DNCB Outing No. 2019-16 to Whidbey Island, USA

Sixteen DNCBers enjoyed a gorgeous Wednesday on our “away” outing to a number of parks on Whidbey Island.  We saw several species, including pelagic birds that we don’t often see in the BC lower mainland.  Check out the brilliant photos of the birds and vistas on our DNCB Flickr site.

We met at 7:30 am at the Peace Arch Park parking lot for car pooling.  Very commendable car-pooling as Roger had 6 in his van, Wazza had 4, Colin had 3, and three others met us at the Coupeville Ferry terminal for the 10:15 am sailing to Port Townsend.  There was a long line-up at the Border until the US Customs opened a few more gates at 8:00 am, so our 25 minute wait was not too unbearable.  The drive down I-5 and then through the farms and villages to the Deception Pass bridge and across Whidbey Island to Coupeville ferry terminal took nearly 2 hours, but it was simply beautiful, and the conversation, including Roger and Mike regaling us with stories of their adventures in this area over the past 60 years, was stimulating and fascinating.

Before boarding the ferry, we wandered around the terminal and had some neat sightings; Pigeon Guillemots, Horned and Pied-billed Grebes in the harbour, Mourning Doves (rarer now with the invasion of Eurasian Collared Doves) and several Swallow species on telephone lines.  We had 5 Swallow species this day, Tree, Violet-green, Barn, Cliff and Northern Rough-winged.  Lots of Cormorants around too, the most common being beautifully identifiable Brandt’s rather than Pelagic or Double-crested that we regularly see back home.  Pairs of spectacular Harlequin Ducks were also there.

On board, the 35 minute crossing to Port Townsend ($1.70US each way for Seniors) was incredible too.  We all stayed at the bow, which was a bit chilly with the wind, but the vistas all around us were stunning, and then as we approached and passed the rafts of pelagic species, the excitement crescendoed.  Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Red-breasted Mergansers and Red-necked Grebes were up-close-and-personal.  Port Townsend and Roger’s Brothel, although picturesque, were uneventful as we simply re-boarded for the return trip.  We finally organized a Group Photo on the return trip as we passed these same rafts of birds.


on Ferry to Port Townsend – photo by Roger Meyer

Back at the Coupeville terminal, we cased Crockett Lake where several waterfowl species were lingering; Bufflehead, Northern Pintail, Scaup, Killdeer and four Dowitchers.  A brilliant pair of Northern Harriers cruised by, and some saw a Turkey Vulture, others saw White Pelicans.  We started our walk through the RV Park and up the hill to Fort Casey.  Lots of Sparrows (Song, Savannah, White- and Golden-crowned) and other little birds along the path and keen-eyed Masae spotted the Orange-crowned Warblers and Chestnut-backed Chickadees in the bushes.  We heard but didn’t see California Quail. Richmond Brian’s eBird list (below) shows that we saw a nice total of 64 species on this outing.

Now past Noon, we relaxed on the remnants of the Fort’s building roof and ate our lunch, surrounded by fantastic views, fields of golden yellow Mustard flowers, and nesting Violet-green Swallows.  After lunch (for me a ham & cheese sandwich bought on the ferry with a G Water; boring but satisfying), we decided to go back down the hill to the cars and move to another park.

We headed back up highway 20 and stopped at Fort Ebey State Park.  It was neat driving through groves of big trees to a rocky beach, but not many birds and otherwise uneventful.  We moved on to Deception Pass State Park and Cranberry Lake where we normally stop on these outings.  Many of the same species seen here, but the highlight was a Whale spouting (possibly a Gray Whale).  We could see Rosario Point across the bay, so we decided to go there.

Rosario was a new spot for me with a spectacular circular trail overlooking the bay. And we had some beaut sightings here too; raft of 30+ Common Loons, Black Oystercatchers, Northern Rough-winged and Cliff Swallows, Brown Creeper.  Approaching 4:00 pm, and most of us feeling a bit tired, we decided to say our good byes and head for home.  Although much quieter than the morning ride, I stayed awake most of the trip back to Canada to savour the beautiful scenic drive along the Bayview Edison Road and Chuckanut Drive. Border was surprisingly smooth and I got home before 7:00 pm.  Another fantastic DNCB day.

The sixteen were: Storytellers Roger & Mike, Organizer Terry, Warren (Wazza), Lynne & daughter Heather and Gareth, Colin & Stephanie and Ladner Jack Mac, Richmond Brian, PB Lorna, Ladner’s Bryan & Masae, loner VanCity Lidia, and me.

