Blog: Birders visit Serpentine Fen and Mill Lake Park

Delta BC

Nineteen, actually 22, DNCBers enjoyed a two destination outing on another sunny Tuesday at Serpentine Fen in Surrey, and Mill Lake Park in Abbottsford. Lighting and weather was super for our photogs, check out the spectacular evidence on our Flickr site at:


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I couldn’t see two feet in front of me while driving in the fog from Ladner to Petra’s at 7 a.m. But it seemed to clear nicely as we drove at 7:40 a.m. to Serpentine Fen, into the brilliant sunrise. Gareth Pugh, our Serpy Expert, was there to meet us. We had our normal introductory greeting and love-in, then Colin and I scanned the barn (of course via the No Entry gate), but only found squirrels and no Barn Owls. It was chilly, but the ice on the trees and bushes sparkled and, as the morning passed, it even rained melting drops under the trees (seemed funny, at least to me).


Very quiet for birds as we wandered to the first Lookout, then the trail through the middle of the park. We saw a few little birds: Kinglets, both Ruby- and Golden-crowned, Bushtits, Anna’s Hummingbird, Finches, both House and Purple, and Sparrows, Song, White- and Golden-crowned, and Brian got a photo of a Savannah Sparrow. I think I/we saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Red-tailed Hawks landed a couple of times to flash their red tails and a Northern Harrier cruised by. Lots of Bald Eagles cavorting and, on the less common side, a Peregrine Falcon flew by and a Cooper’s Hawk posed in a bush.


American Wigeon
American Wigeon - photo by Glen Bodie


As the sky cleared and the sun warmed us, more waterfowl in beautiful breeding plumage were in the thawed bits of water in the fen. We had glorious looks at Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails (also a hybrid Northern Pintail/Mallard, I think), Green-winged Teal, American Coots, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallards and Canada Geese (which were almost Cackling Geese). In the Serpentine River were rafts of Common Goldeneye, Greater/Lesser Scaup, several Common Mergansers, a pair of brilliant Hooded Mergansers and Bufflehead. Someone saw a Pied-billed Grebe and Common Loon. While focussing on the Belted Kingfisher and weird Pintail Hybrid, I missed the flock of Killdeer that flew over.


Time-challenged Margaretha and Gabby met us on the river trail. David had already taken the Group Photo earlier of 17 of us at the beginning of the river trail, so these happy-go-lucky Germanics were not in the picture. We saw lots of other common stuff (Robins, Towhees, Redwings, Chickadees, etc.); 46 species seen today are recorded on our eBird DNCBlist. 


The walk in Serpy Fen was magnificent in the warm sun, but we sort of raced around because some wanted to leave early and go to Mill Lake to see the Cape May Warbler. Thus, we got back to the parking lot around 10:45 a.m. and Mike, Terry, Glen and I left for Abbottsford. We stopped on the way at 128th Street to see the Great Egret, but couldn’t find it. All we found was Angela A who surprisingly had decided to join us.


At Mill Lake Park shortly after noon, we followed the walkway around the lake, along with tonnes of other folk enjoying the nice day. The lake had lots of the same diving duck species (in beautiful plumage) that we had seen in the Serpentine River, but some Ruddy Ducks and Pied-billed Grebe were nice additions to our menu. We found the yellow flower tree (name?) near a boardwalk and almost immediately spotted the magnificent Cape May Warbler flitting from flower to flower. Terry and Glen got their award-winning shots, so we moved on back to the car. The walk around the lake, dodging baby carriages, took about an hour; we also saw more Kinglets, Bushtits, Hummingbirds, American Goldfinches and Juncos. We learned later that DNCBers Marion, Marti and Kirsten had visited Mill Lake earlier this morning and saw the same species.


The hour drive back to Tsawwassen was a smooth nap for me as the boys chatted. Now 2:30 p.m., only Mike and I stopped at the Rose & Crown Pub for lunch. Lovely Leila served us both the Daily Special of ham & egg sandwich with a multi vegetable, potato, mushroom soup which was delicious, especially with a pint of Great Western Brewing’s Original Sixteen Draught Lager. I got home at 3:30 p.m., in time to fill my bird feeders which a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds has found and is costing me a fortune. Nonetheless, it was another awesome DNCB day.


We 22 were:  Langley’s Gareth Pugh, eBirders and photogs David & Noreen, Richmond Brian, our Organizer Terry C and Photog Guru Glen B, Mike B, White Rock’s Colin & Warren, Richmond newbie Angela A, WRSN President Liz, time-challenged Germanics Margaretha & Gabrielle, Photog Pat S, Johnny Mac, Jean G, North Van Richard H, Patrick O’Gee and me, plus the three ladies at Mill Lake Marion S, Marti W and Kirsten W.


On Tuesday, Jan. 22, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Iona Regional Park. We expect to meet others at the Park’s wash room parking lot around 8:00 am. For more info on this and other outings, reports and photos, check out our website at Cheers: Tom


Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society   

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