2009/04/21

Revisiting Iona Beach and seeing Yellow-headed Blackbird

I didn't go biking by the dyke again today. The weather was gorgeous, so I drove out to Sea Island and to Iona Beach instead. There was too many people and dogs last month when I was there on a weekend. So today was nice with fewer people.

Sea Island Trail
Beautiful sky-watch day.

I came across many snakes sunning today along the trails. My first reptiles of the year! I believe this is a Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides) - also seen by Wanderin' Weeta when she was there last week.

On the west end of Sea Island, it was completely covered by Scotch Brooms, an invasive pea shrub, and on each shrub, there were at least two or more snails on it. Wanderin' Weeta wrote an interesting post on Scotch Brooms here.

Yellow flowers
A beautiful Scotch Broom flower.

Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides)
Another Northwestern Garter Snake observed. A closer-shot this time.

Then it was time to head to Iona Beach.

Horse (Equus spp.)
Iona Beach is at a corner of Sea Island that it shares with the Vancouver International Airport and the Wastewater Treatment Plant. There are also field for horses and horseback riders. Seeing no cars in both direction, I stopped and took a quick photo of this beautiful animal.

Female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
During this time of the year, Blackbirds are one of the most common birds on Iona Beach. This is a female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) and it is quite different from the showy males.

Another resident of the beach is the Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus), the bird species that I was mainly after today.

It is definitely a beautiful bird. I think they are prettier than Red-winged Blackbirds, but that may be because I see Red-winged more often and yellow is my favorite color. To me, their call sounds like a mix between a cow mooing and a cat meowing, which is quite unusual itself.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbirds are mainly found on the plains of central North America, so this colony here is the only coastal colony found in our province. They were locally rare once when the Wastewater Treatment Plant was being built and their habitat (marsh) was destroyed. But a restoration project took place a few years later and now these birds have returned. What a good story.

Before going home, I just had to take a shot of the beach at low-tide.
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6 comments:

Chris said...

A very nice post. Thanks for sharing this moment. You know what, snake are the one ANIMAL i will never be able to photograph, I'm too scared of them. The yellow headed blackbird is magnificent.

Cicero Sings said...

That last picture ... very nice. Looks like you had a beautiful day. I think you are really doing well with that camera of yours.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

So the female redwings are here again! Now we'll hear singing in earnest!

I have not seen a yellow-headed blackbird yet. I must always be in the wrong places at the right times.

Thanks for the links!

Natural Moments said...

Aren't the yellow headed blackbirds cool. They are always a treat for me to see. We've seen a couple of these snakes this year too already. They are always a surprise to encounter.

Tarolino said...

Absolutely enjoyable post again. Not least the seascapes. The last one was magnificent. I liked especially the yellow headed blackbirds. We only have completely black ones with yellow beaks.
The snakes and snails were beautiful as were the pea flowers.

PSYL said...

Thanks all.

Chris - No worries, all of us have our weaknesses. Thankfully, there aren't too many snake species in your region too.

CS - I love my camera. Sure the quality can't compare to DSLR, but the lightweight, the reach - fantastic!

WW - I have to thank you too for such insightful posts on Iona and Sea Island. Otherwise, I would never know what I was looking at.

NM - I just love the calls of the Yellow-heads. Seeing snakes is definitely surprising since they're so well camouflaged on the ground. Thankfully, they are just as scared of us as us of them.

Tarolino - Thank you. Black birds with yellow beaks only? Sounds like an interesting-looking bird.

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