Posted by: Anne Murray | November 17, 2009

Reifel in the rain

The pineapple express came in full blast last night, the wind tossing the trees around and banging at the windows. It continued to rain heavily most of the morning, but I had arranged to meet two birding friends at Reifel Refuge, so went along anyway. Birds don’t give a hoot about rain (although most stay low in windy weather) so we saw plenty of diversity.  Near the Westham Island bridge one of the crop fields was white with Snow Geese, and a dark, rather bedraggled Merlin was on a roadside wire. Once into the Refuge, we soon spotted a Black-crowned Night Heron, a Reifel speciality in winter. Most of the common dabbling ducks were on the ponds, including a couple of Lesser Scaup, Northern Shovelers, lots of Mallard, American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal, and a lovely pair of Wood Duck on one of the wooded sloughs. Later we  saw a pair of Hooded Merganser, as well as Coot, Great Blue Herons and a Greater Yellowlegs.  Sparrows were plentiful, and we sorted out House Sparrows at the entrance from rather scruffy immature White-crowneds and Golden-crowneds. Fox Sparrows and Song Sparrows got more common as we walked down the wooded paths, serenaded by Spotted Towhees. Black-capped Chickadees and an active group of Bushtits.  Several Varied Thrushes were feeding on the berry trees, American Robin flocks were flying over and a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets mingled with the chickadees. A late flying swallow, seen briefly, looked like a Cliff Swallow rather than a Barn Swallow, as it was rather chunky. More Snow Geese kept flying over, and along the outer dyke a flock of Dunlin flew over, Northern Harriers worked the marshes and we flushed a Short-eared Owl from the pathway. All the time the rain poured down, but with good wet weather clothes (rain pants really make a difference) and an umbrella, it was actually very pleasant. There were enough birds to keep us occupied and most of the birding was by naked eye, as the rain misted up our binoculars. Don’t let the bad weather keep you indoors, it is much more fun splashing in the puddles!

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