Easter at Iona

End of semester projects and tests kept me from writing a trip report last weekend but I did manage to get in some decent birding so I thought I’d talk about what I got up to before discussing this weekends outings. On Saturday I managed to get out to Iona Beach near the airport.

Iona was incredibly windy on Saturday but the weather was otherwise quite nice. At one point I almost had my tripod and scope blown over by a strong gust but luckily I managed to grab it just in time. The wind also made digiscoping very difficult as my camera had trouble focusing through all the atmospheric turbulence. Despite this I find something enjoyable about birding in adverse conditions; I think a good bird or a difficult ID is a little more special when you’ve been through hell to get it.

At the pond by the parking lot Tree and Violet-green Swallows were having rough time of it in the wind. They would frequently come down to rest on the railing of the boardwalk and many of them appeared to be breathing quite heavily. The wind was a bit of a blessing for the observer as the swallows were practically stationary when flying into the wind; this allowed for some excellent looks of the birds in flight.

Over by the washrooms I managed to locate a group of four Savannah Sparrows taking shelter in the brush.

Just past the gate that heads out onto the North Arm Jetty a Northern Shrike was flying from bush top to bush top. The bird would barely rest on a high perch for a few seconds before lifting off and flying, seemingly in slow motion due to the wind, to the next one.

Not long after spotting the shrike an American Tree Sparrow made a brief appearance from the depths of the nearby brush. After patiently observing the area for a quarter of an hour I was able to discern at least two birds but more have been reported by other birders.

On the northern bank of the North Arm of the Fraser River I managed to pick out these two Eurasian Widgeon:

I had a great time at Iona but I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of off leash dogs. Dogs are supposed to be leashed throughout the park yet I counted eighteen running about compared to three whose owners had the decency to follow the rules and, more importantly, respect the environment. It seemed as though some of the birds were already having a bit of a rough time in the strong wind, the last thing they needed was for some dog to come tearing through the brush where they’re trying to take shelter.


2 Responses to “Easter at Iona”

  1. 1 Rick Wright April 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I can only second the dismay about the dogs. They’re not supposed to be around those ponds at all, off leash or on, and yesterday there were several running blithely through the cattails while their owners–well, besides breaking the law, who knows what they were doing?
    It’s doubly hard on us as dog owners, because ours stays in the car and looks longingly at the scofflaws, no doubt wondering why he has to suffer and the others get to destroy habitat at will.
    The irony is that there is a nice l e g a l off-leash dog area at McDonald Park, very close by. I usually bird Iona, then let Gellert run for a short while at McDonald.
    Put me in charge of dog licenses, and this city would have only about 10% of the dogs it has now, and lots of dog owners would be paying fine after fine….

  2. 2 Marc April 15, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Should you decide to apply for the job of handing out dog licenses I don’t doubt that you’d have the full support of every birder in the Lower Mainland, not to mention the birds themselves 🙂

    I can’t really compare the level of disruption and environmental degradation caused by dogs in this city to others in North America, but I think it’s safe to say that Vancouver has a dog problem; or rather a dog owner problem.

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