Reifel Bird Sanctuary
A couple of Sundays ago, I called up a friend.
“The snow geese are in town!” I said. “Let’s go check them out.”
And off we went.
Our destination was the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island at the mouth of the Fraser River. My friend and her daughter are frequent visitors; they came well prepared with little bags of bird seed ― one for each of us. (You can also buy seed at the entrance for a dollar a bag.)
Within minutes of our arrival, we had Black-capped Chickadees eating out of our hand.
We saw a lot of waterfowl. Like these Wood Ducks.
And these American Wigeons.
American Robins, too.
There were Sandhill Cranes.
And my old friend, the Great Blue Heron, was there.
We did see our snow geese (a gaggle of them), congregated on a muddy field (as they are wont to do) just outside of the sanctuary. They attracted numerous photographers (a clique of them), all of us gathered on the road that bordered the field, cameras at the ready.
The Lesser Snow Geese spend their summers on Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic and their winters in the Fraser and Skagit River estuaries. My friend lives just on the other side of the river from the bird sanctuary, and she told me the snow geese are frequent visitors to her daughter’s school. The kids have to be kept indoors on days when the snow geese decide they want to hang out on the school’s playing field. (Every Canadian knows what Snow Days are, but who knew there were Snow Geese Days?)
The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary consists of 300 hectares of marshland in the Fraser River Estuary and is a key stop for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. Dykes are used as walkways, giving visitors access to much of the sanctuary, including bird blinds and an observation tower. More than 250 species of birds have been spotted here; prime time viewing is during the fall and spring migration. And with an admission fee of $5 per adult and $3 per child (annual memberships also available), it’s a cheap day out.
One last tip: Pay attention to the birders with the supersize camera lenses. Chances are those lenses are pointed at something you want to see.