DNCB Birds on the Bay Outing No. 2017-09 in Boundary Bay Regional Park

BOTB birders ready to start (minus photographer Terry Carr) click on photo to see large version

Photos by Brian Avent (BA), Roger Meyer (RM), Terry Carr (TC), Glen Bodie (GB), Pat Smart (PS), Maureen Sinilaid (MS), David Hoar (DH):  more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Twenty-five participants, including five Newbies, enjoyed a mild and sunny Wednesday morning on our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park (BBRP). Check out some beaut photo evidence on our Flickr site at:  www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-09 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

We all met at historic Cammidge House at 9:00 am.  Following introductions, and Terry’s first Group Photo, we walked on the road toward Centennial Beach.  Several Bald Eagles were roosting in surrounding trees.

As we approached the native plant garden at the pond, we saw a few Brewer’s Blackbirds that are often there among the Red-winged Blackbirds and Starlings.

Two female Bufflehead were in the pond with the Mallards and American Wigeon.

We wandered onto the beach and nine Black Oystercatchers were flipping shells at the shoreline.  Several Sanderling were among them too, all close for good views.

In the distance was a huge raft of mostly Surf and some White-winged Scoters (about 1000 birds).  With our super scope we were able to see some Common Goldeneye among them.  Impressive sightings, especially for the Newbies.

20 BOTB Birders at the Lookout (photo by Roger Meyer) click on photo to see large version

We continued along the trail past the closed restaurant looking for early migrants.  In the bushes, we saw common stuff, Sparrows (Fox, Golden-crowned, Song), Spotted Towhees and several Anna’s Hummingbirds, but were blanked on Warblers and Swallows.

Hearing birds would have been accidental as the Chatfest among new friends took precedence over birding, and happily so with us “casual” birders.  We did hear a Marsh Wren, but didn’t see one.  Most were ecstatic about walking in such an idyllic spot with the sun shining.  A passing park visitor on grandparent duty took the obligatory Group Photo of our smiling crew at the Lookout.

Continuing along the dike path toward the Pumphouse, more rafts in the distance looked up-close-and-personal through our magical scope, graciously carried by our very own DNCBer Fisherman Roy.  One raft was Greater Scaup, another of Northern Pintail and Wigeons.

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raft of Greater Scaup (TC)

Small flocks of Yellowlegs flew by, and one Greater Yellowlegs posed close to shore for us.

Green-winged Teal were close too, but we  couldn’t find a Common Teal.  Some saw a Cooper’s Hawk and others a Red-tailed Hawk soaring above, and we finally saw one of the resident Northern Harriers.

At the Pumphouse, our Guru Anne pointed out the Gull species, i.e. Mew, Western, Ring-billed and Hybrids among the Glaucous-winged Gulls.

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mostly Mew Gulls (BA)

A number of participants were impressed (one is a number).  Gadwall were in the Pumphouse pond.

We took the inland trail back, pointing out the seven new Tree Swallow Bird Nesting Boxes we installed last week.  We saw several Northern Flickers, Robins, more Hummers and Chickadees, but nothing unusual, other than the weird resident Northwestern Crow with white wings.

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No one cared as most were more excited to get back to Cammidge House to enjoy the Delta Nats Ladies’ array of scrumptious home-made goodies.

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Cammidge House hosts (RM)

We were not disappointed, arriving at 11:30 am to the smiles of Jennifer, Elizabeth, Rochelle and Don.  It was another fantastic Birds on the Bay outing, and I was almost on time to play my regular Wednesday Noon Hockey.

Next Tuesday, March 14, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for Serpentine Fen, meeting at the parking lot by the Barn Owl barn around 8:00 am.

Don’t forget Scotch Broom Removal (only 2 hours) this Saturday, March 11, meeting at the 12th St. Park entrance at 10:00 am.  Check out our Nats website for more info, reports and photos, and, as always, let me know if these boring missives are annoying and you want off my e-mail List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, BBRP, Birds-on-the-Bay, Black Oystercatcher, Centennial Beach, Cooper's Hawk, Mew Gull, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-08 to Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

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Snowbirds at QE Park – missing photographer Roger Meyer

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Fourteen DNCBers enjoyed a weird but magical Tuesday morning of birding at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.  Check out the spectacular photo evidence on our Flickr site:  www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-08 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Two vehicles with 6 folk (Mike with Terry, Syd and Margaretha, and me with Roger) car-pooled from Petra’s at 7:30 am, and it was horrendous.  The tunnel was okay in the HOV lane, but the rest of the drive to and over the Oak St. bridge and through town was bumper-to-bumper.  It took 1 ¼  hours and we got to the QE Park parking lot at 9:50 am.  The others, including our newly appointed Expert & Leader Jeremiah Kennedy, were patiently waiting as beautiful white snowflakes fell upon us from a surprisingly clear blue sky (explanation: moving clouds).  It really was a magical setting.  Roger took the Group Photo by the empty Golf Course office, with no Hummingbird Feeder present.  Check out the Christmassy photos on Flickr.

