Thursday, September 4, 2014
Return To Sandy Island
One of my favorite birding sites in the Vancouver Island region, has always been Sandy Island Provincial Park, or as it is known now, Jáji7em and Kw’ulh Marine Provincial Park. I have great memories of dozens of day trips and overnight camping trips to this large, partially wooded sand spit off the northern tip of Denman Island. Oddly enough, I hadn't been there in about 5 years. Difficulty in accessing this site, being the chief reason. In the past, one either had to own a boat, or do a moderately long hike in from Denman Island. Given the rising BC Ferries ticket prices, even getting to Denman Island has become expensive. A new, and slightly more affordable option was discovered by Sandy McRuer recently. We chartered a water taxi out of the Comox Marina, with a company called Scubashark. With 5 people, the cost was about $55 per person. Although the landing and departures at the island could stand some improvement (jumping off the bow into the water and wading ashore) it worked quite well, and I would highly recommend Scubashark to other birders looking for a way to access this excellent birding site.
We (Sandy, Don, Shelley, John and I) left the Comox Marina at about 8:40, and by 9:00 we were already birding. We spent the next 6 hours walking around Sandy Island, sometimes as a group, and sometimes by ourselves. We didn't bird all that intensively, and spent more time enjoying the looks at what we did discover, rather than rushing around looking for new ticks. With the leisurely pace, we were only able to explore one of the three Seal Islets, which would have undoubtedly increased the number of species seen. Still though, a completely enjoyable day out with some wonderful folks, and a few really great looks at birds one doesn't encounter here all that often. For me, the highlight of the day was a juvenile Pacific Golden-Plover that circled us and almost landed at our feet. The close up views of this bird in flight were spectacular, and although I've seen many of these birds in the past, this was the most amazing viewing I have ever experienced. This is the type of thing I look forward to at Sandy Island. We ended up recording 56 species on Sandy Island, and another 6 from the boat, for a 62 species day.
Species Recorded from Sandy Island: 56
Great Blue Heron
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Additional species recorded from boat: 5