Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ceaseless Birdsong

Saturday morning, in the Fraser Valley, BC. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It's at the mouth of the Fraser River Estuary, though even up on a viewing tower on a sunny day, where you can see north and south along and across Georgia Strait, it's hard to make out what is the main river channel, etc. It's all so FLAT out there.

Looking Across the Fraser River from up on the Viewing Tower. That might be Steveston on the Other Side. (Click for larger image.)

It's the quiet season at Reifel (pronounced 'rifle'). The thousands of snow geese have gone back to Siberia, and the hundreds of sandhill cranes —except for one resident pair— headed on up the coast to Alaska. Only the birds that stay local are there. We saw Canada geese on the nest, and goose families, and several times were threatened on the path by goose parents hissing at us determinedly. A Canada goose with his neck stretched up and his tongue vibrating at you while he hisses is actually quite threatening for a short person. Personally I'd think they'd be better advised to nest further from the path so people don't come too close, but then what do I know, I'm not a goose.

Canada Geese with Goslings, Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, May 1, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Mother Goose Resettling Herself (Click for larger image.)

Lots of resident ducks, too. Mallards of course. Wood ducks. Shovellers, pintails. Also we had some Greater White-fronted Geese, which we had a hard time figuring out what they were, except that once we figured it out it was so obvious.

Any Day With Northern Pintails In It Is a Very Good Day (Click for larger image.)

Reifel's style differs from the Bosque del Apache in New Mexico, the wildlife refuge I'm most familiar with. The fields where farmers are contracted to raise grain for the birds are outside the Sanctuary itself, in the farm fields of Westham Island. In season, the snow geese fill the fields by the roadsides. There are lots and lots of numbered nesting boxes on tall poles stuck out in the ponds and mudflats of the Sanctuary. It's fun to imagine volunteers going around with clipboards, tracking and taking notes. "Hmm, tree swallow family in #164. Redwing blackbirds at #87."

Lots of little birds, towhees and redwing blackbirds and swallows and sparrows and nuthatches and and... Birdsong pervading everywhere, like a dawn chorus, but lasting all morning.

Tower on the main walking loop. (Click for larger image.)

No comments: