I thought that birding wasn’t much of a hobby for most people. I was proven so wrong when we went yesterday, on a rare sunny Sunday, November 3rd, to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on picturesque Westham Island in Ladner. Virtually every single parking space was occupied–even in the overflow lot. There were so many people–families with children, young adult couples, seniors, and a handful of serious photographers with $3,000 telephoto lenses–that I was afraid that people were going to figure into our photos far more prominently than the birds.
Because I did not possess a DSLR camera and the aforementioned telephoto lens, quite a few of the shots of the more distant, harder-to-capture subjects below are zoomed out to the max (thank goodness for 20X optical zoom capabilities). Click on each picture to see a larger one.
The Mallards were the first to welcome us once we had paid our admission fees. In fact, they almost served as speed bumps more than a few times, had we not looked down. The nesting females, in particular, blended in well with the pebbled path. Of all of the waterfowl at Reifel Sanctuary, the Mallards were the loudest, pushiest and most common of waterfowl. Plus, they tended to photobomb quite a bit.
We spotted a total of five gorgeous Wood Ducks, but for all their striking and otherworldly colouration, they tended to be rather reclusive and therefore harder to spot than other duck species.
Second loudest in the volume department were the Hooded Mergansers. The males, that is; up to four were audibly courting (and sparring with each other over) one female, while a flock of Mallards looked on with amusement from the shore.
Quite a few of the long-distance shots we took captured waterfowl species that we didn’t expect to see, given the overabundance of Mallards–like the Northern Shoveller, the Northern Pintail, and the Green-Winged Teal. Plus some uninvited guests like seagulls.
Ultimately, it was the Sandhill Cranes who stole the show. I fed quite a few by hand. The first one mistook my index finger for food. The nip didn’t draw blood, but ol’ Sandy seemed to feel my surprise and moved on. The next few cranes were quite gentle nibblers. And they were the *only* birds to accept handfeeding! They actually liked it less when the seeds were laid on the ground.
Black is still “the” colour, because pretty blackbirds showed up at the top of the bird tower, while red-eyed American Coots (great divers!) showed up in the inner ponds below.
There were a handful of bald eagles plus the odd squirrel, and heron, too. Oddly enough, the alleged stars–the Lesser Snow Geese–showed up in droves on the drive to the sanctuary. At least a hundred or so were clustered on someone’s farm like a living sea of white foam. Ironically, only one solitary Lesser Snow Goose made an appearance at the sanctuary. The others clearly did not get the invitation.
We were lucky enough to snap some giant (as big as two hands placed side by side) yellow mushrooms later that afternoon. Something knocked off the heads, though. The final photo of the day belonged to the Amanita (destroying angel) family of mushrooms, which we were looking for after capturing a smaller patch of them earlier. Such a pretty red, but don’t eat them! Both are poisonous, and neither should be consumed. Here’s what decapitated and deadly mushrooms look like.