The other seven in addition to the aforementioned 7 were: Roy & Solveig, Ken & Anne, Richmond Brian, Bird Box Peter and Aussie Nance.

We started our walk through the Park and it was uncharacteristically very silent of birds, but we probably wouldn’t have heard them anyway over the normal DNCB chatter.  We did see the occasional Anna’s Hummingbird, and the usual Chickadees, Fox (Sooty) and Song Sparrows.

Small flocks of Pine Siskins flitted in the tops of conifers, feeding on the pine cones.  We heard the now-distinctive call of Varied Thrushes and some got nice shots of them.

Near the Love Lock Structures, we got excited watching a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches going in and out of a freshly made hole in a dead tree trunk.

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Anna’s Hummingbird (TC)

Ken spotted a Brown Creeper climbing up another tree trunk, but interestingly, this bird turned out to be an Anna’s Hummingbird weirdly flitting up and down the trunk.

We continued on through the “owl trees”.  We were blanked on seeing the resident Barred Owls, but did dissect a couple of pellets, one containing a squirrel skull.  The pond was mostly frozen and there were only a few Mallards, American Wigeon, Canada Geese and Gulls present.

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Glaucous-winged Gull (BA)

Golden-crowned kinglets were in the trees, and Jeremiah phished a couple of  Hutton’s Vireos.  Birds were so few, we got excited when three Starlings flew over.  Although we counted only 23 species seen, the outing was particularly interesting as Jeremiah explained many of the plant species as well as both the history and future of the park.  And it was so nice to get real ID’s of birds rather than the normal “guesses” from Roger.

We got back to the parking lot just after 11:00 am.  Before going for lunch, we checked out the four Northern Flickers in the trees on the other side of the gardens.

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Northern Flicker (BA)

We met Ken & Anne again as they had left our group earlier to get warm in the Conservatory, and see a lot more than 23 species of beautiful tropical birds.

We thanked Jeremiah, then ten of us went for lunch in the Locus Pub on Main Street (The Main on Main was closed and wouldn’t let us in before Noon).  Peter had Arctic Char, and I had the breakfast special of poached eggs, bacon, beans, fruit cup, toast, and of course, a pitcher of 1516 Beer.  Everyone was very pleased with their choices, the service and the price, so we’ll do this joint again.  The drive home, with Roger providing more interesting history of downtown Vancouver, was smooth and quick via the Knight Street bridge. Another awesome DNCB outing.

Next Wednesday (not Tuesday), March 8, is our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park, meeting at and leaving from Cammidge House at 9:00 am, and finishing there at 11:30 am with goodies made by the Delta Nats Ladies.

Also, don’t forget our DNS monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, March 7, with Anne Murray presenting on Wild, Hot and Birdy Australia.

Check out our DNS website for more info, reports and photos. As always, comments encouraged and please let me know if you want off my e-mail List to receive these too lengthy and boring missives. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society 

Posted in *DNCB, Hutton's Vireo, Queen Elizabeth Park | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-07 to Blaine and Semiahmoo Bay, Washington

Photos below by Brian Avent (BA), Terry Carr (TC) & Pat Smart (PS)
more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Ten happy DNCBers enjoyed a magical morning of birding around Drayton Harbour in Blaine Washington, seeing lots of neat species, some uncommon. Check out the spectacular photo evidence on our Flickr site:  www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-07 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Only three of us (Terry, on-time Margaretha and me) left Petra’s at 7:30 am and met sisters Pat & Maureen at the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 8:15 am.  No line-up at the Border and we crossed easily to meet the others at Blaine Marine Park at 8:30 am.  Marion, Jean, Pauline and returnee Richmond Bill D were excited to see us, so we took the Group Photo with White Rock behind us.

