Saturday, November 21, 2009

The November Birds of Westham Island [Ladner], B.C.

I spent Friday, November 20, out in the field at Westham Island, B.C. I found many life birds on this day and I was fortunate enough to get to know them - observe and photograph them.

When I pulled into the lot at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, I was surprised to see a 'Conservation Officer' vehicle ahead of me. Once in the gate, I noticed a number of 'officials walking on the grounds, and a helicopter circling above. My birding partner and best friend, Robbie, and I figured they were conducting some sort of a survey of the area; perhaps counting birds. It wasn't long before we heard the disturbing sound. A sound one does not expect to hear so close to conservation lands....GUN SHOTS!

We continued but felt very uneasy since we didn't know exactly where the gun shots were coming from. Clearly, that was the purpose of the aerial investigation and conservation officers.

In spite of this, we saw many life birds, carrying on about their business...

[Female] Lesser Scaup:

[Male] Lesser Scaup:

American Widgeon [Pair]:

After spending some time observing the American Widgeons, I noticed how extremely protective the males are of their females:

We continued on down the trail when I felt someone, or something, looking at me. I didn't see him at first:

We stopped at a nearby blind to see what was out in the Fraser Estuary and were surprised to find a Black Crowned Night-Heron, [Life Bird #1 of the day!], and a rare find for the West Coast of British Columbia. He was perched too far off for a clear shot, but through my binoculars, I could see him perched in a tree along the waters edge. In the foreground is a Great Blue Heron:

We continued down the path to my favorite feeder where I like to observe the Black-Capped Chickadees. Almost immediately, I began to hear the theme song to Mission Impossible:

Hmm. Seems nothing is impossible for these little critters:

These black squirrels were at almost every feeding station (..and they didn't appear to be starving at all):

I saw lovely Wood Ducks [Male and Female] - this one was a real 'ladies man', flanked with two beauties:

This [Male] Wood Duck was a little more 'exclusive':

In spite of the striking color of the Wood Duck, my favorite dabbler is the majestic Northern Pintail [Male]:

[Female] Northern Pintail:

Among the sounds of the occasional gun shot, was the constant 'honking' of the Snow Geese. We finally made it to the North side, where they were roosting:

Sadly, they were a little far out to get a good look at them, but we did notice a number of predators scoping out the smorgasbord:

It wasn't long before I heard a serenade from this little songstress, perched in a tree:

Now, on to the other Life Birds of the day. Life Bird #2 was this beautiful [Male] Bufflehead:

This one was spending quality time with another [Female] species, which I found a little odd. They were all alone on this display pond:

In an adjacent pond were three [Female] Buffleheads:

Next, and Life Bird #3 of the day, was this gorgeous Hooded Merganser [Male] in the foreground, and [Female] in the background:

We topped off a great day by hand feeding Black-Capped Chickadees:

..and spending time with my favorite Mallard (I've named him Harvey). He flies up to visit me whenever we visit the lookout tower:

I worry about ' Harvey' and his other Mallard friends. The Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary is suppose to be a safe haven for these most trusting of all waterfowl, and I can't stand the thought of some lunatic picking them off as they fly in or out of conservation property.

I hope I get to share many more moments with 'Harvey' in the near future.


  1. Very enjoyable post Kim. So many beautiful pictures on your outing today. My favorite were the Northern Pintails. Would love to see them, haven't yet.

  2. Wonderful photos! I love winter birding because the ducks are so beautiful. Congrats on your life birds! @CB4wildlife

  3. You are getting some amazing photos.


  4. Gorgeous photos every one of them! Love the Northern Pintail shots.

  5. Wow, lovely shots, all of them. Looks like a great day!

  6. Brilliant pictures again and superb narrative, I just love your blogs.