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Iona South Jetty - September 21 2013

Posted by Liron on Monday, September 23, 2013
I've seen lots of great reports lately from the south jetty at Iona Island in Richmond, so I decided to give it a go on the morning of the 21st. I have never walked the entire jetty before, but I understood that it could be quite rewarding, so, that is what I did! :) 

On the entry road to Iona, a Northern Harrier was flying around. At the very base of the jetty I could hear a Killdeer calling, and some Northern Pintails and Mallards were feeding on the mud.

I began walking. First up were two Green-winged Teals that landed on the mudflats beside the jetty:

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A bit farther along the jetty, I spotted a group of Northern Shovelers that were also on the mudflats, feeding:

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At the point where the mudflats turned into ocean (which wasn't very far out at this tide), an adult Great Blue Heron was standing. Even though birds like Great Blue Herons are common, they are still very beautiful birds that can be fun photographing:

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I walked a bit more, and off in the distance I saw a flock of Surf Scoters. Before I began walking farther up the jetty to get closer to them, I saw a blur of motion streaming across the water in the distance. It was an alcid, a family of birds that I am always happy to see. This guy was very distant, but I got some ID help later and this bird is likely a Rhinoceros Auklet:

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I now caught up to the scoters and spent some time with them. There were many more females than males in this smallish flock, but I did mange to get a photo of a male and a female Surf Scoter side by side:

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After a few minutes of walking after watching the scoters, I saw two shorebirds flying towards me. I took photos as they came by. Sanderlings!

Incoming...
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During the two times I have gone out more than half way out on the jetty, I have found that about half way out on the jetty, the birds change. From this point on you see less birds, but this is the zone that less common birds like uncommon shorebirds and songbirds often show up. I had not seen anything more unusual, but I was still satisfied with the looks I was getting at some Common Loons that began appearing at about the halfway point:

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Farther out, this Harbor Seal looked up on the jetty, and I took its photo:

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I now reached the end of the jetty, four kilometers out into the Strait of Georgia. At the very end there were some rocks that had many resting gulls on them. Also at the very end, directly below the lookout, were two scoters. I originally mistook these for Black Scoters, but I got ID help because I began to doubt my ID. Turns out these are some paler-than-normal Surf Scoters:

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Unlike closer to land, there were many more male Surf Scoters than females out here:

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At the end of the jetty many birds flew by including one loon sp. (likely Pacific), and many ducks. One flock of ducks had Northern Pintails, American Wigeons, and a Northern Shoveler, and this flock had a total of 26 American Wigeon (this photo only shows part of the flock):

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At the tip of the jetty, there are a couple areas where many Double-crested Cormorants would land on to rest, preen, and dry their wings:

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I spent some time at the end of the jetty, and then turned to head back. There were two species that I was really hoping to see that I had not seen. With many recent reports of Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur, I had high hopes, but I had not had any luck locating either. That changed fairly quickly on my walk back though! Before walking more than around 300 meters, a bird hopped up onto a rock on the side of the jetty. A Lapland Longspur! :D 

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It was awesome to get killer looks at my lifer Lapland Longspur as it stood on a rock and posed. The bird then hopped down onto the edge of the path and began feeding. It stuck to the south side of the south path for the most part and fed under some grass and plants overhanging the edge of the path:

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I now lay down flat on the ground for some eye-level photography of the longspur:

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The longspur entertained me for quite a while. I took some lasts shots of the bird and then left it to its feeding.

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I now continued walking back, in a very happy mood! :D On the walk back similar birds were present as on the walk out, but the Sanderlings were now on the ground feeding, probably starting about 1.5 kilometers from land.

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It had been a fantastic morning of birding! The highlight was obviously my 549th bird seen, the Lapland Longspur.


Thanks for looking! :)



 

 

 

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