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DNCB early birds – photo by Terry Carr

Richmond Brian A met us at the Harbour lookout, so we recruited a dog walker to take the second Group Photo there with all ten of us.

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DNCB at Blaine Harbour – photo by Terry Carr

As for birds, not much at the first stop, only Surf and White-winged Scoters in the distance and a few Black Oystercatchers flying by.  House Finches, Juncos and Golden-crowned Sparrows were noisily feeding in the bushes.

The Lookout wasn’t packed with birds either as it usually is.  We saw a few Horned Grebes and a couple of Red-necked Grebes, Common Loons, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye.

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Lots of Gulls but very few Cormorants, and a herd of Harbour Seals.  Walking back to our vehicles, some saw a Pied-billed Grebe

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Pied-billed Grebe (TC)

and we heard the resident Belted Kingfisher but I didn’t see it (but didn’t much care either).  We stopped at the Marina and walked among the boats.  On entering the Marina, I mentioned that I have only seen a few Eared Grebes, here and at White Rock several years ago.  Then, a weird Grebe dove in front of me, and Richmond Brian identified it as an Eared Grebe.  We excitedly called everyone and got great looks and photos.  Interesting stuff eh?  Some saw a second Eared Grebe too.

We left the Marina and stopped at the boat ramp near the railroad tracks.  Lots of Northern Pintail, a neat pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye, and some “Almost Brant Geese”.

More Greater Scaup in the harbour and Black Oystercatchers on the rocks.

Continuing on through Blaine around Drayton Harbour, we next stopped at the Museum parking lot in Semiahmoo Bay Park.  We normally see all three Scoter species from the Bay Lookout here, but the water was rough and there were only a few Surf and White-winged in the distance.  The Harbour side was a different story.  Lots of beauties here.  One of our Destination species, the Canvasbacks were not too far out and we all got great looks, especially through our million dollar Scope (no Redheads seen).

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Canvasbacks (BA)

Large rafts of other species too, including Bufflehead, Greater Scaup (not sure about Lesser), Scoters (but no Black seen today), Common Loons (could have been some red-throated), then a huge raft close to shore of Red-breasted Mergansers.

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Red-breasted Merganser (BA)

Many of the waterfowl seen today were in brilliant breeding plumage.

We moved on closer to the Semiahmoo Marina where Sanderling and Black Turnstones were rummaging along the shore. Lots of Double-crested Cormorants on the wooden dock, Sanderling among them.  We did see a few Pelagic Cormorants, but no Brandt’s.

Interestingly too, the large rafts of ducks here were White-winged Scoters and Greater Scaup.

Brilliant Harlequin Ducks swam close to shore and jumped onto the dock for photo ops.

As we looked at Horned Grebes in the marina bay, two were different; they were another Destination species, Ruddy Duck.  We all got great looks and photos.

Continuing along the walkway toward the marina restaurant, some saw and photographed

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Bewick’s Wren (PS)

a Bewick’s Wren, certainly not commonly seen there.

At the big Lookout behind the Resort Restaurant was a huge raft of several hundred Pacific Loons.

Among them was another Destination species, Long-tailed Ducks.  More Grebes here too, but we didn’t see any Westerns, so only a four-grebe day.

It was approaching Noon, and I had a dentist appointment at 2:00 pm so we couldn’t stop for our usual lunch at the elegant Semiahmoo Resort Restaurant.  Not sure whether Pat, Maureen and Brian did.  Anyhow, Terry, Margaretha and I crossed the Border very quickly, and comfortably, in my new Range Rover, and discussed how enjoyable and productive our Blaine outings are.  In the fields along 99, we saw Trumpeter Swans, Snow Geese and Red-tailed Hawks.  Margaretha’s tasty dried plum skins helped alleviate my starving.  After dropping them at Petra’s, I stopped at McDonald’s take-out and ate a couple of Cheeseburgers on the way to the dentist, with a “Root” Beer.  Nonetheless, another awesome DNCB outing.

Next Tuesday, February 28, our destination will be Queen Elizabeth Park.  Hopefully a tanned Roger will lead us and we’ll meet at the QE parking lot near the golf course around 8:15 am.

