Friday 19 February 2016

Surrey Lake with Langley Field Naturalists

Feb 11/2016 Surrey Lake Overcast 7c
Over the years I have been on numerous outings with the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN) 
Some trips have been for up to five days long but most are morning or afternoon walks. I have trekked in the Chilcotins and Caribou where we conducted bird counts for Bird Studies Canada. On other occasions I joined them for day long trips to the Skajit Valley and other Lower Mainland locations. This weeks trip was closer to home at Surrey Lake.

Below is a shot of the signage which outlines the Surrey Lake trail system. Entry is off 152 St just north of 72nd Ave.
 Langley Field Naturalists are lucky enough to have a number of top notch naturalists to guide the neophyte's among us. 
One advantage about joining a group like LFN is the chance to learn from more experienced naturalists. Some group leaders like noted naturalist Al Grass will help putting a name to most any tree, fungi, plant or critter.


As we walked around the lake we noted a number of diving and dabbling ducks, mallard, green-winged teal, buffleheads, canvasbacks, northern pintail, lesser scaup. mallard, common and hooded merganser and in the Surrey Golf Course pond a gadwall and a single redhead. The redhead is not that common in the Lower Mainland so that was an extra special sighting.

ID shot of the redhead in the golf course pond (north of the bridge) with two mallards and gadwall. The above shot is taken from 152nd St as there is no legal access to the pond. I asked at the golf club and there is a liability issue. Please don't trespass and besides golf balls can really hurt! 
Tour leader Gareth Pugh (left in picture) and the group. I'm on the right with camera gear. A passerby was kind enough to photograph us. For walks like this I take the Nikon P900 instead of a scope for ID purposes and a Nikon 200mm-500mm in case there are any good photo opportunities. Also the lightweight set-up allows me to keep with the group.

As we walked around the lake and after the dogs walkers had departed the ducks soon dropped their defences and gave us excellent views. If only the owners would clean up and leash their pets everyone would be a lot happier, especially the birds. I hope these images  show some of the potential for birding at Surrey Lake. On previous visits I have also seen virginia rail and later in the year warblers and nesting woodpeckers.

Normally trumpeter swans are found in flocks so it was a surprise find a lone specimen at the lake. Several things come to mind. Was it injured, had it ingested lead shot, perhaps it was just an old bird which no longer had the energy to migrate or perhaps none of those things. On close inspection the bird seemed to be in good health and was actively feeding so it remains a mystery, hopefully it will join a passing flock soon.

Trumpeter Swan

We left the lake behind us and walked the trail past a floodplain. A single second growth tree hosted a pair of bald eagles. A red-tailed hawk's nest was in another smaller tree. As we headed through the woodland section of the park the lack of birdlife made one wonder what would the world be without  birds. As we stopped and listened the forest began to give up its secrets. The sounds of ruby-crowned kinglets and chickadees filled the air, a Bewick's wren skulked in the undergrowth.
Out of the woods and under hydro towers a flock of male house finches fed in a tangle of himilayan blackberries. An anna's hummingbird came to check us out and three fox sparrows scratched back and forth in an effort to unearth insects from the undergrowth.

The walk had ended and as I packed away my camera and was saying my goodbyes a belted kingfisher landed in a tree close-by. When bird plunged into the watery ditch I took the opportunity to grab my camera to move a little closer. She went back and forth five or six times but only once was she on an unobstructed perch. I moved to include as much of the tree trunk into the background as possible. It's one of my better kingfisher shots and perfect way to end the day.
 Female Belted Kingfisher
I'm glad I made the effort to get out on what was a miserable day, by the end of the walk I felt the morning was well spent. Now all I had to do was remember where on earth I had put the shopping list my other half had given me!

Come join us on sometime, we even have a kid's club for the youngsters and check out the LFN Facebook page and website for more details. New members always welcome. Being a member also includes a membership to BC Nature and a quarterly magazine and wealth of information not available elsewhere.

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada


  1. Great post lovely shots of the canvasback, redhead and trumpeter! Always nice to end the day with a kingfisher!

  2. Thanks and so close to home too!