DNCB Outing No. 2018-40 to Derby Reach and Brae Island Parks

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.


DNCB heading to the mushroom trail – photo by David Hoar

On a not too promising looking day six optimistic birders (David, Noreen, Mike 1, Jim, Chris and soon to be denigrated Roger) piled into our leader’s van and headed off to meet the others at our destination.  However, the leader apparently assumed the meeting spot was other than the one posted on the previous blog, and apologizes profoundly to the ones who followed instructions, and thanks Brian for sorting things out.  So, sorry group, and thanks for not beating me with your Sibleys!

To continue; at Derby Reach Park, the site of the Original Fort Langley, we were joined by Brian, Colin, Pat, and Roy.  While waiting we had observed a lot of robins, a flock of Cedar Waxwings, several Steller’s Jays, a Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, one Mallard, and some Turkey Vultures soaring overhead.  Three of the vultures landed on top of a cedar tree and posed for us.  We circled around to get better position for the light, but the birds were still a fair distance away; however, I think our photographers will probably have some good shots!

Last year we had gone directly into the deep forest on the south side of the parking lot.  This time we decided to walk east along the river on the “Fort-to-Fort” path.  This proved to be very scenic with open grassy areas, lots of tasty apples and pears having fallen from an trees on what had once been a farm property, and great views along the river looking towards the south end of Brae Island!

After a short distance, the trail reached the main road and continued on the road side towards Fort Langley.  We decided to cross the road and follow a trail through the woods circling around to the parking lot.  The sun had come out, but the wind had increased so a walk in the woods was probably not the wisest decision to make.  This was emphasized when the four of us at the tail end of the group heard a very loud crack as a very large branch came crashing to the ground less than 100 feet from where we were standing!  We carried on… not the wisest move, but the other six were ahead of us, and we didn’t want to separate the group!

At the location of the falling branch we saw a number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets but, mixed in with them, David had the sighting of the day with a glimpse of a warbler with dark markings on the face.  Watching for some time, David managed a few photos which showed the bird to be a Black-throated Gray Warbler (see the Flicker site photos)!

I don’t think anyone (like myself) could be blamed for mistaking it for a Townsend’s Warbler?

As far as birds were concerned, the forest walk was unrewarding.  However, the area abounded with fall fungi as Noreen and David’s photos show.  Incredible clusters of colourful mushrooms, bracket fungi on the trees and fallen trunks… the perfect environment and time of year!

At the parking lot, and because it was already 11 o’clock, we decided to forego the long forest walk we did last year and head, instead, to Brae Island.

Brae Island at this time of year was good for a brisk walk to the west end where we walked out on the sand spit end to look across to the point were we had taken the group photo at Derby Reach Park!

With a short stop by a park sign, we posed for the obligatory group photo without conspicuous-with-his-absence Tom!

DNCB_Brae Island_group_DH

10 DNCB at Brae Island – photo by Noreen Rudd

Maybe, David could Photoshop him in later?  I don’t recall seeing any birds, but David adds, “Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-capped Chickadee, + Sparrow Q? on the walk down, and 2 Stellers bickering loudly above the noise of the wind on return trail”.  It was a nice workout, but probably should not be included at this time of year!

By the time we arrived back at the parking lot it was almost 1:00, and the Petra’s group headed for home as the rain started to fall.  We were very lucky to have made it through the morning without getting wet, and look forward to our photographer’s postings!  We missed Tom, and would ask that he forward some information about his birding experiences in Australia so we can add them as an attachment to our weekly blog!

Once again, I (embarrassed Roger) apologize for the mix-up at the meeting site and, if I get another chance, will read the instructions ahead of time.

Roger Meyer

Next week, Tuesday 9 October, we will visit Point Roberts.  We leave Petra’s at 7:30 am, and meet at Lighthouse Marine Park at 7:45 am.

Posted in *DNCB, Black-throated Grey Warbler, Brae Island Park, Cedar Waxwing, Derby Reach, Turkey Vulture | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-39 to White Rock Pier/Blackie Spit/Elgin Heritage Park

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

It was a promising-looking day when we set our from Petra’s.  The group was smaller than usual from there, and consisted of Mike 1 and his Scotland visitor Sean, Mike 2, Glen, Chris, Jim, David and Noreen, and myself, Roger.  Our legendary leader, Tom, was absent with some feeble excuse involving surgery, golfer’s thumb, and some other ailment.  On the way to White Rock Highway 99 had some dense patches of fog but by the time we arrived at our destination it had lifted.  Our numbers increased at the pier and included Pat, Colin and Stephanie, Richard, Liz, Roy and Solveig, Marion, and later at Blackie Spit we were joined by the rarely seen Denise (Uma) and late-riser Margaretha!

