DNCB Outing No. 2016-18 to Pt. Whitehorn and Tennant Lake, Washington

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DNCB at Pt. Whitehorn (photo by David H) – click on photo for large version

Photos by David, Terry, Glen, Jack, Brian on our DNCB Picasa site.


Thirteen enthusiastic DNC Avianers gathered on a breezy and soppy morning at the Blaine Harbor parking lot for an outing to two separate destinations in Whatcom County.  At 8:30, the lucky number of participants, which oddly enough included only two ladies, squeezed into just three vehicles and efficiently convoyed south on Route 548 to the first location at Pt. Whitehorn Marine Reserve.  The lead car with WR Alice, Burnaby Roy, North Van Richard and pilot WR Al was expertly followed by the other two, driven by Mike B and David H, with passengers Margaretha S, Richmond’s Brian, Chris McV, Terry C, Ladner Jack, Glen B and Tom B.

The Pt. Whitehorn reserve, which features a 1 km trail through 54 acres of mixed forest to spectacular viewpoints of the Straight of Georgia and San Juan Islands, had been visited by five members of the group as part of an outing in September 2014 (see DNCB Outing No. 2014-37).  The customary group picture taken at the beginning of the walk shows that moisture was still dripping from the trees, but the weather improved throughout the morning.  While Song Sparrows, Robins and Goldfinches were audible to most, the only birds seen and photographed on the way to the lookouts were a Brown Creeper and a Bewick’s Wren.

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snail (DH)

However, the spring foliage was wonderful to look at, some Salmonberry bushes were still in bloom while others exhibited ripening fruit, and a colourful snail crossing the path caught the eye of at least one photog.  Ten hardy individuals decided to descend from the bluff via the switchback trail to the windswept cobble beach where they observed Harlequin Ducks, Surf Scoters, Pelagic Cormorants and, possibly, a Pacific Loon.

The less agile threesome enjoyed the view from the bluff and gazed in amazement at the corkscrew Oregon Maple growing on the cliff.

How did this tree grow like that"

How did this tree grow like that? (JMac)

The weather had improved dramatically for the drive through the picturesque countryside to the second destination.  En route, a quick detour was taken to Terrell Lake where two Canada Geese families with their waddling offspring and a lone fisherman were encountered.  On arrival at Tennant Lake, it became clear that no one other than I, WR Al, had ever been there.  The 624-acre site includes a shallow peat-bog lake of some 80 acres surrounded by extensive wetlands, fields, and a forest and riparian zone.

The park also has an interpretive centre, a fragrance garden with 200 species, an observation tower and several great trails.  While some in the group headed off to touch, smell and enjoy the beauty of the more than 200 different plants,

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Savannah Sparrow (BA)

others observed a Savannah Sparrow gathering morsels in an adjacent pasture.

Soon almost everyone scrambled up the 15 meters to the top of the tower to view the lake and to gaze at those below including two hopping domestic bunnies.

Then it was off on the path through the wetlands where Marsh Wrens were rattling, Red-winged Blackbirds were squeaking and Goldfinches and Yellowthroats were singing.

At the start of the elevated boardwalk which meanders through swamp and marsh habitats along the edge of the lake, the troop espied a female Tree Swallow perched on a nearby branch.  Soon her mate joined her and the couple made love and made love again and again while the fascinated onlookers blushed.

Mike B, who had tarried too long on the tower and had wandered off in the wrong direction, missed the amorous tryst.  Also observed on the boardwalk loop were a Yellow Warbler, a male Rufous Hummer, a pair of Cowbirds and a Downy Woodpecker.

And the Water Lilies with their yellow blossoms which covered much of the lake were a treat for the eyes.

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After marching a distance of about 5 km at the two venues, everyone thought that lunch at a Mexican restaurant in nearby Ferndale was in order.  Although only 20 or so avian species were observed and photographed and a couple of others were heard only, all thirteen participants had to agree that it was another fabulous DNCB expedition.  After all, the weather had improve from cool and soggy to almost excellent, the trees, bushes and wetland- and water plants were in their finest colours, the scenery was great and one of the destinations was brand new.

Report by Al Schulze


Next Wednesday, May 11, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for an outing to Colony Farm Regional Park, Coquitlam.  Meet at Community Gardens Parking lot around 8:30 am.

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About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
This entry was posted in *DNCB, Great Horned Owl, Harlequin Duck, Muskrat, Pelagic Cormorant, Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, Tennant Lake, Yellow Warbler. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to DNCB Outing No. 2016-18 to Pt. Whitehorn and Tennant Lake, Washington

  1. Margot Jahn says:

    How delightful! Really enjoyed the fabulous pictures. Thank you for this, Al!
    Margot and Juergen.

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