Photos by Terry (TC), Roger (RM), Jonathan (JM), Rick (RW), Marion (MS), Jim (JK) & Ken (KB)
Twenty-seven (wow!) smiling birders enjoyed a glorious Monday on the ferry, double-decker bus and walk around Victoria harbour and parks. Read this report on our DNCB Blog and enjoy the super photos on the DNCB Picasa link. (Names of 27 DNCB at the end of this blog.)
We met on the 7:00 a.m. Ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, most car-pooling and parking at the Ladner Bus Exchange, TFN parking lot, or the “expensive” lot at the terminal. The Ferry was Free for the Seniors (yeah, but unfortunately only until April 1) so several could afford to enjoy the White Spot breakfast on board. Others stayed on deck admiring the unusual, glass-like flat Strait. Double-crested Cormorants, Surf Scoters and a few Harbour Seals were the only wildlife of note before departure. It was a bit breezy but comfy on deck as we crossed the Strait and the sun was rising beyond Mt. Baker. We were hoping/wishing to see Orcas, but were blanked. However, a group (4) of Pacific White-sided Dolphins passed in front of the ferry, then along our side, occasionally breaking the surface for shots by our quick photogs. Not much else in the Strait until we approached Active Pass where the hundreds of Bonaparte Gulls were waiting for us. Then lots of Pigeon Guillemots were along the Pass. We picked out a pair of Long-tailed Ducks too. Of course, the scenery was breath-taking for many of us who don’t often take the ferry.
We got to Swartz Bay on time, around 8:45 a.m., disembarked and lined up for the 70X Double-Decker Bus to Victoria. Mike gave special $1.50 tickets to each of us cheap Seniors; another bonus.
In the comfy upper deck seats we could enjoy the Island blossoming landscape, which seems distinctly different from the Mainland. Roger claimed he saw a Sky Lark (introduced species from Britain) as we drove by the Airport. We got to the last stop at the Parliament Buildings, on time before 10:00 a.m. Islander Nats Rick & Marg and Valerie met us here to complete our Group of 27.
So we got a passerby to take our obligatory Group Photo, 28 including the Bus Driver, with the Parliament Building behind us. Then we lost Jane & Louise who went to the renowned Wildlife Photography exhibit at the Royal BC Museum across the street.
We began our walk around the harbour toward Laurel Point, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ogden Point. Several BCites (Roger, Mike, Rob, etc.) pointed out historical buildings and other famous and infamous places and occurrences as we wandered along the path, but I’ve already forgotten them. Conversation was certainly not lacking, but birds were. A Common Merganser was among the yachts in the harbour, near the famous Coho Ferry (to Port Angeles, USA).
The colourful Float Homes at Fisherman’s Wharf were intriguing; Roger fed the resident “trained” Seal.
Then the Victoria Fire Department entertained us with a “burning boat demonstration”. One “hero” fireman pulled a survivor from the burning boat, carried him/her to safety, then threw him/her head-first on the dock. He gave the Superman sign, and walked away. Fortunately, the concussed survivor was a Dummy.
We continued along the walkway between the luxurious condos and the water, passed the Heliport, to the breakwater (is that what it’s called?) at Ogden Point. Along the newly-fenced breakwater, we saw a couple of Sanderling flitting on the rocks below near a fisherman.
More Pigeon Guillemots, Harlequin Ducks, Black Oystercatchers and a couple of Rhinoceros Auklets also seen on the walk out to the lighthouse.
The occasional Steller Sea Lion also poked its dog-like head out of the water.
We got back to the Breakwater Café around Noon, and sat on its deck in the brilliant warm sun, enjoying fish chowder soup, chicken pot pie (they were out of Shepherd’s pie) and a delicious pint of their House Beer. Some of our rookies fed the House Sparrows under their table.
After lunch, we continued along the beach path through Holland Point Park toward Beacon Hill Park. Lots of Anna’s Hummingbirds along here, posing and diving for our, and I suppose their partner’s, entertainment.
We also saw one of our very few Warbler sightings as a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) flitted in a bush beside the path.
Marion heard a Bewick’s Wren, and we then saw several posing and singing for us.
In the Strait below us were: Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead and Roger picked out a Western Gull among the many Glaucous-winged Gulls. We turned into Beacon Hill Park where Woodpeckers, a Downy and a Northern Flicker, welcomed us. “Little Bird” sightings in this park included Bushtits, Ruby-crowned Kinglets (no G-C K’s seen), unidentified warbler, Chestnut-backed Chickadees. A beaut Eurasian Wigeon was among the American Wigeon and Mallards in a dry inland pond.
At a full pond, near the I think new Great Blue Heronry, a couple of Ring-necked Ducks were with some Lesser Scaup. We could even detect the “ring neck” on one of these birds.
Approaching 3:30 p.m. we decided to head back to the Bus Stop, via the Museum for a pit stop. We said our farewells to Rick & Marg and boarded the 3:40 p.m. bus to Swartz Bay terminal. We were only short six on the return bus trip; better than I expected. Four of the six took an earlier bus, and I have no idea what happened to Jane (aka Thelma) and Louise.
The ferry ride to Tsawwassen was relatively uneventful. Saw the same birds as on the way over and the scenery was equally as stunning. Only a few martyrs stayed on deck as most slept in their seats, exhausted after the long day and almost 10 km walking tour. At the Tsa Ferry Terminal a Peregrine Falcon posed on a light standard, supplying a fitting end to an awesome DNCB outing.
Terry Carr’s concise and impeccable arrangements along with such fine weather, a decent number of sightings, with an eclectic group of weirdoes all contributed to a very enjoyable day.
Next DNCB outing is WEDNESDAY, April 2, meeting at and leaving from Petra’s at the earlier time, 7:30 a.m. It will be a local outing; we may go to Ladner Harbour and the South Arm Marsh Parks. This is a long and dreary report, so, as always, comments encouraged and let me know if you want off my List to receive this drivel. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society
PS: Twenty-seven participants in no particular order were: Organizer/Leader Terry, historians Roger, Mike & Rob with Marylile, part-time participants Jane & Louise, Vancouver Island residents Valerie, Rick & Marg, Jonathan & Lorraine, White Rock Al with his Surrey harem of Alice, Pauline and Jean, other Krauts (I hope this isn’t offensive) Otto, Gerhard and Hans-Ulf, happily re-located PB Lorna without the PB, Kay, new photog Jim, Donna, Ken & Anne, Marion and me. They like their name in print.