DNCB (less Roy) at White Rock Pier – photo by David Hoar

As a disclaimer, I lack Tom’s pornographic memory and will probably miss the odd sighting or misidentify species.  Feel free to contact Tom, at an address (to be provided later) somewhere in the heart of Australia where he will be hiding out for the next 6 weeks, with your complaints.

So, starting at the White Rock Pier, we found very few species.  On the shore we had a variety of gulls… California, Mew, Ring-billed and Glacous.  Out on the water there was a single Western Grebe, a number of Red-necked, one of which entertained us with its attempt to swallow a small fish (maybe an eel blenny?), and several Horned as well.  Aside from a large flock of Surf Scoters in the distance, the only ducks noted were Mallards.  A few salmon were seen jumping.  There were scattered numbers of Canada Geese most on, or near, the shore.  Some of us managed to see/hear a Black Turnstone on the breakwater, and the only other shore birds were a few Killdeer on the shore by the White Rock.  A few Common Loons were seen, but widely scattered.  Leaving the pier, we stopped at the west end of the beach where some reported a few White-winged Scoters and further assorted gulls.

Having exhausted the feeble offerings at White Rock, we proceeded to Blackie Spit where we found the tide still on the way out.  Walking out to the tip of the spit we had the usual collection of Ring-billed Gulls (not sure why this area is an attraction for them?)  The small birds we saw flitting about in the Asparagus plants turned out to be Savannah Sparrows.  We had been hoping for Longspurs and Pipits!  There was a lot of action out on the water with a harem of Harbour Seals moving in unison amid the schools of small fish (Fisherman Roy agreed they were probably “smelt”) … schools of them were everywhere rippling the surface of the water and attracting the gulls, herons and Caspian Terns which were diving into the water to catch them.  I’d have to say this spectacle was the high-light of the day!  The Long-billed Curlew spent the whole time we were there in a stationary position with his head tucked under a wing.  The only other shorebirds were a small number of Greater Yellowlegs in the ponds off the east side of the spit.

Moving to the base of the spit and across to the lagoon side, things got a bit more interesting.  A number of small bird species were sighted, but not all of us saw the complete list.  The most common species of the day, I think, were the Yellow-rumped Warblers (we had at least one Myrtle variety).  Noreen pointed out some Orange-crowned Warblers.  Others reported Song, Fox, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows, and a number of Northern Flickers.    The Purple Martins seem to have left the nest boxes.  Two raptors entertained us towards the end of our stay at the spit, both having trouble with the resident crows who objected to the presence of the raptors.  One was a very dark Merlin and the other an accipiter that we couldn’t reach a consensus as to it being a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned Hawk!  The latter was hounded (crowed) relentlessly by a murder of crows that grew from 3 to over a dozen.

Having exhausted the avian offerings of Blackie Spit (disappointed at not sighting a Roseate Spoonbill reported from past outings) and still having some time to spare, we decided to hit Elgin Heritage Park on the way back.  The tide was still going out, and had exposed large beds of oysters on the Nicomekl river?  We wondered if there is some reason they don’t seem to be harvested, and this topic is assigned to be researched by members to be reported at the next outing.  Once again, the bushes and trees were loaded with Yellow-rumped Warblers.


Golden-crowned Kinglet (NR)

Other birds reported by segments of our fragmented group were Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Downy Woodpecker, and a single Steller’s Jay!

By the end of our Elgin Heritage Park segment, a number of members had already departed, and the remaining ones, missing Tom’s presence, decided to forgo going out for lunch (it was after 1:00 pm by this time).

Report by Roger Meyer, for absentee legendary leader Tom

(Note that DNCB Outings will be on TUESDAYS – except BOTB in December, still on Wednesday).  Next week, we leave Petra’s at 7:30 on TUESDAY October 2 for an outing to Derby Reach & Brae Island Parks.  Meet at Edgewater Bar/Derby Reach Campground Parking Lot (off Allard Crescent) at 8:30 am.

