Photos by Glen (GB), Ken (KB) and Pascale & Alberto (P&A)
Almost 30 (actually 28-see names at end) DNCBer’s toured Iona Regional Park and the adjacent Sewage Lagoons on another dry and comfortable Tuesday morning. Hi-lites included lots of Waterfowl species, a few Shorebirds, lots of idle chatter with Newbies, and a tasty lunch at the Flying Beaver on the Fraser. Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.
Nine of us left Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. in three vehicles; good carpooling for using the HOV lanes. Driving past the airport we saw a “non-tagged” Red-tailed Hawk and a couple of Ravens. Mary T also saw a small flock of Dowitchers, and some others even saw a Short-eared Owl on the Airport fence.
We met the masses at the Iona parking lot at 8:40 a.m. While giving the Intro Welcome, we watched three Common Mergansers and a few Lesser Scaup in the unusually flat and quiet front pond. Lots of Marsh Wrens and colourful Red-winged Blackbirds around as well as Tree Swallows already guarding many of Peter & Ken H’s Boxes.
A few Violet Green Swallows were flitting over the pond too, but we did not identify any other Swallow species. We meandered over to the beach and the Georgia Strait to check for Shorebirds. None seen as the tide was low and the rafts of ducks (Northern Pintail, Surf Scoters) were far out. We were aghast with the removal of the brush that used to cover this area and where we often saw rare “vagrants”. There were two Bald Eagles on a log in the water.
Ken took the obligatory Group Photo here with the Strait behind and the brilliant morning sun facing us. Of course, the wayward “Rail Searchers” Roger, Otto and Mike were absent as was time-challenged Janice B.
No Terns here either, so we began our walk back through the Park. A Pied-billed Grebe was in the middle of the first pond and a Ring-necked Duck was skulking among the reeds. Lots of Tree Swallows were pairing up on the nestboxes.
Virginia Rails were calling and some eventually saw one. Both Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets were seen as were other LBJ’s (Song, Golden-crowned and Fox Sparrows, House Finches, possible Savannah Sparrow). The paths have been widened and cleared of Blackberry bushes by Metro Vancouver, so walking was very easy. A large flock of Snow Geese flew over us and landed in its usual spot on the north side of the Fraser.
When we got to the Sewage Pond Gate a calamity occurred. Our combination didn’t work, and the gate would not open. Alberto & Anne A volunteered to walk around to enter at the front gate and then open this back gate for us. Meanwhile, while waiting, we surveyed along the fence, saw a huge Painted Turtle, Marsh Wrens, Great-Blue Herons, Spotted Towhees, etc. Our newbie “Monkey Wayne” decided to climb the fence over the barbed wire and tried the gate door from the other side. It wouldn’t work. So we adopted Plan B. We left the Martyrs Alberto, Anne B and Wayne on the other side, and continued our walk back through Iona to the River. Chivalrous Ken agreed to drive around to save them.
Not much seen in the treed area by the banding hut. We blanked on the Wilson’s Snipe although Monica saw it a little while later. A few Gadwall, American Wigeons and Northern Pintail were around the log booms in the river. No activity yet at the Purple Martin Boxes, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds have not yet arrived. A glorious flock of Trumpeter Swans glided in to join the Snow Geese on the other side of the river.
We hurried back to the parking lot to drive to the front gate of the Sewage Ponds.
The combination worked at the front gate and the ponds were full of waterfowl. Lots of Lesser Scaup (of course, only Roger saw a Greater Scaup among them), Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, American Coots, American Wigeon, Mallards and a few neat Ring-necked Ducks. And Canada Geese, some threatening passersby on the path. The Tufted Duck and Redhead have left the area.
Marian found a Killdeer wandering among the ducks in the mud and near a few Brewer’s Blackbirds. Someone saw Brown-headed Cowbirds too. Lots of Bald Eagles still around, but we saw no falcons or other raptors. As I am writing this, I have come to the conclusion that we didn’t see a helluva lot of exciting stuff this morning. I think our/my expectations are too high as Iona is always an exciting birding spot. Nonetheless, the inane conversations were, as usual, inane. And most seem to have a fun morning. Frankly, I did, and that’s what counts.
We left the ponds just after 11:30 a.m. (I wrote my gate frustration in the Birder’s Report in the boook at the Gate). About 10 of us went to the Flying Beaver along the other arm of the Fraser near the South Terminal. The Fish & Chips and two beer were magnificent as we sat on the outside patio in the sun. A few Trumpeters, a lonely Mute Swan and a Double-crested Cormorant entertained Mary T as the Gulf Island Float Planes loaded and took off. Another awesome DNCB outing.
Next Tuesday, March 24 we will leave from Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. for Queen Elizabeth Park. I expect to be at the QE Park parking lot above the tennis courts by the Golf Course around 8:45 a.m. As always, comments welcome and check out the other Reports and Photos here on our DNCB website, let me know if these long-winded, boring reports irk you and you want off my List. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society
The 28 DNCBers were: Roger M, Mikie B, always loquacious Otto, Marian P, Jean G & Pauline O, time-challenged Janice B, our newbie “Monkey” Wayne G, White Rock Al and his single harem Alice, garrulous Gerhard, Pascale & Alberto, Martyrs Anne & Ken, Roger K, Aussie Nance, Kathy E, Richmond Donna, newbie Lidia, Dutch Tom and his friend Edmonton Joe, Johnny Mac (fitting appearance on St. Paddy’s Day), Guru Mary T, Kirsten W, Sheila Y, photog Glen and me.
Nature Vancouver Photo Competition Results
Annual Nature Vancouver photography contest will take place next Thurs, March 26 at Unitarian Church, 949 W. 49th, Vancouver, at 7:30. Everyone is welcome, and the show is usually well attended. There is a parking lot, and plenty of street parking if the lot is full. Terry, Marion and Ursula usually enter a full slate of 10 photos. It is a great learning opportunity as Ron Long gives out bits of constructive criticism during the show, plus you get to see what others are doing. Marion Shikaze