Blog: Birders brave the tunnel to visit Richmond's Iona Regional Park

Delta BC

Fifteen DNCBers enjoyed a typically wet Tuesday morning, with some brilliant sightings at Iona Regional Park in Richmond. You too can enjoy some of our photogs' beaut shots on our Flickr site.


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Leaving Petra’s at 7:30 a.m., with the generally overcast and wet conditions during rush hour, the drive through the tunnel to the Oak Street Bridge was horrendously slow. The usual half hour drive took over an hour and we all arrived at the Iona washroom parking lot after 8:30 a.m. Nonetheless, the customary greetings were all smiles as we trudged to the beach in the mist. A raft of about 4,000 Snow Geese was in the Bay but that’s it; no shorebirds seen as the tide was very high.


Glen took our Group Photo before we started our walk through the park between the ponds. We moved briskly as there wasn’t much activity in the ponds nor the surrounding bushes. Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Red-winged Blackbirds and Northern Flickers were the only common species noted. We entered the back gate to the Sewage Lagoons and the activity heightened. The four ponds were all filled with water, and lots of waterfowl too. The ducks were mostly in brilliant plumage too and close enough for good photo opportunities. There were hundreds of Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, American Coots, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup (and Greater too), a few Ring-necked Ducks, Green-winged Teal and Mallards, and my Birds of the Day, two Canvasbacks and a couple of Ruddy Ducks. A Lesser Scaup had a red line on its neck which aroused a lot of discussion. We think it was an injury (not a hybrid), perhaps caused by a shot. We wandered between the ponds, and because the water was so high, there was no mud visible and therefore no shorebirds. Glen took another Group Photo as more time-challenged folk arrived.


Snow Geese
Snow Geese - photo by Terrance Carr


We left the ponds and walked toward and along the Fraser River path, constantly cleaning the mist on our binoculars. David took a photo of the flowering yellow Broom just to show the snowed-in, freezing eastern Canadians what we’re putting up with here on the wet coast, early Spring? Mike B2 and Ladner Jack Mac, two members of our Delta Nats Bird Box Team, explained the construction of one of our luxurious Barn Owl Boxes installed throughout the lower mainland. Double-crested Cormorants were diving among the log booms, and a couple of Trumpeter Swans were barely visible on the other side.


As we returned to the beach and parking lot, the Snow Geese were raised creating the always spectacular sight of 4,000 birds circling overhead. Since it was only 11 a.m., we decided to stop at MacDonald Beach to check out the Eurasian (Common) Teal that has been seen there all winter. On the drive out of Iona, we stopped to see a huge flock of Dunlin feeding on the now visible mud shoreline of the bay. At MacDonald Park, again, it was a brisk walk to the Teal’s pond where there were lots of Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon. Of course, only Roger saw the Common Teal before it slithered off into the reeds (see photo on Flickr of earlier sighting). By now, most of us were very weary and thirsty, so thirteen of us went to our customary Iona eatery, the Flying Beaver on the other side of the airport along another arm of the Fraser.


Neither Mike’s steak sandwich nor my beef dip were stellar meals, but Jessica’s service and the Sapporo draught beer were super. And the usual inane conversation was almost palatable. David took a group photo before we all wished him and Noreen bon voyage and a wonderful seven-week holiday adventure in Africa. I was home just after 1 p.m. in time to make Sandra’s lunch, as I always do (never, it was MacDonald’s). Another awesome DNCB outing.


We 15 were: Ladner Jack Mac, Mike B & Mike B2, the inimitable Roger M, our Organizer Terry C, Photogs Glen B, David & Noreen, home-grown Richmond Brian A, now regular Richmond Angela A, time-challenged White Rock’s Colin & Wazza, chairless Pat S, Haligonian Kirsten and me. Our eBird DNCBlist should show about 30 species seen.


On Tuesday, Jan. 29, we will leave Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Point Roberts, USA. We expect to meet others at the Lighthouse Park parking lot well before 8 a.m. For more info on this outing, earlier reports, events and photos, check out our website at As always, your comments are encouraged. Cheers: Tom


Tom Bearss, President, Delta Naturalists Society     

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