DNCB Outing No. 2017-42 to Deception Pass & Whidbey Island WA

More photos at our DNCB Flickr site

Terry and Roger organized a gem of an outing on Tuesday to Deception Pass and Whidbey Island in Washington State.  We had 21 participants under gorgeous sunshine spending an awesome day of birding and sight-seeing in this idyllic area of the San Juan Islands.  Check out the many beaut photos on our Flickr site at:  www.flickr.com/groups/dncb, then click the magnifying glass icon in the “Photo Pool” row, and add 2017-42 to “flickr_search_dncb-photosDNCB Photos” in the Search box at the top of the page.

At 7:30 am we mustered at the Peace Arch Park parking lot to car-pool for this day-long outing.  While waiting for the orienteering-challenged Laurie and Ka-Ling who sorrowfully did not make the trip, an American Kestrel entertained a few, along with FOSB’s Marg Cuthbert checking in to ensure we were all okay in her territory.

Terry took David & Noreen and Margaretha in her van, Chris took Jack, Jim and Anne, White Rock Al joined Rob & Marylile, Dutch Tom took his Langley crew of Wim, Joanne & Gareth, Roger took Mike and me.  Richmond Brian & Quilter Louise, and Lidia met us at the Ferry Terminal in Coupeville.  That’s our 21.

The Border was smooth, and it was a glorious 1 ½ hour drive down highway 5 and across 20 to the Deception Pass bridge and down Whidbey Island to the ferry terminal at Coupeville.  This being my first time on Whidbey Island, I especially relished the historical banter between Roger and Mike recounting their many visits to this area over the past six decades.  The exuberant 21 all arrived at the terminal around 9:30, shared pleasantries about how awesome the day already was, and then bought our ferry tickets ($1.65 each way) for the 10:00 am crossing of Admiralty Inlet (aka Strait of Juan de Fuca) to Port Townsend.  Some less-challenged in operating the ferry ticket machine (Canadians must input a numerical postal code) got to see the Western Grebe and Common Loons in the harbour.  Of course, only Roger saw the Pacific Loon.

Twenty of us went to the bow of the ferry for our Group photo (Rob was checking out the Beer stock in the café).  As the ferry took off the excitement crescendoed (Is that a word?).  Several Pigeon Guillemots were spotted, then a Common Murre came close, then a small flock of Marbled Murrelets flew by, then some saw a couple of Ancient Murrelets up close, then a Rhinoceros Auklet.  Five Alcids seen, but we were blanked on the Tufted Puffin which nests on nearby islands.  Then a spray was seen in the distance; it was a Gray Whale spouting.  Then four Harbour Porpoises approached us at the bow and whizzed by.  And the surrounding vistas, particularly of snowy Mount Baker in the distance were spectacular.  I wonder how many yellow spots were on the deck from DNCBers after experiencing these euphoric sightings.

At the Dover-like (white cliffs of) Port Townsend, we disembarked, then got right back on the ferry for the return trip.  Roger pointed out the historic Port Townsend brothel he apparently recognized (see Palace Hotel).  We saw many of the same species on the return trip, but often better views.  The Gray Whale, or another one, rolled and spouted for us again.  Lidia saw Orcas here yesterday (Monday).  We were unable to pick out a Brandt Cormorant among the Pelagic and Double-crested.  After disembarking at the Coupeville terminal we wandered around the adjacent Crockett Lake and Fort Casey State Park for an hour.  Some neat sightings included: more Heermann’s Gulls than most of us have ever seen (other Gulls were Ring-billed, California, Mew and Glaucous-winged), three Grebe species, Horned, Red-necked and Western, and a Belted Kingfisher.

On the trail up to the Fort Casey, originally built in the 1890’s, we saw lots of little birds including four Sparrow species, Song, Fox, White- and Golden-crowned, Anna’s Hummingbirds, House and American Goldfinches, and a beaut Cooper’s Hawk.  We took another Group Photo with the cannon behind us, on the Fort’s hill under the brilliant sun, gazing across the inlet at the twin Fort Worden.  Approaching 12:45 pm, we descended quickly to our vehicles so we could make Terry’s scheduled 1:00 pm lunch at the Front Street Grill in Coupeville.

Coupeville is a quaint little village on the water, Penn Cove.  We saw rafts of Surf Scoters from the restaurant’s window.  My lunch was simply superb: Mussels in wine sauce, with a bowl of Linguine and Garlic Toast, along with a 16 oz. glass (US ounces, smaller than ours) of a German Lager that Margaretha said was a “wheat yeast beer”.  I think all 21 of us, although squeezed into two long tables, were very pleased with their meals and service.

We left Coupeville around 2:30 pm and drove back up highway 20 to Deception Pass State Park just before the famous bridge.  Another beautiful park; we went to the West Point overlooking the Pass and up at the bridge.  More Heermann’s Gulls here, a Bonaparte’s Gull, Guillemots, grebe and scoter species, and some vividly colourful Harlequin Ducks.  Langley Tom led us along a beach trail to an 850 year old Douglas Fir tree.  We took another Group Photo here with our lovable “monkey” entertainer making a grand exit from the tree onto his tush.  We followed an inland trail through the woods and saw Golden-crowned Kinglets, Northern Flickers, Bald Eagles, some saw wrens.  Ring-necked Ducks were on Cranberry Lake, and we finally saw some Shorebirds, Killdeer and Greater(?) Yellowlegs.  I don’t tally species seen on the day, only neat ones I like, but Langley Gareth said we had 57 species on the day (not too shabby).  We got back to our vehicles around 4:30 pm, said goodbyes, and each car went their own way home.

Roger decided to take Mike and I on the scenic Chuckanut Drive along the coast to Bellingham.  It was magnificent too.  We saw an American Kestrel on a telephone wire, then a Short-eared Owl glided along side our van.  Then four Swans (early Trumpeters I guess) flew across the road in front.  I was too excited and couldn’t doze off as I usually do on these rides home.  We got to the border around 6:30 pm, no wait, and home by 7:00 pm.  Terry and Roger did a terrific job organizing this outing, and with the gorgeous weather, fantastic people, and spectacular sightings and scenery, this was one of my most enjoyable DNCB outings ever.

Next Tuesday, October 31 (Halloween), we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 am for a local outing to Reifel and perhaps Alaksen.  I expect we’ll be at Reifel’s entrance around 9:30 am.

For more info on our outings, and reports and photos, check out our website at http://www.dncb.wordpress.com.

As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if these long-winded, erratic missives bore or annoy you and you want off my e-mail list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society (1:00 am and exhausted)

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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, American Kestrel, Ancient Murrelet, Bald Eagle, Bonaparte's Gull, Common Murre, Cooper's Hawk, Coupeville, Cranberry Lake, Crockett Lake, Deception Pass, Gray Whale, Harbour Porpoise, Harlequin Duck, Heermann's Gull, Marbled Murrelet, Mew Gull, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Red-necked Grebe, Rhinoceros Auklet, Ring-necked Duck, Short-eared Owl, Trumpeter Swan, Whidbey Island. Bookmark the permalink.

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