Reifel: April 10th 2010

On Saturday I managed to get out to Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island. It was pretty windy; though, not as windy as at Iona over Easter. Normally Reifel is a bit of a zoo on the weekend, but I think the wind kept all the families with screaming children around the entrance and off of the outer trails as I only encountered fellow birders.

Before I got to the sanctuary, though, I stopped to watch a flock of several hundred Snow Geese feeding in a farmer’s field along Westham Island Road.

These birds feed on grasses, grains, aquatic plants, berries, and the “young leafy stems of various agricultural crops” throughout the Fraser River delta (1). A map showing the sightings of Snow Geese in BC is available on eBird. It’s likely that some of the birds I saw spent the winter in areas to the south of BC as the spring migration started in February (1). By mid to late May most birds will be on the breeding grounds (1). The Snow Geese that winter on the west coast will likely end up on the arctic tundra of Alaska, Yukon, North West Territories, and north east Siberia (1).

The sight and sound of hundreds, if not thousands, of Snow Geese is quite something to behold and surely ranks as one of BC’s most spectacular animal congregations.

At Reifel Sanctuary there was a fair bit of activity along the shoreline of the Fraser River and the Straight of Georgia. Although it was a little distant and the wind was blurring the view somewhat, I was able to see a flock of Dunlin, some Greater Yellowlegs, and, of course, Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, ducks, and an accoutrement of mostly unidentifiable gulls.

Standing on one of the islands in the south west pond were two Sandhill Cranes. Here is one of them…

Once I had finished checking out the trails I decided to take a walk along Robertson Road which leads to the parking lot. Although the road was quite busy, there were large numbers of Tree Swallows swooping about and I managed to spot a single Barn Swallow; my first of the year.

Reifel on Saturday was certainly worth the $4 I paid to get in. Perhaps the best $4 one can spend in the entire Lower Mainland?

Reference:

  1. Mowbray, Thomas B., Fred Cooke and Barbara Ganter. 2000. Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/514doi:10.2173/bna.514
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