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George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary — November 2007

By Dan Paquette

Those of you who are birders will probably be familiar with this site located in the large delta formed at the mouth of the Fraser River. The lesser Snow geese should now be arriving. Pick a Sunday with a sunny weather forecast. Leave the Seattle area at 6:00 a.m. which should guarantee low traffic volume at the border.

At Reifel Bird Sanctuary, John Ireland leads a birding tour at 10:00 a.m. John is a great leader and a wonderful source of information. The sanctuary actually opens at 9:00 a.m. The cost is $4.00. For an annual membership you enjoy free admission and their quarterly publication.

For every native plant there’s an escapee from the same genus — just go up the alphabet: Apples, birches, cherries, dock. Still, with the maritime air, the plants, and the birds, this place is very addictive. If you don’t take in the tour, another great time to visit is a weekday with late afternoon autumn sun when the most everyone has gone home. The gate closes at 4:00 p.m. There have been times that I’ve just kept walking around and around on the many lanes criss-crossing the sanctuary. Start by making the big clock-wise circle. Early on, you will see a field of bulrush — probably Scirpus lacustris ssp. validus (Soft-Stem Bulrush, Pojar, p. 404), and beyond the walkways is a field of Typhus latifolia (Cattail, p. 338) extending ½ kilometer or more. In completing the circle, you will enter more woody areas and more examples of the occasionally crunchy-looking bark of Malus fusca (Pacific Crab Apple, p. 48) and remnants of plants like Heracleum lanatum (Cow Parsnip, p. 213) and the Rumex-like pods of Artemesia suksdorfii (Suksdorf’s Mugwort, p. 278). If you then have time to do some of the inner walking lanes, you may see evidence of Cotula coronopifolia (Brass Buttons, p. 280)

Driving Directions: For the fewest turns, proceed up highway 99 north from the Canadian border. Take exit 20 which is Highway 10, the "Ladner Trunk Highway". At the signal light, turn left onto Highway 10 which heads to Ladner. In Ladner, the name of the road will change to "47A Avenue", and later, "River Road West". After leaving the downtown area you will soon be traveling next to a dike on your right. Eventually you will pass S.M. Manufacturing. After that, you will soon turn right onto a road destined for Westham Island and the bird sanctuary. Yield to on-coming traffic on the one lane bridge. After very roughly 5 miles, turn left in front of the black iron gate and you will soon be at the sanctuary

For more information, see “Visitor Use Information” at http://www.reifelbirdsanctuary.com/.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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