Sixteen DNCBers really enjoyed our “away” outing to Deception Pass and Whidbey Island USA last Wednesday. It was a gorgeous day and we saw lots of neat stuff. Check out the photo evidence at: https://www.flickr.com/search/?group_id=3027315%40N23&text=2018-18&view_all=1.
Some left Petra’s at 7:00 am and we met at the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 7:30 am. Marion had arrived early and spotted and photographed a Chipping Sparrow near the Duty-Free Shop. Fifteen of us car-pooled brilliantly in 4 vehicles and we met the 16th, Van City Lidia at the Coupeville-Port Townsend Ferry terminal at 10:00 am. The Border crossing was smooth, and the 2 hour drive through upstate Washington countryside was interesting and beautiful, especially for those of us who don’t go there often, and surprisingly, we all reached the ferry on time.
Our Ferry from Coupeville left at 10:15 am, so we had a few minutes to bond and wander around the terminal before departure. Harlequin Ducks and Pigeon Guillemots in the harbour were the main attraction along with a flypast of PB Lorna’s Belted Kingfisher. Anne tried unsuccessfully to describe and explain the hybrid Gulls to us (Thayer’s, Icelandic, Western, Ring-billed, Glaucous-winged). On board, we gathered on the bow, and David took the obligatory Group Photo in the sun.
I love ferries, and this 40 minute crossing of the Juan de Fuca Strait is exceptional. The vistas of the surrounding Olympic mountains are spectacular, and we get great looks at pelagic birds we don’t see often: Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Pacific Loons. We were blanked this trip on Ancient and Marbled Murrelets, Tufted Puffins and Gray or Humpback Whales, but did see Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, and three Cormorant species, Pelagic, Double-crested and Brandt’s. Black-headed Bonaparte’s Gulls were among the several Gull/Auklet “feeding frenzies” we witnessed. To maintain my image, I had to try a Port Townsend Gold Lager draught on the return trip, delish.
We arrived back at Coupeville around 11:30 and began our walk up to historic Fort Casey. Along the way we saw a couple of California Quail, as well as Brown-headed Cowbirds, most of the regular Sparrow (including Savannah) and Finch species, a Chipmunk, and the lots of Swallows. Brilliant Violet-green Swallows were nesting in (I guess) gun holes in the Fort. A few Harbour Porpoises showed their fins cruising in the Strait. We had our lunch at picnic tables on the Fort lawn. I had already eaten my PB sandwich, so sponged Nance’s cookies, washed down with a G-Water (only Glen had beer), and a couple of miniature Tootsie Rolls.
We bought US State Park Passes at the office, then walked back down to the our vehicles at the ferry terminal. Next stop was Deception Pass State Park. Another gorgeous setting. We saw more pelagic species, Common Loons, Harbour Seals, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, and several Nothern Rough-winged Swallows seemingly cavorting and fighting over a nesting cavity in a sand cliff close to shore. Then Roger led us on another of his legendary “short-cuts” through the woods and camping sites. Albeit an overly long walk, we saw lots of really neat stuff including a pair of Osprey (also “cavorting”), a Pileated Woodpecker (perhaps a pair), Brown Creepers, Pacific Wrens, Warblers (Orange-crowned, Yellow), Common Yellowthroat, at least), Rufous Hummingbirds, and a Canada Goose pair with nine babies.
Back at the beach, a pair of Killdeer were probably preparing to nest. There were several other sightings by others that I didn’t see including, Red-throated Loons, Common Mergansers, Western Grebes, Bewick’s Wren. It was around 4:00 pm when we decided to head home. The drive back was serene as I snoozed with Richmond Brian in the 3rd seat of Roger’s van, under the drone of Roger & Anne’s chatter up front. About 25 minutes at the Border, and I was home by 6:00 pm, another glorious DNCB outing.
The Sixteen were: Roger M, Mike B, Guru Anne M, Richmond Brian, PB Lorna, Marion S, Burnaby Roy & Solveig, David & Noreen, VanCity Lidia, newbie South Surrey’s Julie J, Aussie Nance, Glen B, our Organizer Terry C and me.
Next Wednesday, May 9, we leave Petra’s at 7:30 am and go back to the US to Tennant Lake Park plus the Whatcom Museum in Washington. See 2018 DNCB Outings Page for more info and directions about this outing.
The BC Nature AGM and Conference also starts next Thursday, May 10, at UBC, and our International Migratory Bird Day event is at Cammidge House on Saturday, May 12, 12:30 to 2:30 pm. There will be displays, Mother’s Day Tea with the Birds at Cammidge House, and a guided birding walk from 1:15 to 2:00, followed by refreshments. More information at BBPA website.
As always, your comments are welcome, and let me know if you want off my email list to receive these repetitive, annoying reports. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society