Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday at Point Roberts and Iona Regional Park

Lighthouse Marine Park

It was a windy Saturday in Point Roberts as I dropped in for a short visit to Lighthouse Marine Park.

I don't know if there was a small Herring run, or if the waves had just stirred up some food from the bottom, but the local gulls were active in the surf. I got a nice sequence of shots of this Glaucous-winged Gull.

Glaucous-winged Gull - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

The pink legs and markings on the bill show well in these shots.

I saw some other gulls in the surf and noticed they were different. These were Mew Gulls, a smaller species that resembles the common Ring-billed Gull. I generally see Mew Gulls once or twice per year, usually in late winter/early spring.

Mew Gull - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - 2018 Bird # 77

This shot shows their smaller size and plain yellow bill. The one on the left shows the yellow legs.

Although Point Roberts is in the United States, many of the residents are Canadian. I'm not sure what nationality this Crow is...

Northwestern Crow - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA

As I was walking back to the parking lot, a pair of Killdeer flew in and landed quite close in front of me.

Killdeer - Lighthouse Marine Park, Point Roberts WA - 2018 Bird #78

I still had some time and headed north Iona Regional Park in Richmond.

Iona Regional Park, South Jetty

I decided to make the 8 kilometer hike out and back on the Iona South Jetty. The jetty is actually a huge discharge pipe from the Iona Sewage Treatment plant that is used to discharge fully treated sewage into the Pacific Ocean. This shot was taken about 3/4 of the way out.

Early on the walk, I took this shot of a Bufflehead. I believe it's a female rather than a juvenile male.

Bufflehead (F) - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

Earlier in the day I'd seen my first Mew Gulls of the year. It didn't take long for a second sighting. This shot shows the bill and leg colour very clearly.

Mew Gull - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

A few minutes later I saw a small bird on the path. I was hoping for a Longspur or Lark but it turned out to be a Song Sparrow.  Nice shot however.

Song Sparrow - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

I was quite far out by now and was surprised to see some ducks close to the jetty at this point.

Common Goldeneye - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

Even more surprising was this male Eurasian Wigeon. 

Eurasian Wigeon - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

Right near the end of the Jetty I saw a pair of Harbor Seals. This was a first for me out on the jetty.

Harbor Seal - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

As I headed back I spotted a trio of Red-breasted Mergansers, two males and a female. I normally see these birds at Point Roberts, but I'd missed them so far this year. I did not get a good shot of the female, but here's the showy male.

Red-breasted Merganser - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC - 2018 Bird #79

The common Merganser is similar to this species, but is a much heavier bird and lacks the distinctive crest.

The Red-breasted is very striking in flight.

Red-breasted Merganser - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

On my way out I'd briefly seen a bird flitting around the rocks on north side of the jetty. My impression was a Horned Lark, but I didn't have time for a photo. I saw the bird in the same area on the way back and took a couple of photos.

I realized it was too big to be a Horned Lark, it was a Western Meadowlark. These beautiful birds are normally seen (and heard) in the Okanagan. However, in the winter, some come west to the mild climate of the Lower Mainland and favour tundra like areas such as Iona. 

They only sing to declare territory and attract a mate in breeding season, so one does not hear them here in winter.

Western Meadowlark - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC
2018 Bird #80

The last bird of the day was a Great Blue Heron Heron hunting in the shallows near the base of the Jetty

Great Blue Heron - Iona Regional Park, Richmond BC

That was it for Saturday, I'd make a brief outing on Sunday as detailed in the next post.

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