DNCB Outing No. 2014-37 to Blaine and Birch Bay, USA

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DNCB at Blaine Marine Park (KB) click on photo to see larger version

Photos by Terry Carr (TC), Glen Bodie (GB), Bill Denham (BD), Liz Stewart (LS), Marion Shikaze (MS), Ken Borrie (KB) on our DNCB Picasa site

Nineteen DNCBers enjoyed another “foreign” outing around Drayton Harbour/Semiahmoo Park and then to a new DNCB destination Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve at Birch Bay.  Lots of hi-lites as recorded below and on our DNCB Picasa site with beaut photos by Richmond Bill, Webmaster Ken, Terry, Liz, Glen and Marion.

Some started at Petra’s at 7:30 a.m., others met at the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 8:00 a.m. to car pool, and all nineteen of us met around 8:30 a.m. at the entrance to Drayton Harbour at Blaine Marine Park.  We introduced ourselves to each other, chatted about border experiences, and welcomed some “oldies” like Marian, Kirsten, Annie K and Wim back to the fold.  The tide was way out and no Shorebirds close by, so to ease the normal Group Photo frustration, Ken took it here with the Peace Arch far in the background.  Glen was almost missing from the photo as he was pre-occupied with the Song, White-crowned Sparrows and House Finches and House Sparrows flitting in the bushes.

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White-crowned Sparrow (GB)

Our next stop was the Lookout at the end of Marine Drive.  Although temporarily closed for construction, we were able to walk the road to the Lookout.  Five or six entertaining Black Turnstones “turning stones” followed us along the shore, as did a Gull capturing and stabbing a Crab.

At the Lookout, Surf Scoters were the most common species occasionally flying close to us.  Common Loons, Horned Grebes and lots of Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants were also around.  Many fishing and crab boats were going in and out of the harbour.  A male Belted Kingfisher, the first of a few seen today, made Lorna happier and more bubbly than normal, and that’s a real stretch.

From here, we car-pooled and convoyed in seven vehicles around Drayton Harbour to Semiahmoo Park on the spit.  Nothing new at the first lookout on the Semiahmoo Bay side.  On the Drayton Harbour side, a few Killdeer were along the shore in front of four Northern Pintails.  A small flock of Scaup were there too but Terry scared them off before everyone got to see them.  We moved on to the Yacht Club parking lot and walked back along the paved path.  Lots of Harbour Seals were lying on the pier while about six or seven Harlequin Ducks, not yet in beautiful plumage, were hopping on and off it.  Several Black Oystercatchers were on a low-tide-created island.

Lots of Scoters and other species in the distance and we picked out a Red-breasted Merganser among them.

We walked back toward the Drayton Bay entrance where a flock of American Goldfinches was flitting and feeding on the Chicory seeds.  Another Kingfisher, Loon and a dead Seal on the way to the Semiahmoo lookout at Tongue Point.  The large rafts of ducks were still far away but, as we looked across Boundary Bay toward White Rock, we did see a few “almost-dancing” Western Grebes which have not been very plentiful in this region for the past year or so.  From here, White Rock Al led us through Semiahmoo to Birch Bay Drive and then to the Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve.  A very pleasant drive along the Birch Bay beach road yielded some Caspian Terns and other Gull species (Bonapartes?).

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Chicken-of-the-Woods (KB)

KB_DSC5223Arriving at the Pt. Whitehorn parking lot, Ken’s Pileated Woodpecker turned into a Steller’s Jay and posed nicely on top of a Fir Tree.  We had a very pleasant walk through the Whitehorn woods, with Al identifying the tree species including Sitka Spruce and Grand Fir.  Marion, Glen and Pauline were almost-believable in their collaborative identification of the flowers, mushrooms and fungi, my favourite being the pumpkin-like Chicken of the Woods.  Birds were noisy at various spots along the path and some saw or heard: Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Kinglet species, Pine Siskins, Pacific Wrens, Downy Woodpecker and Common Ravens.  We all grunted and groaned on the path down to and up from the beach while a family of young kids ran by us.  But it was an invigorating walk with seemingly endless nonsensical chatter.

Approaching 1:00 p.m. the remaining “dirty dozen” left Whitehorn Park deciding to have lunch at the Beach House in Birch Bay.  A good choice as my house-specialty stew and two beers (one pilsner craft and old reliable Bud Light) were delicious.  We also spotted both White-winged and Surf Scoters from the patio, but could not ID any Black Scoters.  We sang Happy Birthday to Hans who was born the same day in the same year in Germany as our restaurant host Jack (aka also Hans I forget his last name, but he is Al’s friend).  What a small and incredible world we live in.  Anyhow, it was another awesome DNCB outing.  After gassing up I got home close to 3:00 p.m. in time to go to COSTCO for razor blades and cheese, and 473 dollars later.

Next Wednesday, September 24, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. on an outing to Boundary Bay at 104th St. and the Mansion.  We should be at Delta Heritage Air Park around 8 am.  Several rarities have been seen there recently among the thousands of arriving Shorebirds and ducks.  As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these far-too-long ramblings bore you and you want off my List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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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, Birch Bay, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Drayton Harbor, Harbour Seal, Harlequin Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, Semiahmoo Spit. Bookmark the permalink.

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