Blog: Birdwatchers touch down on Iona Beach

Tsawwassen

Thirty Delta Naturalists Society members enjoyed another beautiful Wednesday (Sept. 18) morning of birding in Iona Regional Park.

We saw lots of neat species including shorebirds, warblers (some being banded), raptors and newly-arrived migrant waterfowl. Check out the 200-plus brilliant photos on our Flickr site.

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Some car-pooled from Petra’s enduring horrendous rush-hour traffic (kids are back in school), and we all met at the Iona parking lot around 8:30 a.m.

Diving Caspian Terns and a River Otter entertained us in the front pond as Noreen took the group photo of the masses. The tide was high so we checked out the beach before strolling through the park and then the sewage lagoons. I left the group at this stage to pick up my Aussie guests Merrelyn & Graham at the Alaska Cruise terminal downtown, returning with them at 11 a.m., so Anne and Roger have provided their reports below.

After checking out the beach, our large group headed inland past the lagoons where we immediately dissolved into many small groups.

Song Sparrows and Yellow-crowned Warblers flitted in the blackberry bushes and a Hermit Thrush posed briefly. Half the group stopped to check out the wild research banding station. I joined others wandering ahead to the sewage lagoons.

 

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A dark Peregrine seen earlier flew overhead then a smaller Merlin flew the other way and conveniently posed on a dead tree giving excellent views of its field marks.

 

Once into the lagoons, most of the group in there pushed on remorselessly, but I stopped with a few others to scope the enormous flock of Savannah Sparrows feeding on the mud of the southwest drained lagoon. There were dozens of birds there - maybe a 100 blending in very well with the low grass and foliage and dry mud. I suspected Lincoln’s Sparrows would be present so spent quite a while with a few other birders checking every bird. Eventually I had repeated views of one Lincoln’s in bushes beside the path and later another popped up into view on the perimeter fence. Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows and a solitary Marsh Wren were in among the Savannahs.

Then our very small group checked out the shorebirds in the northeast lagoon (no ducks on the other two lagoons which were full of water; no doubt they were disturbed by the Merlin, Peregrine and a Northern Harrier). We saw a dozen Long-billed Dowitchers and perhaps a Short-billed - its head shape looked S-B but I didn’t have my camera and all the photogs were away and gone up the riverside trail. Good views of a flock of about 10 Pectoral Sandpipers and there were a few peeps that disappeared before I got around to scoping them.

Our small group had also fragmented so I hurried to catch up with the main group now spread out along the woodlot path. A lot of chatter and nothing too exciting in the way of new birds was subsequently seen. A nice walk in good weather with about 40 species of birds, rounded off with excellent fish tacos at O’Hare’s pub afterwards.

Anne and I agreed that the Merganser at the beginning was a juvenile Hooded.

After you left to pick up your guests the group fragmented and we probably all saw some different species. The high lights for me were the feeding Caspian Terns at the beginning...watching them dive into the water and come up with fairly large fish.

The Peregrine and Merlin being so active and watching the Peregrine circle and then drop like a bullet chasing its prey was a beautiful sight.

I thought the bird banders were very gracious with their explaining what they do and showing members several of the species they were banding...I’m sure this was something new for several in the group. For me, seeing a flock of Pectorals was exciting as I’ve usually only come across singletons. Anne’s Lincoln’s Sparrow was a good one but we were so spread out by that time that I’m not sure how many got to see it.

I thought we had a great day and enjoyed talking to the newbies.

On my return to Iona at 11 a.m. Graham, Merrelyn and I spent a lot of time with Amanda and the Wild Research Bird Banders. We were thrilled to hold and release tiny Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Golden-crowned Kinglet among the many birds they captured and banded this morning.

Approaching noon, we joined the group at the parking lot where 16 of us decided to go for lunch at O’Hare’s Gastropub in Steveston (group was too large to go to Flying Beaver). Good decision as the pub was recently beautifully renovated and my special of a ham & cheese panini with pea soup and two pints of the House Lager was delicious, and cheap, plus our server Ariana was delightful. Another awesome DNCB outing.

 

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The 30 were: Gurus Anne & Roger, organizer Terry, Mike B, Glen B, Chris McV, Ladner Jack Mac, Johnny Mac, Ladner Pam, sisters Pat & Maureen and Manli, Jean G, David & Noreen, Richmond Brian & Louise, PB Lorna, Colin & Stephanie, Warren (Wazza) & Lynne, Jonathan & Lorraine, ILB Tony M, newbie Susan, Lindly, Aussie’s Graham & Merrelyn, and me.

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, we will meet at and leave from Petra’s at 7:30 a.m. for Point Roberts. We’ll meet others at the Lighthouse Marine Park before 8 a.m.

For more info on this and other outings, plus reports and photos, see our website at www.dncb.wordpress.com. As always, your comments are encouraged, and let me know if this longwinded, boring epistle annoys you, and you want off my email list.

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