Blog: Delta birders hit Sidney Spit


Twenty plus DNCBers enjoyed a spectacular outing to, from and on Sidney Island, the Gulf Islands National Park. We had some superb sightings, including rare species, on a gorgeous Wednesday in BC. Check out the pictorial evidence on our Flickr site.


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Fifteen DNCBers met on the 7:00 am “Free” ferry to Swartz Bay. The crossing was smooth, Traditional Breakfast with Tea hit the spot, and we saw Gulls (California, Mew, Glaucous-winged), Cormorants (Double-crested, Pelagic and probably Brandt’s) and Pigeon Guillemots, and a couple of Harbour Porpoises. The scenery was spectacular and everyone was smiling in the sun for the Group Photo at the ship’s bow.


We caught the double decker bus to Sidney ($5 Pass for all day) and got to the Alpine Sidney Spit Ferry terminal at 9:15 am, fortunately well before the 10:00 am departure as it was fully booked (max 41 passengers allowed). This return 25 minute trip to the Spit cost $16 for Seniors. It was a beaut ride too, passing rafts of Alcids including Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots. Tony saw a Heermann’s Gull and some saw a Marbled Murrelet.


We met Bob Vergette and his Pender Island Naturalists at the Spit Ferry dock. They had arrived earlier on Bob’s boat. Following intro’s, we started our walk along the sandy north shore of the Spit.  Anne Nightingale and several Victoria Naturalists were there too, and we found the Target Bird, a Bar-tailed Godwit, about half-way to the spit’s end. Everyone got good looks, and photos, of this Asian/Aussie vagrant. We also saw a few Peeps mostly Western Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers and Black Oystercatchers, but blanked on the Baird’s Sandpipers. A passing Merlin had earlier scared off many.


The Spit walk was glorious too, lots of neat Wildflowers, no Nighthawks seen in their nesting area, but on the walk back a Parasitic Jaeger posed and nicely circled for his photo op. It was almost 12:30 pm when we got back to the dock picnic tables and had our lunches. Fresh Plums from Margaretha’s and Tony’s backyard trees were the feature edible (No Beer). White-crowned & Song Sparrows and Barn & Tree Swallows serenaded us.


After lunch we followed the forest trail past the remnants of the 1905 Sidney Brick & Tile Company (employed 70 people way back then) and saw lots of neat species, namely: Woodpeckers (Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Sapsuckers, Pileated), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglets,  Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Willow Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, plus other common species. A Cooper’s Hawk excited our photog’s as it circled and flashed it’s colours in the clear blue sky. David’s eBird list indicates we saw 28 species on this Sidney Spit outing.


We got back to the Spit Ferry dock at 2:30 pm in time for the 3:00 pm trip back to Sidney. Another beautiful ride pasts the Alcids. We caught the bus back to Swartz Bay, and arrived at 3:50 pm, just in time to catch the 4:00 pm ferry back to Tsawwassen. We searched in vain for Whales. As always happens, the Crew advised that on this trip yesterday they saw both Orcas and Humpbacks, all breaching. I was home by 6:00 pm, having “suffered” one of the most enjoyable DNCB outings ever.


The 20 plus participants were: Organizer Terry, Roger, Mike & PB Lorna, David & Noreen, Richmond Brian & Louise, “Plummers” Tony & Margaretha, VanCity Lidia, Ladner Bryan w/o Masae, Tsa Glen & Ladner Pam, Pender Island Bob, Derek & (I forget other’s names) w/o Jan who missed the Spit ferry, four Victoria Naturalists who joined us fleetingly, and me.


Next Wednesday, September 4, is our annual Mt. Baker outing with leader Terry Carr. Participants meet at the Peace Arch Park parking lot (behind the Duty-Free shop) at 7:30 am for car-pooling. For more info on this and other outings, reports and photos, see our website at The report on this outing and the following Sept. 11 Birds on the Bay outing should also be on our website soon after these events. I will be golfing and holidaying in Newfoundland from Sept. 3 to 14. As always, your comments are encouraged, and please advise if this lengthy, weekly, verbal diarrhea compels you to request removal from my email list.


Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society

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