Don’t forget:
1) the Raptor Watch at 72nd St on Boundary Bay dike on Saturday, Feb 25, 10:00 am to Noon, and
2) Heritage Day at Cammidge House on Sunday, Feb. 26, Noon to 3:00 pm.
Also, for more info and photos, check out our website, and, as always, let me know if this “rambling drivel” annoys you and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Oystercatcher, Blaine Marine Park, Canvasback, Drayton Harbor, Eared Grebe, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Red-tailed Hawk, Ruddy Duck, Semiahmoo Spit, Trumpeter Swan | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-06 to Ferry Terminal, TFN, Reifel Bird Sanctuary & Alaksen NWA

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DNCB at Reifel Bird Sanctuary (RM)

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Check out photos on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-06 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Our trip today is the one we cancelled last week due to the snow and ice on the roads.  Today, the weather has cooperated with  a slightly overcast sky but much warmer temperature.  A small group, Terry, Mike,  Gerhard, Val and myself, Roger (filling in for our absentee leader, Tom who is off in the wilds of Ontario) met at Petra’s and left at 7:40 for the ferry terminal.

We stopped at the usual pullout, where we were met by Brian, Pat and Maureen; our total was now 7.  We had a quick scan, but there were very few birds on the water on the north side… a few Horned Grebes and a Common Loon.

In the distance between the two ports, a small raft of White-winged Scoters were barely visible.  The same was true on the south side where we had dodged cars to get a look.

Brian suggested looking for the Whimbrel which has been reported as usually being seen near the condos at the foot of the jetty so we headed to the terminal, made the turn, and stopped at the first viewing area in the “no stopping” zone where the cars are unloaded from the ferries.  On parking, right in front of us on the rocks was a pair of Black Oystercatchers and the Whimbrel!

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Talk about luck!  Nothing much was on the water there except a few more Horned Grebes, a Common Goldeneye, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and some Surf Scoters.

Our trip through the TFN lands provided nothing except a few Bald Eagles, but at the end of the road where it meets the overpass we stopped at the recently formed ponds where we had a number of duck species including Gadwall, Ring-necked, Northern Shovellers, Mallards, American and Eurasian Wigeon, Buffleheads, and a male Northern Harrier cruising overhead.

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We’ll have to pay greater attention to this new gem in the future.

The remainder of the roads to the river offered only a few ducks in the farm fields, mainly Mallards and Wigeon and a few Red-tailed Hawks.

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Red-tailed Hawk (GB)

We had hoped to see a Northern Rough-legged Hawk as there are a few in that area but none to be seen today.  On the usual stop on the dyke we saw a number of Red-breasted Mergansers, Trumpeter Swans towards the mouth of the river and a few Double-crested Cormorants.  Somewhere on the way we seemed to have picked up Marion bringing us up to 9!

The parking lot at Reifel was busy as there was another group getting ready with their equipment.  Marion recognized them as photographers taking a course with two well known experts.  I didn’t get all the details, but they were getting prepared to lie on the ground with their yoga mats (I’m sure Marion can provide you with more detailed information).  We were joined  by Glen, Margaretha, Roy and Solveig bringing us up to that magic number 13!  Once on to the trail we were joined, at some point, by David for our final total of 14.

We started off by spending some time looking for the White-throated Sparrow that has been there for some time now… but not today!  I have included, though, a photo taken a few days ago showing the bird that we would have seen.

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White-throated Sparrow (RM, seen at Reifel Feb. 11, 2017)

The regulars were at the usual spots: three Black-crowned Night Herons, eight Sandhill Cranes, etc.

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On the slough there were Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Shovellers, Hooded Mergansers, etc.  Again, the usual suspects were on the north trail but not wanting to be hand-fed… overfed already, or getting getting wary the way they do when they are mating?

At one point someone (modesty prevents me from naming him) noticed a Sora running across the trail and into the undergrowth where several of us had obstructed looks at it as it moved through the tangled vegetation.

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Virginia Rail (TC)

Terry managed a photo and it was determined to be a Virginia Rail.  Now, embarrassment prevents me from naming the person who had identified it as a Sora!  At the junction of the north and west trail, Brian was able to locate a Saw-whet Owl fairly high up, and quite open, and in a tree where we often find a Barred Owl!

From the blind at the north end of the west trail Gerhard located three Hooded Mergansers on the water.

We decided to take the group photo on the viewing tower.  So we organized on the second tier, oblivious to the fact that Tak (well-known bird photographer) was now trapped in the middle of our group and just managed to escape before I took the photo.  Tak was looking for the Swamp Sparrow which requires a lot of patience and quiet and wasn’t too happy about being mobbed so he, and his wife, moved off down the outer dyke to look there… ten minutes later he was swarmed again as we left!

