Eight DNCBers (Terry, PB Lorna, Mike B, White Rock Al, Islanders Rick & Marg, visiting “Pommy” Greg W and me) enjoyed another gorgeous Wednesday in paradise, riding the ferry to Vancouver Island, double-decker bus to Victoria, and then wandering through spectacularly-colourful Beacon Hill Park. We saw a few neat birds and brilliant flowers, but basically just savoured a relaxing day outside with nature. Check out Terry’s photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.
Six of us met at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and took the 7:00 a.m. ferry to Swartz Bay (1/2 price for Seniors). While a number of us were inside eating the on-board White Spot breakfast, others got great sightings on the deck of Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants (possibly Brandt’s), Black Oystercatchers, Ring-billed and Glaucous-winged Gulls, and Harbour Seals. We spent most of the hour and 40 minute ride at the bow in the refreshing breeze; see Group of Six photo.
Travelling through Active Pass, we saw a pair of Pigeon Guillemots entering their nest burrow in the rock face on Galiano Island. On arrival at Swartz Bay, we raced to the Bus to get front seats on the upper deck. Using Mikie’s special $1.50 tickets, it was a pleasant ride to Victoria, although we did not see any of the resident Skylarks as we passed the Airport.
Vancouver Island’s Royal Couple, Rick & Marg, were waiting beside the Parliament Buildings as the bus pulled in, on time just before 10:00 a.m. Following salutations, we wandered through the first of many scintillating flower gardens in front of the Parliament Buildings. At the waterfront, tourist and whale-watching boats were leaving as some grubby-looking Mallards swam near us. We decided to do a reverse walk from previous Victoria outings and start our wander through Beacon Hill Park. There were a few Great Blue Herons standing on nests at the Heronry. Not a lot of birds seen, but we were occasionally aroused by Brown Creepers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, House Finches, a beaut Chipping Sparrow and other unidentified Sparrows (see Terry’s photos). A passing cyclist took our mandatory Group Photo here.
At 11:30 a.m. instead of our Smoko, we went for a light lunch at a small outdoor restaurant beside the park. The hi-lite was the home-made dessert brought by our Brit visitor Greg, “tiffin”, aka dog food. Fortunately, PB Lorna’s peanut butter & banana sandwich tempered the tiffin taste. Following lunch we walked passed the Mile Zero Monument to the coastal path, seeing both Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Bewick’s Wrens, American Goldfinches, Northern Flickers, Barn and Tree Swallows, and lots of invasive House Sparrows. At Clover Point, there were rafts of diving ducks in the distance that looked like Scoters. A lonely Western Sandpiper was feeding on the rocks along the shore. We did not find the Brant Goose among the Gulls, but did pick out at least five Heermann’s Gulls.
We turned back, entering Beacon Hill Park where a flock of Bushtits welcomed us. It was cooler walking in the shade of the Garry Oaks, Arbutus and many other tree species that WR Al pointed out and explained, ad nauseam. More gorgeous gardens, and the resident cock Peacock was resplendent flaunting his tail. A weird hybrid Mallard was in one of the ponds but no other interesting waterfowl.
It was about 2:30 p.m. when we left the Park and before boarding the bus to the ferry, we decided to drop in to the Sticky Wicket pub at the Strathcona Hotel. The “funny” beers we tasted was the outing hi-lite for some. Islanders R&M left us after the drinks, and most of the rest of us caught the no. 70 bus at 3:30 p.m. to the ferry. Our intrepid explorer, WR Al, took another bus before joining us mid-trip. Several of us didn’t know that Al was missing or that he re-joined us as they snored the entire trip to Swartz Bay.
It was a very pleasant ferry ride back to Tsawwassen. Terry saw some Harbour Porpoises, and our most annoying sighting was our own DNCBer, Gambling Roger, photographing us on the ferry from the Mayne Island Pub, while getting inebriated with his cronies. Amusingly, Terry photographed Roger photographing us. Arriving in Tsawwassen at 6:45 p.m. we courteously said our good byes, emphasizing the wonderful day we had spent together.
Next Wednesday, August 5, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for another “away” outing to Mill Lake in Abbotsford. DNCBer Marion S will guide us while there. Map at https://goo.gl/PWrhnP, directions at https://dncb.wordpress.com/maps/#milllake.
Apologies for my tardiness in writing this Gem, but I have been busy chauffeuring for successful cataract surgery for Sandra, golfing, and entertaining our Aussie niece. As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if this drivel annoys you and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society