A Special Bird at the Iona Sewage Ponds

Marshes at Iona Beach Regional Park
Marshes at Iona Beach Regional Park.

Aside from the sewage outfall at Iona Beach Regional Park, birders are also drawn irresistibly to both the North and South Marshes and of course, the waste settling ponds. And so it was, after returning from my long walk to the tip of the outfall and back I thought that I would be remiss if I neglected to take a stroll around the marshes and peer through the chain link fence into the settling pond.

Marshes at Iona Beach Regional Park
Cattails make for great bird habitat around the marsh edges at Iona Beach Regional Park.

The birding was fairly good around the marshes and I noticed a couple of birders looking intently over the water. Quite often a successful way to find unusual birds is to talk with other birders already on site or, if you’re some distance away, to look where they’re looking. It also helps to check the Rare Bird Alert hot line before going out for the day. I was a little stunned when I realized that the bird that they were watching was a single out of season Barn Swallow hunting for insects (???) over the water of the marsh – January 24! I talked with some other birders later and they told me that this swallow was featured on Vancouver’s RBA (604) 737-3074.

Settling Ponds at Iona Beach Regional Park
Settling Ponds at Iona Beach Regional Park - lots of ducks on the water including Bird No. 100, Northern Shoveler!

I had a productive walk around the marsh, getting good looks at Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, and a Cooper’s Hawk. However, the second highlight of the morning was my 100th species on my new, re-started birding life list – the Northern Shoveler. Not a rare bird by any stretch of the imagination but a great looking duck with its super-sized (shovel-like) bill. There was a nice flock of them cruising around on the water of the settling ponds.

All in all it was a great morning of birding – with two special birds, an out of season Barn Swallow and bird number 100 on my life list, the Northern Shoveler.

Here’s the complete list of birds seen on the jetty and around the marshes and settling pond on January 24, 2010.

From the sewage outfall:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Surf Scoter
  • White-winged Scoter
  • Sanderling
  • Dunlin
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye
  • Greater Scaup
  • Canvasback
  • Bufflehead

And around the marshes:

  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Northwestern Crow
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Bufflehead
  • Marsh Wren
  • Common Merganser
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Snow Goose
  • Barn Swallow (1)!
  • American Coot
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Mallard
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • House Finch
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Northern Pintail
  • Great Blue Heron

Check out Carol’s post Sun on Saturday at Jericho and Iona over at Bikes, Birds, n Beaks for some great winter bird photographs from Iona Beach Regional Park.