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Lake Cowichan view from our dock.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Delta, BC

Saturday, May 6th

The sun's out with some puffy clouds. Time to choose a destination for the day to enjoy it while it's here! After a leisurely morning, and Freya walked and left behind, we set out for the Reifel Bird Sanctuary located in Ladner at the mouth of the Fraser River. We'd tried to see the sanctuary before and left as there are no dogs allowed.  After touring it we can certainly see why with all of the birds just sitting on the trails waiting to be fed! Entrance Fees are only $3 for Ray as a senior and $5 for me for a couple hours of walking. Very reasonable. You can buy packages of seed for $1 to feed the birds. Most will eat right out of your hand.

The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary consists of nearly 300 hectares (850 acres) of managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dykes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary. For the millions of birds seeking feeding and resting areas during their annual migrations along the Pacific Coast, the Sanctuary is ideally located. It is a place where wildlife and their habitats are protected from harm, and it lies next to miles of flat marshland and the farmland of Westham Island.

In The Beginning

The Sanctuary is located on the outskirts of the Village of Ladner, in Delta, BC. In the early 1900's, protective dykes had been built along the Fraser River to protect Ladner's thriving farming and fishing-based community from the Fraser River and the tidal waters of the Strait of Georgia. Nearby river islands, though, were only partially dyked or left to flood each year naturally, and were often sites of fishing camps which supplied the numerous local salmon canneries.
The northwest part of Westham Island consisted of such undyked islands when George C. Reifel bought his property in 1927. Natural river channels such as Ewen, Robertson and Fuller Sloughs dissected the property and retain their names still within the Sanctuary waterways. Although all equipment and building materials needed to be barged in, by 1929, Mr. Reifel had created a large recreational family retreat in this idyllic location. Dykes and causeways were constructed to create waterfowl habitats and road access connecting his land ("Reifel Island") to the rest of Westham Island. Although the family ran successful real estate and brewery businesses, Reifel Farm, as it became known, was also very successful, and during WW2 was responsible for over one-third of the sugar beet seed production of Canada.

A Meeting Of Minds

In the 1960's, his son, George H. Reifel, granted the first lease to the British Columbia Waterfowl Society for a Bird Sanctuary to be named after his late father. Ducks Unlimited Canada was brought in to assist with the water management of the many wetland habitats on the site, and has continued to be an active partner in the management of the area. The provincial government supplemented this effort by establishing a game reserve on the adjacent intertidal foreshore. By 1972, there was widespread recognition of both the real estate value and the wildlife habitat value of the Reifel homestead, waterways, farm fields, and Sanctuary area. To conserve the entire area, the Reifel family agreed to a combination of land sale and donation to the federal government on the condition that it would continue to be managed for the primary benefit of waterfowl and that the Sanctuary would con tinue to bear the name of George C. Reifel.

Ray and I saw many different ducks, geese, different swallows etc.

Viewing plataform and warm up shelter.

Ray looking very professional with all of his gear!

Our kids, Kristi and Garrett were taken here by my parents years ago. They still remember it.

Notice our "fashion faupas" ... socks and sandals! Ready for that hot sun later today!

While Ray looked for photo ops he noticed some large fish in the water that turned out to be carp.

Beautiful Views

We decided to walk to the tower to get a great view out over the water and to Steveston.

Looking north towards Steveston we saw a tall ship moored on the other side of the Fraser River.  This is the Kaiwo Maru, a Japanese Navy training ship.  It's one of the largest in the world at 361' and 29,000 square feet of sail.  It rarely leaves Japanese waters. A freighter happened to be entering the main arm of the Fraser River so you can really see how big the tall ship is.

Here is the CPR Rail Ferry and after looking at the pictures we realized that the tall ship was starting to display it's sails. Too bad we did not stay a little longer to get the full effect!

This guy was hard to get a picture of as he seemed to fly off just as you snapped the picture.

Lots of nesting boxes everywhere.

Wood duck
 Next it was off to the Sandhill Crane nesting area. We only saw one mated pair though.

Here's Momma sharing her little island with other birds.

Here's Dad keeping an eye out for anyone else that might bother mom.

Blue Heron

You could see birds flying in and out of these nesting boxes but of course when we wanted to take a picture ... no go. There is a small bird sitting on the top box that you can barely see and one perched on the nest in the top box.

This blue heron swooped in just before we were leaving and I managed to get a picture before it dissappeared in the weeds. Lovely bird.

This was a "do again" kind of place. Very reasonable entrance fee, nice flat walking trails and lots of birds singing and splashing. A lovely peaceful place.

After 2 hours of walking Ray and I decided to have a late lunch at Sharkey's on the river in Ladner as we were starved. The beer was great but the food was just okay. Did the job though. Back home to the coach and rescue Freya. The rest of the day we spent sitting outside enjoying the sun. Another great day.

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