DNCB Outing No. 2018-36 to Mt. Baker, Washington

Fourteen DNCBers enjoyed spectacular scenery on a beautiful Wednesday on our annual all-day outing to Mt. Baker in Washington State.  And we saw some gorgeous wildflowers and a few neat birds as well.  Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

Some left Petra’s at 7:00 am and we car-pooled nicely from the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 7:30 am, in four vehicles.  The Border was smooth, and the 1 1/2 hour scenic drive through upstate Washington to the Mt. Baker Park entrance Centre was perfectly predicted by our Super Organizer Terry.  We bought the four Day Passes ($5 each) for our vehicles, then convoyed up the mountain to our first stop at Picture Lake.

Mt. Shuksan mirrored gloriously in the lake for the photogs as the weather was clear and warm (no smoke, only a bit of mist).  Even before David took the Group Photo at a lookout on the lake, we saw a plethora of birds in the surrounding trees and bushes, numbers like we would see no where else on this outing.  Yellow-rumped and a Townsend’s Warbler were the best sightings.

IMG_6931 Picture Lake Group_DH

DNCB at Picture Lake – photo by David Hoar

We also saw Gray Jays in the distance (but not eating from our hands), Sparrow species, Finch species, Flycatcher species, Chickadees, Juncos and Robins.  A few Swifts flew over, probably Vaux’s.  I think for many, munching on the small but scrumptious wild Blueberries took precedence over bird identification.  We circled the Lake path in an hour, which included commenting on the andesite “organ-like” columns which intrigued a few newbies.

We continued up the hill, past the ski shacks and tows, to the Visitor Centre at Heather Meadows.  Being only 11:30 am, before lunch we decided to walk the trail down along the Bagley Lakes in search of American Dippers and American Pipits (Why “American”?)  We just arrived at the river between the lakes, and right on cue was a Dipper and a Pipit.  The Dipper was dipping, flashing its white eyelid, and the Pipit was limping with a damaged leg.  We guessed that he was not destined for a long term with us.  We saw a few more Dippers, then our Time Guru Terry announced that we have seen enough here so let’s return up the hill to the parking lot for lunch.  Of course, that’s what we did.

My lunch of soda crackers with peanut butter, put on with a straw borrowed from Mike, hit the spot (my Swiss Army knife was too short to get into the PB jar).  My visiting high school buddy Brian, from Barrie, passed on the PB but had a Bartlett Pear and a couple of COSTCO granola bars.  I also ate the peanuts I didn’t use to feed the no-show Whiskey Jacks.  No beer; washed down with G Water.  Some walked the nearby circular Fire & Ice Trail (15-20 minutes) before or after lunch looking for grouse or Spotted Sandpipers, but none seen.  The colourful Butterflies gave the photogs some excitement.

Now 12:30 pm we drove to the top and Artist Point.  The huge parking lot there was packed; the Park’s popularity is understandable.  As is our regular itinerary, we walked along Trail 682 toward Ptarmigan Ridge enjoying the spectacular sub-alpine setting.  We were blanked on Ptarmigans and Mountain Goats (seen by many other visitors), but the wildflowers gave us their usual brilliant reds, yellows and purples.  Check out the photos for specie names.  At the start of the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail, we relax and gaze at the glacier base of Mt. Baker.  As is customary, David took another group photo before we trudged back along the cliff side to Artist Point.

IMG_7148 The group at the turn-around point_DH

DNCB on Ptarmigan Ridge trail – photo by David Hoar

No birds seen, not even a Common Raven, nor Picas or Hoary Marmots.  We learned that Golden Eagles have a “secret” nest nearby, but they haven’t been seen for a long while.  We missed the Osprey seen earlier this morning, and we couldn’t ID any Rosy Finches.  We got back to the parking lot approaching 4:00 pm, threw a few snow balls because we could, some complained about not having walked this much in 30 years then, feeling totally satisfied and exhausted, we packed into our vehicles to start the descent downhill.

Someone mentioned beer, so eight of us stopped at Chair 9 Pub near the park entrance.  My 5 buck pint of local Lager draught was glorious.  The drive back to Blaine was filled with the usual inane chatter, but at least it kept me awake at the wheel.  Border crossing was 5 minutes, and we got to the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 5:30 pm, right on schedule as Terry had organized.  Sandra & Susan were excited, and surprised, to see Brian and me home on time.  We wolfed down Sandra’s roasted lemon chicken, baked tomato risotto, home-made bread, key lime pie & cream, washed down with 15 year old Rum, then Brian and I flaked out on our chairs at 9:30 pm, with the TV still blaring.  It was another awesome DNCB outing.

The fourteen were: our super Organizer Terry C, Mike B, Chris McV, Jim K, David & Noreen, Richmond Brian, photog Glen, sailor Colin, North Van Richard, Roger K2, newbie Anita, my Niagara Falls high school friend Brian (aka Dumbrowsky), and me.

Next Wednesday, September 12, is our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing in Boundary Bay Regional Park.  We will meet at and leave from historic Cammidge House (CH) at 9:00 am on a 2 ½ hour amble through the park, returning to CH at 11:30 am to enjoy some home-made goodies provided by our Delta Nats ladies.

Also, don’t forget two events tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 8), our last 2018 Car Boot Sale at Centennial Beach, and Day at the Farm on Westham Island where Delta Nats will have their informative, hands-on display.

Check out our website for more info, reports and photos.  And, as always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if you want off my email list to receive these weekly birding babbles of gibberish.  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, Gray Jay, Mt. Baker, Townsend's Warbler, Vaux's Swift, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Bookmark the permalink.

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