Reifel and Boundary Bay

This week has been a beautiful one, from a weather perspective - clear blue skies most of the week, and so I took advantage of the weather to head out to Delta and back to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

A Northern Harrier patrolling the marsh along the Fraser River.

Right from the start, it looked like it was going to be an amazing day. The sanctuary is on an island in the delta of the Fraser River, and you access the island on this rather old, one lane wooden bridge. As I was heading over, I noticed a bald eagle, sitting on one of the pilings in the river, eating a fish. It was a good start to the day!

What a start to the day - two bald eagles and a harrier in one shot!

The bald eagle, eating a fish.

So naturally, I turned around, went back and parked my truck, to get some pictures. It actually turned out to be an amazing day for birds of prey - there were bald eagles everywhere for some reason. Pretty much every large tree seemed to have one or two eagles in them. I even think I saw a golden eagle, but it was a bit obscured, so it could just have been a large juvenile bald eagle (more likely), but it seemed too big for that. 

Another bald eagle!

Once at the sanctuary, things started off well. More bald eagles, and the night heron was in a spot where you could see it well. I also had a good view of a small woodpecker, and the wood ducks seemed a little less skittish than normal. As I was trying to get some shots of a chickadee, an old woman came up to talk to me. “Have you see the snowy owls yet?” she asked. “Not recently.” I replied. “Are there some here again?” 

Wood duck

“No, not here - out at Boundary Bay.” she replied. “I saw 26 of them yesterday morning, and at least a dozen this morning.” And with that, I was off to my truck to take a run over to the dyke at Boundary Bay while the light was still nice, to see if I could see them as well.

I think a red-tailed hawk.

Finding them wasn’t a problem - there were a good dozen of them there, as she had suggested, most not more than 10 meters from the dyke trail. In talking to some of the bird photographers that were there, it seems that every 5-7 years, there’s some event in their normal home range that affects their food supply, and the owls have to migrate a little further afield. This year, they seemed to have picked Boundary Bay. It was an amazing site to see.

Snowy owl, just chilling out.

Coming in for a landing.

Perched perfectly, with Mount Baker in the background.

Snowy owl in flight.

I spent the last hour or so of good light taking some pictures, and generally enjoying the experience. It was a amazing to see so many of them, and every one in a while one would fly off, which is an even more amazing site. I’ll be going back as long as they stick around.

There was even a short eared owl patrolling the marsh.