The Delta Nature Casual Birders headed to Elgin Park in South Surrey this morning and it was a good choice of destination. Despite a forecast of rain today, it was a calm, blue-sky day, Pacific tree frogs were calling, and birds were plentiful. The park lies beside the Nicomekl River where salmon were leaping and splashing and a Belted Kingfisher dived for smaller fish, while Great Blue Herons watched from the shallows. Both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs were feeding and calling along the shoreline, as the tide receded. Further downstream we encountered a dozen or so Long-billed Dowitchers in a side slough, a Marbled Godwit, 3 Black-bellied Plovers and one of the beautiful Golden Plovers – probably Pacific. It’s tail and primary wing feathers stuck out about equally, and it’s plumage was suffused with golden yellow. All four plovers were feeding on mud worms that they were pulling out of the sand burrows with relish. Small songbirds were also much in evidence, with chickadees, Bushtits, juvenile Yellow-rumped Warblers, House finches and Goldfinches all active, flocks of Cedar Waxwings and American Robins, and a sprinkling of sparrows – White-crowned, Song and one Savannah Sparrow. Fungi were beginning to emerge under the trees. We found sulphur tufts and golden amanita, as well as the usual cinder conks and turkey tails growing on fallen logs. A bit of rain and there will be many more species.
Elgin was one of the first European communities on this side of the bay and several older buildings remain, including Stewart Farm in Elgin Park. The forest patch here was originally logged in the 1890s, when it produced some of the largest Douglas-fir ever recorded in BC. The second growth forest of Douglas-fir, Western Redcedar and Bigleaf and Vine Maples, is a peaceful spot on the edge of the wetlands and provides a wonderful diversity of habitats in this park.