Twenty-five (WOW!) DNCBers braved the very foggy conditions on Tuesday and had a decent, not super, morning of birding at Iona Regional Park. Hi-lites were few although the White-fronted Geese and a Northern Shrike carrying prey were neat. And lunch at the Flying beaver was a treat. Check out photos by Liz, Glen, Terry, Jim and hopefully Tony and others on the DNCB Picasa link.
Eleven of us car-pooled from Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. Being enviro-conscious, I rode in the back seat of Anne M’s beautiful new electric GM Volt. The other Bird Guru Mary T was in the front. The HOV lanes and tunnel were smooth, but an Oak Street bridge accident delayed our arrival at the Iona Park parking lot until almost 9:00 a.m. I hardly noticed the delay as the drone of constant, over-lapping chatter caused me to doze off. Have you ever been the third person in conversation with two British-Canadian ladies? Not a chance for a word. Nonetheless, there was a cast of thousands waiting for us at Iona, and we could almost see them through the fog. Following a few introductions, we walked to the beach past the freshly-cleared land where the “rare” species used to hang out in the now-gone bushes (why cleared, we ask?) Visibility was only a few feet out on the Bay and we saw no birds, so Tony M took the Group Photo of the 25; see participant list at end. A cawing Common Raven was almost exciting.
In the front pond a pair of Common Mergansers were close enough for photos. The only other birds in this usually packed pond were a few Northern Shovelers. We took the trail along the second pond toward the Sewage Lagoons. Through the fog we saw two pair of Ring-necked Ducks on the pond and several common birds in the bushes; Spotted Towhees, Red-winged Blackbirds and Liz got a nice shot of a “leg-banded” Fox Sparrow. At the Beaver den, we heard Virginia Rails calling and two flew into the reeds in front of us. A Marsh Wren was here too. We entered the back gate to the sewage ponds. The first pond was loaded with Northern Pintail, Greater Scaup, Shovelers, Mallards and a few Gadwall. The next pond (northwest corner) had a few American Coots, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon and interestingly some Lesser Scaup. We had an interesting discussion about identifying Scaup with pointed versus round heads, bill size, black tip on the bill, etc. which almost no-one absorbed (check out Sibley’s).
We continued our stroll between the ponds. Mixed flocks of Golden- and White-crowned Sparrows (some banded) were feeding on the path with the occasional Song Sparrow and at least one Savannah Sparrow flitting by too. A flock of Snow Geese flew by overhead. Near the front gate with a flock of Canada Geese feeding on the grass were six White-fronted Geese. We don’t see them up-close-and-personal very often. Several Bald Eagles around and interestingly six Great Blue Herons were roosting in a tree together. We exited through the back gate(a calling Pacific Wren would not show itself) and took the trail toward the Fraser River. The wooded area that normally has Warblers and Kinglets showed us nothing. In the Fraser were a few Bufflehead among the log booms. A flock of Bushtits gave us a small measure of excitement.
We got to the road leading to the end of Iona spit and we were going to follow it in search of Meadowlarks, Shrikes and Shorebirds. However, the many noisy trucks, muddy road, and devastation of the totally-cleared land was depressing to many of us so we decided to take the newly created trail back to the parking lot. Although it was only 11:30 a.m. we decided to end the outing and some (12) of us drove to the Flying Beaver for lunch. On the way out of Iona, most saw the Northern Shrike on the airport runway fence, carrying prey. Resident Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks were along this road and Mary T even spotted the wing-labelled RTH in the distance. My two 1516 pints and beef dip at the FB topped off what turned out to be a very enjoyable outing. A diving Horned Grebe and a raft of Hooded Mergansers in the River near the float planes added to this enjoyable venue. Today’s Participants (25) included: Photogs Terry, Glen, ILB Tony, Jim K and Liz, Gurus Anne M and newbie Mary T, Patrick O, Langley group of Anne G, Tom W, Wim and Gareth, Aussie Nance, “work-sick” Deborah and “looking 4 work” Greg, Richmond Donna, WR Al and Alice, garbling Gerhard, yachties Marylile & Rob, Kirsten, feisty Fern, Mikey B and me.
Next Tuesday, January 20 we will leave Petra’s at 8:00 am for Point Roberts, USA (don’t forget your Passport). We expect to meet at the Lighthouse Park parking lot at about 8:30 a.m. As always, comments encourage and tell me if you don’t want to receive these verbose meanderings. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society