Six DNCB weirdoes (PB Lorna, Kay, Bryan & Janet, Donna and me) spent Wednesday morning in the pouring rain at Iona Regional Park. Lots of hi-lites including: Ruddy Ducks, Virginia Rail (seen), Canvasbacks, colourful warblers and more. Check out Bryan’s photos on our DNCB Picasa site.
I was hoping no one would show up at Petra’s when I arrived there around 7:15 a.m. on Monday morning. But there were Lorna and Kay, fully dressed in their rain gear. We discussed cancelling the outing, but being stalwart DNCBers, that thought quickly dispersed. The three of us sailed to Iona via the almost-empty HOV lane, through the tunnel, past the horrendous traffic line ups. We stopped near the bay-side start of the Airport runway to scan a flock of Snow Geese on shore; lots of juveniles, but no other species (e.g. Greater White-fronted).
We got to the Iona parking lot about 8:15 a.m. and there was one lonely car there. We could hardly recognize Bryan and Janet, with their hoods, bulky rain pants and jackets. More discussion on “going to a warm dry place” was cast aside as we scanned the rafts of waterfowl in the front pond. Lots of Lesser Scaup (probably Greater too), Northern Shovelers, Bufflehead. Marsh Wrens were buzzing everywhere. Swallows were hawking insects over the water and we recognized Tree, Violet-green and Barn. We got a bit excited so we decided to walk around for “an hour”.
At the next pond we searched in vain for Yellow-headed Blackbirds, lots of brilliant Red-wings, and we saw a Pied-billed Grebe. Then we heard a Virginia Rail, and after Janet spotted it in front of us, everyone got good looks at this “hard to see” Rail racing through the reeds. Little birds were calling in the bushes and some of us saw Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 4 Sparrow species (Song, Fox, Golden- and White-crowned) and we finally got good looks at Yellow-rumped (Audubon) Warblers.
Bryan saw an Orange-crowned Warbler. One of several Rufous Hummingbirds seen today posed on a branch, flashing his gorge, but the irridescence was lost in the rain. We also saw a non-Marsh Wren which may have been a House Wren. Two flocks of Shorebirds (~100 birds each) surprised us as they wizzed right in front of us; we think Dunlin. Then we got lost wandering the “mist net trails” searching for more warblers, so we decided to head toward the gate to the sewage ponds.
We got to the Sewage Ponds fence; the hour was up, but the rain was “easing up” so we decided to continue on a bit more. A raft of Ring-necked Ducks caught our attention in the back of the front pond (interesting verbiage) as did a pair of Wood Ducks (unusual for Iona) hiding in the reeds. Two male Ruddy Ducks were also diving there, as were a few splendid Hooded Mergansers. Tree Swallows were buzzing around Peter and Ken’s Bird Boxes along the fence, but we did not see any enter. Inside the Sewage Ponds, lots of Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Shovelers and Mallards were feeding in the sludge. A Red-tailed Hawk gave a fly-past and we rousted a Northern Harrier that was resting near the shore among the ducks. Bryan took the first of two obligatory Group Photos just as “time and directionally-challenged” Donna called from the parking lot.
We scanned the four sewage ponds for rareties (Blue-winged Teal, Shorebirds), in vain, then met her outside the gate.
We walked along the Fraser River trail; no Purple Martins seen at their boxes. An Osprey-looking immature Bald Eagle caught our attention on a pylon. Several V’s of Snow Geese heading north above us. No Northern Shrike seen, but a pair of possibly-nesting Killdeer was interesting to watch. We got back to the washrooms and parking lot before Noon, and the sun was now shining with clear skies approaching. Lorna shared her peanut butter sandwich, along with scrumptuous orange cookies and raisin packet. I savoured these as we watched a beaut pair of Canvasbacks among the Scaup in front of us. A glorious conclusion to what turned out to be a glorious DNCB outing.
Next Wednesday, April 17, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. on an outing to Stanley Park. For those meeting us there, meet at the parking lot just west of the 2nd Beach Pool at around 8:30 a.m., depending on traffic (click on GOOGLE map – click on Parking 1 (red balloon)). Pay parking is good for the whole park – we will need at least 4 hours.
There Roger will guide us in a search of English Bay for sea birds. From there we will drive to the Stone Bridge; park there and walk around Lost Lagoon. From there we might drive on Pipeline Road to park at the trail down to Beaver Lake to see the Chestnut Backed Chickadees, RBNuthatches, Virginia Rails, etc. Then down to the Burrard Inlet side of the park and walk to the base of the cliff below the Lion’s Gate bridge (Pelagic Cormorants and Pigeon Guillemots).
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society