Also next Tuesday, October 2 is our annual DNS AGM meeting, 7:30 pm at Benediction Lutheran Church, at which there will be elections for the new DNS Board.  Guest speaker Peter Candido will entertain us with A Birding and Wildlife Tour of Brazil: Amazon Rainforest, Pantanal and Cerrado.

Posted in *DNCB, Black Turnstone, Blackie Spit, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Cooper's Hawk, Elgin Heritage Park, Harbour Seal, Long-billed Curlew, Merlin, Mew Gull, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red-necked Grebe, Sharp-shinned Hawk, White Rock Pier, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-38 to Iona Regional Park

About 25 DNCBers enjoyed another beautiful, and productive, Wednesday morning at Iona Regional Park.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

DH_DNCB at Iona

DNCB at Iona – photo by David Hoar

Some left Petra’s at 7:30 am and met me and others at 8:15 am at the Iona parking lot.  Some hi-lites of the walk included: meeting some neat Toronto visitors and other newbies, watching the Wild Research bird banders in operation, and seeing warblers and sparrows really up-close-and-personal, wandering the sewage ponds and identifying several shorebird and duck species.  Lunch at the Flying Beaver was apparently a real treat with Marilyn Monroe as the waitress (I missed lunch as I had my first Wednesday Noon Hockey).

Some Sightings in no particular order included: either Willow Flycatcher or Western Wood-Pewee, Warblers (Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, some with leg bands), Ruby-crowned Kinglet,

Long-billed Dowitchers, lots of Pectoral Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer, flock of Peeps (Westerns?), Ducks (Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Mallards), American Coots, Common Loon, Sparrows (Fox, Song, White-crowned, Savannah, Lincoln’s), Finches (House, American Goldfinch), Gulls (California, Ring-billed, Glaucous-winged), Marsh Wrens, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Raptors (Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Harrier), Northern Flicker & Downy Woodpecker, Caspian Terns, Barn & Tree Swallows and perhaps a lingering Purple Martin, Pine Siskins(?).  We saw other stuff, but I forget, and I don’t mention common stuff like Red-winged Blackbirds, Towhees, Herons, Crows, Cormorants, Starlings, Doves.   Peter C had Western Meadowlarks and Lapland Longspur on the jetty.

The 25 were: Terry, Roger & Mikie B, Guru Anne M, Richmond Brian & Louise, newbie Richmonders Paul & Carol R, Langley Bob McC, Bird Box Team Chris McV & Jim K & Mike B2,  Roy (Thanks for carrying Scope) & Solveig, Kirsten W, time-challenged Margaretha & Gabriele, reliable David & Noreen, North Deltan Pat (w/o sister Maureen), North Van Richard H, and newbie Toronto visitor Brian & his Vancouver sister Mavis, and me.

There was lots of neat chatter; we got back to the parking lot around 11:30 am when some went home, some continued birding, some went to the Flying Beaver, and I went to hockey.  A grand DNCB outing.

Next Wednesday, Sept. 26, some will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for the White Rock Pier (free parking until 10:00 am).  Plan is to meet at the pier at 8:15 am, walk the pier, then drive to Blackie Spit Park around 10:00.  Time permitting after Blackie Spit, may go to Elgin Park or directly to lunch (Townhall Pub?).

In October – starting October 2 – DNCB Outings will be on TUESDAYS, except for quarterly Birds-On-The-Bay Outings, which, as always, will be on Wednesdays.

I have minor surgery on Wednesday morning, so Roger will provide his legendary anecdotal leadership.  Also, Sandra and I leave Friday night for Western Australia to visit friends and relies, so other DNCBers will be authoring these reporting gems on the weekly outings which you can access on our website.  We return on December 11 for granddaughter’s birthday on the 13th, and Christmas.

Apologies for tardiness of this report, but I have been in Kelowna at BC Nature’s Fall conference, plus cleaning nest boxes at Kings Links Golf Course, playing golf & hockey, grandparent DayCare, etc.  We have a pretty good life eh?

