Friday, September 18, 2009

Birding on Westham Island - Day 2

Once again, the weather in Vancouver, British Columbia was amazing. Spectacular blue skies and warm temperatures made this the perfect day for Robbie and I to visit Westham Island's Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Robbie arrived early, at half past 8AM. Traffic was light and we made it to the old Westham Island wooden swing bridge in record time. When we arrived, the bridge span was out, allowing for a large watercraft to pass below. I reminded Robbie that this was the area where I had last observed the Mute Swan. She quickly exited the vehicle and peered over the bridge railing with her binoculars fastened tightly to her eyeballs. That's when I heard her say...."what the hell is that?" I tried in vain to see what she was seeing but my x-ray vision, that allowed me to see through wooden railings, was on the fritz. She snapped a few pictures when the alarm rang and the lift gates open for thru traffic.

When we arrived at the Sanctuary, Robbie reviewed her shots on her camera, convinced that she had snapped pictures of some sort of a woodpecker. I took one look at the pictures and lunged for my Sibley's. "That's no stinkin' woodpecker!", I said (not that there's anything wrong with woodpeckers! I love 'em). "That's a Belted Kingfisher". I became depressed that I had missed seeing the bird myself. Boooo.

We proceeded through the gates, stopping at the first display pond so I could point out the petrified Brant I had photographed a dozen times the last time I was here. We chuckled at my expense. Then, we saw our first American Coot of the day....

We continued to the Slough, stopping at the blind to feed the Carp and Mallards. We noticed a rather colorful duck roosting on a distant log. The binoculars revealed a gorgeous Wood Duck.

We continued down the trail, past the farmland where I had last seen the Sandhill Cranes. Sadly, they were not present. Many other birds were, however, including oodles of Black-capped Chickadees and Red-Breasted Nuthatches.

I managed to coax a couple of Chickadees down from the treetops to rest on my hand. I'm always thrilled to see my favorite songbirds close-up. Their eyes sparkled.

Robbie and I continued on to the observation tower at the main display pond. This is where I had seen the family of 7 Sandhill Cranes on Sunday. Sadly, they were not present...however, a large flock of Long-Billed Dowitchers were wading in the marsh, along with a small flock of Lesser Yellowlegs.

At one point, a hawk (not sure of the brand) flew over and all of the Long-Billed Dowitchers gathered together in a corner of the marsh. Not a single one ate until the threat was gone.

After a good hour at this location, we moved on to the wooden observation platform located in the center of the Sanctuary. We saw several American Coots - a nice six pack of 'em. I made the mistake of placing my brown paper bag full of seed next to me on the railing, while I fished out my camera gear. Soon, a flock of Mallards were waddling up the steps to the platform. Apparently, this sparked the Mallard's "abandoned-brown-paperbag-full-o-seed" radar. A few flew up to the railing where my bag was. As I approached to retrieve the bag, one of the Mallards slapped me in the face with her wing. Bold birds, they is! I mumbled, "No seed for you!", in my best Soup Nazi voice.

Many of the Mallards were molting, while others still had brightly colored plumage. All of them had one thing in common -- their bright orange legs.

Here is the American Coot I managed to photograph during the great seed heist...

Robbie and I were growing hungry and were starting to look at the tasty ducks differently. It was lunch time!

I snapped a few closing bumblebee photos and we bid adieu to the Sanctuary for the day.

All in all, Robbie and I had a successful day on Westham Island. We topped the afternoon off with a nice lunch at my favorite little cafe in Richmond - Jo Jo's - home of the best curry chicken on rice...ever!

Thank you, my fine feathered friends, for once again letting us "city folk" observe you. Until next time....


  1. Awesome photos! what a great day of birding you had!

  2. Great shots - glad the mallard didnt hurt you too bad - amazing all the dowitcher there - makes me want to get to shore again before migration over - dont know if is too late