Seven eager birders, Lorna, Kay, Hans, Gerhard, Marion S, and Mike and Roger met at Petra’s and then departed for Blackie Spit where we met Ken and Anne B. Kay, driving on her own, managed to find us after a few dead ends including Elgin Pond. We lucked out with a beautiful day with moderate temperatures and no wind. On getting out of the cars the first bird we saw on the open water side of the spit was a Marbled Godwit which posed for our photos. Farther out on a sand bar we could just see a Black-bellied Plover still in breeding plumage and a single Bonaparte’s Gull. On both sides of the spit were numerous seals.
A walk out the spit rewarded us with a distant back lit view of the Long-billed Curlew which we had expected to find. Also, in with the Curlew were three or four Greater Yellowlegs. The spit itself was blanketed with wild flowers including Queen Anne’s Lace, Goldenrod, Tansey, Yarrow and others. Gerhard kindly moved over on his resting bench so we could get the group photo (proof to Tom and Anne that we actually can do a trip without them).
Leaving the beach and walking inland, we stumbled upon a Mourning Dove feeding on the path. In the shrubs and trees were several American Goldfinches, House Finches, Northern Flickers, Northwestern Crows, starlings, and Lorna‘s favorite Rock Doves. At the point overlooking the Dunsmuir Gardens and rail tracks we saw more Greater Yellowlegs, and on the pilings at nest boxes 2, 3 and 4, was a family of Purple Martins. Looking back along the spit, with the sun now at our back, we had a much better look at the Long-billed Curlew who seemed to be having a conversation with the Marbled Godwit. Part of the day’s entertainment was watching a group of 7 guys, up to their waist in the water, trying to free their beached pleasure craft. On the sand dune Kay managed to find some asparagus for the braver ones to munch. Marion found some “Goatsbeard” (Salsify) in flower and also with its larger dandylion-like seed head. Other plants (I know Tom, it’s a birding trip) in flower included Evening Primrose and the Impatiens, Policeman’s Helmet. Leaving the sand dunes, Ken and Anne led us along the canal to the Dunsmuir Community Gardens. Along the way Ken spotted a Hairy Woodpecker which we managed to have good looks at and some photos. Kay spotted a large rodent amongst the roots at the water’s edge and we spent some time trying to decide on what it was. I think we settled on “muskrat” but our view was pretty obscure! In the canal as we crossed over to the garden side was a Great Blue Heron and overhead a Bald Eagle (several were seen over our time there).
Most of our time at the Dunsmuir Gardens was spent admiring the beautiful flowers and resting on the benches. Birds seen included a White-crowned Sparrow and a few Rufous Hummingbirds.
Back at the vehicles we were treated to Gerhard’s cherries, Anne’s blueberries, and the ever popular Lorna’s PB sandwiches. Plans for next week settled around Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver with a possible side trip to the Seymour Demonstration Forest (now known as Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, or LSCR). Tom will alert all to the exact plans later in the week. Roger