As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these missives are far too annoying and you want off my email list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society    

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Iona, Lapland Longspur, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Long-billed Dowitcher, Northern Harrier, Pectoral Sandpiper, Peregrine Falcon, Purple Martin, Red-tailed Hawk, Sewage Lagoons, Spotted Sandpiper, Western Meadowlark, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-37 Birds on the Bay in Boundary Bay Regional Park

Twenty-five folk enjoyed another beautiful Wednesday morning wandering around Boundary Bay Regional Park (BBRP) on our quarterly Birds on the Bay (BOTB) outing.  The tide was high, the weather was fine, the chatfest was illuminating, and we saw a few neat birds.  Check out the brilliant photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

We met at and left from Cammidge House at 9:00 am. Following introductions, especially of the several Newbies and guests from Calgary, Switzerland, and North Vancouver, we walked along the driveway toward the pond in the park, escorted by a couple of Anna’s Hummingbirds.  The pond was boring with only Mallards, so David took the first mandatory, but painful, Group Photo here.


BOTB at the pond – photo by David Hoar

It was a bit overcast when we got to the beach, and we couldn’t see Mt. Baker in the clouds, but the tide was in, which is rare for us on these outings.  We expected to see Shorebirds, but I guess the tide was too high as none were there.  We know that across the Bay at 104th Street there would be thousands of Plovers and Sandpipers feeding.  Nonetheless, we scoped the birds in the bay and saw Common Loons, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Northern Pintails, American Wigeon and Horned Grebes.  The photogenic Great Blue Herons are always popular.


BOTB at the lookout – photo by David Hoar

Moving to the trail, there wasn’t a lot of activity in the bushes until we got near the boardwalk.  A flock of Bushtits whizzed by.  There were lots of small birds in the reeds, trees and bushes.  With 25 folk we were spread out and having difficulty coordinating our sightings.  Lots of House Finches, Savannah & Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Chickadees and Robins, but most warbler sightings were unconfirmed.  Some saw Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroats.  Perhaps someone heard/saw a Marsh Wren and other usually-seen sparrow species (Fox, White- or Golden-crowned?).  We witnessed Northern Flickers playing, and Cedar Waxwings posing.

Dragging folk from a Downy Woodpecker sighting, we finally got the 2nd Group Photo at the Lookout Tower.  “Beady-eyed” Brewer’s Blackbirds were foraging in the sand while a few Northern Harriers gave us some excitement flying close by.  A perched Cooper’s Hawk was obliging as we walked by our now empty bird nest boxes.  We saw only a very few Tree and Barn Swallows hawking insects high above us.

Approaching the Pump House, the tide was going out so lots of birds were close to us, such as Green-winged Teal, Greater Yellowlegs, and several duck species that we saw earlier further out.  I couldn’t find any bands on the Caspian Terns that were resting among the Ring-billed, California and Glaucous-winged Gulls (and other species?).  An unusual white bird flew off; we surmised it was a Sanderling.  Roger and a few others saw the Franklin’s Gull, a target bird for today.  These BOTB outings are often too rushed, so some of us aren’t able to persistently pursue a bird like a patient birder normally would.

Past 11:00 am we almost raced back along the inland trail to CH.  Mike B2 explained our Barn Owl Box program to a few newbies.  Others enjoyed the wildflowers and bonding chatter.  Earlier, we had seen Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks circling above, but near CH some saw and photographed American Kestrels, which we don’t often see here.  We straggled into CH just past 11:30 am, and were welcomed by the Delta Nats Ladies Rochelle and Elizabeth.

The post BOTB Banquet of home-made delights was its usual success, and not surprisingly wolfed down by the masses. Elizabeth’s shortbread & brownies, Margaretha’s plum pudding (and fresh plums), Sandra’s notorious egg salad sandwiches, and Rochelle’s breads, cheeses, fruits and flowers, were scrumptious, washed down with coffee or apple juice (no beer).  We missed our “godmother” Jennifer and her scones as she is fighting a bug; we wish her a speedy recovery.  Another awesome BOTB outing, and I was home in time to help with Grandparent Daycare.

The 25 were:  newbie cyclist Haddie L, visitors from Switzerland David & Patty and from Calgary Tom & Isabel with their North Van friend Ruth B, 2nd time newbie Pam, hopefully new regular Neil S, regulars David & Noreen, Terry C, our Guru Anne, Roger M, our Bird Box Team of Jim K, Chris McV, Ladner Jack and Mike B2, Rochelle & Don, photog Glen B, gourmet queens Elizabeth & Margaretha, full time Delta Nats from New York, Chief Bill & Carolyn, returning home for the winter (see you next Spring), and me.

