Archive for May, 2012

Ruff at Reifel

School has kept me busy much of the past couple of months, but this term my schedule is a little lighter than it has been and that means there’s more time for birds! Yesterday morning I headed over to Reifel Bird Sanctuary on a beautifully sunny May day and was rewarded with some good looks at a female Ruff. The bird was foraging in the southernmost mudflat of the West Field area amongst several other species of shorebird; including Stilt Sandpiper and both species of Dowitcher. The pathway here is slightly elevated on a dyke above the West Field offering a good vantage point of shorebirds quite often viewed only at a distance on some expansive mudflat. So instead of struggling to make out characteristic field marks through the heat and wind haze in my scope I could examine the somewhat dishevelled plumage of this bird at leisure; and get some passable phone-scoped shots.

Most Ruff spend the winter months in Sub-Saharan Africa, southern and western Europe, as well as parts of south east Asia (1). When spring comes they migrate to the freshwater marshes and moist grasslands of northern Europe and Asia to breed; and on rare occasions drifting to North America as this bird had done (2). The wintering population of south east Asian is closest to Vancouver and it’s quite likely, though not certain, that the individual at Reifel originated from there.


  1. BirdLife International 2009. Philomachus pugnax. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <>. Downloaded on 27 May 2012.
  2. Hayman, Peter; Marchant, John; Prater, Tony (1986). Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.