DNCB Outing No. 2018-39 to White Rock Pier/Blackie Spit/Elgin Heritage Park

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

It was a promising-looking day when we set our from Petra’s.  The group was smaller than usual from there, and consisted of Mike 1 and his Scotland visitor Sean, Mike 2, Glen, Chris, Jim, David and Noreen, and myself, Roger.  Our legendary leader, Tom, was absent with some feeble excuse involving surgery, golfer’s thumb, and some other ailment.  On the way to White Rock Highway 99 had some dense patches of fog but by the time we arrived at our destination it had lifted.  Our numbers increased at the pier and included Pat, Colin and Stephanie, Richard, Liz, Roy and Solveig, Marion, and later at Blackie Spit we were joined by the rarely seen Denise (Uma) and late-riser Margaretha!

DNCB (less Roy) at White Rock Pier – photo by David Hoar

As a disclaimer, I lack Tom’s pornographic memory and will probably miss the odd sighting or misidentify species.  Feel free to contact Tom, at an address (to be provided later) somewhere in the heart of Australia where he will be hiding out for the next 6 weeks, with your complaints.

So, starting at the White Rock Pier, we found very few species.  On the shore we had a variety of gulls… California, Mew, Ring-billed and Glacous.  Out on the water there was a single Western Grebe, a number of Red-necked, one of which entertained us with its attempt to swallow a small fish (maybe an eel blenny?), and several Horned as well.  Aside from a large flock of Surf Scoters in the distance, the only ducks noted were Mallards.  A few salmon were seen jumping.  There were scattered numbers of Canada Geese most on, or near, the shore.  Some of us managed to see/hear a Black Turnstone on the breakwater, and the only other shore birds were a few Killdeer on the shore by the White Rock.  A few Common Loons were seen, but widely scattered.  Leaving the pier, we stopped at the west end of the beach where some reported a few White-winged Scoters and further assorted gulls.

Having exhausted the feeble offerings at White Rock, we proceeded to Blackie Spit where we found the tide still on the way out.  Walking out to the tip of the spit we had the usual collection of Ring-billed Gulls (not sure why this area is an attraction for them?)  The small birds we saw flitting about in the Asparagus plants turned out to be Savannah Sparrows.  We had been hoping for Longspurs and Pipits!  There was a lot of action out on the water with a harem of Harbour Seals moving in unison amid the schools of small fish (Fisherman Roy agreed they were probably “smelt”) … schools of them were everywhere rippling the surface of the water and attracting the gulls, herons and Caspian Terns which were diving into the water to catch them.  I’d have to say this spectacle was the high-light of the day!  The Long-billed Curlew spent the whole time we were there in a stationary position with his head tucked under a wing.  The only other shorebirds were a small number of Greater Yellowlegs in the ponds off the east side of the spit.

Moving to the base of the spit and across to the lagoon side, things got a bit more interesting.  A number of small bird species were sighted, but not all of us saw the complete list.  The most common species of the day, I think, were the Yellow-rumped Warblers (we had at least one Myrtle variety).  Noreen pointed out some Orange-crowned Warblers.  Others reported Song, Fox, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows, and a number of Northern Flickers.    The Purple Martins seem to have left the nest boxes.  Two raptors entertained us towards the end of our stay at the spit, both having trouble with the resident crows who objected to the presence of the raptors.  One was a very dark Merlin and the other an accipiter that we couldn’t reach a consensus as to it being a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned Hawk!  The latter was hounded (crowed) relentlessly by a murder of crows that grew from 3 to over a dozen.

Having exhausted the avian offerings of Blackie Spit (disappointed at not sighting a Roseate Spoonbill reported from past outings) and still having some time to spare, we decided to hit Elgin Heritage Park on the way back.  The tide was still going out, and had exposed large beds of oysters on the Nicomekl river?  We wondered if there is some reason they don’t seem to be harvested, and this topic is assigned to be researched by members to be reported at the next outing.  Once again, the bushes and trees were loaded with Yellow-rumped Warblers.


Golden-crowned Kinglet (NR)

Other birds reported by segments of our fragmented group were Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Downy Woodpecker, and a single Steller’s Jay!

By the end of our Elgin Heritage Park segment, a number of members had already departed, and the remaining ones, missing Tom’s presence, decided to forgo going out for lunch (it was after 1:00 pm by this time).

Report by Roger Meyer, for absentee legendary leader Tom

(Note that DNCB Outings will be on TUESDAYS – except BOTB in December, still on Wednesday).  Next week, we leave Petra’s at 7:30 on TUESDAY October 2 for an outing to Derby Reach & Brae Island Parks.  Meet at Edgewater Bar/Derby Reach Campground Parking Lot (off Allard Crescent) at 8:30 am.

Also next Tuesday, October 2 is our annual DNS AGM meeting, 7:30 pm at Benediction Lutheran Church, at which there will be elections for the new DNS Board.  Guest speaker Peter Candido will entertain us with A Birding and Wildlife Tour of Brazil: Amazon Rainforest, Pantanal and Cerrado.


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, Black Turnstone, Blackie Spit, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Cooper's Hawk, Elgin Heritage Park, Harbour Seal, Long-billed Curlew, Merlin, Mew Gull, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red-necked Grebe, Sharp-shinned Hawk, White Rock Pier, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Bookmark the permalink.

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