Next Wednesday, September 19, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am for Iona Regional Park.  We expect to be at the Iona washroom parking lot by 8:15 am.

For more info on this and other outings, reports and photos, check out our website.  As always, your comments are welcome, and let me know if you want off my email list to receive these weekly meandering missives.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society 

Posted in *DNCB, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, Birds-on-the-Bay, Boundary Bay, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Cedar Waxwing, Cooper's Hawk, Franklin’s Gull, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-36 to Mt. Baker, Washington

Fourteen DNCBers enjoyed spectacular scenery on a beautiful Wednesday on our annual all-day outing to Mt. Baker in Washington State.  And we saw some gorgeous wildflowers and a few neat birds as well.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

Some left Petra’s at 7:00 am and we car-pooled nicely from the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 7:30 am, in four vehicles.  The Border was smooth, and the 1 1/2 hour scenic drive through upstate Washington to the Mt. Baker Park entrance Centre was perfectly predicted by our Super Organizer Terry.  We bought the four Day Passes ($5 each) for our vehicles, then convoyed up the mountain to our first stop at Picture Lake.

Mt. Shuksan mirrored gloriously in the lake for the photogs as the weather was clear and warm (no smoke, only a bit of mist).  Even before David took the Group Photo at a lookout on the lake, we saw a plethora of birds in the surrounding trees and bushes, numbers like we would see no where else on this outing.  Yellow-rumped and a Townsend’s Warbler were the best sightings.

IMG_6931 Picture Lake Group_DH

DNCB at Picture Lake – photo by David Hoar

We also saw Gray Jays in the distance (but not eating from our hands), Sparrow species, Finch species, Flycatcher species, Chickadees, Juncos and Robins.  A few Swifts flew over, probably Vaux’s.  I think for many, munching on the small but scrumptious wild Blueberries took precedence over bird identification.  We circled the Lake path in an hour, which included commenting on the andesite “organ-like” columns which intrigued a few newbies.

We continued up the hill, past the ski shacks and tows, to the Visitor Centre at Heather Meadows.  Being only 11:30 am, before lunch we decided to walk the trail down along the Bagley Lakes in search of American Dippers and American Pipits (Why “American”?)  We just arrived at the river between the lakes, and right on cue was a Dipper and a Pipit.  The Dipper was dipping, flashing its white eyelid, and the Pipit was limping with a damaged leg.  We guessed that he was not destined for a long term with us.  We saw a few more Dippers, then our Time Guru Terry announced that we have seen enough here so let’s return up the hill to the parking lot for lunch.  Of course, that’s what we did.

My lunch of soda crackers with peanut butter, put on with a straw borrowed from Mike, hit the spot (my Swiss Army knife was too short to get into the PB jar).  My visiting high school buddy Brian, from Barrie, passed on the PB but had a Bartlett Pear and a couple of COSTCO granola bars.  I also ate the peanuts I didn’t use to feed the no-show Whiskey Jacks.  No beer; washed down with G Water.  Some walked the nearby circular Fire & Ice Trail (15-20 minutes) before or after lunch looking for grouse or Spotted Sandpipers, but none seen.  The colourful Butterflies gave the photogs some excitement.

Now 12:30 pm we drove to the top and Artist Point.  The huge parking lot there was packed; the Park’s popularity is understandable.  As is our regular itinerary, we walked along Trail 682 toward Ptarmigan Ridge enjoying the spectacular sub-alpine setting.  We were blanked on Ptarmigans and Mountain Goats (seen by many other visitors), but the wildflowers gave us their usual brilliant reds, yellows and purples.  Check out the photos for specie names.  At the start of the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail, we relax and gaze at the glacier base of Mt. Baker.  As is customary, David took another group photo before we trudged back along the cliff side to Artist Point.

IMG_7148 The group at the turn-around point_DH

DNCB on Ptarmigan Ridge trail – photo by David Hoar

No birds seen, not even a Common Raven, nor Picas or Hoary Marmots.  We learned that Golden Eagles have a “secret” nest nearby, but they haven’t been seen for a long while.  We missed the Osprey seen earlier this morning, and we couldn’t ID any Rosy Finches.  We got back to the parking lot approaching 4:00 pm, threw a few snow balls because we could, some complained about not having walked this much in 30 years then, feeling totally satisfied and exhausted, we packed into our vehicles to start the descent downhill.