The outer ponds had lots of ducks, mainly Northern Shovellers, and Mallards with a few Green-winged Teal.

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Green-winged Teal (GB)

Lots of Trumpeter Swans could be seen on the foreshore and a few Northern Harriers searching the marsh.  One tree along the way held a family of Northern Flickers.  In the brush on the inside of the dyke, Brian sighted a Marsh Wren, his second wren of the day, the first being a Pacific Wren along the north trail.  The ponds by the small viewing platform had an enormous number, and variety of ducks, from Mallards,
to Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked, Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, etc.  On the way out we paused to look for the White-throated Sparrow again with no luck.  A Peregrine Falcon made a quick fly-by over the slough and we were finished with Reifel.

Being only 11:30, we decided to have a quick look in Alaksen for the Barred Owls.  No owls, but we did find lots of pellets, one of which we opened to find a vole skeleton inside.  The canal south of the Alaksen road contained a very large number Common Mergansers!

A short, but important discussion, was then taken to decide where to go for lunch, Speeds being the winner!  Ten of us had a pleasant meal accompanied with a beer that Tom had recommended on a previous visit, all-in-all a very pleasant morning.

Tues. 21 February we will go to Blaine/Semiamoo, leaving Petra’s at 7:30 and carpooling from the border park behind the duty free at 8:00.  We will meet others on Marine Drive, near Blaine Marine Park, around 8:15 am.

Roger Meyer

Posted in *DNCB, Alaksen NWA, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Hooded Merganser, Northern Harrier, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-tailed Hawk, Reifel, Ring-necked Duck, Sandhill Crane, TFN, Trumpeter Swan, Tsawwassen Ferry Port, Virginia Rail, Whimbrel | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-05 to Beach Grove Park and Pt. Roberts, WA

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DNCB at Point Roberts – photo by Tony Mitra click on photo for large version

Photos by Brian Avent (BA), Terry Carr (TC), Tony Mitra (TM), Roger Meyer (RM), Jim Kneesch (JK), Pat Smart (PS), Glen Bodie (GB), David Hoar (DH)
more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Twenty-one DNCBers (list of participants at end) enjoyed a brilliant sunny Tuesday morning checking out the Great Horned Owl (GHO) nest at Beach Grove Park, then wandering around several spots in Point Roberts, USA.  Check out some spectacular photos on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-05 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Leaving Petra’s at 7:30 am, we (11) had a convoy of vehicles (poor car-pooling) to Beach Grove Park.  As we wandered into the Park next to the elementary school, lots of little Juncos, Towhees and Robins were in the trees, but no Owls.  Roger led us down the path to where the GHO pair were nesting, closer to the farmer’s field deeper in the park than where they have nested in past years.  As our photogs took shots of the nest, Roger proclaimed that he had never seen the male GHO.  I went a bit further down the trail, and looked back at the nest.  The male Owl was perched about 3 feet above where Roger was standing when he made his Proclamation.  You will see on our Flickr site beaut shots of the nest-guarding future Dad Great Horned Owl.

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We left Beach Grove Park, and smooth sailing through the Border, we got to Lighthouse Marine Park around 8:45 am.  Lots of folk met us there, and the water was high and very wavy in the Strait of Georgia.  We saw a few bobbing birds in the waves including Common Loons, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup and Horned Grebes.

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Close to us on shore were some Black Turnstones.

We walked toward the non-existent “lighthouse” as a small flock of Sanderlings flitted along the shore.  We gathered among the piles of driftwood and Roger and the ILB took the Group Photo as we faced the rising sun and the Strait behind us.  At the lighthouse, we scoped a lot of neat birds including Long-tailed Ducks, Surf and White-winged Scoters,

gorgeous Harlequin Ducks and Sanderling on shore.

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Mew Gulls and both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants flew by and Roger, of course, spotted a Common Murre in the distance.  I’m sure there were Auklets and Guillemots there too but we couldn’t see any well enough to identify them.  Seeing fins of Harbour Porpoises going by was a bit exciting, but no Sea Lions seen today, only Harbour Seals.

As we walked further along and then onto the bush trail, Glen (when not sun-bathing) and Jim got shots of the resident Killdeer.

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Anna’s Hummingbird (DH)

The Park was quieter than normal with few little birds around, but we did see Anna’s Hummingbirds,

 

Song, Fox & Golden-crowned Sparrows, Northern Flicker, etc.  Two Red-tailed Hawks circling above us enchanted Mike.

