Update to this blog: though many had moved on, a few Snowy Owls lingered until early May – the last one was seen about May 8! We had a cool spring in the delta so they obviously didn’t get the urge to head north.
There were not too many Snowy Owls on Boundary Bay this last Sunday (March 18). Just six owls were seen at the 72 Street location, Delta, mostly sitting on logs near the dyke. This is quite a reduction from the 35 or so we saw here in December but the last week has seen increasingly mild temperatures and sunshine. Time for them to head north.
Sadly, not all the Snowy Owls made it through the winter, with about five or six fatalities known about. Many of the visitors were juvenile birds and their ability to hunt and find food may not have been the greatest. Disease and stress have also been hypothesized as causes.
This winter, many visitors ‘found’ Boundary Bay and its dyke trail for the first time. It is a great place to visit at any time of year, even when the owls are not here. Northern Harriers will be nesting in the marsh, shorebirds passing through on the mud flats and beaches, and there are big flocks of Brant (geese) at the Beach Grove end of the Bay. The dyke trail is 22 km long and on the west side of the bay there is the main part of Boundary Bay Regional Park to explore. The entrance to the dyke at 104th Street, Delta (parking at the Heritage Air Park) allows access to the east end of the bay, which is a good location in late March – April for migrating shorebirds en route to the north.
Spring is also the time to look for grey whales in Boundary Bay. They are best seen from the Crescent Beach to White Rock stretch of coast.