Photos by Terry Carr (TC), Bill Denham (BD), Marion Shikaze (MS), Bryan King (BK) & Ken Borrie (KB)
On a mild March-like Monday morning (>12 degrees), a large group of twenty four DNCBer’s enjoyed some beautiful birding at Iona Regional Park and the adjacent Sewage Lagoons. Check out the photo evidence on the DNCB Picasa link.
At 8:00 a.m., seven of us (Roger, Lorna & Kay, newbie Jim with Gerhard, Terry and me) car-pooled in two vehicles very quickly along the HOV lanes, arriving at the Iona parking lot around 8:30 a.m. An accident on Hwy 99 closer to White Rock delayed several others who didn’t join us until after 9:00 a.m. (the White-Rock/Langley crew of Gareth, Al, Pauline, Leona, Ken & Anne A).
When we arrived through the new sculptured entrance to Iona, already there and looking out over the placid front pond were Anne M, Bev, Bryan & Janet, Marion & Marti, Kirsten, Mary Pat, Richmond’s Bill & Donna, Jonathan w/o Lorraine. The sun was peaking through the clouds behind us and our Photogs were ecstatic. Fairly close and in beautiful plumage were several Common Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead, a not-very-common Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Scaup (probably Lesser but could have been a “disguised” immature Ring-necked), Double-crested Cormorant and of course, Mallards and Canada Geese. Marsh Wrens were in the shrubs in front of the boardwalk. A brilliant start to the morning.
We wandered along the trail toward the second pond. Lots of Golden-crowned Sparrows and other little birds (Towhees, House Finches, Song & Fox Sparrows) in the shrubs, and male Red-wing Blackbirds were perched and singing like Spring, but I didn’t see any females around.
The next pond was quiet until some weird “birds” began swimming toward us. They were a family of four River Otters which very successfully entertained us for fifteen minutes, catching and swallowing fish before they scrambled through the reeds on the other side toward the river.
As we walked further along the widened and manicured trails, past the Mist Nets, a Northern Flicker landed for Roger to scope; no one cared.
We entered the back gate of the Sewage Lagoons and corralled everyone for the obligatory Group Photo. Following an inordinate amount of bickering, Ken took two shots and I’m told we had 24 in it. The lagoons were packed with waterfowl too in beaut plumage including: Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon (Anne M saw a Eurasian Wigeon earlier on the way into Iona), Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Scaup (probably both Lesser and Greater), American Coots. A Rough-legged Hawk flew by which only a few saw. Kirsten spotted a perched Merlin between the two ponds, which may have been from the Taiga population rather than the darker more common Pacific population.
A Red-tailed Hawk was also perched in a tree; Terry got a photo as it flew by and noted its deformed bill (I think we have seen this bird on earlier outings). Lots of Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons around posing for shots and someone mentioned that I rarely mention them; both now-common and gorgeous creatures here and perhaps I’m getting too blasé.
In the south-east pond, a mixed flock of Brewer’s Blackbirds and Starlings caught our attention, briefly. We searched in vain for the Northern Shrike that Ken & Anne B had seen on their way in to Iona, and we did not see the Swamp Sparrow that was seen there in the afternoon. A huge tree trunk, chewed by a Beaver, gave us evidence that they are active in the area.
We left the Lagoon and wandered the back Iona trail. Past Peter & Ken’s Tree Swallow boxes, and along the Fraser shore. Lots of logs in the river but few birds (Bev, Bryan & Janet saw a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye and some Sanderling in the afternoon).
A flock (100+) of Snow Geese landed on the far shore.
As we were heading back to the parking lot, Gareth spotted two Western Meadowlarks perched in the tree next to the lot. Bev got excited at seeing a Dark-eyed Junco. Although it was only around 11:30 a.m., and my only sustenance being reliable PB Lorna’s PB sandwich and raisins, some of us decided to leave Iona to check out the Prairie Falcon at Brunswick Point. The bird wasn’t at the Point (6 Western Grebes were), but we found it, and other photographers, at the farmhouse along River Road where it has been regularly seen. The Prairie Falcon may have been a Lifer for several DNCBers, but being perched about 200 yards away did not arouse any gushing screams of joy.
The only scream was from a Photog when a wayward DNCBer stood between him and the bird. Several closer Northern Harriers feeding and cavorting were more entertaining. On the drive back to Tsawwassen, just after 1:00 p.m., lots of Trumpeter Swans in the fields.
Another awesome DNCB morning.
If you weren’t at the packed Cammidge House on Monday evening for the monthly Delta Nats meeting, you missed an exhilarating presentation by Anthony Dalton on his adventures in Bangladesh with Bengal Tigers.
Next Monday, January 20, the DNCB outing will be to Burnaby Lake, Roger’s childhood home turf. I suspect after leaving Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. that we will arrive at Burnaby Lake Nature House (Piper Ave off Winston) around 8:45 a.m. (Look for Roger, wearing a Blue Gardenia.)
As always, your comments are encouraged and if you want off my List to receive this seemingly endless drivel, let me know. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society