See photos at DNCB Flickr site
Twenty-seven DNCBers (names listed at the end of this Report) enjoyed a beautiful, sunny autumn morning at Iona Regional Park. The air was crisp and clear, the mountains were spectacular, and the tide was out. Early arrivers to the park were rewarded with the sight of a large flock of Snow Geese resting on the tidal mudflats and four River Otters frolicking in the lagoon opposite the car park. A Bald Eagle fished overhead and a Merlin (perhaps a Peregrine Falcon?) flashed by in the distance, creating havoc amongst a flock of small waders.
The other lagoons and settling ponds provided us all with a great opportunity to hone our waterfowl identification skills; a Pied-billed Grebe, four Hooded Mergansers, a few Ruddy Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks, some Gadwall, Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon, along with numerous Northern Shovelers and Northern Pintails, swam and dabbled in the water. One lonely hybrid, probably a Mallard/domestic duck cross, stood on the water’s edge. Small flocks of Ring-billed and Mew Gulls also shared the ponds, along with some Glaucous-winged Gulls and a few American Coots. A flock of four Long-billed Dowitchers and another of five Pectoral Sandpipers worked tirelessly, probing the muddy edges. Thirteen Killdeer called out to each other as they flew overhead and a couple of Great Blue Herons looked on. Double-crested Cormorants and Canada Geese were seen in flight toward the river.
While making our way between the ponds and lagoons, down to the south arm of the Fraser River and back to the parking lot, we listened to American Robins, Chickadees, Song Sparrows, Northern Flickers, a Western Meadowlark and Red-winged Blackbirds. We also saw a House Finch, a Spotted Towhee, an Anna’s Hummingbird, a Wilson’s Warbler, a Pacific Wren, a Hermit Thrush, some Dark-eyed Juncos, a few Golden-crowned, White-crowned, Fox and Savannah Sparrows, and a small flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. A few of us were lucky enough to catch a brief glimpse of a Northern Shrike as it flew from one bush to the next. A Northern Harrier and a Red-tailed Hawk flew overhead.
Peter Ward told us a bit about the nesting boxes in the park which he has built and installed around the edges of the ponds over the past seven years. Apparently these boxes have been highly successful – all of them have been inhabited by Tree Swallows and “no sparrows!” Now that some of the blackberry bushes have been pruned back from the edges of the trails around the lagoons, he is hoping to install a few more. Peter is also part of the Delta Nats Nest Box team at Boundary Bay Regional Park.
After three hours of great birding, we drove to The Flying Beaver Bar on the river overlooking the Richmond float plane terminal. There we ate lunch, enjoyed a few beers and bid farewell to our long-suffering leader, Tom, who is abandoning us for two months to enjoy the dazzling sun, big surf and brilliant colours of Western Australia. He will return on December 8. In the meantime, Terry and Roger have generously agreed to coordinate our DNCB outings.
Next week’s outing on Tuesday, October 18, will be to Brunswick Point near Ladner. The group will meet at Petra’s coffee shop in Tsawwassen at 7:30am and will arrive at west end of River Road at 8:00 am.
DNCB in the photo are: Dave & Donna Hilton, Richmond Donna & Angela, sisters Pat & Maureen, Julie & newbie Heather, Jim K, Dave M, Terry C, Mike B, West Van Richard H, Bryan & Janet, Jean G, Kirstin W & Marion S, Nance, Tom; photog Roger M makes 20. Time-challenged late comers included: White Rock Al & Alice, Bird box Peter Ward, Debbi H (and daughter Kathryn for lunch), Margaretha S., and Richmond’s Carol Rennie, a total of 27.
From Debbi and Kathryn: upon return to Iona Park Kathryn and I did see the Pacific Wren a few feet from the bird banding shelter. Also an active Garter Snake and Woolly Bear Caterpillar were out and about on the trail – pretty amazing for Oct. 11, at 15˚C today!