Check out the photo evidence on our DNCB Flickr site.
With a much brighter start to the morning now that we’re off of daylight saving time, I sat alone at Petra’s wondering if I had turned the clock the wrong way. 7:20 am and the late risers arrived, but by the leaving time there were only five of us… Mike, Terry, David, Anne, and myself (Roger).
From the start, there were two flocks of about 80 Snow Geese that flew over Petra’s, and several hundred more were in the fields west of the 17A stretch between Ladner Trunk and the Tunnel! The traffic once again was a problem with tie-ups at the tunnel and a lengthy delay as we approached the Oak Street bridge trying to exit onto Bridgeport! It took an hour to arrive at Iona, a trip that would usually be 20 minutes!
Arriving at the Iona Beach parking lot we hooked up with the rest of the group with most of them having experienced frustrating traffic problems as well. For Tom’s sake… they included Marion, Kirsten, Colin, Brian, Richard, Jean, Pat, Nance, Lydia, Roy and Solveig for a total of 16. We had a bit of a breeze, but it was very cold and, although the sun was out there was a heavy black cloud overhead. (Tom… I would like to know how you do that thing where you coerce the first person that you make eye contact with to carry that very heavy telescope… I certainly wasn’t able to make it work!)
The early arrivals had already scoped the outer pond and had identified a Ruddy Duck, some Canvasbacks, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, a male Hooded Merganser, a Pied-billed Grebe, and an American Coot. Before heading inland we had a quick scan of the shoreline and could see a large number of Snow Geese, various gulls, and a flock of shorebirds we were pretty sure were Dunlin.
Pausing on the path between the outer ponds, we checked each access point and found several Ring-necked Ducks in the north one, and a coot. In the pond on the south side it was difficult to see the birds, with the heavy scope I was carrying, due to the angle of the sun. Several House Finches were in one of the shrubs beside the trail, a Brown-headed Cowbird, but not many other small birds.
As usual, with a large group, we started to fragment, and did not all see the same birds. So, I’ll try to put together what I can gather from what I’m told when they come to look through the heavy scope I was carrying. I do, though, have to thank Mike for carrying my comparatively light scope. Also, check out Brian’s e-Bird report which will provide a complete list including accurate numbers of each species… I think he missed a few Snow Geese!
Entering the ponds, all of which were full of water, we walked east on the middle path, returned to the intersection in the middle and then north to the river side and completed the circuit around to the gate. Each pond seemed to have its own unique species. The south-east pond was virtually empty of birds, while the north east was full of Northern Pintail. The north west had a mixture of American Wigeon, Mallards, Green-winged Teal, etc.
The south west, however, was the one that caused the most concern as, in very poor lighting, a controversy arose as to whether, or not, a particular bird was a female Redhead or a Canvasback duck! The most recent e-mail from Marion, which has gathered agreement from the others, confirms it to be… a female Redhead! Check out the Flicker photos to see what you think!
Raptors were very few this day. Using the heavy scope I was carrying, we located a single Red-tailed Hawk in a distant tree, and someone pointed out a Northern Harrier cruising over the water outside of the ponds. We did see the odd Eagle, but usually we have a Peregrine Falcon, or Cooper’s?
Leaving the ponds, we headed north along the fence on the path to the river. On the north shore there was a large flock Snow Geese, which Brian counted, but the rest of the trail back to the parking lot was virtually birdless! Anne, using her fairly light telescope, picked out a Merlin in a cottonwood tree. I don’t know how she could have picked it out with all the coloured leaves it had blended in with so perfectly! I hope Terry has a photo to show us. Brian adds that he has seen a Marsh Wren as well.
Having completed a thorough coverage of the area, some of us headed to the Flying Beaver for lunch. I’d like to point out that my route would have got us there just as well as one I was made to take. The only reason I missed the turn was because my shoulder was sore for some reason which slowed my reaction time. On the way back to Petra’s, the 17A location from this morning had a much larger population of Snow Geese… must have been in the thousands.
For a complete list of birds seen and their number, to two places of decimal, check Brian’s e-Bird list at https://ebird.org/shared?subID=UzQ5NzI3OTE2&s=t
Next Tuesday, November 13 we wll leave Petra’s at 7:30 am for a walk on Boundary Bay Dyke at 104th St; meet at Delta Heritage Airport parking lot at 7:50 am.
Report by Roger Meyer (the scope bearer)
“Tom on Top of Down Under”….the continuing adventures of our absentee leader who is suffering in the Australian summer sun.
Sorry, not too much in the way of birding reported and most of his photos involve liquid refreshment. He did, however, manage this photo of the Australian Spoonbill (in a zoo!)
“Saw this beauty yesterday. One of two species of Spoonbill. I also saw these in the Aussie wild.”