Nine DNCBers spent another beautiful Wednesday on Salt Spring Island and riding the ferries among the Gulf Islands. Not a lot of bird sightings, but a fun trip, climaxed with a pod of Killer Whales welcoming us to Tsawwassen Ferry terminal on our evening return. Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.
We nine met on the 9:00 a.m. ferry to Swartz Bay ($9.75 for Seniors to Salt Spring); Terry C, Mike B, Hans S, PB Lorna, Alberto & Pascale, Marian P, newbie White Rock’s Marg C (our Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society guru), and me. We spent most of the trip very comfortably at the bow. Our few sightings on crossing the Georgia Strait to Active Pass included: Surf Scoters, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, Harlequin Ducks, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots. We cajoled another passenger to take our first Group Photo at the bow after medic Marg repaired our “fallen” PB Lorna. A scraped knee certainly could not dampen Lorna’s enthusiasm. Not many other birds seen through the islands to Swartz Bay, but the scenery, as always, was breath-taking. After trying to avoid the bacon smell for an hour, I broke down and had the White Spot “Traditional” bacon & egg breakfast before landing. Delicious.
We landed at Swartz Bay (10: 40 a.m.) and transferred directly to the Skeena Queen to Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island. Here we saw our first of at least four Belted Kingfishers resident at seemingly every Gulf Island harbour. The Community Bus to Ganges ($2.25) was waiting for us, and we all got on (packed). Pleasant drive past tiny churches, vineyards and farms on this heavily treed island.
Lunch in Ganges was at the over-rated Aunty Pesto’s on the harbour front. Since I had “snuck” a meal on the ferry, a jug of very tasty local Salt Spring Beer was my repast. Others had traditional lunches with varying degrees of enjoyment. After lunch, we walked a harbour trail and saw no birds. Meanwhile, Marg had lunch with her Saltspring friend Mike and saw California Quail and Anna’s Hummingbirds in their backyard. We watched a large school of small fish (slightly larger than minnows) from the boardwalk; somewhat impressive. Then Terry led us to Mouat Park behind the Artspring building. It was a very pleasant walk in the woods, but again, no birds seen, although lots of Woodpecker evidence. A carved face in a trunk and a couple of “hanging bells” were almost exciting. We meandered back to the Bus Stop for the 3:00 p.m. ride to Long Harbour.
We caught the 3:30 p.m. ferry to Tsawwassen (only $5.00 for Seniors), with stops on Pender, Mayne and Galiano Islands. We spent most of this three hour plus trip on the front deck enjoying the scenery. We knew that Summer would be quiet bird wise, and it was. No Pigeon Guillemots were seen near their nesting colony on the rocky cliffs of Galiano. Interestingly, when we left Active Pass into the Strait, the excitement started. Small rafts of Common Murres came close to the ferry for photographs. We saw a lone Red-necked Grebe before it dove. Then about half dozen Harbour Porpoises cruised by in front of the ferry. Then, as we approached Tsawwassen terminal, a pod of Orcas (~20, probably J Pod) sort of lolly-gagged around us, flashing their white sides and identifying fins of various sizes. There was a mother and baby diving together. We saw lots of fish (Spring Salmon?) jumping out of the water, so I guess the whales were feeding on them. The Pod was still there after we landed (6:45 p.m.). It was another super DNCB outing.
Next Wednesday, September 2, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Barnston Island in Surrey, planning to meet Leader Al Schulze and others at 8:30 a.m. at the Barnston Island Ferry parking lot.
Also, don’t forget our first 2015/16 Delta Nats monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Benediction Lutheran Church on 56th St. in Tsawwassen. Renowned Naturalist George Clulow will be giving a pictorial Presentation on his Birding in Panama. As always, your comments are encouraged, check out other Delta Nats info, reports and photos on our website, and please let me know if you want off my list to receive these annoying missives. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society