Fourteen brave souls endured a surprisingly dry and very birdy Tuesday morning along the Tsawwassen Ferry causeway and then at our “Mecca”, Reifel Bird Sanctuary. Check out/click on the photo evidence of some rare and gorgeous sightings on our DNCB Flickr site.
Because of the rainy forecast, on Monday we changed Tuesday’s outing destination from Burnaby Mountain to local. When I arrived at Petra’s at 7:15 am, it was pouring rain. But when we left at 7:40 am, the rain had stopped and it never rained again until lunch time when we were in Speed’s Pub in Ladner. “Someone” is looking after us DNCBers.
Our first stop was the pull-off along the Tsawwassen Ferry causeway. The tide was high, and we eventually found our “destination bird”, the Snow Bunting. We saw three, but Roger said there were six around earlier this week. Lots of other neat sightings in the Bay between the two terminals, including: Common Goldeneye, Common Loons, Bufflehead, flocks of Brant Geese, an uncommon Black Scoter among a raft of Western Grebes, a flock of Dunlin, Double-crested Cormorants, only a couple of Horned Grebes. The resident Black Oystercatchers and Black Turnstones were also up-close-and personal.
On the south side of the causeway were various rafts of White-winged and Surf Scoters, and more Goldeneye. Interestingly, Terry took a Group Photo here, of ten of us squinting into the beautiful rising sun.
We learned later that Margaretha had ridden her bike to see the Buntings, but we missed her.
We left the causeway in a convoy of nine, yes 9 vehicles (brutal car-pooling), through the TFN and Ladner fields. The best sighting was a perched and posing Peregrine Falcon on a telephone pole just entering Westham Island. Several groups of Trumpeter Swans in various fields was nice too, and the Mute Swans were under the Westham Island Bridge.
At Reifel we met the others and Glen took the Group Photo of the 13 (without him) by the George Reifel memorial stone.
A wintering Black-crowned Night-Heron was sleeping in his customary trees. We had a very pleasant walk, chatty as always, along Reifel’s trails. Some of my special sightings included: the always brilliant Wood Ducks, Golden-crowned Kinglets, both Common and Hooded Mergansers in breeding plumage. Actually, most of the wintering ducks here were in beautiful breeding plumage, making them easier to identify too. The Black-capped Chickadees were voraciously hungry too, eating from our hands. Interestingly, later on the trail we ran into a large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, almost all males, and they were ravenous too; see photo on Flickr of them eating from my hand and on my hat.
In the ponds near the Tower were Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Coots and, of course, Mallards and American Wigeon. A flock of Long-billed Dowitchers was resting in the next pond. Near the dowitchers, a Virginia Rail flitted across the water and hid in the reeds. Anne and others were patient and finally saw another, and deducted from sounds that there were three rails there. Over the marsh along the shore were thousands, yes thousands, of Lesser Snow Geese, occasionally rousted for a mass uprising by a passing Bald Eagle. A beautiful sight.
Back on the inland trail, we saw several Ring-necked Ducks and a few Lesser Scaup, but were blanked on the Canvasback and any owls (Sawhet and Great-horned seen earlier this week). Some saw a Cooper’s and a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Belted Kingfisher. We saw lots of the common little birds, Sparrows (Golden-crowned, Fox, Song), Spotted Towhees, etc. Richmond Brian recorded 52 species on our new DNCB eBird list. We got back to the entrance approaching Noon, and six of us decided to go to Speed’s Pub in Ladner for lunch. Only one pint of 1516 beer, but it was delicious with my regular Special, two pieces of Cod and Chips. Another awesome DNCB outing.
The fourteen were: our Organizers Terry & Roger, Guru Anne, photogs Ladner Jack, Glen B & Richmond Brian with newbie Gary H, lunch specialist Mike B, White Rock Colin with graduating newbie Warren, North Delta Jean, new DNCBers Ladner Bryan & Masae, and me.
This was our last official DNCB outing until Tuesday, January 8, when our destination will be White Rock Pier and Blackie Spit.
Meanwhile, there are a number of Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) open for participation, including the Ladner CBC this Saturday, December 22 (Nats are meeting at Petra’s at 7:30 am), the White Rock/Surrey CBC on Saturday, December 29 (I am meeting at small car park beside King George Highway just west of the Highway 99 (Exit 10) at 8 am). Contact me if you’re interested in participating.
Also, our first 2019 Delta Nats meeting is Wednesday (not Tuesday), January 2, at 7:30 pm at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen. Our own Nat, Paul Rennie, will be presenting on his adventures in the Galapagos Islands and the Peruvian Amazon. All welcome.
For more info, reports and photos, check out our website.
My driveling reports seem to be getting longer, and perhaps more boring, so let me know if you want off my email list. Meanwhile, I hope each of you get what you want from Santa, and you and your families have a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2019, with the occasional special bird sighting. Cheers: Tom (leaving now to start my Christmas shopping)
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society