DNCB Outing No. 2011-35 to Iona

Iona Morning Birders (click on photo to see enlarged version)

Ten birders (Anne, Roger, Mike, Lorna, Rick & Marg, WRSN Leona, “sick” Deborah, Alan and me) enjoyed another beautiful BC morning (Wed. August 31) wandering around the beach and ponds at Iona Regional Park and the next-door Sewage Plant Ponds.  Hi-lites were several Shorebird species including Peeps, Baird’s and Dowitchers, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, Merlin, several “missed” species, and a plethora of goodies to celebrate Rick & Marg’s move to the Island.  See Rick and Roger’s photos (soon I hope) on our Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding and on our Blog at https://dncb.wordpress.com/.

We left Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. and the rush-hour traffic through the tunnel and to the Airport was smooth, and using the HOV lane got us to Iona quite quickly.  The tide was high so there was no shore for the shorebirds.  We met R&M and White Rock Surrey Naturalist Leona at the parking lot and checked out the pond in front.  Lots of Mallards, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal and a few Northern Pintails.  A couple of Horned Grebes cruised by and we were entertained by an adult and a juvenile Pied-billed Grebe. Most of the Swallows hawking insects were Barn.  A White-crowned Sparrow was in the reeds (We missed the Vesper Sparrow seen there in the afternoon).  A couple of flocks of Peeps, mostly Western Sandpipers whipped by us.  We wandered along the trails between the ponds, enjoying the Blackberries, but not seeing much.  Others saw and photographed a Northern Wheatear there later in the day, but of course we missed it too.  A Warbler did a fly-past, probably a Common Yellowthroat.

We entered the Sewage Ponds through the back gate. Lots of Shorebirds in the first pond, we (meaning of course our Guru Anne) identified Western and Least Sandpipers, and a Semi-palmated Plover. Lots of ducks, mostly Northern Shovelers in the next pond with a few Dowitchers and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs feeding along the edge.  Nice to see the Greater and Lesser next to each other to see the differences.  We spooked the ducks into flight and Rick got a weird shot of a Roseate Spoonbill that turned out to be an distorted view of a Northern Shoveler’s bill.  We got back to the parking lot and the tide had receded so hundreds of Shorebirds feeding in the Strait.  A Merlin aroused the Shorebirds and gave us a nice look as it swooped by.  We walked the causeway a bit for better views and Anne found a couple of Baird Sandpipers, and Killdeer and Caspian Terns.  We missed the Stilt Sandpipers, Wilson’s Phalaropes and Horned Larks (seen later that day).  Fortunately, Marg’s home-made pastries, Lorna’s PB sandwiches, Anne’s pretzels, Eleanor’s Trail Mix with Smarties, and the regular peanuts and pistachios, with a warm beer disguised in a coke can wrapper, all contributed to a delightful Smoko (Aussie for coffee break) to mourn the move of Rick and Marg to Victoria and their last DNCB outing.  On the way back to Tsawwassen, we stopped for a half-hour walk around the “dog-walk” park at MacDonald Beach along the Fraser.  We saw our only Bald Eagle (most have left our area to feed on the salmon running in the inland rivers), a Red-tailed Hawk, and umpteen species of dogs paraded around in packs of four to ten by professional dog walkers.

I am not sure whether I will be available next Wednesday, September 7, but I am sure other DNCBer’s will be at Petra’s for departure at 7:30 a.m. on an outing somewhere around the Bay.  Again, comments welcome and let me know if you don’t want to receive these reports. Have a happy and safe Labour Day weekend.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

About dncb

DNS: Delta Naturalists are a group of nature lovers whose aim is to foster interest in the natural history of the Fraser delta by sharing and enjoying nature and promoting environmental awareness and conservation. DNCB: Delta Nats Casual Birders is a group of Casual Birders who go Birding at different locations each week, usually within the Lower Mainland or in nearby Washington State.
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