Next Wednesday, May 1, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for the UBC Botanical Gardens, meeting at the entrance around 8:15 am.  Garden Volunteer Debbi H will be leading this outing.

For more info on this and other outings, see our website.  As always, your comments are welcome, and let me know if these weekly missives bore you and you want off my email list.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society (1:00 am on my Birthday; going to bed)

eBird Checklist Summary for: Apr 24, 2019 at 7:00 AM to Apr 24, 2019 at 7:02 PM
Number of Checklists: 6  Number of Taxa: 64
Checklists included in this summary:
(1): Port Townsend-Keystone Ferry (Jefferson Co.)
Date: Apr 24, 2019 at 10:05 AM
(2): Port Townsend-Keystone Ferry (Island Co.)
Date: Apr 24, 2019 at 10:55 AM
(3): Keystone Ferry Landing
Date: Apr 24, 2019 at 11:42 AM
(4): Fort Ebey State Park
Date: Apr 24, 2019 at 1:58 PM
(5): Deception Pass SP — West Beach
Date: Apr 24, 2019 at 2:50 PM
(6): Rosario Beach / Rosario Head
Date: Apr 24, 2019 at 3:32 PM

12 Snow Goose — (6)
12 Brant (Black) — (2)
8 Canada Goose — (1),(2),(3)
1 Mallard — (3)
6 Northern Pintail — (3)
2 Green-winged Teal (American) — (3)
3 Greater/Lesser Scaup — (3)
8 Harlequin Duck — (1),(2),(6)
2 Surf Scoter — (5)
6 Bufflehead — (3)
10 Red-breasted Merganser — (1),(2)
1 California Quail — (6)
1 Pied-billed Grebe — (1)
1 Horned Grebe — (1)
8 Red-necked Grebe — (1),(2)
1 Rufous Hummingbird — (3)
2 Black Oystercatcher — (2),(6)
1 Killdeer — (3)
4 Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher — (3)
5 Common Murre — (1),(2)
29 Pigeon Guillemot — (1),(2),(5),(6)
60 Rhinoceros Auklet — (1),(2)
25 Bonaparte’s Gull — (1)
6 Western Gull — (1),(2)
18 Glaucous-winged Gull — (1),(2)
8 gull sp. — (5)
33 Common Loon — (1),(2),(6)
12 Brandt’s Cormorant — (1),(2)
31 Pelagic Cormorant — (1),(2),(3),(6)
2 Double-crested Cormorant — (2),(5)
2 American White Pelican — (3)
7 Great Blue Heron (Blue form) — (1),(3)
2 Turkey Vulture — (4),(6)
2 Northern Harrier — (3)
3 Bald Eagle — (3),(6)
1 Red-tailed Hawk — (4)
1 Belted Kingfisher — (6)
1 Hairy Woodpecker — (6)
1 Northern Flicker — (5)
20 American/Northwestern Crow — (3),(5),(6)
2 Northern Rough-winged Swallow — (6)
24 Tree Swallow — (3),(6)
6 Violet-green Swallow — (3)
16 Barn Swallow — (3),(6)
1 Cliff Swallow — (3)
1 Chestnut-backed Chickadee — (3)
1 Bewick’s Wren — (6)
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet — (3)
15 American Robin — (3),(5),(6)
6 European Starling — (3)
2 Purple Finch — (5)
1 American Goldfinch — (6)
14 White-crowned Sparrow — (3),(5),(6)
1 Golden-crowned Sparrow — (3)
3 Savannah Sparrow — (3)
4 Song Sparrow — (3),(5)
8 Red-winged Blackbird — (3),(5)
2 Orange-crowned Warbler — (3)
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler — (3)
1 Pine Siskin (6) (Gareth)
Mourning Doves (Tom)
Eurasian Collared Doves (Tom)
1 Brewer’s Blackbird (Tom)
?? one other




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, Brandt's Cormorant, Brown Creeper, California Quail, Cliff Swallow, Common Murre, Coupeville, Cranberry Lake, Crockett Lake, Deception Pass Campground, Gray Whale, Harlequin Duck, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mourning Dove, Northern Harrier, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Pied-billed Grebe, Pigeon Guillemot, Port Townsend, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Rhinoceros Auklet, Rosario Point, Turkey Vulture, Whidbey Island, White Pelican. Bookmark the permalink.

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