Jericho Beach Birding – March 17, 2024

Jericho Beach Birding – March 17, 2024

Trip leaders Michelle Baudais and Harvey Dueck had a full house for their St. Patrick’s Day walk at Jericho Beach Park on Sunday.  We also had some of the nicest weather we’ve seen for months!  The air was warm and the sky cloudless as we met at the east edge of the park at 9am.

Before the walk officially began, Harvey took advantage of the clear skies to put a solar filter on his spotting scope. 2024 is close to the peak of the 11 year solar cycle, which means lots of sunspots.  With a little care, observers were able to identify 5 different groups of small black dots on the white disk of the sun, the largest of which is actually double the Earth’s diameter in size. (Don’t try this at home unless you have a good-quality solar filter obtained from a reputable source, like a scientific supply house or a telescope store.  You can blind yourself in seconds looking at the sun through ordinary optics.)

After taking care of the astronomical preliminaries, we proceeded to the beach.  Fortunately, the cold water swimmers had not frightened away the water birds and we were able to spot Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Horned Grebes, and Double-crested Cormorants.  As we walked further along the beach, one sharp-eyed observer spotted an Anna’s Hummingbird at the top of a distant tree, and an adult Bald Eagle on a tree at the edge of the forest to the south.  But we resisted the temptation to leave the water’s edge and were rewarded by a pair of Bufflehead, a Red-breasted Merganser, and a Common Goldeneye.  We also saw what appeared to be the hybrid Goldeneye that has been reported here on eBird.  His sides were almost as white as those of a Common Goldeneye, but the white spot on his face was not quite as round as the circular spot of a Common and not nearly as crescent-shaped as the crescent-shaped spot expected on a Barrow’s.

Seeing the hybrid was a nice way to wrap up our views of ocean birds. From here we turned inland and headed for the West Marsh.  After wandering by a Northern Flicker, a Song Sparrow, and some American Crows, we reached the marshy area and spotted a good-sized group of Goldfinches.  The Goldfinches are still coming into their breeding plumage, but if you caught the sunlight just right the little yellow birds positively glowed.  We heard the spring “Phoe—bee” song of the Black-capped Chickadee and the lovely complex songs of the Song Sparrow and House Finch, and also got a reminder of how difficult it can be to judge the size of a distant bird.  One of us was puzzled by the dark back and perhaps rufous side of a bird perched in a large tree nearby.  As all of us tried to puzzle things out through our binoculars, Harvey put his scope on the bird.  It was an American Robin!  We were amazed.  We all thought the bird was much too small to be a robin, but as it turns out, the tree was further away than we thought.

From here we headed east along the south side of the west pond.  Sparrows were unfortunately a bit scarce along this stretch, but we were delighted to see both Tree Swallows and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  It really is Spring.  We were also pleased to encounter the Nature Vancouver sketching group who were visiting Jericho on Sunday.  We trust that they had as great a trip as we did.

Thanks to everyone who attended.  Special thanks to Sunny who kept our eBird list.   We recorded thirty-one species in two and a half hours:

Here’s a link to a few more photos taken by Murray Hendren.

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