DNCB Outing No 2019-45 to Whidbey Island, USA

ploFourteen DNCBers enjoyed a beautiful sunny and clear Tuesday visiting several parks on Whidbey Island in Washington State, plus a magnificent ferry ride.  There are already some spectacular shots on our DNCB Flickr site (more to come).

Some left Petra’s at 7:00 am and we all met at the Peace Arch Park parking lot at 7:30 am for carpooling brilliantly in 4 vehicles.  No wait at the Border, and the two hour drive down highway 5 to 20, and over the Deception Pass bridge to the Keystone Ferry Terminal at Coupeville on Whidbey Island was smooth and interesting, especially riding with Mike in his chariot along with Langley’s finest birder Welshman Gareth.

All vehicles, including loner Lidia, arrived well before the 10:15 am ferry departure, so we were able to wander around the terminal shore.  Got good looks at Pigeon Guillemots, a Rhinoceros Auklet, Harlequin Ducks, and Yellowlegs, and other ducks, mostly Northern Pintail, in the distance.  Noreen took the Group Photo on the bow of the ferry as we left on the 40 minute ride to Port Townsend.

2019-45 DNCB_Whidbey_NR

DNCB on Ferry to Port Townsend – photo by Noreen Rudd

It was cold and windy on the bow, but some of us persevered and we got some decent sightings.  Mostly guillemots, but some picked out a Common Murre, both Horned and Red-necked Grebes, Surf & White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Duck, an Heermann’s Gull among the Mew, Ring-billed and Glaucous-winged, Common and Pacific Loons (We had a Red-throated Loon later), as well as Harbour Porpoises.  At Port Townsend, we carefully examined the many cormorants and could easily distinguish Pelagic, Brandt’s and Double-crested as they were grouped together on pier pylons.

I should mention that the scenery was spectacular, across the Olympic mountains, Mount Baker, even across the Salish Sea to Victoria and Vancouver Island.  And the Growler Jets didn’t bother us until the afternoon over Deception Pass State Park.  We spent the whole ferry ride on the outside deck, getting back to Coupeville at 11:30 am.  Before lunch, we walked the short path to view the birds on Crocket Lake.  A Killdeer-like, Semi-palmated Plover, along with a Least Sandpiper and a flock of Yellowlegs, aroused our ID skills here.

We then walked up the hill to Fort Casey, carrying our bag lunches.  A family of California Quail and a passing Peregrine Falcon provided some excitement along the way.  We decided to eat at the picnic tables in the huge open area of the Fort as two Deer and a fat feral pussy cat watched us.  My Peanut Butter & Saltine Crackers, Fruit cup, Tangerine, Gala Apple, and bottle of G Water hit the spot (I saved the two cans of Coor’s Light until later).

We took the forest trail/road back down to the ferry terminal and our vehicles.  Lots of neat little birds in the trees including: Bewick’s & Pacific Wrens, Chestnut-backed & Black-capped Chickadees, Golden- & Ruby-crowned Kinglets, large flock of Bushtits, and a Fox Sparrow.  We drove the 45 minutes back up the island to the West Beach in Deception Pass State Park.  On arrival, we noticed on a rock island close to shore, covered with gulls, that smaller birds were moving lower down near the water level.  On closer examination, they were Surfbirds and Black Turnstones.  And in the bay was a Red-throated Loon, along with a possible Western Grebe.  In Cranberry Lake were Pied-billed Grebes, Northern Shovelers and Bufflehead.  Walking back to the vehicles, a Garter Snake wiggled across the path in front of me.  I wonder if this was a sign as it happened right after I received the call as to how much the repairs to my Range Rover were going to cost me.

Our last stop in this park was across the bridge to Rosario Head and its scenic circular trail.  The main attraction here this day was an Elephant Seal, lounging very close to the trail, but temporarily fenced off for protection by Park staff.  More of the same stuff seen here as we looked across the Pass to West Beach where we were previously.  More Group Photos taken at the Lookout as the jets flew by in formation.  It was 4:00 pm in the parking lot, while we’re looking at Brown Creeper creeping, that we decided to head for home.  I think David will have close to 60 species on his eBird list for the day.