Someone mentioned beer, so eight of us stopped at Chair 9 Pub near the park entrance.  My 5 buck pint of local Lager draught was glorious.  The drive back to Blaine was filled with the usual inane chatter, but at least it kept me awake at the wheel.  Border crossing was 5 minutes, and we got to the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 5:30 pm, right on schedule as Terry had organized.  Sandra & Susan were excited, and surprised, to see Brian and me home on time.  We wolfed down Sandra’s roasted lemon chicken, baked tomato risotto, home-made bread, key lime pie & cream, washed down with 15 year old Rum, then Brian and I flaked out on our chairs at 9:30 pm, with the TV still blaring.  It was another awesome DNCB outing.

The fourteen were: our super Organizer Terry C, Mike B, Chris McV, Jim K, David & Noreen, Richmond Brian, photog Glen, sailor Colin, North Van Richard, Roger K2, newbie Anita, my Niagara Falls high school friend Brian (aka Dumbrowsky), and me.

Next Wednesday, September 12, is our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park.  We will meet at and leave from historic Cammidge House (CH) at 9:00 am on a 2 ½ hour amble through the park, returning to CH at 11:30 am to enjoy some home-made goodies provided by our Delta Nats ladies.

Also, don’t forget two events tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 8), our last 2018 Car Boot Sale at Centennial Beach, and Day at the Farm on Westham Island where Delta Nats will have their informative, hands-on display.

Check out our website for more info, reports and photos.  And, as always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if you want off my email list to receive these weekly birding babbles of gibberish.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, American Dipper, American Pipit, Artist Point, Gray Jay, Mt. Baker, Townsend's Warbler, Vaux's Swift, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-35 to Sidney Spit National Park

Fourteen DNCBers enjoyed a fantastic, well-organized, all-day outing to an exciting new destination, Sidney Spit, a Gulf Islands National Park off Vancouver Island.  We saw lots of neat birds too; check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

We met on the 7:00 am ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, and yes, Free for us Seniors.  It was a bit overcast, but after wolfing down the famous White Spot Traditional Breakfast on board, most of us stayed at the bow in search of pelagic rarities.  We saw cormorants, a few gulls and one Pigeon Guillemot.  Even Active Pass was quiet.  Not the beginning we were hoping for.  But the conversation was riveting, especially reminiscing/bragging about the past wild and wonderful sightings we’ve had on these ferry trips.

We arrived on time (8:40 am) at Swartz Bay and boarded the double-decker bus ($5 for day pass) to Sidney.  The walk in beautiful downtown Sidney to the Sidney Spit ferry dock was exactly 7 minutes, as Terry predicted.  We got there just before the 9:30 am ticket booth opening, so David took the first Group Photo here.


DNCB waiting for Sidney Spit ferry – photo by David Hoar

From the dock we scoped Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic & Double-crested Cormorants and in the distance Marbled Murrelets, Common Murres and Rhinoceros Auklets.  Return fare on the Alpine Ferry (10:00 am departure, holds 41 passengers and only operates in the Summer) was $16 for the 25 minute crossing to Sidney Island.

On the very smooth crossing, we had closer looks at some of the afore-mentioned pelagic species, and enjoyed the spectacular scenery of the spit and the surrounding Gulf Islands.  At the picnic tables near the dock, from informative signage we learned that Sidney Spit was a National Park Reserve.  Barn Swallows serenaded us, and a few Purple Martins were still hanging around their numbered nest boxes.

We started our walk out the Spit and the array of Shorebird sightings, up-close-and-personal began.  High Tide was receding so our timing was perfect.  A flock of Least Sandpipers were in the first pond.  We have some decent birders in our group, but I must thank our Guru Anne and sometimes irremediable (look it up) Roger, for confirming the identification of the Shorebirds we saw.  To some of us they all look the same, and it’s very confusing, especially for Peeps.