Leaving the Park we stopped at the pond along Marine Drive.  Several Hooded Mergansers here along with American Wigeon, Mallards and a couple of Green-winged Teal.

Next stop was the Marina where several of aforementioned duck and grebe species were seen a bit closer.  A posing Black Oystercatcher pleased the photogs.  On the Strait side, Roger, of course, sighted a Red-necked Grebe, while the rest of us only saw the Scoters and Scaup.  Lots of Eagles around, as everyone knows now from the CBC News story on Delta’s Eagles.

We drove up to Lily Point Park and went to the Lookout.  We “scoped the Scaup and Scoters” (neat alliteration) below, but mainly just enjoyed the spectacular panoramic views across the Bay to White Rock, the snow covered mountains including Mt. Baker, and the San Juan and Gulf Islands, brilliantly showcased by the sun and clear sky.  Still only 11:00 am we decided to drive to Maple Beach on the east side of the Point near the border.  On the beach were Black Oystercatchers, Sanderling and Black Turnstones, all up-close-and-personal.

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In the Bay was an amazingly huge raft of Scoters stretching across the Bay; estimated 6,000 birds.  Another raft of a few hundred Scaup too, and a couple of flocks (about 20 birds each) of Brant Geese flew by too.

The excitement was just too much for us, and it was approaching Noon, so we decided to leave the Point and have lunch at the Rose & Crown Pub in Tsawwassen (no restaurants open in Pt. Roberts anymore; probably because of Border hassles).  Leila looked after the eight of us very well and my Beef on a Bun with Fruit Cup (on a health kick) was delicious, and cheap, along with a pint of Canadian of course.  I got home before 2:00 pm, in time to take Sandra to La La Land; a very entertaining flick.  Another awesome DNCB outing.

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photo by Roger Meyer – click on photo to see large version

We 21 were: Roger M, Terry C, my chauffeur David H w/o Noreen (Costa Rica bound), Jim K, infrequent newbie Angelika H, North Delta Liz S, ILB Tony M, Mike B, Debbie H and daughter Kathryn (have fun in Perth), Margaretha S, returnee Lidia J,  Richmond Brian A, Glen B, Denise (Uma) K, Rob M and Marylile M, Pat S w/o Maureen, Marion S, newbie Nature Trust Sammy and me.

Next Tuesday, February 7, Outing 2017-06  CANCELLED for safety reasons.

Tuesday, February 14 Roger will meet at Petra’s at 7:30 am and lead the outing to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and then Reifel Bird Sanctuary (White-throated Sparrow?).  I  will be in Ontario for my 58th annual February Weakend to Paint Lake (near Dorset) with a dozen childhood Niagara Falls friends.

Don’t forget our monthly Delta Nats meeting on Tuesday evening (7th) with Peter Ward giving a Presentation on his Adventures in Oman last Fall.

As always, your comments are welcome, keep checking our website for more info, reports and photos, and don’t hesitate to let me know if these long-winded epistles annoy you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom (written on a snowy Friday morning in Delta; what an unusual Winter here!)

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Bald Eagle, Beach Grove, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Common Murre, Great Horned Owl, Harbour Porpoise, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Lighthouse Marine Park, Lily Point Park, Long-tailed Duck, Mew Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Point Roberts, Red-necked Grebe, Sanderling | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-04 to Stanley Park

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DNCB at Stanley Park (photo by Roger Meyer) – click on photo to see large version

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Twenty DNCBers enjoyed a very pleasant Tuesday morning wandering around Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver.  Lots of neat photo evidence on our Flickr site:  go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-04 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Eleven of us car-pooled brilliantly from Petra’s at 7:30 am in three vehicles.  Participant List is at end of report.  The HOV lane through the tunnel was fine, but traffic from Oak Street Bridge to the park was horrendous.  We arrived at the swimming pool parking lot close to 9:00 am (30 minutes late), and the masses were waiting and chomping at the bit. We gathered down at the breakwall overlooking English Bay and the big ships.  The tide was high and the water uncharacteristically calm, and flat as a pancake.  Roger took the obligatory Group Photo of the 18 of us (w/o time-challenged Fisherman Roy and “washroom” Mikie B).

