DNCB Outing No. 2018-48 to Drayton Harbor/Semiahmoo Spit

Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.

With the  preceding few days of heavy rain and more forecast, we were expecting more of the same for our regular Tuesday outing.  Fortunately, the five members showing up at our Peach Arch Park meeting spot were rewarded with one of the most beautiful, sunny, days yet!  Mike, David, Terry, Jack and myself (Roger) passed through the US Customs with no wait, and turned down the road to the pier in Blaine.

It should be mentioned that there was a very high tide today leaving very little shoreline exposed.  Our first stop at the base of the jetty yielded a raft of Mallards, and a few Canada Geese in the distance, and little else.  Parking at the  lot at the end, we walked to the observation deck looking across to the Semiahmoo Spit, and found the following birds on the water: several Common Loons, Horned, Red-necked and Western Grebes, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Common Goldeneyes, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, and some Red-breasted Mergansers.  Far out on the water, some Long-tailed Ducks and a cluster of Brant could be barely made out.

Returning to the van, we drove to the marina gate and went down to the floating docks where we saw only another Common Goldeneye and one Horned Grebe!  On the rock breakwater I took a photo of a gull that turned out to be a California when I processed it on the computer.  As we were leaving, we were joined by the late riser Brian bringing our trip total up to six.  Did I mention that it was a beautiful sunny day?  …you lazy sleep-ins!

Leaving the pier at Blaine, we headed to Semiahmoo Spit, which  I calculated to be a long par 5 distance away (maybe a par 6 for Tom), a twenty minute drive around Drayton Harbor (ok… that’s the last time I spell harbor this way, even though my spell-check is trying to make me do so)!  Our first stop on the way was at Dakota Creek Park where the creek meets Drayton Harbour.  There is a bird feeder at the side of the house beside the trail down to the water, and there were Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, and Towhee enjoying it.  There was nothing to see on the water itself.

We then circled around the base of the harbour, and, due to the lack of birds because of the  high tide, continued to the base of the Semiahmoo Spit where we parked.  The only Belted Kingfishers we saw were along this south road.  On the Boundary Bay facing side of the spit, we had large numbers of Surf Scoters, some Buffleheads, Red-breasted Mergansers, distant Long-tailed ducks, and more Common Loons.

Crossing the road to the east, we found more Scoters, but predominantly White-winged (something we noticed in previous trips).  Also, we found the first Ruddy Duck.  We had hoped to encounter Canvasbacks, but came up empty.  It’s possible there were some there, but the angle of the sun made it difficult to scan out to the middle of the harbour where we usually see them.  Most of the action here was along the shore line where the  high tide probably worked to our advantage forcing the Black Turnstones and Sanderlings right up to the road where we had amazing looks at them.  They didn’t seem concerned with pedestrians passing by on the sidewalk, and our photos should be spectacular.  Walking along the beach, we encountered a number of Golden-crowned Sparrows.

Just before the marina, there are linked floats that extend several hundred meters out into the harbour.  Near the shore, the first float had a resting Black Oystercatcher and a Whimbrel with its head tucked in.  It wasn’t until it uncurled it’s head and the shorter curved beak and striped head could be seen that it could be distinguished from a long-billed Curlew.  I’d say this bird was probably the sighting of the day!  At the farthest end of the line of floats there were dozens of sleeping Harbour Seals and Double-crested Cormorants!

Walking around the top of the spit, we turned into Boundary Bay proper and finally had some close-up views of the Long-tailed Ducks, male and female.  Also, there were some Red-throated Loons but no Pacifics like we had on the previous outing here where we had dozens of both species.

DNCB_Group at Blaine_TC.JPG

DNCB at Semihmoo Spit – photo by Terry Carr

On the pier looking across to the white-painted, white rock of White Rock (wasn’t painted when I was a kid!) we had a passer-by take  our obligatory group photo, and then went inside the resort to have our lunch (coincidentally, it was exactly 12:00 noon, and the restaurant had just opened… perfect timing).  While eating, we were able to see most of the birds we had seen earlier pass below us outside our picture window.  If it had rained, we could have birded from the restaurant!

We had a great time today, and lucked out with the weather and lots of great birds… check out the group’s photos to see what you wimps lost out on by staying in bed!

Because of the Semiahmoo Spit, Drayton Harbour is like a bay-within-a bay, and I keep referring to my Anne Murray’s “Nature Guide to Boundary Bay” that lists all of the sources of water that drain into the Bay.  We all know of the Nicomekl, Serpentine and Little Campbell,  but the Dakota and California rivers are important sources, of which most of us have probably never heard (check the “Publications” listed on the right side of our blog).

For a complete list of species seen today check out Brian’s e-Bird list at:https://ebird.org/shared?subID=UzUwMjY1Mzg5&s=t

Report by Roger Meyer


Next week, Tues. Dec. 4, DNCB will visit Terra Nova Park, Richmond; leave Petra’s at 7:30 am, meet at west end of River Road ~ 8:15 am.

Later on Tuesday Dec. 4, our monthly DNS meeting will feature speakers Noreen Rudd & David Hoar, describing their adventures in Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica.  Meeting at 7:30 pm, at Benediction Lutheran Church


Tom on Top of Down Under
Not too much from Tom this week, but he seems to be  having too much fun!

“A tough but enjoyable morning trudging through the jungle to find one of the 13 Tunnels  in Yalgorup National Park.  Beautiful vista to follow over Preston and other surrounding lakes.”

Only 15 days left, Tom… make the best of it!

TomAttackedbyKillerTermites[1]

Tom attacked by killer Termites

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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, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, California Gull, Harbour Seal, Long-tailed Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Loon, Ruddy Duck, Sanderling, Whimbrel. Bookmark the permalink.

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