Thanks to the folk at the Fort La Reine Museum we had a great morning out at Delta Marsh on Saturday. We had 5 people join us including the former Delta Marsh Manager, Dr Bob Jones, a huge reservoir of knowledge of the history and biology of this area.
We started off checking for shorebirds at a creek west of the diversion, the site of several thousand migrating shorebirds last August. On this occasion we were limited to a few dozen Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs and large numbers of ducks.
Onwards we headed towards Delta Beach, checking around the diversion but seeing very little of note from the road. Along the road north towards the beach John Hays spotted some movement and eventually we had brief glimpses of 3 Black-bellied Plover flying away. At the Delta Marsh welcome sign there were good numbers of Western Grebe, over 100 in total, and several species of duck. We moved on towards the beach. Following reports of water surges raising the lake levels by up to 5m earlier in the week, it was apparent that there was limited beach available for birds. The advantage of this however was that the shorebirds and miscellaneous gulls were restricted to fingers of beach close to the shore. A mixed flock of Semipalmated Plover (30), Sanderling (12) and Least Sandpiper (2) were certainly the highlight. Behind on the ridge Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Palm Warbler foraged on the dead wood for bugs and swallows battled strong winds seeking the final tasty morsels available before they embark on their long migration.
Finally we headed to the Delta Waterfowl Trail on the south of the beach ridge. Here again were large numbers of ducks, mainly Mallards, Northern Pintail, American Widgeon and Blue-winged Teal. Bob Jones shared some of the history of the marsh and the different groups involved. The final highlight were flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying south, their wonderful sights and sounds, a clear sign that fall is well and truly upon us.
All Sandhill Crane images copyright Tim Poole
Thanks to the small but knowledgeable group who joined us on Saturday and to Fort La Reine Museum. Delta Marsh is a great area to explore with many wonderful birds to find. We will return here again in 2018!