Oh, happy day! The sun came out to play.
I’ve been waiting for the perfect weekend day to visit, for the first time, the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island, in the Delta area south of Vancouver. This was finally just the day to do it: bright sun, low wind, pleasant late winter temperature.
What a treasure. The flocks of nearly tame mallards and Canada geese on the paths are nothing compared to the Bald Eagles in the tree branches, the Sandhill Cranes swooping overhead to land a few yards from your feet, catching sight of two species of Herons (Black Crowned Night and Great Blue) and the glimpses of many species of small wintering birds. I felt lucky to witness a protracted fight between two pairs of geese, all puffed up chests and open wing spans with lots of hissing and mad flights towards each other.
The best times of year to visit are during the spring (mid-March through April) and fall (September through October) migrations, so I’ll definitely return.
Of course, it is not only a sanctuary for birds, but for us. The Riefel Sanctuary is another one of those many natural places outside Vancouver to get a comforting break from the sterile forest of glass condo towers and the incivility of honking drivers. As always when an urbanite connects to wild nature, you leave feeling an internal balance. Replacing city cacophany with a sound track of wind rustling through the dry wheat grass and gloriously unrestrained bird calls put me in a blissful mood for the whole day long.