Upcoming Guided Walks – May 6, 12, and 26

Spring is sprung the grass is ris
I wonder where the birdies is.

So goes the two-line opening of that well-known short poem by Anon.

So, where are the birds? Well, they’re arriving in numbers in our parks right now.

I’ll be leading three walks in May at this very birdy time of year. Please sign-up and join me as we explore Deer Lake Park, and Burnaby Mountain’s birdlife.

The first walk is on Sunday, May 6 offered as part of the City’s Rhododendron Festival.

The Bird Walk tour will run from 8:30am-10:30am

Meeting place will be west side of the SHADBOLT Centre.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Deer Lake Park

The other two walks are part of a series of walks I offer for the City of Burnaby’s Exploring Burnaby’s Parks and Natural Areas program:

Dawn Chorus at Deer Lake – Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day, Saturday, 12 May 2018 Webreg Bar Code 461987

This tour is for the early risers. It’s true the early birds catch the worms, and in this case it will be the early birders who catch the chorus. In spring, birds sing most vigorously and loudly early in the day to confirm their territorial claims and attract mates. This tour will focus on listening to our feathered dawn choristers and learn who’s who from their songs.

Note: Early Start 6:00 am, (3 km walk). Meet at the parking lot on Sperling Avenue next to the children’s playground at the east end of the lake. Access is via Sperling Avenue off Canada Way.

American Robin, Burnaby Mountain Park

Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, Spring Songbirds – Saturday, 26 May 2018 Webreg Bar Code 461988

On this tour we’re going to take a bit of a hike. A moderate to good level of fitness is required. We usually explore Burnaby Mountain’s south slope, but this spring we’re going to take a look at the steeper north side’s forests. A loop that takes in Pandora Trail, Nature Trail, and Ridgeview Trail is our goal. We won’t miss out on the spectacular scenic views that the mountain offers, but our focus will be on spring bird migration in the forests.

Note: Early Start 8:00 am. (6 km walk approx with uphill and downhill sections). Meet at the parking area at the top of Centennial Way, below Horizons Restaurant.

Brown-headed Cowbird – Burnaby Lake Regional Park

Exploring Burnaby’s Parks and Natural Areas General Information

Leader: George Clulow (BC Field Ornithologists) aka the Burnaby Bird Guy

Max participants per trip: 15 people

Participants should dress for the weather, and bring a drink and a snack. Trips go rain or shine.

Trips are approximately three hours, from 9:00 to 12:00, except where noted above.

Trips will focus on the wildlife and natural history of the City’s parks and wild areas, with a particular emphasis on Burnaby’s bird life.

Bring binoculars, and bird guides if you have them. The leader will have a spotting scope for the group’s use.

Sage Thrasher at Burnaby Lake

Sage Thrasher? No, it’s not some kind of intemperate gardener, nor an indignant dweller of the Okanagan Valley, but is actually a thrush-like bird that showed up at Piper Spit this past Monday and Tuesday. Way off-course on its migration, it was a surprise, very rare visitor.

So rare in fact that the Sage Thrasher is classed as an endangered species in Canada, breeding in only very small numbers in the South Okanagan, south-eastern Alberta and south-western Saskatchewan. Canada is the northern limit of its range and numbers are very low here: five to 12 pairs in the Okanagan, and from one to 12 birds in the area of Alberta and Saskatchewn, where it also breeds.

An endemic bird of the western deserts of North America, our visitor was quite a way off its usual migration route through these arid sagebrush regions. Arriving in Burnaby, where sagebrush is rarer than hen’s teeth, it didn’t look entirely comfortable among the moss draped branches and wet, dripping trees. Probably carried here by unfavourable weather in the continental interior, it likely had been blown off-course.

I was lucky enough to see the bird on Tuesday morning following a tip from a birder friend of mine who had seen the bird in poor light and through rain on Monday evening. Unsure of the bird’s identity, he thought it might have been a Sage Thrasher. He was correct, and a number of birders, including me, were very grateful for the sighting.

The skittish bird was active early in the morning, but proved difficult to find for many on Tuesday. Despite searches by many more birders on Wednesday morning, it could not be found again.

It seems to have figuratively turned its back on us, and headed for locales where the sagebrush it needs is available.

The Sage Thrasher is the smallest of the several North American thrasher species in the Mimidae family. Its rather drab appearance is made up for by its beautiful song. Unfortunately, our recent visitor was silent, and who can blame it? Rainy Burnaby must have proved to be an unsuitable landing place when, what you’re really looking for, is a desert.