DNCB Outing No. 2012-11 to Iona RP

Setsuko's photo of the Casual Birders at Iona Beach Regional Park

(click on this photo to get excellent enlarged group photo)

Sixteen participants enjoyed a gorgeous Monday morning at Iona Regional Park and the adjacent Sewage Lagoons.  They like their names in print: Gerhard, Mike B, Joyce M, Anne M, Kay, Japanese visitors Sachihiko (aka Satchmo) Isoe and his wife and daughter, Bev R and Dorothy, Bryan & Janet, Marian come-lately, Jonathan and Lorraine and me.  Hi-lites were numerous, but to mention a few; five Western Meadowlarks, Canvasbacks, Pied-billed Grebes and Ring-necked Ducks in beautiful plumage, several early Barn Swallows and a Lincoln Sparrow.  Check out Jonathan’s photos, and hopefully others soon, on our Picasa site at http://picasaweb.google.com/dncbirding

On the road approaching the Sewage Lagoons and Iona Park, our vehicle saw two Red-tailed Hawks, one with a wing marker put on by the Airport Authority.  Anne’s vehicle saw a Cooper’s Hawk.  Near the Iona washrooms, a Merlin perched in a tree before flying off. Dorothy saw a small flock of Shorebirds, likely Dunlin, over the beach, but we decided to take the Iona pond trail.  A Lincoln’s Sparrow posed for a few seconds at the entrance.  In the first pond were lots of Lesser Scaup, but also a group of beautiful Canvasbacks.  Near the second pond, brilliant male Red-winged Blackbirds were staking their territories; hopefully Yellow-headed Blackbirds will show up soon, and stay.  Three pairs of Ring-necked Ducks were being harassed by one of the two Pied-billed Grebes. We wondered (hope) whether the Grebes were staking their nesting territory there.  In the shrubs, some saw both Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets and the common stuff, Song, Fox and White-crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers, etc.   Three Swallows surprised us with fly-pasts over the pond, and after some discussion Anne confirmed them to be Barn Swallows, although some rookies were hoping they were Cliff.  We saw several other Swallows during the morning and think they were all Barn; we did not see a Violet-green species that was seen there Sunday.  Spring has arrived on the Lower Mainland (again hopefully).

On entering the back door to the Sewage Lagoons, lots of ducks were up-close-and-personal; Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, American Coots, American Wigeon and Mallards. Mew and Thayer’s Gulls were in predominant numbers there.  A Killdeer was foraging in the mud and then, among the Red-winged and Brewer’s Blackbirds, we spotted five Western Meadowlarks, a couple of which flashed their brilliant yellow chests in our bins.  We heard several Marsh Wrens and one finally popped up to give us a good look.  Jonathan, and Satchmo, took the obligatory Group Photo, with the snowy Cypress/Seymour/Grouse mountain back drop.  The walk back along the busy-with-tug-boats Fraser River produced a few Barrow’s Goldeneye, both Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, and a Peregrine Falcon perched on a stump on the other side.  I was told, surprisingly but happily, that this was one of several Lifers seen by our Japanese visitors on the day.  We searched in vain for a Northern Shrike, but were pleased when a flock of “gulls” on the other side that direction-and-time-challenged Marian spotted, turned out to be Snow Geese.  A couple of Northern Harriers cruised by, as did several Double-crested Cormorants and several Baldies.  We returned to the parking lot at about 12:30 p.m. where the “vultures” (aka DNCBer’s) wolfed down my Cammidge House Heritage Day left-over home-made cookies, as well as the Japanese visitors’ friendly biscuit offerings.

After returning to Petra’s and getting a bottle of wine and cheap gas in Point Roberts, I went to join Anne and our Japanese visitors at Alaksen.  On 28th Avenue, one of the two regular Rough-legged Hawks was there sitting on a fence post.  A few Swans in the fields, lots of Raptors (no Gyr seen today) circling and enjoying the sun and drafts, and a big flock of Snow Geese in the field near the Alaksen/Reifel entrance.  At Alaksen, Anne’s group had seen the Japanese target birds, including Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins, a Pileated Woodpecker, Varied Thrush, and 3 Greater White-fronted Geese with the Canada Geese flock.  Good Owl spot, too, as the two Barred were together in the entrance conifers, the male Great Horned was in the tree behind the barn (I think I saw the nest he was guarding), and the Northern Saw-whet Owl was in a tree over-hanging the trail.  Another super day of Delta Nats Casual Birding.

I will be at Petra’s next Monday, March 6, for departure at 8:00 a.m. on an outing “somewhere around the Bay”.  Comments welcome/encouraged.

Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society

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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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