Friday, January 23, 2009

Mute swans and a not-so-mute heron

I love mallards. They're beautiful birds, and funny, too. Even when there are hundreds of them, all quacking at once. Even when they mob me for a few seeds, and I have to push them aside with my feet to walk. Even when I have to inch my car through the parking lot, and they don't see the need to move until the front fender almost touches them. (They remind me of range cattle in the Chilcotin, that way.)

But after you've taken a couple dozen photos of mallards, the cameras get clogged with green head feathers; they crave variety. And on this last visit to Reifel Island, that's what they got. We saw so many different birds that I haven't been able to even sort through all the photos until tonight. And there are too many for one blog post.

May as well get going:

Eagle's nest in the mist.

The fun started even before we got to the bird sanctuary. At the bridge to Westham Island, we parked and walked over (and back). The fog limited our vision to the near at hand:

River's mouth

On the Ladner side, Laurie checked out the eagles' nest we saw last year; one eagle was standing guard. At the river's edge there is a marshy area, enclosed by a log breakwater. A white goose dabbled in the mud there.

It always amazes me how they stay so bright and shiny, digging through all that goop.

Nice clean goose.

Double-crested Cormorants lined up on the breakwater.

Western Grebes, downstream.

One of a pair of Mute Swans. More unspottable white.

We drove on. Passing the last farm before the entrance to Reifel, we stopped again, to watch a heron in the ditch, and startled a hawk. I managed to get a photo, very tiny, very misty:

I think it's a Harrier.

We had interrupted its dinner.

More white feathers, still bright in spite of the situation.

Another hawk was in the trees nearby. I don't know what this is. The more I search through my books, the more confused I get. They don't even look the same from one book to the next, let alone from one time of year, age, or sex to the next. Help!

Sitting raptor. At least that much I know.

On to the heron:

Through the branches.

He wasn't in the mood for photos. Laurie got a bit too close, and the heron took off with the loudest, angriest, harshest, longest "Graaaaaaak!" I had ever heard. Sorry this next photo is blurred; I was laughing too hard to hold steady. If you look closely, you can see his open beak.


Another heron, standing one-legged, looking like an old woman in a shawl.

Next: we finally get to the starting point.


  1. What a wonderful visit to the water and all the birds it attracts. You definitely have a Northern Harrier in flight and that is a red-tailed hawk perched, I'm pretty sure. There are some that have a darker morph that add a bit of confusion. Thanks for joining my blog.

  2. Stunning photos. I agree with Vickie that you have a Northern Harrier and probably a red-tailed hawk perched. I am blown away by the photograph of the heron by the water. It is truly a stunning pic.

  3. One of these times we're going to bump into each other. I was surprised that there were so many people at Reifel in the fog.

    The hunched, bulky shape of the hawk, and the white on the wings suggests Rough-legged to me. It would be nice to see more of the tail--which should have a white base for that species.

  4. I enjoyed this post and all the photos..
    not sure of your hawks..

  5. Thanks, all.

    Vickie; ... "darker morph ..." Aaargh! That's all I need to compound the confusion! :)

    Hugh; "One of these times we're going to bump into each other." Probably are. But will we know it?

  6. Susannah,
    My impression of your hawk is youngish red-tailed. I see a bit of belly band. I don't see any feathers near the feet, which rules out rough-legged.

    And yes, the hawk above was a harrier. And thanks for reading my blog.
    : )

  7. Thanks, Susan! Red-tailed it is.


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