Photos and trip report by Harvey Dueck
Michelle and I weren’t clever enough to check the website, and so it wasn’t until we arrived at the starting point on the morning of Saturday February 9th that we discovered trip leader, Kelly Sekhon, had cancelled the trip due to the expected foul weather. We decided to go out anyway, at least as far as Terra Nova to look for the Sora that so many people have reported recently.
The weather was cold, but there was very little wind. Since it was just the two of us, we decided to experiment with ebird. You can find our checklist here. The checklist only covers the River Road portion of the walk, as by the time we reached Terra Nova we were weary from the effort of trying to count every bird.
Highlights from the River Road part of the walk were a flock of 400+ glaucous-winged gulls wheeling past and a small flock of red breasted mergansers. There may have been many more gulls than we reported (perhaps more than a thousand), but they were hard to count as most of the flock remained hidden behind some buildings. We only reported the numbers we could see.
One of the reasons we stopped counting at Terra Nova was that the bird numbers went way up. There were at least 1500 Lesser Snow Geese near the entrance. A red-tailed hawk flushed a killdeer and some green-winged teal as we arrived. There were teal, gulls and wigeon along the shore, along with a few great blue herons and northern harriers hunting in the marsh. The hedges were full of the small songbirds that had been absent from the River Road part of the walk, including mainly song sparrows and spotted towhee, but also some robins and purple finches. We did not spot the Sora or the Virginia Rail. There was a photographer who had gone off the trail and was trampling through the frozen marshy area; we wondered whether the Sora was being cautious of him.
Counting all the birds along River Road meant we had travelled quite slowly. We left Terra Nova around 12:30pm and went home satisfied after a lovely outing.