DNCB Outing No. 2018-41 to Point Roberts, WA

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

With a beautiful morning for an outing the eight birders at Petra’s (Mikes 1 and 2, Terry, David and Noreen, Lorna, Glen, and myself, Roger) left for the Point, pausing at Kiniski’s parking lot for a quick scan of the shore.  There was a bit of wave action with the outgoing tide and not too many birds on the water.  The cormorants on the pilings all appeared to be Double-crested.  Moving on to Lighthouse Park, we joined Kirsten, Jean, Chris, Jim, Brian and the local Paul and began our walk.

DNCB_Pt Roberts_NR

DNCB at Point Roberts – photo by Noreen Rudd

The birds were relatively few at the start with most fairly far out.  In the distance we could make out isolated flocks of Western Grebes, the odd Common Loon and a possible Pacific Loon.  There were lots of Double-crested Cormorants and a few Horned Grebes.  Large numbers of Canada Geese passed overhead in the direction of Vancouver Island.  A few small flocks of ducks passed by and puzzled us as to species until a better look later confirmed them to be Red-breasted Mergansers.  The one flock of shorebirds that passed by we collectively decided to be Sanderlings!  An unusual sight was a close up look of a Sea Lion cruising only meters off the shore (much better view later in the walk… don’t read ahead)!  What we didn’t see were Black Turnstones, which we have usually seen in the past.  The only other shorebirds for the day were some Killdeer seen by some of us.  We had a brief look at two Harbour Porpoises in the distance.

From the Lighthouse Point, we turned to the east and followed the dyke to the end of the park.  Along the way we picked up some of the smaller birds; Song, Golden and White-crowned, and Savannah sparrows, American Goldfinches (a large flock), a Bewick’s Wren, and a flock of Cedar Waxwings.  Brian declared a  junco we observed to be a “Cassiar Junco” …check it out on Google, it’s real!  We had seen a large number of crows appearing to mob something in a pine tree, but we couldn’t see a victim.  However, later when the crows had left, a Merlin flew out and went after a small bird, and later perched on top of another pine allowing us photo opportunities.  The only other raptors for the day were a single Red-tailed Hawk and several Bald Eagles.  Offshore along the dyke we saw some Harlequin, small flocks of Surf – and a few White-winged – Scoters, and more Common Loons.

Instead of walking back to the parking lot through the campground, we decided to reverse and return the way we had come.

Oh, we should mention that late-comers Roy and Solveig had joined us by this time… lucky because of what came next!  Along the way back we encountered the sea lion we had earlier seen, but this time it had made its way up onto the shore and was resting against a large rock… not seeming to be bothered with us paying attention to it.  We stayed a respectful distance away and will, I’m sure, have some great shots from the our photographers.  This was definitely the highlight of the day!

From the Lighthouse Park, we drove the short distance to the marina and, on the west side, found only two Horned Grebes, and a Common Loon.  Moving around to the east side of the lagoon, we re-located the Merlin (assuming it to be the same one) and had our first, and only, Belted Kingfisher of the day.

Our next location was a new one beginning at the end of the road along the west side of the Seabright Farm property where we had the House Wren last year.  We decided to park at the end of the road to give us a closer access to the stairs down to the beach.  This proved a bit awkward with the number of vehicles we were travelling in, but we managed to pack them tightly together.

I’m not sure if anyone counted the number of steps (one informed source says 192) but they were not deep drops like the steps at other beach access points in the area, for example, the ones at Fred Gingell Park off English Bluff Road.  The stairs were quite an expensive construction but provided a very comfortable and safe access to the beach below.

Once on the beach, we walked east towards Lily Point.  Along the way were able to look at the layers of sediment on the exposed cliff face below the Seabright property and wished we had a geologist with us to describe the processes that led to their formation.

This walk provided few species but we saw a lot more Harlequin, and one rock crowded with cormorants, mainly Double-crested!  We should have, but didn’t, paid more attention to the gull species… mea culpa!  I think a future walk, maybe a separate one from this, should be a round trip involving going around Lily Point and up the trail on the north side up to the parking lot by the cemetary.  We could have it arranged so that there are cars at both ends… Seabright and Lily Point parking lots!  Just a thought!

Looking around, we seemed to have lost a number of our group (actually most) as we could see them spread out along the beach heading back to the stairs!  Climbing back up was not the ordeal most had anticipated due to the low rise of each step, and I didn’t hear any complaints at the top.

As we had now reached noon, several members decided to head for the Rose-and-Crown for lunch and a Guinness (what Mike 1 was yearning for), or a Kilkenny as Roy’s preference!

A recent e-mail from Tom reports that he is 3,500 Kilometers north of his base south of Perth at the Ord River.  Check it out on Google Earth and “the middle of nowhere” isn’t a strong enough description.  He says that he has been swimming and observing crocodiles… I’m assuming these are mutually exclusive activities!  We hope you are having a great time, Tom!  Send us some notes of your birding exploits.  Lorna has Fedexed some Peanut Butter Sandwiches to you, and they should be there in a few weeks.

Roger. (The DNCB Blog needs a new writer… volunteers welcome for next week’s outing at Jericho Beach).

Next week, Tuesday Oct. 16, we leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for an outing to Jericho Beach.  Meet at Jericho at 8:30 am.  Park on W Second Ave, west of Wallace St (beside the pay parking lot).

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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, Bald Eagle, California Sea Lion, Cedar Waxwing, Harbour Porpoise, Harlequin Duck, Lighthouse Marine Park, Lily Point Park, Merlin, Pacific Loon, Point Roberts, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-tailed Hawk, Sanderling. Bookmark the permalink.

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