Friday, January 7, 2011

Trip to Riefel Waterfowl Sanctuary – Dec. 30, 2010

Thought it was time to post something a little more current….

On December 30th we decided to make the trek into Riefel Waterfowl Sanctuary in Delta B.C.  This is something we try to do at least once a year, but it is a 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive and a bit tricky in that we have to take the dogs with us as it is too long to leave them at home, but they aren’t actually allowed in the sanctuary so have to be left in the car, which means it can’t be too cold or too hot….it also means that we have to stop somewhere before we get to Riefel to give the dogs a good walk…

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That somewhere…is the dyke at Boundary Bay….where there were thousands of these little Dunlin shorebirds.

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The other side of the dyke is all farmland – well except for the golf course further up.  You can actually walk this dyke for miles…

Eagles at the entrance

We parked at the Boundary Bay Park parking lot where there are  bathroom facilities – an important factor after a lengthy car trip.  These Bald Eagles were perched in this tree at the entrance to the parking lot.  With the dogs exercised it was time to head to Riefel, after a stop at Subway for some lunch!

On the way in we came across 30 or so vehicles parked at the side of the road – there has been a Hawk Owl in the area for several weeks and birders were coming from all over to see it.  Standing around at the edges of someone’s front yard with a bunch of people, most sporting cameras with humongous lens and looking down their ‘lens’ at anyone whose camera equipment doesn’t compare, is not my idea of bird watching.  We stopped long enough to take a peek with binoculars and continued on.

Peregrin Falcon at Riefel

This isn’t the Hawk Owl – it is a Peregrine Falcon that was perched over looking the slough as you enter the sanctuary.

Male pintail

One of the reasons for going to Riefel is to get good close pictures of various duck species – unfortunately, for some reason, about the last 3 trips we’ve made have been when it has been cold and all the ponds are pretty much frozen over so there has been very little in species variety – you can’t count the hundreds of very well fed Mallards that you have to tip toe through at the entrance!

The above is a Northern Pintail drake that was in one of the open areas of water although you can see the ice floating in the water…

Walkin' on water

This male Mallard was ‘walking on water’

general view

and just in case you’ve never been to Riefel, here is one of the large ponds that you can walk around.

Sandhill Crane

Another attraction at Riefel are the Sandhill Cranes that have taken up residence there.  Although not as thrilling as spotting these birds out in the wild, it does give an opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with them.

Me taking pictures

Did I say ‘up close’?

another view

here is another shot…

Crane closeup

or how ‘bout that?

Coots and shorebirds

Continuing on we spotted this little congregation out on the only spot of open water…

Coots and Dunlin

here is a closer look…

Dunlin and Coots

Turned out to be a combination of American Coots (the black ones) and more of those Dunlin…

Saw-whet Owl

Hiding in the depth of a Holly tree was this little Owl – I think a Saw-whet rather than a Pygmy but I’m not really sure.  It was hard to get a good look as a volunteer was there keeping watch to make sure visitors – and there were a LOT of visitors that day – got a look but didn’t disturb the little guy.


Another attraction at Riefel is the colony of Black Crowned Night Heron that hang out right at the entrance.  Again, like the Sandhill Cranes, these birds are perfectly free to leave, but have chosen to remain and breed at this spot.

Head turned

The usually spend the day sleeping, but it was getting on to late afternoon by this time and this guy at least was waking up.

Head up

Here is another good look before we head back to the car…

late afternoon

Now, of course after being cooped up in the car for 2 or 3 hours, we have to head back to the dyke to give the dogs another break before making the trek for home.  This location is by the golf course and was the area that a few years ago was inundated with Snowy Owls…no Snowy Owls this year.

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