Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trip to Riefel Waterfowl Sanctuary

On Sunday, March 8th, we decided to take a trip into Delta to the Riefel Waterfowl Sanctuary. As this is an hour and a half to two hour drive for us, we had to take the dogs with us, but dogs aren't allowed at the Sanctuary, so we stopped at Boundary Bay Regional Park first so the dogs could go for a walk along the dyke. It was a pleasant, although cool day but at least there was no wind so the walk was quite pleasant. Not a lot of variety in the birdlife though, some Pintail Ducks feeding at the edge of the water and thousands of Dunlin spread out all over the flats. A few Northern Harrier were seen as well. As we approached the Sanctuary itself, we spotted this Pied Bill Grebe in the slough, along with a number of Canada Geese.
The Sanctuary is always busier than I think it will be, but we managed to find a shady spot to park in so the dogs wouldn't get to hot, because even when the weather is cool, our small crossover SUV heats up pretty fast. Waded our way through the hundreds of very well fed Mallards that ambush every visitor in hopes of a free handout, and made our way into the area. The resident Black Crowned Night Herons were doing their usual, sleeping in the sunshine.

There were quite a few ducks, a number of Northern Pintail like this male. Pintail are one of my favorite ducks, they have such sleek lines.

This American Widgeon male was co-operative for a photograph as well.

As was this female Northern Pintail. Also present were a few Northern Shovelers, 1 sound asleep Scaup, a few pairs of Bufflehead and a few American Coot. All of the Canada Geese seemed to be paired up and there was a great deal of hissing as you walked past.

We also spotted some Hooded Merganser (my very favorite duck) and some Wood Ducks - both the Wood Ducks and one of the Mergansers were seen up on feeding platforms. Red Wing Blackbirds were singing throughout the area but I was surprised at the variety of smaller birds seen. Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows and Towhee were much in evidence, but only saw a few Black Cap Chickadees and House Finch. There were a number of House Sparrows near the entrance.
The resident Sandhill Cranes were no where to be seen, but this Great Blue Heron showed great tolerance and posed nicely for photographs.

After a couple of hours of walking the loop we were getting concerned about the dogs, so headed back to the car. One of these days I'd like to be able to spend a whole day there, during the week, and not have to worry about dogs shut in a vehicle. Somehow I doubt that will ever happen, but one never knows.
As we left the Sanctuary this field was full of Snow Geese, some taking flight and heading back into the Sanctuary itself. Unfortunately it was time to head for home.

We stopped at the dyke again so the dogs could stretch their legs before the long trip back. By this time very dark clouds covered the area to the north and east and the wind had picked up. Although we managed to drive home in sunshine, we went through several areas that had received fresh snowfalls as the roofs were white and there was still snow on the ground in shady areas.

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