Ten DNCBers spent a very enjoyable, but frustrating Wednesday morning at Iona Regional Park and the adjacent sewage ponds. We saw lots of neat species, but we had a frustrating time trying to identify the different warblers, sandpipers, flycatchers and even sparrows. Check out Glen’s photos on our new DNCB Flickr site at: https://www.flickr.com/groups/DNCB, and help with ID’s if you can. Other photos by Chris, Uma and others will be on our website with this report, and hopefully soon everyone will be putting their shots on our new Flickr site.
Four DNCBers (Glen, Mike B, Marian P and Chris McV) left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. and met me, and my son’s Jeep, at the Templeton Canada Line Train Station, where I picked up newbie Cynthia C. With Cynthia bubbling with excitement riding in my “toy”, we convoyed to Iona where Jean G, another newbie Margaret P and Uma were waiting at the washroom parking lot. The tide was way out, so we couldn’t see any Shorebirds, and the pond was bare until a flock of about 15 Red-breasted Mergansers landed, then took off before most could see them. Following intros of the Newbies, Uma took the Group Photo of eight of us. Time-challenged Biker Liz joined us later and “lone wolf” Alberto was on the jetty searching for the Wandering Tattlers, and Ruddy Turnstones.
We started our regular walk toward the north pond which was full of ducks that all looked the same (non-breeding plumage). Upon scanning closely, mostly via Jean’s scope, we picked out a Pied-billed Grebe, some Gadwalls and Green-winged Teal among the Mallards. Lots of Swallows flying around, mostly Tree and a few Barn, and probably other Swallow species we couldn’t ID. Along the trail were a couple of Cedar Waxwings, then we got excited by several Flycatchers, which I couldn’t ID. Glen thinks they were Alder Flycatchers.
We entered the back gate to the Sewage Lagoons where several swarms of Peeps were majestically weaving over the ponds. We think they were Semi-palmated Sandpipers, but could have been Westerns or Least, or all three. We saw Yellowlegs (Greater or Lesser?) along the shore, and it could have been the Stilt Sandpiper seen at Iona last week. There were a few other Sandpipers sporadically feeding around the edge of the ponds. We did confirm a bobbing Spotted Sandpiper and a Pectoral Sandpiper in the middle, and of course, Killdeer. We cannot confirm seeing a Buff-breasted or Solitary Sandpiper, which were seen there this week. Among the mostly Mallard and Gadwall ducks were a few Northern Shovelers.
In the trees and bushes near the back entrance, Mike B first sighted a Warbler, and then we saw several more. Again ID frustration caught us; non-breeding plumage. We’re fairly certain one or two were Yellow Warblers. Some think an Orange-crowned was there too. Probably Common Yellowthroat too.
We exited via the back gate and followed the trail toward the Fraser. We began seeing Sparrows, which weren’t all Song Sparrows. One had yellow markings on its head, and it wasn’t a Savannah Sparrow, although we did see several Savannahs. One of Chris McVie’s shots looks like a Lincoln’s Sparrow. A Brewer’s Sparrow was seen here later on Wednesday. Several flocks of Double-crested Cormorants flew south in V’s above us, and pterodactyl Great Blue Herons were everywhere, and we had no trouble identifying these. A few Purple Martins were still around too.
As we got back to the beach behind the washrooms, the tide was in, and we guessed that the Shorebirds were now in the sewage ponds; good timing by us (not). Someone commented that we hadn’t seen a raptor, then a Merlin flew by and our almost-competent photogs had already put their cameras in the car. Meanwhile, I scoped Uma who was at the end of the jetty photographing the Wandering Tattlers. We discussed, for about three seconds, walking out the jetty, and decided instead to go to the Flying Beaver for beer and lunch. We can see the Tattlers in Uma’s, Glen’s and Roger’s photos.
I dropped the effervescent Cynthia at the Templeton station, then wolfed down the delicious Beef Dip, Salad, and 1516 Beer at the Beaver. And I got home with Sandra’s Iced Capp at a decent 1:30 p.m. Another awesome outing, despite the frustrations.
Next Wednesday, August 31, Mount Baker outing CANCELLED (unless weather forecast changes); new destination Blaine, Washington (Drayton Harbor & Semiahmoo Spit). We will leave Petra’s at 7:00 a.m. leave Peace Arch parking at 7:30 a.m.
Also check out earlier outing reports and photos, and my recent report on our two DNS Display events, Starry Night at Deas Island and the Ladner Animal Expo. This Sunday, August 29, we will have our Nats Display at the annual Richmond Raptor Festival at Terra Nova Park. Join us if you can.
As always, comments encouraged, and let me know if this repetitive drivel annoys you and you want off my e-mail list. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society