Spring is in the air. Fifteen DNCBers enjoyed a brisk but colourful Tuesday morning outing to the Tsawwassen Ferry jetty, through TFN and Ladner fields, and then wandering around our Mecca, Reifel Bird Sanctuary. There are, and will be, some gorgeous photos on our Flickr site at: https://www.flickr.com/search/?group_id=3027315%40N23&text=2018-09&view_all=1.
Six of us (Roger with Mike B1 and PB Lorna, and Mike B2 & Terry with me) left Petra’s (see note at end) around 7:30 a.m. and met a few others (Richmond Brian, North Delta Sisters Pat & Maureen and newbie Angela A dropped by for a few fleeting moments) at the pull-off on the jetty to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. It was cold and windy, but of course no one was cold because we all know to “dress appropriately.” A Common Goldeneye was close to us and some Brant Geese and Cormorants, both Pelagic and Double-crested, were at the “point” with the Wigeon, Mallards and a Red-breasted Merganser, but no large rafts as we’re used to seeing there. The tide was very high. A flock of Black Turnstones whizzed by, and we saw a couple of the resident Black Oystercatchers. We crossed the road to the south side and more species were spread out there. Bufflehead, Cormorants, Common Loon, Brant Geese, lots of Scoters, and interestingly a pair of “not so common for us” Black Scoters with two female Surf Scoters were very close to shore for our photogs. I saw all three Scoter species there. We moved on quickly, stopping for a few moments at the terminal to see a few Horned Grebes, but couldn’t find the Harlequins. Being “keen & casual” DNCBers, most refused to get out of their vehicles and fight the wind and cold.
We continued on to the Kingfisher Bridge and, of course, no Kingfisher seen, but an Anna’s Hummingbird perched for us. The exuberant PB Lorna (Welcome back Lorna, and thanks for the long-lost and delicious PB sandwich!) was disappointed at not seeing her favourite bird, but continued to smile, chat, and bring joy to her old friends. A raft of Gadwall was in the TFN north pond, but not much else seen there or in the Ladner fields. We were blanked on Meadowlarks and a Northern Shrike, but did see a few thousand Snow Geese feeding in a Westham Island field. We got to Reifel about 9:20 a.m. where returnees Rob & Marylile were patiently and excitedly waiting. Colin, Langley Bob and Pat’s friend Brian (aka Paul) were there too, but not nearly as excited to see us. Also welcoming us in the parking lot were four Sandhill Cranes, dancing like crazy in their pre-mating rituals. This was the first of our “Spring is in the Air” sightings.
We all shared greetings at the Reifel entrance, then began our walk passed the Black-crowned Night Herons (saw three) and the hordes of Red-winged Blackbirds and House Sparrows. Lesser Scaup and Northern Shovelers were in the house pond and both pairs of Common and “mating” Hooded Mergansers in the Fuller Slough. Above us in their regular perching tree, a pair of Bald Eagles was also caught “doing it.” Of course, this spring activity aroused a lot of smiling DNCBers for Roger’s group photo in front of the Snow Geese sign. A flock (five) of Cedar Waxwings almost interrupted our photo shoot.
We continued on along the East Dike trail, searching in vain for the Sawhet Owl (seen Sunday). But we saw lots of gorgeous stuff, up-close-and-personal, which is why we love Reifel. Not only the many Wood Ducks, but also pairs of Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup (and we think Greater too), Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, American Coots, American Wigeon (and a beaut male Eurasian Wigeon) and even Mallards, all in beautiful breeding plumage. A Cooper’s Hawk also posed for us nicely. As for little birds, we saw Golden-crowned Kinglets (maybe a Ruby-crowned too) as well as lots of Song, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Towhees, Juncos, Finches, and the neatest sighting was a flock of a hundred Common Redpolls flitting en masse in a tree along the east dike. We tried in vain to pick out a Pine Siskin among them. Of course, hand-feeding the Chickadees and even the brilliant Wood Ducks, was a treat.
A few of us fought the wind and climbed the tower. Lots of Trumpeter Swans spread out in the marsh as we looked across to Steveston. Northern Harriers and Great Blue Herons soared by fighting the wind too. We avoided the outer trail and returned via the Centre Dyke Trail. No owls seen, but lots more close-up views. Approaching noon, we reached the Reifel entrance where lunch at Speed’s Pub in Ladner was the major decision. I got “the call” for grandparenting relief, so returned home to take the always-active grandson Thomas for a walk to give Grandma Sandra a break. I missed Speed’s lunch, but made Kraft Dinner, of which Thomas ate half. Albeit, it was another super DNCB morning.
Next Tuesday, March 6, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Steveston and meet others around 8 a.m. at Woodwards Landing Campground at the south end of No. 5 Road, where the Blue Jay has been seen. Don’t forget our Nats monthly meeting next Tuesday too at 7:30 p.m. with Eliza Olson giving her Presentation on the Ecology & Threats of Burns Bog. As always, for more info, reports and photos, check out our website at www.dncb.wordpress.com. Your comments are welcome. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society
NOTE: A DNCBer got at $59 ticket for parking behind Petra’s last week. Apparently there is a new No Parking & Towaway sign there and the ticket was issued by the Plaza Authorities.