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Soaring over Iona

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:19 PDT, Fri September 15, 2023

Last Updated: 10:22 PDT, Fri September 15, 2023

The annual Wings over Iona event is returning this year on Sept. 16, between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is open to all, free for admission, and will take place at the Iona Beach Regional Park. The event will be filled with many activities such as bird walks with bird interpreters, interpretation stations, as well as the opportunity to see live birds up close. 

Wings over Iona was started in 2019 by Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, with a goal to showcase migrating birds from their breeding grounds to their homes. 

“The goal of Wings over Iona is to increase awareness of Iona Beach Regional Park as a beautiful and important park for both birds and people to visit. We hope to awaken people’s curiosity about birds and bird habitat by highlighting the fall migration of birds from their breeding grounds to their winter homes, as well as how Iona, as a protected area, helps address some of the challenges that birds face during their migration,” said Sara Mimick, special events assistant with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks.

Bird lovers and visitors are sure to have a great time as there will be many opportunities to learn about birds, how to identify them, and possibly see them up close. Wild Research and Pacific Raptors, two conservation organizations will be bringing in birds for visitors to look at.

Pacific Raptors, an organization that are most interested in birds of prey have seen a rapid decline in raptors. The intent will be to bring in raptors in hopes of educating the public on the birds and inspire a sense of personal responsibility for the future of birds on earth.

Bird lovers can look forward to seeing many species of migrating birds including the Western Sandpipers, Northern Pintails or Northern Shovelers, Warblers, and Snow Geese.

“Some birds that will be present at Iona during this time include the western and pectoral sandpipers. Western sandpipers are shorebirds that start their migration in Alaska and make a stopover at Iona Beach Regional Park before continuing their long journey to Panama.

There are also different duck species, such as Northern pintails and Northern shovelers. A few warbler species have started to arrive, as well as gull species, some of which stay the entire winter said Mimick. 

Iona Beach Regional Park is a local beach perfect for bird watchers to enjoy. It is open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. that features a view of the Fraser River and the southwest side of Vancouver.

“Iona Beach Regional Park has always been a popular bird viewing and refuge area due to its location at the mouth of the Fraser River North Arm and its variety of ecosystems, including the estuary, wetlands, and rare sand dune habitat. The park is also located along the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south flyway for migratory birds that extends from Alaska to Patagonia,” said Mimick.

Those who are transiting to the event will be able to do so via the free shuttle bus that runs between Templeton Station and Iona Beach Regional Park every 20 minutes. 

“The first bus leaving Templeton Station will be at 10:45 a.m. and the last bus leaving Iona Beach Regional Park will be at 2:25 p.m., said Mimick. 

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