Casual Birding outing #97
A large group of 15 birders spent a gorgeous Wednesday morning at Iona Regional Park in Richmond. Since they like to see their names in print, the Participants were: Roger, John & Kay, Lorna, Valerie, Don & Rochelle, Anne, sneezy Roberta, Eleanor, Terry, first-timers Alan from Richmond and Rick & Marg from White Rock, and me. See Don’s mandatory Group Photo attached. Three vehicles (Anne, Don and mine) left Petra’s at 8:30 a.m. and we had little difficulty getting to the Airport and Iona via the HOV lane. The tide was way out so not much was seen close to shore other than a few Gulls (Glaucous-winged) and Great Blue Herons. We parked near the Washrooms (strategic with 8 women), and scanned the front pond from the boardwalk. Marsh Wrens were everywhere and a female Yellow-headed Blackbird was foraging in the reeds below us. One lonely bird was in the pond and it happened to be our “destination bird”, the Eared Grebe, in breeding plumage. We scoped it at length from several sides, and had great views, but the lighting was not great for our photogs.
We wandered along the path circling the pond and spotted some sleek Cedar Waxwings. Swallows were hawking bugs all around us; we saw four species today; Tree, Barn, Cliff and Violet-green plus several families of Purple Martins (5th species in the Swallow Family) in the nesting boxes along the Fraser River. Lots of Savannah Sparrows and Common Yellowthroats singing around us too. Several noisy Yellow-headed Blackbirds (our other destination bird at Iona) posed for us on reed tops as less-colourful females lurked below. Brilliant American Goldfinches gave us more “eye candy”. A pair of adult Bald Eagles stood guard on pylons on the other side of the river as a Coyote trotted leisurely along the shore. A Killdeer flew past and I looked for Terns (Common and Caspian) but didn’t see any. We blanked on the usually-seen Ospreys as well. Rufous Hummingbirds buzzed over us along the path, but none landed long enough for our photogs. Anne and Roger identified several beautiful flowers and plants, including the sling-shot weed, but, of course, I forget all the plant names.
We hung around a bushy area where a Blackpoll Warbler had been reported, and we saw lots of Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpecker and an unidentifiable Warbler, but no Blackpoll in breeding plumage. Anne saw a female Wilson’s Warbler. We went to the back gate of the Sewage Ponds along a now very narrow trail (over-grown) and listened as Roberta wheezed from allergies. Our resident B&E sleuth John got us in through the locked gate. The sides of the sewage ponds were really over-grown, making it difficult for our short people. We spotted a few Spotted Sandpipers (with spots but not tail bobbing as much as usual) and a couple of families of Gadwalls. Among the Red-winged Blackbirds and European Starlings were a few Brown-headed Cowbirds and Brewer’s Blackbirds.
Back at the parking lot, before returning to Petra’s, we enjoyed some Candied Kettle Popcorn I got at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal returning from daughter Erica’s MBA Graduation Ceremony at Royal Roads Uni last Friday.