The drive home was relaxing and uneventful (we didn’t stop at a Pub), and the Border was annoying, but we got through easily and at the Peace Arch parking lot by 5:30 pm.  And I was home before 6:00 in time to have a couple of beer with Mikey, Sandra, Auntie Barbara, then the “calamitous” arrival of Erica and grandkids Thomas & Callum.  It was another glorious DNCB outing.

The fourteen were: David & Noreen drove Terry & Ladner Pam, Richmond Brian & Louise drove Colin & ILB Tony, Glen had newbie Hadas, Mike drove Langley Gareth & me, and limping loner VanCity Lidia.

Next Tuesday, November 5, our destination is Iona Regional Park.  We’ll leave Petra’s at 7:30 am and meet others at the Iona washrooms around 8:00 am, depending on traffic.

Also, on the evening of November 5th is our Delta Nats monthly meeting, and AGM, with renowned CWS Sean Boyd presenting on Climate Change and its effect on Wetlands & Salmon.  All welcome (free) at the Benediction Lutheran Church in Tsawwassen, 7:30 pm.

Also, on Saturday evening November 2, the Boundary Bay Park Association is hosting a 2 hour Owl Walk in Boundary Bay Regional Park, meeting and leaving from historic Cammidge House at 5:30 pm.

For more info on outings, events, reports and photos, see our Nats website.  As always, your comments are encouraged and let me know if these far-too-long missives are so annoying that you want off my email list.  Happy Halloween.  Cheers: Tom

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

Keystone Ferry Landing, Whidbey Island, Washington
13 species (+2 other taxa)
American Wigeon  X     Distant
Green-winged Teal  25
Red-breasted Merganser  1
peep sp.  50
Greater Yellowlegs  15
Pigeon Guillemot  3
Rhinoceros Auklet  1
Glaucous-winged Gull  2
Double-crested Cormorant  2
cormorant sp.  X     Distant on pier
Great Blue Heron  3
Bald Eagle  2
Northwestern Crow  4
European Starling  3
House Finch  12

Port Townsend-Keystone Ferry
16 species (+1 other taxa)
Surf Scoter  1
White-winged Scoter  2
Long-tailed Duck  1
Red-necked Grebe  1
Common Murre  1
Pigeon Guillemot  X     Many
Rhinoceros Auklet  1
Heermann’s Gull  1
Mew Gull  1
Ring-billed Gull  2
California Gull  4
Glaucous-winged Gull  3
gull sp.  X
Pacific Loon  1
Brandt’s Cormorant  8
Pelagic Cormorant  6
Double-crested Cormorant  1

Fort Casey State Park
24 species
Northern Pintail  65
California Quail  3
Semipalmated Plover  1
Dunlin  8
Least Sandpiper  2
Greater Yellowlegs  18
Great Blue Heron  5
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Northwestern Crow  10
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  4
Bushtit  18
Golden-crowned Kinglet  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Pacific Wren  1
Bewick’s Wren  4
Fox Sparrow  2
White-crowned Sparrow  3
Golden-crowned Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  1

Deception Pass SP — West Beach
15 species (+1 other taxa)
Northern Shoveler  5
Harlequin Duck  3
Surf Scoter  6
Bufflehead  28
Red-breasted Merganser  12
Pied-billed Grebe  3
Black Turnstone  5
Surfbird  5
Mew Gull  1
gull sp.  60
Common Loon  1
Bald Eagle  2
Northwestern Crow  3
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  1
House Finch  1
Dark-eyed Junco  2

Rosario Beach / Rosario Head, Skagit
10 species (+2 other taxa)
Harlequin Duck  3
Surf Scoter  1
Horned Grebe  1
Red-necked Grebe  2
Western Grebe  1
gull sp.  6
Red-throated Loon  1
Common Loon  2
cormorant sp.  11
Northern Flicker  1
Bushtit  12
Brown Creeper  1

if the Trumpeter Swans seen en-route are added, the daily total would be 60.

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, Brandt's Cormorant, Brown Creeper, California Quail, Common Murre, Coupeville, Cranberry Lake, Crocket Lake, Deception Pass, Elephant Seal, Fort Casey, Garter snake, Harbour Porpoise, Harlequin Duck, Heermann's Gull, Least Sandpiper, Long-tailed Duck, Mew Gull, Pacific Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Pied-billed Grebe, Pigeon Guillemot, Port Townsend, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, Rhinoceros Auklet, Semi-palmated Plover, Surfbird, Whidbey Island. Bookmark the permalink.

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