Report by Kirsten Walsh and Bev Ramey
A hardy little group of 7 birders met at a drizzly Second Beach at the appointed time. Brian, Stormcat Paula, Nance, newbies Susan & Gail, and Kirsten were joined by Bev Ramey, whose tidbits of information were really helpful. Pat and Maureen came a bit later, but kept their own pace. We spent some time, while waiting for Tom and the others to arrive, studying the Glaucous-Winged and Ring-Billed Gulls, and searching the American Wigeon for any unusual plumage, learning they used to be called Baldpates.
After chatting with some BCIT Fish & Wildlife students who volunteer for Stanley Park Ecology Society and were out in the rain doing weekly seabird surveys, we decided to set off without our (usually) trusty leader. Nance decided to warm up with a brisk walk to Siwash Rock, and saw three pair of Harlequin Ducks perched on rocks in that water, and a flock of 25 Black Oystercatchers on the beach at Ferguson Point. They were worth getting drenched to see!
Kirsten phoned Tom and learned that the rest of the group (which had numbered 3, including Tom) had bailed after coffee at Petra’s. (Such wimps!)
Sightings at Second Beach included Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Pelagic Cormorant, and American Wigeon. Along the path to Lost Lagoon we enjoyed hand-feeding a flock of at least 12 Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and other close-up sightings included Towhees, Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows, & Black-capped Chickadees. In the channel were several friendly (or just curious?) Lesser Scaup (males showing the greenish-purplish iridescence on their necks), Hooded Mergansers, and Wood Ducks – Bev pointed out the almost hidden, but distinctive blue and green on the female’s speculum. With the ducks so close, we were all able to have good looks at the female plumage. It was indeed helpful the birds were right up close, because our binoculars by this time were quite hazed by the rain.
Continuing in the rain, we circled Lost Lagoon and saw Coots, Mallards, Canada Geese, several Cackling Geese, Great Blue Heron, several Common Mergansers, some female Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, a Hooded Merganser pair and a Bald Eagle. No River Otters were to be seen, just a fat Raccoon at the water’s edge. We also chatted with a team of three from the Stanley Park Ecology Society. They were patrolling with wire mesh screen and hands-on task to install mesh around certain trees, to protect the trees from the industrious beavers.
At the far side of the lagoon we decided to forego the additional excursion to Beaver Lake, as we were quite soaked, and headed back. A great morning in the rain, testing various inclement weather gear (Kirsten’s “authentic” Sou’wester from Nova Scotia failed miserably!), but we missed the banter of the group leader and the expert photographers. Sorry folks, no group photo was taken.
Next week, Tues. Feb. 2, we leave Petra’s at 8am to reconvene at Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts around 8:15 am.