Saturday Adventure at Terra Nova

The sun finally decided to come back out for our last official bird walk of the term, which was held at Terra Nova on Saturday, March 25th. We had a great trip with amazing finds and moments, some of which I will share here.

Our first great find was an American Bittern, spotted by a new participant. It was very well camouflaged in the reeds, but we were very close to it and got the opportunity to take a good look at its streaked plumage and bright green feet. This is probably the first time we encountered this elusive bird during our club outings.


American Bittern (photo by Louis Almario)

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, soon after this we found ourselves in the middle of what seemed to be like a scene from Planet Earth. While we were surrounded by flocks of obnoxious Snow Geese, scanning the Fraser River for waterfowl, we realized one of the creatures diving in the water was not a bird. We’ve seen harbour seals in this area before, so we thought it was just our pinniped friend, but after taking a closer look, it turned out to be a river otter. After disappearing into the water for a couple of moments, it comes back up with something white… and feathered– it had caught a Snow Goose! Perhaps in an attempt to drown its prey, the otter was diving repeatedly with the limp bird in its mouth. Soon, it was joined by two more otters and the feast began: one of our members observed vicious head tearing and feather ripping through the spotting scope, with occasional bobbing of pink feet above the water. Bald Eagles decided to join the party too, and it became an extravaganza worthy of a David Attenborough narration. There were around four juveniles, each swooping clumsily into the water (only to flap back up with feathers) and two adults, who were much more efficient scavengers. The photos below capture some of the moments, but we’ve posted some videos and more photos on our Facebook page so please check those out too!


Juvenile Bald Eagles trying to get their share of the Snow Goose (photo by Louis Almario)


Adult Bald Eagle successfully scavenging from the River Otter’s prey (photo by Louis Almario)

With our heads still spinning from the unreal experience, we headed towards the community garden area. We were hoping to find some redpolls and a Short-eared Owl, but instead we found a Northern Harrier flying over the open fields. We only caught a quick glimpse of it, but we were able to identify it as a male.

All in all, it was a very successful final trip of the term, with great people and birds. Here’s the list of our finds on eBird.
We will try to organize more casual trips without RSVP’s in the upcoming weeks and hopefully during the summer as well, so please stay tuned through our Facebook and newsletters!


Featured image: a juvenile Bald Eagle by the river by Louis Almario.


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