Sixteen DNCBers enjoyed another glorious and productive Wednesday morning at Blackie Spit in South Surrey. The rain held off and it turned out to be warm, almost muggy. Hi-lites included: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Pigeon Guillemot, lots of newly-arrived migrating Shorebirds, beaut Warbler sightings, some almost-interesting newbies, and PB Lorna’s PB and Banana sandwiches. Check out Glen’s, Tony’s and others’ photos on the DNCB Picasa link as well as earlier up-dated reports with photos by our Blog Guru Ken.
Seven of us left Tsawwassen at 7:30 a.m. (Glen, Anne, Kay, Bryan & Janet, “slept-in” PB Lorna and me) and arrived at the Blackie Spit parking lot at 8:15 a.m., uncharacteristically before our 8:30 a.m. scheduled time. We met the other nine (Tony, White Rock Al, Bill and his San Diego guests John & Sally, newbie Jean, Mikey B and Ken & Anne). Following quick introductions, we all focussed on our target birds, the Long-billed Curlew and Marbled Godwit which happened to be foraging on the shoreline right in front of us. Our photogs got great shots, and then an immature Pigeon Guillemot cruised by, unusually close to shore for great views. Three neat sightings in the first 10 minutes. We walked to the end of the Spit, noting the Double-crested Cormorants on the pylons and several Common Loons in the distance. Savannah Sparrows were flitting in the grass and a few Caspian Terns flew by or were on the sandbars. Lots of rafts of unidentifiable ducks in the distance (the tide was very low). Several small flocks (~20 birds each) of shorebirds, probably Western Sandpipers, whizzed by us over the water. Hundreds of Black-bellied Plovers and other Peeps on islands in the distance.
We returned to the parking lot and then meandered along the park trail toward the Purple Martin boxes. Along the way some of us got good looks at Common Yellowthroats, Orange-crowned and Wilson’s Warblers in the bushes. I usually only get fleeting glimpses of these warblers, so it was gratifying to get up-close-and-personal looks at these three species and their beautiful colouring. Several Anna’s Hummingbirds and flocks of Bushtits were also entertaining. A gorgeous Black-headed Grosbeak posed in a tree near a Northern Flicker. At the end of the trail in the Rene Savenye area, we posed for the obligatory Gro
Lorna’s favourite, the Belted Kingfisher, gave several flypasts and landed on a Purple Martin pylon for a photo op. Several Purple Martins, mostly young birds, were hanging around their nesting boxes. Good to see that this PM colony seemed to have a successful breeding year. While some swarmed renowned artists Jack Turpin and Linda Pearce – who up until then had been sketching in peaceful surroundings
– others focussed on the Killdeer and Yellowlegs, both Greater and Lesser, in the ponds.
As we wandered back toward the main trail, the House Finches, American Goldfinches and Purple Martins were flitting noisily in the air. Then we saw the cause of their agitation, a Merlin swooped by and landed in a tree for our photogs. One of our amateur DNCBers miss-identified this bird as a Peregrine Falcon, but recovered gracefully from his faux pas. We followed the trail along the stream toward the new Pump house. Song and White-crowned Sparrows and Spotted Towhees were in the bushes, but we were blanked on Spotted Sandpipers which I think nest there. A Green-winged Teal among some Yellowlegs in the creek was nicely viewed through San Diego John’s superb hi-def scope, which he uncomplainingly carried himself (Obviously John & Sally would be welcomed back anytime).
The group split at the pump house; half returning to the parking lot and half continuing on to the Dunsmuir Community Gardens. The “garden group” had a nice sighting of a Pileated Woodpecker before the “ultimate nice-guy” White Rock Al undertook taxi detail and chauffeured this crew back to the parking lot, eliminating the long walk back. At the parking lot, premier birder Mike Tabak arrived and pointed out a California Gull among the Ring-billed Gulls; very helpful to weak Gull IDers like us. He also reported that the Willet and Franklin’s Gull were still near the White Rock/Pier area, but being close to Noon, we didn’t have time to check them out. You can see by the variety of species mentioned that this was quite a successful outing, and as I departed for home, munching on PB Lorna’s pb&b sandwich, I pondered about how fortunate we are to be able to participate in these always-enjoyable regular outings in this birders paradise (apologies for the philosophical BS).
CHANGE IN PLANS (updated Tues. Sep. 3):
Terry, Roger and I have decided to POSTPONE tomorrow’s scheduled DNCB outing to Mt. Baker. The weather forecast is not good; rain and fog. We will re-schedule the Baker outing to Wednesday, Sept. 18 (or possibly Monday, Sept. 16), weather permitting of course.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 4, we will meet at Petra’s for departure at 7:30 a.m. on a local outing to Tsa Ferry Port then over to Reifel. There is lots of new arriving stuff around so it should be good, even if it is a bit wet. Advise your friends as this message is only going to a few DNCBers.
As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if you want off my List to receive these meanderings. Happy Labour Day Weekend. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society
NEW: 10 ways to come alive in nature
Anne Murray’s Georgia Straight column for August on the topic of getting out in nature for health and happiness.