Twelve impressive DNCBers braved the crappy weather on Tuesday and enjoyed seeing a bunch of neat species at Iona Regional Park and the adjacent Sewage Lagoons. Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Picasa site.
Rain was forecast all day so only three of us (Terry, Anne and me) met at Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. I drove, a Peregrine Falcon flew over our car on Highway 17, the rush hour traffic was heavy, and we had an almost accident-free drive to Iona. We stopped along the Iona Airport road to photograph a Northern Shrike sitting on the fence. We got to the Iona parking lot before 9:00 a.m. where Liz, Marion & Marti, newbie Nat Richmond’s Brian A, Richmond’s Donna T & Almost-Newbie Carol R, and Professor Mary T were waiting (Jean G and Roger M came later). We learned that some saw a Short-eared Owl on the airport road on the drive in. We missed it, perhaps because we were trying to avoid hitting the hundreds (thousands?) of Snow Geese that were feeding along the road and around the parking lot. Following introductions, especially of newbie Brian (who had a top quality scope and carried it himself, my new BFF), we walked toward the beach where a flock of a dozen or so Western Meadowlarks were flitting along the grass. Not much else around or in the Bay (very high water, no beach for Shorebirds), so we turned around toward the Iona ponds, where a Virginia Rail called to us.
Surprisingly, both the first and second ponds were quiet, except for a few Bufflehead and Mallards. The surrounding bushes had some life in them with Purple and House Finches, Song, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Northern Flickers, Spotted Towhees and Red-winged Blackbirds. We saw our second Northern Shrike here . Small flocks of Double-crested Cormorants flew by overhead and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks were entertaining in the air as they “danced together”, clutching claws.
We entered the back gate to the Sewage Ponds, and the ponds were full of ducks. Lots of Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, American Coots, and Ring-necked Ducks. Roger M arrived with his two Guides and pointed out our Target Bird, the Tufted Duck, among the Ring-necked and Scaup. We think we all saw it, but no one got great photos (today, but lots the day before and day after). Mary also spotted a Ruddy Duck, which I saw too, but our photogs were unable to get a good shot of it either. We got Pintail-Ruddy look-a-likes, but not the real thing. The birds were swimming back and forth and mixing in groups and it was uncomfortably raining, thus our concentration was affected. For example, there was a flock of Dowitchers among these birds which we only noticed when looking at Terry’s photographs later that evening. Begrudgingly, Terry took the Group Photo here.
We continued around the southwest pond, where the best sighting was a Sharp-shinned Hawk posing on a branch, then flew right over our heads. A flock of Dunlin flew by. We exited at the back gate and followed the path to the river. We were blanked on Warblers, even Kinglets, but at least saw an Anna’s Hummingbird. Across the river a few Trumpeter Swans were hiding in the reeds. We could see them clearly through Brian and Jean’s Swarovski Scopes (a plug?). We wandered back to the parking lot/washrooms, and enjoyed the Shrike and Meadowlarks again. It was 11:30 a.m. and still spitting a bit, so we decided to end the outing and go to the Flying Beaver for lunch.
On way to the Beaver, we stopped at Shannon Road and walked to the dike path and back in search of Redpolls. Unsuccessful, downcast, and approaching our vehicles, four beauties landed in a tree above Terry’s head. They posed for photos, then they joined the flock of about 30 birds that circled us and flew off toward the airport. Now rejuvenated, we jumped in our vehicles and drove happily to the Beaver, sucked back a delicious 1516 Beer, wolfed down the Special, a fancy-named Kraft Dinner, and suffered the usual hackneyed conversation. A Red-breasted Merganser and a “funny toe car” pulling a float plane added to the Beaver entertainment. On re-reading this report, it sounds depressing. In reality, we had a lot of brilliant sightings, the participants were the hi-calibre (non-wimpy) DNCBers, and it was a tonne of fun.
Next Tuesday, January 19, we will leave Petra’s at 8:00 a.m. for White Rock Pier, where we expect to meet others around 8:45 a.m. We may do Blackie Spit or another spot (TBD) after seeing the Eared Grebe at the pier.
As always, your comments are encouraged, check out our website, and let me know if you find these weekly heralds so irritating that you want off my List. Apologies for late report but I was busy trying to live a normal non-bird-report-writing life, with some hockey, golf, Grandparent Daycare, and seeing The Revenant. Cheers: Tom
Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists’ Society