some more exciting moments from our leader down in Australia:

”I birded along the Mandurah Estuary yesterday.  Saw lots of neat stuff.  First a Whimbrel among the Silver Gulls and White Pelicans.  Then the egrets, Little (like Snowy), Great, Intermediate, Western Reef and Cattle (in reddish breeding plumage).  Lots of Terns, Caspian, Crested and Fairy. Pied Oystercatchers, and then a lone Yellow-billed Spoonbill (always my Target bird).  Some first-time sightings this trip included: a beaut Buff-banded Rail, Common Greenshanks (like Yellowlegs), Common Sandpipers, Yellow-rumped Thornbill (like our Warbler), Western Warbler (formerly Gerygone), White-browed Scrubwren. Other sightings, lots of parrots, including brilliant Red-capped. Honeyeaters, New Holland, Brown, Singing.”

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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, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Harlequin Duck, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mute Swan, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, Peregrine Falcon, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-tailed Hawk, Reifel, Ring-necked Duck, Sandhill Crane, TFN, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port. Bookmark the permalink.

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