More photos by Glen Bodie (GB), Bryan King (BK), Liz Stewart (LS), Roger Meyer (RM), Terry Carr (TC) & Ken Borrie (KB) at DNCB Picasa.
At about 8:30, eighteen enthusiastic bird aficionados assembled at Blackie Spit Park, which is named after – as someone in the back of the pack correctly pointed out – a chap named Blackie. Walter Blackie, who was – wait for it – New Westminster’s first Blacksmith, acquired 150 acres at Crescent Beach in 1871 for 50 dollars. Dykes were built and some farming was done, but the area was later purchased by the government and used as a dumping ground for sand and silt dredged from the Nicomekl River to deepen the channel to the bay. Because the habitat for up to 90 varieties of plants and more than 190 species of birds was being destroyed, the WRS Naturalists and local residents lobbied to have the area dedicated as a park. Success came in 1996 as the result of a Surrey-wide referendum.
A bit of wind was coming off the high tide, as the group made up of regulars Glen, Hans, Gerhard, Bryan and Janet, Nance, Roger, Liz, Ken and Anne, Lorna, Terry, Donna, Jean, White Rock Pauline and Al together with some-timers Patrick and Jim marched through the entrance onto the Spit. A throng of Ring-billed Gulls were waiting there for a handout from a little old person, and several huge flocks of Dunlins entertained by taking off, flying in formation and landing again on tiny islands of grass in close proximity to the path.
Someone claimed to have recognized a few Sanderlings in the drove.
Almost immediately the target birds – los tres amigos – the Long-billed Curlew with his Godwit buddies, were spotted resting in the vegetation among squadrons of Pintails and Wigeons (including several Eurasians) and a number of Herons and Greater Yellowlegs. The threesome have been winter residents there for years.
Further out from the shore, Common Loons and a couple of Horned Grebes could be seen. The obligatory group photo was taken by Roger at that spot before everyone headed off to the end of the Spit where attention was focused on a speeding RCMP vessel flying both national flags.
When the group wandered on past the mound of dredged material into the Environmentally Sensitive Area, the wind had decreased and the sun was peeking out. The ESA is named in honour of Rene Savenye, a Surrey high school science teacher, who devoted many hours to the removal of invasive plants and the restoration of the natural habitat. A number of Double-crested Cormorants were sitting on the wooden pilings where the Purple Martin boxes are located. The structures are the last remnants of an oyster harvesting and processing plant located near and over the water from 1904 to 1957.
Just when latecomer Mike showed up, los amigos were visible again, this time on the other side of the inlet, but there were now cuatros. Excellent shots of the three, and then the four at rest and in flight, as well as of the Dunlins in tight formations were taken by the six photogs; one by Terry seems to depict a double-decker Godwit aloft.
While Bryan and Janet decided to follow Ken and Anne via the pump house area to the Dunsmuir Gardens, the majority headed for White Rock Pier in search of Willie the Willet. He was located in an unusual spot, on the rocks at the southeast end of the breakwater in the company of two Harlequin Duckesses.
Other birds seen and photographed on the long walk to the end of the Pier were Surf Scoters, Scaups
and three species of Grebes – Red-necked, Horned and a number of Western. Most of them were close to the Pier and readily observable.
A single, “de-flocked” Dunlin was seen running about almost underfoot of several people. It did fly off eventually and thus, did not appear to be injured.
All in all, in spite of missing its great leader, the group enjoyed a great day with fine fall weather, good sightings and wonderful photos taken.
Report by Al Schulze
Next Wednesday, Nov. 5, will be at Point Roberts, WA. Leaving Petra’s at 8 am, arrive Lighthouse Marine Park 8:15 am. Don’t forget your passports!
Also, DNS meeting on Monday, November 10th – speakers David Bradbeer & Gary Searing, Wildlife Management Specialists at YVR, topic Managing Raptors and Wildlife at YVR airport.