The Bay had some gorgeous waterfowl in brilliant breeding plumage.  Mostly Barrow’s Goldeneye here, but a few Commons too.  David H got a nice shot of pairs of both species in one frame.  Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoters, Bufflehead, Horned Grebe, both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants around too, and a couple of Black Oystercatchers gave a fly by.  We lingered here awhile, enjoying the views and the sun trying to peak through the clouds, then began our walk toward Lost Lagoon.

The Park streams were overflowing too and lots of the common regulars around: Canada Geese, Mallards, American Wigeon and some American Coots.  A pair of gorgeous Wood Ducks was lurking in the bushes near the Lagoon.  Several trees were down and noticeably chewed by Beavers very recently, although we didn’t see any Beavers, Otters or even Racoons this day.  We commented on how few little birds were around other than Towhees, Song and Fox Sparrows and the occasional Anna’s Hummingbird.  Then a flock of about 200 Pine Siskins landed in the trees above us munching on the small cones (Alder perhaps, I am weak on tree species).  Following this excitement, we continued around the “Swan-less” Lagoon, and focussed on the Mergansers.  Several groups of male Hooded Mergansers were displaying around a few females, who also had their hoods stretched out too. Fascinating stuff.  The larger Common Mergansers were brilliant too, but further out and less active.  One of the so-called “expert birders” in our group mistakenly identified a couple of female Hoodies as Red-breasted Mergansers, which are rarely seen in fresh water.  We also tried unsuccessfully to find a Tufted or Greater Scaup among the rafts of Lesser Scaup in the pond.  Of course the photogenic Great Blue Herons posed occasionally along the shore, and Gulls entertained “walking on water”, actually ice.  No Virginia Rails seen or heard in their regular nesting area.

We got back to the parking lot before 11:00 am and decided to go to Beaver Lake in the middle of the park.  We were met here by a big noisy tractor that was clipping the trees and bushes on the trail around the lake.  Very few little birds here too, perhaps scared into hiding by the tractor noise.  However the DNCB Kids had fun hand feeding the Chickadees, both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed.  The lake was mostly frozen, however we saw a few Scaup, Bufflehead, Green-winged Teal and a Wood Duck, and a neat native Douglas Squirrel.  The best entertainment here was a guy flying his Drone. Seeing the lake and trees from above, and then zooming in on us was fascinating.  I learned he paid $1000 for this Drone (packed in a big case), but you can get cheapies for a hundred bucks.  Just a thought.  However, one of our group was not pleased with this drone flying too high, in forbidden airplane space.  We saw a Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker and Dark-eyed Juncos here which I only mention because they were spotted by newbies.

After circling Beaver Lake, it was approaching Noon so we ended the outing and several of the group went for lunch at the Vancouver Yacht Club, I think.  I was devastated to miss the almost-obligatory post-outing Lunch (and beer), but I had a dentist appointment.  I stopped at MacDonald’s in Ladner for a burger just to annoy the dentist with food in my mouth.  Another super DNCB outing.

We twenty were: sisters Pat & Maureen, World Travelers David & Noreen H, newbie Vancouverites Susan M & Gail G, returnees Rob & Marylile, Syd w/o Vivian, Chris & Jim K, Roger & Mike, Roy w/o Solveig, Aussie Nance, surprisingly-early Margaretha, Richmond Brian, Drone Lover Ladner Jack Mac, our Organizer Terry C and me.

Next Tuesday, January 31, we will meet at Petra’s at 7:30 am for an outing to Point Roberts, USA.  Before going to PR, we will spend a few minutes at Beach Grove Park checking out the nesting Great Horned Owls.  We should arrive at the Lighthouse Park parking lot before 8:30 am.

As always, comments encouraged, check out our website for more info, reports and photos, and let me know if you’re exasperated at receiving these literary gems, and you want to be removed from my e-mail list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

Posted in *DNCB, Barrow's Goldeneye, Beaver Lake, Black Oystercatcher, Hooded Merganser, Lost Lagoon, Pelagic Cormorant, Stanley Park | Leave a comment

DNCB Outing No. 2017-03 to White Rock Pier and Blackie Spit

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DNCB at White Rock Pier – photo by Terry Carr click on photo to see large image

more photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Only nine keeners weathered Tuesday’s rain, and enjoyed a surprisingly productive and fun morning at the White Rock pier and then Blackie Spit Park.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-03 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

Vivian drove Chris, and Mike drove Terry and me from Petra’s at 7:30 am. It was cool (but above freezing) and spitting rain, which is much like it was a lot of the morning, but the ride to White Rock was smooth.  We arrived at the parking lot (Free until 10:00 am) above the Pier at about 8:15 am, and Richmond Brian and newbie Langley Ralph were waiting, and bonding.  Gareth joined us a few minutes later, and time-challenged Margaretha arrived as we were leaving the Pier.

