more photos at our DNCB Flickr site
Only nine keeners weathered Tuesday’s rain, and enjoyed a surprisingly productive and fun morning at the White Rock pier and then Blackie Spit Park. Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site: go to www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-03 to “DNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.
Vivian drove Chris, and Mike drove Terry and me from Petra’s at 7:30 am. It was cool (but above freezing) and spitting rain, which is much like it was a lot of the morning, but the ride to White Rock was smooth. We arrived at the parking lot (Free until 10:00 am) above the Pier at about 8:15 am, and Richmond Brian and newbie Langley Ralph were waiting, and bonding. Gareth joined us a few minutes later, and time-challenged Margaretha arrived as we were leaving the Pier.
The water/tide was very high and rafts of Scoters (Surf, White-winged, blanked on Black), Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, Common Goldeneye and Common Loons were all up-close-and-personal near the shore. As we were scanning the shoreline Gareth spotted a couple of Dunlin foraging, and then a small flock of Black Turnstones landed near the “White Rock”. I was unable to ID a Ruddy Turnstone among them, although one had been seen here recently. While I was searching in vain for a Black Scoter with our “million dollar” scope (which needs a “wiper” for the rain), Mike and Gareth saw a couple of Red-throated Loons just on the other side of the boardwalk. All these neat sightings kept the bitching about the miserable weather down to a minimum.
We walked to the end of the jetty and Terry took a few Group Photos. Two Ruddy Ducks diving beneath the roosting Double-crested Cormorants excited me, but didn’t do much for the others. The sighting of a brilliant pair of Harlequin Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers was neat too, but most of us were more fascinated with Langley Ralph’s 25 year association/membership with the Sailing Co-op that owned and operated six of the sailboats parked along the breakwall. We could see a DNCB Sailing Birding Outing around the Gulf Islands in our future. It was getting a bit windy and uncomfortable, and we couldn’t spot any pelagic birds or Long-tailed Ducks, so we meandered back down the pier, enjoying the views of the White Rock hillside and the passing trains. Approaching 10:00 am, and the end of our free parking, we decided to move on to Blackie Spit.
The Ring-billed Gulls welcomed us at Blackie Spit, but again, the water was very high and no large numbers of ducks were around. We walked to the end of the spit, where only a little of it was left above water. A few hundred Dunlin were huddled on the “bit of the spit”, and suddenly they rose and flew off. I blamed Chris for scaring them, then saw the Peregrine Falcon fly by and land on a pylon in the Nicomekl River. We got good views of the Peregrine in the scope, and also spotted a Pacific Loon in the distance, giving us three Loon species for the day. Walking back to the parking lot, we were surprised by a flock of Wigeon foraging on the grass. We picked out one Brant Goose and at least nine male Eurasian Wigeon in this flock of about 50, and Gareth pointed out the male American/Eurasian hybrid (Check out photo in Sibley’s Guide, and Terry’s on our Flickr site).
Walking to the Rene Savenye area of the Park, there were surprisingly few little birds around; however we weren’t really looking, and frankly didn’t care. Chris photo’d a Northern Flicker and Terry a lonely Green-winged Teal. We got to the Purple Martin pylons and nesting boxes where both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants were roosting with wings spread. Not much else here until four Common Mergansers landed on the far side. While scoping them, four birds flew towards us, and then turned away as the screaming “Curlew and Godwits” made even me jump and almost poke my eye out in the scope. The three Marbled Godwits and lone Long-billed Curlew were indeed beaut sightings, and they landed close by for our photogs.
The excitement of the day was far too over-bearing. We were all relatively dry, it was about 11:15 am, so we decided to call it a day and go to the Townhall Pub on King George Boulevard for lunch. Another super decision. I don’t know why, but Breakfast Specials turn me on after DNCB outings, especially with two glasses of the pub’s Special Draught Beer. And funnily enough, this eclectic group of seven DNCB weirdoes provided some really entertaining conversation. Home by 1:30 pm and Sandra was relatively pleased as we entertained new grandson Thomas, while Erica showered.
Next Tuesday, January 24, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am on an outing to Stanley Park. As usual, we will meet others at the Swimming Pool parking lot, I expect around 8:15 to 8:30 am, depending on traffic.
BTW, watch for the new Delta Nats Facebook Page that Jim K is working on. As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website for more reports, photos and info, and let me know if these meandering missives annoy you and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society