If you’re looking for a quick road trip that’ll land you somewhere interesting – outside – the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta is your ticket. The 30 kilometre drive there takes you down Oak Street, through the Massey Tunnel then into farmlands. It’s a trip my family makes a few times every year.
The first thing you should know is that you’re going to see ducks. A lot of ducks. They sell small bags of seed as you enter (after paying $5 admission, $3 for kids), and you can get different types meant for hand-feeding chickadees as well as ones that the mallards and drakes go wild over.
Experienced birders abound, many with binoculars and a deep knowledge of the species you’ll come across. But everyday visitors (like my fam) who are mostly just out for a nice walk will also see multiple species they might not expect, and be educated by the signage as well as interpreters. There’s a non-profit that runs the site, and they are all intense bird lovers. And they love to share.
On our most recent trip we saw an abundance of different winged beasts. This eagle, for one:
This colourful Wood Duck, a species which is here year-round:
A blackbird or ten:
The blackbirds are often at the top of this structure below. From it you get views of the entire place, and a look at the mountains to the North.
There are a few kilometres’ worth of trails to explore on the 300 hectare property. All are flat with zero grade; it’s wheelchair accessible and suitable for anyone.
Generally their free parking lot has spaces available, but on holidays like Family Day (when I shot these photos) we sometimes get pushed into the overflow a few hundred metres from the front gate. And, as always, I’d like to include a plug for the Highlander Hybrid that I’ve been driving for the past few years. I absolutely love this vehicle and have explored this province in comfort in it on personal trips, during everyday commuting, and for this series of articles.
This cute, single-lane bridge is what you travel to get on and off of Westham Island, where the sanctuary is. It feels sketchy with its wooden deck, with patches of plywood over holes, and is a great indicator that you’re not in the city even though you’re only 30 kilometres out of it.