DNCB Outing Report No. 2013-33 to Manning Provincial Park

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Fifteen DNCBers enjoyed another glorious Wednesday morning on our annual “away” outing to Manning Provincial Park (MP).  Hi-lites included: Townsend’s Warblers, hand-feeding Clark’s Nutcrackers, Whiskey Jacks and Ground Squirrels, beautiful Wildflowers, spectacular scenery and idyllic walks through old-growth forest, along winding streams and on mountain paths.  Check out Tony’s, Marion’s, Terry’s and others photos on the DNCB Picasa link.

Nine of us, including the affable Greg Walker visiting from the UK, left the Ladner Bus Exchange at 6:30 p.m. packed into two vehicles, Anne’s van (6) and Tony’s car (3).  We picked up Gareth on the way and Jonathan & Lorraine brought Mike and Marion (4) from New Westminster.  Annie Kaps met us at the Manning Park Lodge.  Super car-pooling, one of my pet peeves satisfied.  After a very pleasant 2 hour drive, we all (14) met at Sumallo Grove in the Skagit Valley Provincial Park “around” 8:30 a.m.  It would have been earlier had Mike not needed a MacDonald’s stop in Hope.  Before continuing on the half hour drive to the MP Lodge, we had a brief walk among the 500 year old trees in this grove and along the Sumallo River.  It was pleasantly cool and we saw a beaut brood of Harlequin Ducks (Mom and 4 ducklings) as well as a brief glimpse of a Spotted Sandpiper.

Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin Ducks

Some saw one of 3 or 4 Belted Kingfishers seen throughout the day.

We met Annie K at the MP Lodge and then wandered around the “holey grounds”, fascinated by the Columbian Ground Squirrels, adults and young.

Columbian Ground Squirrel

Columbian Ground Squirrel

Barn Swallows, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Starlings and Crows were the only birds seen here.  The three loaded vehicles followed the winding Switch-back road up the mountain to the Lookout.  Some saw a Marmot on the way, but no Grouse.  The view from here to Mount Frosty and other US mountains (several snow-covered) was spectacular.  IMG_8640And, we were entertained at the Lookout by both Grey Jays (aka Whiskey Jacks) and Clark’s Nutcrackers which ate peanuts (or granola bars) from our hands.

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And the families of Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels were also very tame, eating from our hands and even jumping into our car.

Marion with friend

Marion with friend

A posing Raven watched over us.

We followed the dirt road another 5 miles to the top and then started our walk/hike along the Paintbrush Trail, past the TV Dish Towers.  Anne M named and described many of the flowers again for the umpteenth time; some digested it, others yawned.  Check out last year’s Outing No. 2012-37 (Aug. 22, 2012) Report at: https://dncb.wordpress.com/category/locations/manning-park/ for the names of some wildflowers seen, plus other neat stuff and photos.

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We did not see many new species on the two hour walk along the Paintbrush and Heather Trails; some saw a Mountain Chickadee, and perhaps Yellow, Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers, but we were blanked on the Marmots and Grouse (Blue).  Many flowers were also beginning to seed, so we deduced that we must come here earlier in August or in early June for premium “colour”.

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Muskrat

Starving, around 1:30 p.m. we returned down the mountain to the picnic area next to Lightening Lake Park where we ate last year as well.  Tony took the Group Photo while some sponged others’ tasty delights like Greg’s dog-food-like energy mix, Anne’s plums, Annie K’s granola bars, cheapskate Marion’s marshmallow-like mixture, Jane’s baby tomatoes.  I had a tasty “beverage” in my special Coke can and no one noticed.  Families were fishing, canoeing and kayaking in the river; it was very inviting, but alas, no bathing suit.  MP016_BoatsSome saw another Kingfisher before we drove to the Campground for our walk along the Skagit River to Lightning Lake.  Lots of people in the Park today, and kids jumping off the bridge like last year.  A few unidentified small birds were flitting occasionally in the trees, but Jays and Nutcrackers were the only birds that seemed to follow us.  A Muskrat on a log gave some a thrill, and then one tree produced about a dozen birds, and Jonathan got good shots of Townsend Warblers.  There were also a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers.  We got back to the parking lot close to 4:00 p.m. and after being entertained by a scampering Yellow-pine Chipmunk, decided to head home.  We were exhausted but exhilarated.  I snoozed much of the 2 1/2 hour drive back to Ladner in the “immigrant” vehicle.  The drone of Pomme blether, Kraut garble and Indian gibberish was a very pleasant soother.

Next Wednesday, August 28, we will meet and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Blackie Spit (arrive around 8:30 am) and other Surrey/White Rock spots (TBD).  As always, comments encouraged, and let me know if you want off this List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society (leaving for Portland in a few hours for niece’s Wedding)

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About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
This entry was posted in *DNCB, Clark's Nutcracker, Gray Jay, Ground Squirrel, Harlequin Duck, Hoary Marmot, Muskrat. Bookmark the permalink.

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