Casual Birding Outing # 104
On a beautiful Wednesday morning, August 11, Don & Rochelle joined us at Petra’s before seven participants (Rick & Marg, John & Kay, Lorna, Terry and me) left for Point Roberts USA where we birded Lily Point Park then Lighthouse Marine Park. We parked at the cemetery entrance at Lily Point where the “yank” of a Red-breasted Nuthatch caught our attention. When we found him, he was joined by a Brown Creeper. It was neat to see the two together, characteristically one climbing up and the other down the trunk. Along the path we heard and saw several more nuthatches, as well as a few Downy Woodpeckers, Cedar Waxwings, Rufous Hummingbird and other common LBJ’s.
At the cliff lookout, the view was spectacular out toward the San Juan Islands, over the water where Boundary Bay meets the Strait of Georgia. There was a Harbour Seal on one rock and several Cormorants on another. We saw both Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants. Two juvenile Bald Eagles were perched on a tree below us, near the nest. A couple of Red-tailed Hawks soared above and below us. We descended to the beach and wandered the rocky shore, past the stumps/pilings of what remains of the fish plant that was active I was told early in the 20th century. Between the cliff and the rocky shore is a decent-size grassland, even with fruit trees (e.g. not-yet-ripe sour tasting apples). We saw a couple of White-crowned Sparrows and a flock of colourful American Goldfinches. Among a flock of gulls we noticed the black head of a smaller Bonaparte’s Gull. He took off before we could get decent photos. While watching a flock of about 50 Harlequin Ducks (mostly juveniles), a male Belted Kingfisher landed on a rock near them. Interestingly, we found several Mud Shark carcasses along the beach. We also found a Pigeon Guillemot carcass in the grass a bit in from the beach. The red shaft of a Northern Flicker caught our attention on the climb back up the cliff trail.
We passed some elegant homes on a circuitous drive to Lighthouse Park. Our first sighting at the park parking lot was the salmon jumping out of the water. Not many birds around compared to winter when there are thousands of ducks here. We saw more Harlequin Ducks, fly pasts of White-winged Scoters, the two Cormorant species and one or two Common Loons. A small flock of Sanderlings entertained us as they fed on the beach in front of us. I guess the coup-de-grace for the day was the Orcas passing in front of us. Peter, the Whale-Watch guy, had hinted to us earlier that they would be coming, and we watched them for about an hour. Lorna counted 63 whales from the three resident pods (J,K,L), each one earning a “Holy Cow” as it surfaced. Peter said there were 70 plus here of the 87 known/identified animals in these three pods. Before leaving and joining the 45 minute border queue, we toured the Orca Center, enjoying the info, photos and quiz about the Killer Whales that frequent these waters and, of course, we took the obligatory group photo. Check out Rick’s photos of today’s outing at: http://picasaweb.google.com/crossfyre/DNCBPointRoberts#. Terry took lots of good shots too, especially of the whales.
The delay in drafting this report is because I have been busy golfing, moving plants in our garden, and enjoying the theatre; last night was Glengarry Glen Ross with Eric McCormick (of Will and Grace fame) and tonight was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Theatre Under the Stars at Stanley Park. All fun stuff.