Totem Park Shorebirds and Waterfowl

Clouds broke up to partly sunny skies through much of the day. There was a bit of a breeze, but not much. Temperatures in the 50s. The tide was coming up and nearing high while I was at Totem Park. Shorebird numbers seemed to be up, and they were all around from the estuary to in front of the visitor center.

Morning Birding

Mostly cloudy and unexpectedly warm. A bit breezy. Clouds thickened and some rain fell later this evening. For much of the day, the weather was just about what I would consider in the set ideal. Temperatures were into the low 60s, and it was bright but not harsh light. I headed down to the park late this morning. The tide was high, and I sat to observe the shorebirds on the narrow strip of beach in front of the visitor center…

Rainy Spring Day Observations

Fairly heavy overcast with periodic rain. I headed down to the park shortly after 8am. The tide was up, and it didn’t take too long to check the beaches for shorebirds. There was an expected mix of peeps and some Short-billed Dowitchers. I looked over the Western and Least Sandpipers in case a Semipalmated Sandpiper … Read more

Rainy Day Walks at Totem Park


Steady rain through mid afternoon. Winds seemed fairly calm until showers started moving over after a break in the rain.

It took me a little while to get motivated for a walk in the rain, but I did eventually put on my raingear and head down to the park.

The tide was not quite as low as yesterday. Although the minimum was at nearly 9:30am, it had already started to come back up by the time I made it down.


Before going down to the beach, I checked out the building for moths. I didn’t see anything new, but did become distracted by abundant liverwort sporophytes in the little vegetated area on between the building and the forest.


While checking out the sporophytes, I also spotted a springtail, and spent a few minutes trying for decent photos of it (with a bit of success). With my camera trained on the small arthropod, I noticed on the screen an even smaller one which I also tried to get photos of.


I poked around a bit in the large tidepool area before heading out to the southern point.

I could see there were birds far out by the water line, but was not feeling especially ambitious. Plus there were a couple of folks already out on the flats who appeared to slowly making their way along looking at birds. I didn’t want to spook everything up before they had much chance.

I ended up sitting on the sandy slope and watching. Despite the rain, I felt comfortable with my layers (and no wind). Over the better part of a half an hour, I sat, listened, and watched.

Pipits were nearby, as well as the six Snow Geese which walked up towards me before moving on towards the point. Four Black Oystercatchers flew in, and I saw a Black-bellied Plover, but most of the rest was too far out for a decent chance to identify.

Before heading back, I did walk out towards the old channel and then up to the trail.


Along the small trail by the estuary, I noticed another place where rocks had been pulled out recently (I think), exposing a hole. I had seen a couple other places recently and wondered if a bear might have done it. Given the size of some of the rocks, it’s hard to imagine anything here besides a bear or humans that could move them.

Later this afternoon after the rain had let up and I saw a report of a Long-billed Dowitcher observed at the park earlier in the day, I decided to head back down.


This time, the tide was up and had just started its retreat. A good number of shorebirds were along the shoreline between the southern point and the river. Among them were over 100 Dunlin, 5 Black-bellied Plovers, dowitchers, Western Sandipipers, Least Sandpipers, a Whimbrel and a Marbled Godwit. As I was leaving a bit later the Black Turnstones started to arrive.


There were also good numbers of ducks out on the water. As they came a bit closer to shore, I tried counting what I could. I got 25 Northern Shovelers, 50 Northern Pintails and 15 American Wigeons. I didn’t try to count the other species, except for the 2 Gadwall. It was nice to see four Red-breasted Mergansers, the first I’ve seen in a couple of weeks, at least.

While I was there, the first of the showers came. The rain and breeze made things feel much chillier, and I had not layered up as much as this morning. By the time I got back to my car, I was a bit wet and chilled.

On a brief check of Starrigavan, it seemed fairly quiet. Not many ducks around, in any case.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Low Tide at Totem Park

Given the forecast, I was a little surprised to see a bit of blue sky out my window when I woke up this morning. The day turned out to be overcast with occasional small breaks, and not much rain until the transition from afternoon to evening. I went for a walk around the park this morning. The tide was out (it ended up being a -3ft tide, a bit lower than predicted), and I walked the water line for a good chunk of the park. I was not in any particular hurry, and ended up spending much of the morning at it.