December 09, 2008 | Tips from Travellers >
Delta, Bird Watching
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Every November, I get a fantastic birthday present that arrives from Russia. Actually, I get tens of thousands of birthday presents – and every single one of them is hungry and honking.
Sound like a birthday disaster? Not for bird nerds like me. I look forward to this time each year, when tens of thousands of snow geese arrive at Delta’s Reifel Bird Sanctuary
. It’s the perfect gift (just don’t try wrapping it).
In total, up to 80,000 Lesser Snow Geese make the 4,000-km trek from their arctic breeding grounds on Russia’s Wrangel Island to their wintering grounds on the Fraser River estuary.
Once the geese reach their wintering grounds, they hang out in dense flocks of about 20,000 birds and chow down on tasty grasses, weeds and marsh plants. When they take flight, it’s a feathery explosion: thousands of wings and beaks make a lot of noise.
My favourite place to view the snow geese is when they land in a field near the road (as seen in the above photo). However, they could be anywhere. During my visit this year, they munching and socializing near the river, so goose-watching involved Reifel’s viewing tower and a pair of binoculars.
If you're interested in checking out the snow geese, here are a few tips:
> The sanctuary says that the best times to view them are mid-Oct. to mid-Dec. and mid-March to mid-April.
> Check with the admission booth at the sanctuary for details on where to best spot the snow geese when you visit. Depending on where the geese are located, you may not need to enter the sanctuary, but I recommend it. It’s a beautiful place to go for a walk.
> There is a very small admission fee to enter the bird sanctuary (adults: $4, kids and senior: $2).
> Bring binoculars and keep an eye out for all the other great wildlife in around the sanctuary. On my last visit, I saw a barred owl, a black-crowned night heron and sandhill cranes.