See more photos at DNCB Picasa website
Eleven weather-hardy Birding Brigaders assembled on that rainy Wednesday morning at the ferry dock in North Surrey for only the second tour of Barnston Island. The island, named in 1827 for Hudson Bay Company clerk George Barnston, is just over 1,500 acres of farmland and has about 150 residents including 50 members of the Katzie First Nation. Because of the steady rain, it was decided to motor along the 10 km perimeter road, stopping at and exploring interesting sites on foot. During the five minute crossing of the Parson Channel on the tug-and-barge ferry, Tom spotted someone frantically waving in the parking lot we had just left.
The latecomers and newbies from the North Shore caught up to us at our first stop, Robert Point at the north-western tip of the island. The obligatory group portrait, taken by Roger, depicts the smiling faces of Rob and Marylile, Gerhard, first-timers Ray and Paula, real White Rockers David and Marg, PB Lorna, Terry, Mike, Tom and me, WR Al. The short walk from the kiosk through the mini-park yielded only Violet-green and Barn Swallows snapping up insects over the river, a Song Sparrow or two and, possibly, a Cooper’s Hawk. Damage done by the previous Saturday’s mega-windstorm became obvious; several fallen trees and broken branches, including one from a walnut tree, littered the pathway and impeded our progress.
On the way to our next halt at a sheep farm, Brewer’s Blackbirds and Cowbirds were seen while a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Killdeer were only heard. While we were looking at a flock of the woolly beasts and their buddies, Buster and Dorothy the donkeys, we noticed two, three and then seven Turkey Vultures soaring over the Russel farmstead; three landed and settled down in a poplar. As the rain stopped and the sun made an appearance, Photog Terry unsheathed his camera to take fine pictures of the Vultures, several juvenile White-crowned Sparrows, a GB Heron and two Northern Harriers flying over and roosting on posts and mounds in a cranberry field. Before leaving that location, we were joined by sisters Pat and Maureen who had circled the island in the opposite direction, bringing the total to 15 participants.
Our last destination was Mann Point at the eastern tip of the isle. Again storm caused debris and the rain soaked trail slowed our trek through the forest – indeed one individual took a tumble over a downed limb – but the great views of the Golden Ears Bridge proved to be worth the effort. Moreover, in addition to seeing honking Canada Geese, Glaucous-winged Gulls, a couple of resting Double-crested Cormorants, we enjoyed watching an Osprey transporting a stick to a nest and then roosting there. However, some in our group were disappointed that we encountered no naked people, who are rumored to frequent the site in sunny weather. But as the final group photo shows, Mike did find conclusive proof that a beach party had taken place recently.
As the noon hour approached, our little convoy headed back to the ferry landing where all five drivers had no difficulty backing the respective vehicle onto the barge; after all, they had practiced the feat earlier while de-embarking onto the island. Upon landing on the mainland after that fabulous five minute cruise, most of us decided to visit the Big Ridge Pub in Surrey for lunch and possibly a barley beverage. To be sure, the weather had not been likeable at the outset, but it improved remarkably, and while the bird species count was meagre, everyone agreed that the outing around Barnston had been enjoyable and rewarding. For those who came along and want to relive the experience and all the others who missed the trip, a fifteen minute dash-cam circle tour of the island can be viewed on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5mhD9jRszs
Report by Al Schulze
Next week, Wed. Sept. 9, will be our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing, starting at Cammidge House at 9 am.
The following week, Wed. Sept. 16, we will be going to Mount Baker. Leave Petra’s at 7am; leave Peace Arch Parking Lot at 7:30am. Bring passport and lunch. Weather dependent. See Maps & Directions link for more info.