John & Kay and I went to Iona Park and Sewage Lagoons this morning. It was overcast, spitting rain occasionally, a bit chilly and the water was very high everywhere, but not uncomfortable. Near the airport, approaching the entrance to the sewage plant were a couple hundred Snow Geese (many juveniles) very near the shore. One Trumpeter Swan, two Northern Harriers and several Canada Geese (one was an unusual light brown colour) were nearby. The Sewage Gate door would not open so we moved along to the Beach Parking lot and went to the back entrance where the combination worked. The pond near the park parking lot had several pairs of Common Mergansers and lots of female Bufflehead (don’t know why no males around). We also watched 9 Ring-necked Ducks (6 male, 3 female) at length because we had not seen many of them before and they were graciously posing for us. The first sewage lagoon inside the gate had lots of ducks, all in beautiful breeding plumage and very pleasant and easy to identify, including: Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, American Coots, Mallards. A Red-tailed Hawk and a few Bald Eagles flew by, but did not disturb these ducks. The next pond had our “goal bird” for the day, 23 Common Snipe. They were all huddled together and only flashed their long bills for occasional breaks from their napping. We stood within 10 feet of this flock and I thought about scaring them to see them fly, but took the good birder approach and let them be. Other small birds seen included: Fox, Song and Golden-crowned Sparrows, House Finches, 4 red-shafted Northern Flickers, Spotted Towhees and Robins. I thought of going to Iona this morning because I read a report in today’s Vancouver Sun that six times in November the Vancouver Airport has temporarily closed a runway following a “Dunlin Hit” by a plane on take off. They temporarily divert to another runway while personel pick up the 20 to 60 dead birds on the “hit” runway. Syncronized flocks of Dunlin are beautiful sights, but obviously dangerous to the birds. Rather than scaring the birds away and into flight, perhaps a better action plan would be to leave them alone to feed on the ground where they cannot get hit. Just a thought. I went to Reifel Bird Sanctuary yesterday (Sunday); a very pleasant morning, mild and no rain. I missed seeing Hans who was on Mary Taitt’s 10 o’clock walk. Entering Westham Island, I saw a Ring-necked Pheasant in a pumpkin patch, a flock of about 40 Trumpeter Swans (only two juveniles) in Reynold’s potato field and a Cooper’s Hawk posing on a wire. Six Black-crowned Night Herons and 14 Sandhill Cranes are regularly seen at Reifel; I saw two and six respectively. The ponds were very high and paths were narrow and very watery. Thousands of Snow Geese, Dunlin and other ducks seen from the outer dyke. Lots of beautiful Hooded Mergansers on the inner ponds. Other ducks seen up-close-and-personal included: Common Mergansers, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead (Male and female), Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls, American Coots, Mallards. Some notable other birds seen included: two Varied Thrush, lots of Golden-crowned Kinglets, a rare Swamp Sparrow (and Song, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows), Bewick’s Wren, flocks of American Goldfinch, Cedar Waxwings and House Finches. Birds that were seen by Mary’s group or others, but not by me, include: two Sawhet Owls, two Short-eared Owls, a Northern Shrike, American Bittern, Ruddy Duck and a Winter Wren.
I will be at Petra’s next Monday, November 30 around 8:30 a.m. for departure at 9:00 a.m. “somewhere around the Bay”.