Birding, September 16, 2023: Hail to the Leaf

Where: Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Delta), Terra Nova (Richmond), Piper Spit (Burnaby) and Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Sunny, 17-25C

The Outing

We hit five places today, one for each finger!

Reifel Bird Sanctuary: It was about 17C when we arrived in the morning, but it actually never felt cool and ended rather warm, which was a nice wrap-up for our last visit to the sanctuary for this summer.

More winter migrants are arriving, with northern shovelers joining the coots. We also saw two rare birds, which was spiffy: a white-fronted goose, and four avocets. Unlike when we saw a single avocet here last fall, these four were close to one of the bird blinds, allowing us to get much better shots. There were also chickadees everywhere, right from the parking lot on forward. The wood ducks were also seen in increasing numbers and seem to be racing ahead of the mallards in getting their full breeding plumage back. Pretty boys everywhere. The geese were acting strange and weird, as always.

It was here that I made a discovery about my camera issues. A small leaf landed on the camera and I started blowing on it to get it off. Nic advised me that I could also use my hands to, you know, just lift it off. I didn’t want to do that, lest I touch something I didn’t want to touch (on the camera, that is, though I also don’t know where that leaf had been, either). It was then that the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. I regularly turn my camera off to save on battery when I am not expecting to be shooting photos for at least a few minutes. The on/off switch is right next to the dial that selects shooting modes. With the leaf gone, I looked down and thought, THIS is how I had changed modes without realizing it, by pushing on the dial when I was moving the on/off switch (they are very close together).

Now that I know this, it should happen less often. I am also experimenting with leaving the camera on all the time once I start shooting, to see how quickly I go through the batteries (I start each bird outing with three fully charged, which should always be more than I need). We’ll see how it goes!

Richmond Nature House: The feeders were still empty, so we saw no birds here, but Nic’s curiosity was sated.

Terra Nova: We did not see many birds here, but did shoot a distant heron, some gulls, a few song sparrows and I shot a bunch of planes, or fixed-wing birds, as I call them. We also shot a grebe, but it was not close and not in great light.

Piper Spit: The land mass at the spit is back, and it’s actually quite large. I expect it will grow in size as long as the dry weather holds out. Again, we saw oodles of pretty wood ducks, some coots, lots of geese, and many greater yellowlegs. Several ducks were having baths, making for some great action shots. Today, it felt like Piper Spit was coming out of its sleepy summer state, with more birds coming in and general birdiness all around.

Tlahutum Regional Park: We only visited the community garden here and observed two hummingbirds battling again), spotted some newly-returned golden-crown sparrows, some white crowns and a fleeting flicker. There was also a squirrel eating the head of a giant sunflower. And speaking of eating, three deer were helping themselves to an all-you-can-eat buffet (though we only directly saw two). Deer have freakishly giant tongues. And no manners.

By this time (closing in on 6 p.m.) we were in the golden hour, high clouds were moving in and Nic only had room for a few more dozen photos on his SD card, so we wrapped up. Still, we saw a bounty of birds, I actually got some of my best shots in a while and the weather was pleasant throughout the day.

Also, I decided to experiment and shot in both JPG and RAW. My total file size ended up being just over 21 GB. Yikes.

The Shots


An Anna’s hummingbird to start:

The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Bewick’s wren (possibly heard, but not seen)
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Golden-crowned sparrow
  • Northern flicker
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow
  • Yellow-rumped warbler


  • American coot
  • Avocet (rare)
  • Canada goose
  • Gadwall
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Hooded merganser
  • Mallard
  • Northern pintail
  • Northern shoveler
  • Sandhill cranes (briefly, flying overhead)
  • White-fronted goose (rare)
  • Wood duck


  • American crow
  • Ring-billed seagull
  • Rock pigeon


  • Northern harrier


  • Douglas, black and gray squirrels
  • Deer
  • Western painted turtle
  • Grasshopper
  • Bees ‘n dragonflies
  • Various helicopters, passenger jets and seaplanes in and around YVR

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