DNCB Outing No. 2017-35 to Mount Baker


DNCB at Mount Baker – photo by Chris McVittie

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Ten DNCBers had an exciting Wednesday on our annual September climb of Mt. Baker in Washington State. It was “smokey” from the forest fires, but the vistas, wildflowers, some neat bird species, and the usual almost-interesting conversations made for a very enjoyable outing.  Check out the vivid photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

We car-pooled from Petra’s at 7:00 am, then from the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 7:30 am.  Pat had sister Maureen & Manli, Ladner Jack had Chris McV & Jim K, and Roger drove Mike B, Terry and me.  The Border was unbelievably smooth, no vehicles except us. It’s always a pleasant drive (~1 ½ hrs.) through the farmland of upstate Washington.  All three vehicles met almost on the dot at 9:00 am at the Mt. Baker Welcome Centre.  Each vehicle got the $5 Day Parking Pass and we began the drive up to our first stop at aptly-named Picture Lake.

The Whiskey Jacks (aka Gray Jay or Canada Jay) were there to welcome us, and the “kids & photogs” loved these “camp-robbers” eating peanuts, “Lionel Richie” popcorn, or whatever from their palms.  A California tourist took our mandatory Group Photo in front of the interpretive sign, then we began our walk around the “reflection” lake, followed by the insatiable Jays.  The Cascade Blueberries were small, but as plentiful and tasty as I’ve ever enjoyed on this outing. No ducks on the pond, but a Sharp-shinned Hawk gave a fly-past, mobbed by swallows.  Lots of Dark-eyed Juncos in the bushes, and Robins & Common Ravens around too, but we didn’t detect any warblers.  The Andesite Columns intrigued almost no one.

We moved on up to stop number two at Heather Meadows Visitor Centre.  More beautiful vistas here too, with many pockets of snow still on some hill sides. Some of us walked down and along Bagley Creek to see the American Dippers (Target Bird here), and surprisingly a neat Spotted Sandpiper.  After returning to the Visitor Centre, we walked a new trail (to me) around Terminal Lake which was surprisingly productive.  We found the American Pipits (another Target), but also saw a Sooty (Blue) Grouse and several other “little” birds that we thought were Juncos, but the photos showed at least one Yellow-rumped Warbler and Cedar Waxwings, and a Northern Flicker.  Now around 11:30 am, we ate our bag lunches (my personally-made PB sandwich, no beer) and Maureen’s home-made cookies in the parking lot before driving to the top to Artists Point.

We started our walk from Artists Point along the Chain Lakes Trail to where we normally get the best views of Mt. Baker glacier itself.  Some of us posed for the snow-ball throwing shots, simply because we could.  The trees along the first part of this trail had some interesting species.  The Sparrows proved to be Chipping Sparrows, a rare sighting for us.  Also more juncos, waxwings and robins.  I did not see any Picas or Hoary Marmots, some saw a Chipmunk, and we were blanked on the Mountain Goats.

Despite the hazy views caused by the smoke, our photogs got some beautiful shots of the wildflowers and even a rare/endangered Edith’s (Taylor’s) Checkerspot Butterfly.  Pat even provides the Latin name for species she photographs, but here are a few of the Wildflowers we saw, and photographed: Aster, Fireweed, Yellow & Pink Monkeyflower, Indian Paintbrush, Mountain Ash, Mountain Veronica, Mountain Sorrel , Subalpine Spiraea, False Hellebore, Pink Heather, Partridge Foot, Fringed Grass-of-Parnassus, Broadleaf Arnica, Pearly Everlasting, Common Tansy and Hound’s-tongue Hawkweed.  It was about 1:30 pm when we all gathered back at the Artists Point parking lot, exhausted, sweaty and dry (Thanks Maureen for the refreshing Peachwater).  Since Mike and I were attending the Canadians Baseball playoff game in Vancouver that evening, we decided to head home.

It was a pleasant leisurely drive back, via the Sumas Border crossing, which also surprisingly had almost no traffic.  I got home at 4:00 pm, and Mike and I enjoyed my first, very entertaining Canadians game that evening (2-1 victory over Spokane Indians) at the historic Nat Bailey Stadium.  And yes, the Hot Dog and Beer were delish too.  Another super DNCB Day.  Apologies again for the tardiness of this report, but again it was a busy week with my golf plus the Nats first monthly meeting, grandkids first days at Kindergarten, Bird Studies Canada conference on “Conservation of the Fraser River Estuary”, BBPA meeting, Car Boot Sale, annual Day at the Farm event, and a Paddle Wheeler Cruise on the Fraser River today.  All fun stuff.

This Wednesday, September 13, is our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park (see BOTB Poster).  We will meet at and leave from historic Cammidge House (CH) at 9:00 am on a leisurely walk in the Park, returning to CH at 11:30 am for the renowned “goodies” made by our Delta Nats Ladies.  All welcome, and free.  We should see Fall migrants, especially Shorebirds.

We also have on Tuesday, September 12, our annual BBRP Bird Box Examination and Cleaning, meeting at the 12th Avenue Park entrance at 9:30 am.

For more info on these and other events, reports and photos, visit our website.  As always, comments encouraged, and let me know if these long-winded, boring reports annoy you and you want off my e-mail List.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

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, American Dipper, American Pipit, Artist Point, Austin Pass, Begley Creek, Blue Grouse, Cedar Waxwing, Chipping Sparrow, Gray Jay, Mt. Baker, Picture Lake, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Bookmark the permalink.

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