Finally went outside - to Iona Beach too!

The weather was finally nice enough today for me to go out! I tried to bike out yesterday, but a sudden rainstorm drove me from the dyke back home. And when I arrived home, it turned sunny again! Not a funny trick that Mother Nature played on me.

Anyways, after being cooped up inside for a couple of days, I decided to do it big today and borrowed my parent's car to go to Iona Beach Regional Park. Along the way, I went to McDonalds Beach too, but it was full of dogs and dogwalkers that I gave up checking the place out, and went straight ahead to Iona Beach.

This is my second time going to Iona Beach, and my first time as an amateur naturalist, so I was pretty excited to see whatever I can observe. Spring has been here for two days now, but I need to be patient for the exciting spring birds to arrive as it takes time for them to slowly migrate northward again to wherever their breeding is. Nevertheless, today was full of firsts of 2009.

First, a sky-watch photo of the beach at low tide.

Two Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis) and a Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris). Or so I think since I always have trouble differentiating the Lesser Scaups from the Greaters. Still, first Scaups and Ring-necked Duck of the year.

One of the trio of Coots observed.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
American Robin singing and fluttering right in front of me.

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Welcome back, Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata)!

Then I headed to the jetty to watch the birds on the water. (Over there, I ran into my ornithology & herpetology professor and his family from the university. He pointed out there were Canvasbacks along the jetty!)

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)
Two of the eight Canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) observed! They are such intersting ducks with their long and black bill. They are slighty larger than Northern Shovelers, but I wonder whose bill is larger (in terms of surface area). Birds of the genus Aythya have legs farther back on their body (than other diving ducks) and farther apart. Interestingly, they are a favourite of duck hunters because when they eat certain foods, e.g. wild celery, they supposedly tast delicious. More information about them here.

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
Another Scaups observed. This one kept tipping its head upward and opening its bill slightly (without any bird beside it). I wonder what's the explantion for this behavior? I don't think it's aggression. Perhaps it was drinking water?

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Saw a large flock of Northern Pintails floating along the jetty today. This was one of the rare ones feeding along the tide.

Heron and Shipwreck
Great Blue Heron and a shipwreck. Initially, from another angle, I thought the heron was standing on a sinking boat fishing. Turned out it was behind it, not on top of it.

As I was driving back home, I saw this juvenile Bald Eagle. Another photographer was standing right underneath the tree and told me that this eagle didn't seem to mind him standing below it. Not wanting to disturb the eagle, I quickly took this photo and left it to whatever it was doing.

Definitely a happy birding Saturday today.


Cicero Sings said...

At the coast, one has to get out and about when they can! Glad you had such a lovely outing and saw so many great birds.

behindthebins said...

What a terrific place to bird. I love the picture of the Pintail. They are one of my favorite ducks. There is a Ring-necked Duck in your first Scaup picture. It is a nice comparison.

PSYL said...

Cicero Sings - True enough, especially when Mother Nature has not yet decided if she wants to stay in Winter or go to Spring. Right now the temperature is quite cold and rainy. Another day inside. Sigh.

behindthebins - Thanks for visiting and pointing out the Ring-necked Duck! I was just wondering why that Scaup looks different from the others! Another first then!

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