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photo by Terry Carr

The water/tide was very high and rafts of Scoters (Surf, White-winged, blanked on Black),

Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Horned and Red-necked Grebes,

Common Goldeneye and Common Loons were all up-close-and-personal near the shore.

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As we were scanning the shoreline Gareth spotted a couple of Dunlin foraging, and then a small flock of Black Turnstones landed near the “White Rock”.  I was unable to ID a Ruddy Turnstone among them, although one had been seen here recently.  While I was searching in vain for a Black Scoter with our “million dollar” scope (which needs a “wiper” for the rain), Mike and Gareth saw a couple of Red-throated Loons just on the other side of the boardwalk.

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by Terry Carr

All these neat sightings kept the bitching about the miserable weather down to a minimum.

We walked to the end of the jetty and Terry took a few Group Photos.  Two Ruddy Ducks diving beneath the roosting Double-crested Cormorants excited me, but didn’t do much for the others.

The sighting of a brilliant pair of Harlequin Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers was neat too, but most of us were more fascinated with Langley Ralph’s 25 year association/membership with the Sailing Co-op that owned and operated six of the sailboats parked along the breakwall.

We could see a DNCB Sailing Birding Outing around the Gulf Islands in our future.  It was getting a bit windy and uncomfortable, and we couldn’t spot any pelagic birds or Long-tailed Ducks, so we meandered back down the pier, enjoying the views of the White Rock hillside and the passing trains.  Approaching 10:00 am, and the end of our free parking, we decided to move on to Blackie Spit.

The Ring-billed Gulls welcomed us at Blackie Spit, but again, the water was very high and no large numbers of ducks were around.  We walked to the end of the spit, where only a little of it was left above water.  A few hundred Dunlin were huddled on the “bit of the spit”, and suddenly they rose and flew off.

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Dunlin raised by Peregrine Falcon (CMcV)

I blamed Chris for scaring them, then saw the Peregrine Falcon fly by and land on a pylon in the Nicomekl River.  We got good views of the Peregrine in the scope, and also spotted a Pacific Loon in the distance, giving us three Loon species for the day.  Walking back to the parking lot, we were surprised by a flock of Wigeon foraging on the grass.  We picked out one Brant Goose and at least nine male Eurasian Wigeon in this flock of about 50, and Gareth pointed out the male American/Eurasian hybrid (Check out photo in Sibley’s Guide, and Terry’s on our Flickr site).

Walking to the Rene Savenye area of the Park, there were surprisingly few little birds around; however we weren’t really looking, and frankly didn’t care.  Chris photo’d a Northern Flicker and Terry a lonely Green-winged Teal.

We got to the Purple Martin pylons and nesting boxes where both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants were roosting with wings spread.

Not much else here until four Common Mergansers landed on the far side.  While scoping them, four birds flew towards us, and then turned away as the screaming “Curlew and Godwits” made even me jump and almost poke my eye out in the scope.  The three Marbled Godwits and lone Long-billed Curlew were indeed beaut sightings, and they landed close by for our photogs.

The excitement of the day was far too over-bearing.  We were all relatively dry, it was about 11:15 am, so we decided to call it a day and go to the Townhall Pub on King George Boulevard for lunch.  Another super decision.  I don’t know why, but Breakfast Specials turn me on after DNCB outings, especially with two glasses of the pub’s Special Draught Beer.  And funnily enough, this eclectic group of seven DNCB weirdoes provided some really entertaining conversation.  Home by 1:30 pm and Sandra was relatively pleased as we entertained new grandson Thomas, while Erica showered.

Next Tuesday, January 24, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am on an outing to Stanley Park.  As usual, we will meet others at the Swimming Pool parking lot, I expect around 8:15 to 8:30 am, depending on traffic.

BTW, watch for the new Delta Nats Facebook Page that Jim K is working on.  As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website for more reports, photos and info, and let me know if these meandering missives annoy you and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Posted in *DNCB, Blackie Spit, Dunlin, Eurasian Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Long-billed Dowitcher, Marbled Godwit, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, Ruddy Duck, White Rock Pier | Leave a comment