Saturday, August 30, 2014

George C.Reifel Bird Sanctuary Aug. 30 2014

The welcoming committee.
This blog is about 3 hours at Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Ladner British Columbia.  This conservation area is well known to birders and the local general public as it provides an easy escape into nature from the city life of Vancouver and the suburbs.  Reports of a rare Ruff prompted us to drive the 82 kilometres.  This area butts up against the Strait Of Georgia and is adjacent to farmland.  As a result shorebirds and waterfowl are abundant during migration as well as their predators.  Today was no exception. The following pictures record our sightings.

Reifel Entrance
Gift shop and ticket window.
The ponds behind the gift shop always have an assortment of  birds.
A female Wood Duck searches for grain amongst the rocks.
Sandhill Cranes have made the sanctuary home.
The Cranes are very approachable.
This male can be quite aggressive during breeding season and has been known to attack visitors including myself.
Shipping lanes are in close proximity to the sanctuary.
A Sora always seemed to be hiding behind a reed.
Greater White-fronted Geese have just arrived from the north on their southerly migration.
A shorebirds nightmare-the Peregrine Falcon.
It was doing callisthenics for me.
I believe it was a little damp and it was drying off. 
There are many inlets and ponds for the waterfowl.
Dian has found something.   When looking for a rare bird always look for the birders first.
One of five Stilt Sandpipers we saw.  Mud on the bill can be misleading. 
Another view of the Stilt.
Our objective.  The Ruff, or to be more correct a Reeve-a female Ruff .
I have seen a few Ruffs in non breeding plumage, but would love to find a male during breeding season when they have bizarre, variable plumage.
A Virginia Rail posed briefly.
We had 2 Rails calling right in front of us and finally this one emerged from the reeds.
A view towards Vancouver Island from the viewing tower.
Viewing Tower.
Mostly Yellowlegs and Dowitchers in front of the tower.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish, BC-Aug 25 2014

Dian and I thought we would cough up $30 each and try out the new gondola close to Squamish, BC. It just opened this year and looked like a good way to get up the mountains without too much effort.  We left the house at 8AM and got to the "base camp" at 9:30.  The ride takes about 10 minutes and takes you up to 885 meters.  Once there a very nice lodge awaits.  A few trails into the wilderness begin here and we chose the Panorama Trail which was about a mile long and relatively easy.  There are 2 other trails (Als Habrich Ridge and Skyline Ridge) that lead toward the higher peaks which appeared to be far in the distance.  Estimated time to get to the alpine and back on these trails is 6-8 hours.  The trail we chose was, for the most part, in the forest with a few lookout points.  Our objective is to find wildlife and we didn't see much on this hike.  A few chickadees, a warbler, Stellar's Jay and Raven were all we managed to discover.  The chickadees and warbler were too far away to positively identify.  To sum up;

Pros-close to Vancouver
       -first class facilities
       -not expensive (compared to Whistler).  The lifts at Whistler are $45-$50 and you should spend the night to eliminate the long drive back to the lower mainland; however you get to the top of the mountains at Whistler.
       -exceptional views.
       -a great place to get to the alpine for the physically fit.

Cons-We hoped to get to the alpine without hiking for 6 hours.
        -a lot of people on the lower trail.
        -very little wildlife at lower elevation.

Base Camp 

The staff are very friendly.

Sea to Sky Highway and view of Howe Sound.

A suspension bridge leads to a lookout and trailheads.
Overlooking Squamish
Squamish view and Garibaldi Mountain in the centre.
The lodge and Mt. Sky Pilot with Mt. Co-pilot
View of Howe Sound from the Lodge.
A view of summit of the Stawamus Chief.  Rock climbers travel great distances to test their abilities on one of the largest monoliths of granite in the world.  The climbers here are about a mile away.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 2014 Highlights

The Fraser River is having an outstanding run of Sockeye Salmon.  I was contemplating getting some fishing gear but decided I like photography better than standing in one spot on the river bank for hours.  We purchased a couple of fish instead, and put them in the freezer.

Some lucky fishermen.
Fishermen buy boats to get to good fishing spots which you can actually drive to with your car.
This helicopter was picking up water from the river to douse a fire.
The pilot is keeping an eye on his bucket.  The next shots show the pickup and drop.
Pileated Woodpecker at Great Blue Heron Reserve in Chilliwack.
A view of the lagoon and lake at Harrison Hot springs.  There are hot springs here but not in a natural setting.  You have to stay at the lodge or go to the public pool if you want to swim in them.
A map showing Harrison Hot Springs.
There were some shorebirds on the edge of the lagoon.  They are on their way south after breeding in the north.  Here is a Baird's Sandpiper.
Least Sandpiper.  One the smallest "peeps".
A Yellow Warbler was also on its southerly migration.
A Red-necked Phalarope was preening.
Another pose.
 Semi-palmated Sandpiper.
A view of Harrison looking towards the main mall.  The shorebirds were found around this lagoon.
Dian and friends, Art and Marlene.  They invited us down to the marina in Point Roberts to spend a night on their boat.  We took a hike out to Lily point.
The galley and sleeping quarters.  One day I will have to post a picture of myself.
The boat.  Thanks guys.

 Dian and I just purchased tickets to take the new Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish. We will be heading up there Monday Aug. 25.  I will try to get a blog of the trip so hurry back.

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