The next group we saw were Western Sandpipers (which we originally thought the Least were).  Then a few Sanderling were running along the other side with a couple of Westerns.  Then we saw a flock of Semipalmated Plovers (like baby Killdeer) that we could all identify.  Then a half dozen Baird’s Sandpipers (longer wings because they fly from Arctic to Antarctic) landed in front of us foraging among the rocks and moss.  Obviously, these flocks were all mixed flocks, and we saw birds among them that looked a bit different, but we couldn’t be sure on ID’s.  We wanted to see a Semi-palmated Sandpiper to round out our Peep sightings.  A Greater Yellowlegs gave a nice fly-past and lots of brilliant Black Oystercatchers there too.

As for Gulls, we came upon a resting flock of California Gulls (black & red on bill tip). Glaucous-winged Gulls, and hybrids, were there too, and I think Ring-billed.  One Gull was photographed trying to swallow a huge Flathead Sole.  Lots of Mew Gulls were seen on the ferry crossing, but we were blanked on expected Bonaparte Gulls.

The walk along the length of the Spit to the Lighthouse and back was a very comfortable and enjoyable 2 hours.  It warmed up nicely; I felt like a swim, but didn’t.  We did not see any Common Nighthawks which they claim nest there.

At 12:30 pm we gathered for our picnic lunch at the tables.  No beer!  I didn’t need much after the huge Ferry Breakfast; a boiled egg, apple, Anne’s plum, bread, peanuts, granola bar and water hit the spot for me.  Lots of Sparrows surrounded us at lunch, mostly White-crowned, but Song and Savannah also seen.  PB Lorna’s Belted Kingfisher also joined us.

After lunch we began our walk toward the treed part of the island and the campground.  A Downy Woodpecker was pecking around one of the many holes in trunks made by Pileated Woodpeckers.  Several Red-breasted Nuthatches were calling, and some saw a number of Warblers including Yellow-rumped, Yellow, and Common Yellowthroats.  A Turkey Vulture flew over while Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Juncos and Northern Flickers were in the trees.  None of the apparent 1200 Fallow Deer on the island were seen.  American Goldfinches were feeding on Thistles.  It was another pleasant hour-long Lagoon Trail circular walk.  We got back to the pier approaching 2:30 pm in time for the 3:00 pm ride back to Sidney.


DNCB return to Sidney Opera House – photo by David Hoar

The walk in Sidney to the bus stop was interesting for the neat sculptures and “arty” shops along the way (my home-made ice cream sandwich was delish).  We caught the 4:00 pm bus to Swartz Bay then the 5:00 pm ferry back to Tsawwassen.  It was very pleasant on the ferry’s bow among the Islands, and we saw a few Harbour Porpoises, but some of us spent a lot of the return trip seated, examining the insides of our eye lids.  I was exhausted.

The bus from the terminal to the Ladner Bus exchange was efficient, and cheap (free using Ladner Jack’s Compass Card) and Richmond Brian got me home at a timely 7:15 pm.  We had a super organized venue, super views and sightings, with a super group of DNCBers on a super day.

The Fourteen were: Organizer Terry C, Roger M, Guru Anne M, David & Noreen, “almost lost” Jean & Pauline, PB Lorna, North Van Richard, Richmond Brian, North Delta’s Alan & Liz, Ladner Jack Mac and me.

Next Wednesday, September 5 is our annual day-long outing to Mt. Baker, again organized by the irreplaceable Terry Carr.  Leaving Petra’s at 7:00 am, the group will car-pool from the Peace Arch Park parking lot (behind the Duty Free Shop) at 7:30 am.  More details about this trip on our DNCB Maps page.

Also, don’t forget our first 2018/19 monthly Delta Nats meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4 at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen at 7:30 pmAnne Murray will be giving a presentation on her recent Birding Adventures in China.  All welcome to join us.

As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if you want off my email list to receive these far-too-long missives simply bragging about my good times.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Baird’s Sandpiper, Black Oystercatcher, California Gull, Common Murre, Harbour Porpoise, Least Sandpiper, Marbled Murrelet, Mew Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Purple Martin, Rhinoceros Auklet, Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover, Sidney Spit National Park, Turkey Vulture, Western Sandpiper, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2018-34 to Maplewood Flats, North Vancouver

Twenty DNCBers enjoyed a very pleasant Wednesday morning wandering the trails and mudflats of Maplewood Conservation Area in North Vancouver.  Check out some beaut photos on our DNCB Flickr site.

Eleven of us left Tsawwassen (Petra’s) at 7:30 am, car-pooling nicely in 3 vehicles but each took a different route, through Vancouver to North Van.  The traffic was okay to start for morning rush hour, but predictably there was an accident on the Second Narrows Bridge which held us all up.  So it took us all about an hour and 20 minutes to get to the Nature Hut and 1940’s Squatter Cabins at the Park entrance, where the others were patiently waiting.  We had the customary preliminary gabfest and introductions, then David took the Group Photo, with a Doe and Fawn Black-tailed Deer resting on the ground behind us.


DNCB at Maplewood flats (left, behind Jim, is deer) – photo by David Hoar

Before starting our walk, we studied the Enclosure of Feeders and the abundance of American Goldfinches, House Finches, Spotted Towhees and Bushtits in attendance.

Not a lot of bird activity in the trees as we strolled the trail to the mudflats overlooking the pylons of Purple Martin boxes.  The tide was way out and there were still lots of Purple Martins hanging around the nest boxes.  An Osprey was on its nest on another pylon, and there were three others on the mud.  The water’s edge was far away, but we saw, in the scope, Red-breasted Mergansers and Red-necked Grebes, along with a few fishing boats in the inlet.  It was a pleasant morning, and a nice spot to sit on a log and gaze at the scenery.

We continued on, some walking on the mud, others via the trail.  Although quieter than usual in the trees, we did see a number of Flycatchers, one identified as an Olive-sided.  Others could have been Pacific-slope Flycatchers and/or or Western Wood-Pewees.  We also saw Sparrows (Song, Fox, Golden-crowned), Cedar Waxwings, Downy Woodpecker, and lots of Swallows, mostly Barn and Tree, at least one Purple Finch and an Anna’s Hummingbird.  From a lookout onto the mudflats, Ladner Jack got a photo of two shorebirds blending in on the rocky shore; they look like Spotted Sandpipers.  Lots of Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants there too.

As we crossed the bridge to the larger forest section of the park, the two deer seemed to be following us.  Some of us were concerned by the crippled front leg of the Doe, but a regular at the Flats said she had been like that for several years, and was still producing fawns each year.  Apparently it’s bad arthritis.  Another visitor saw a Garter Snake.  We didn’t see much more; blanked on our usual sightings of Band-tailed Pigeons and warblers.  A Northern Flicker aroused a bit of interest as it pecked around a large cavity in a dead tree stump.  We got back to the Nature Hut around 11:15 am, and twelve of us decided to go to lunch at the nearby Deep Cove Brewery on Dollarton Highway and celebrate Jim K’s Birthday.


Happy Birthday, Jim! – photo by David Hoar

Lunch with Happy Birthday singing was awesome, along with my Bay Shrimp Sandwich with a huge “sour” Dill Pickle, and a scrumptious sleeve of their Helles Lager.  Roger dropped me off at the Riverport Cinema in Richmond around 1:30 pm so I got to see most of Christopher Robin with Sandra and granddaughter Juliette.

The twenty DNCBers included: North Delta’s Deborah Jones and her brother Cedron and Sarah visiting from Montana, 2nd timer North Deltan Thomas was with our sisters Pat & Maureen, long-time DNCBer Marylile now living in North Van made a welcome return appearance, the three Musqueteers Jim, Chris & Ladner Jack, Gerhard enjoyed the Blackberries, North Van Richard H raced ahead, David & Noreen brought PB Lorna and photog Glen, Marion S brought her famous apples, Roger and Terry were stuck with me in the van.  Another super DNCB outing.

Next Wednesday, August 29 is our first outing to Sidney Spit off Vancouver Island, meeting on the 7:00 am ferry to Swartz Bay.  Terry has organized this outing, and there are elaborate and explicit instructions on the 2018 DNCB Outings page.  Check them out, and other reports and photos.

It’s been a busy week with the International Ornithological Congress here, along with Vancouver’s International Bird Festival, but fun too.

As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these weekly meandering missives are so annoying that you want off my email list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Black-tailed Deer, Cedar Waxwing, Garter snake, Maplewood Flats, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Osprey, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Purple Finch, Purple Martin, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Spotted Sandpiper, Western Wood-Pewee | Leave a comment