Seventeen birders (we’re becoming very popular) enjoyed a very pleasant, clear and cool (+5 degrees C) Monday (Jan. 10) morning at Iona Regional Park and the adjacent Sewage Lagoons. We were: John & Kay, Rick & Marg, Bill M, Terry C, Anne M, Bev R, Annie K, Lorna, Hans-Ulf, Roger, Kathleen W, Ansa, newbie Kitty B, Sam (come lately) Micner and me. Hi-lites included: Western Meadowlarks, Northern Shrike, American Bittern, hundreds of Dunlin and lots of waterfowl species in breeding plumage. See photos of our outing on DNCB Flickr site.
On the way to Iona, we/John saw a Rough-legged Hawk on Highway 17 and Roger’s car saw a Northern Shrike and Cooper’s Hawk on the Airport Road approaching the Iona Park. We all had good looks later in the Park at this Shrike, or another, as well as a Cooper’s Hawk. At the parking lot, after counting bodies and loading my pockets with peanuts, we scoped the open area (i.e. much of it was frozen) on the main pond. It was very productive; several Ring-necked Ducks, a Canvasback (not commonly seen by us), Common Mergansers, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, American Coots, American Wigeons and Lesser Scaup. We heard Marsh Wrens in the shrubs, but I didn’t see any on the day – too impatient to hang around and wait for them to peak out. Several Bald Eagles and a Red-tailed Hawk were perched in the trees across the pond. The Northern Shrike kept dropping by for quick looks during our walk around the pond and then into the Sewage Lagoons next door. Several Northern Flickers and a Cooper’s Hawk also posed for us.
We walked to the next pond (where the Yellow-headed Blackbirds nest in Spring – none there today) and several people got good looks at an American Bittern, before rousting it; Terry got good shots of it in flight. Unfortunately, some of us lingerers missed seeing it, and we were unable to locate it again on the other side of the pond. Lots of Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhees and even a Golden-crowned Kinglet in the shrubs. There was some open water in a couple of the Sewage Lagoons and we saw a number of new species there for the day including Green-winged Teal. Then, walking along side the Fraser River we saw a few Trumpeter Swans (including Cygnets), Bufflehead, a few Red-breasted Mergansers (not commonly seen by us DNCBer’s), a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye and a small flock of Snow Geese (~15 birds). Under Bev’s guidance, we proceeded further along the path toward the mouth of the Fraser and were rewarded with two Western Meadowlarks foraging in front of us. And the Shrike made another fly-past.
Then Roger led us on an alleged short-cut via the beach back to the parking lot. It was neither a short-cut nor near the beach as we trudged over logs and through the swamp. We did find a Short-eared Owl pellet (but no SEO) and saw a few Dunlin on the water’s edge (~50), and later on when leaving Iona, we saw swarms of several hundred birds. Rafts of Surf Scoters were diving in the distance. We had our belated morning tea break/Smoko in the parking lot before departing for Petra’s and home around 12:45 p.m., exhilarated again by a very enjoyable morning.
Our quarterly Birds on the Bay outing is this Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Boundary Bay Park in Tsawwassen, leaving from Cammidge House at 9:00 a.m. I will be at Petra’s around 8:00 a.m. next Monday morning Jan. 17 for departure at 8:30 a.m., probably to Terra Nova Park and Dyke walk in Richmond. Again, comments are welcome and please advise if you do not want to receive this drivel.
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society