Young Birders Fraser Delta IBA Birdathon was a success!

Young Birders on their birdathon at Boundary Bay in Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting

The youth and I had a great Birdathon on Thursday. After starting early morning at Brunswick we all met up at Reifel. Here we were grateful to Kathleen for letting us in early. I had never been inside Reifel before 8 am so it was a treat. Was super special and nice to be the only ones in there. There were tons of shorebirds the largest number I had seen all summer. I spotted a Wilson's Phalarope near the grey tower in the West Field which was a treat. 

Wilson's Phalarope at Reifel - Photo: Melissa Hafting

After scanning through thousands of peeps we saw a couple Pectoral Sandpipers, Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Westerns, Leasts and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  We did not find a Stilt Sandpiper unfortunately.

Next we went up on the tower and Bridget spotted a leucistic Barn Swallow. This bird has been hanging out at Reifel for several weeks and I had seen him before but none of the youth had and their excitement was palpable!. We got all species of swallow here including a Bank Swallow that Josh spotted. By the way big congratulations to Josh he recently found out that his photo of a Rock Ptarmigan was chosen as the cover image for the 2020-2021 Birds Canada Calendar!. Although I was one of the judges of the calendar contest it was the public who chose the cover image :).

Leucistic Barn Swallow at Reifel - Photos: Liron Gertsman

No we didn't see a Rock Ptarmigan! This is next year's Birds Canada calendar cover photo! - Josh Brown.

It must have been a day for Leucistic Shorebirds because next I turned around and spotted a Leucistic Red-winged Blackbird. This bird has been around for over a year now but only seen sporadically at Brunswick Point and Diefenbaker Park in Delta. It was the first time any of us had ever seen this unusual and beautiful leucistic Red-winged!. He was missing most of his tail too!.

Leucistic Red-winged Blackbird at Reifel - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Cole spotted a Peregrine Falcon from the tower and Merlin and Bridget spotted a Mourning Dove which is a very good bird for Reifel. When we came down to the ground there was a Cinnamon Teal just sitting right beside us which was cool. Usually Cinnamon Teals are so flighty but Reifel does seem to tame all duck species. We also had a Blue-winged Teal and many Green-wingeds.

Merlin in Tsawwassen - Photo: Bridget Spencer

At the top of the tower at Reifel. There was so much to see in every direction!  - Photos: M. Hafting

Next we walked down the east dyke in search of a Northern Waterthrush. We did not find a Waterthrush but we did find a Macgilivray's Warbler! It is only the second time I've seen that species there. Bridget and Josh first spotted that bird. We could not find the Sandhill Cranes (I know sacrilege!) but we saw American Coots (newly returned) and Hooded Mergansers and Kingfishers just to name a few.

The next spot was the ferry jetty. Here we saw the over-summering Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Pigeon Guillemots, Surf Scoters, Pelagic, Double-crested, Brandt's Cormorants and large rafts of Horned and Red-necked Grebes. We also saw Black Turnstones, Black Oystercatchers, Harlequin Ducks, Mew and Ring-billed Gulls just to name a few!

Cole scoping at the ferry jetty - Photo: Josh Brown

Liron and Bridget scoping at Tsawwassen ferry jetty - Photo: Josh Brown

The next place to go was shore birding at Boundary Bay at 96th St. Here I quickly spotted 2 Marbled Godwits. Shortly after young birder Katya Kondratyuk pulled up with her dad. It was nice to see her after so long and her dad and her looked through my scope and chatted with the other youth. Next we found a Red Knot which was cool. Then a Whimbrel dropped in and the rain began to start. Then a Red-necked Phalarope rocketed by flying towards 104th and then the Willet went roaring by towards 88th St. There were Sanderling, Black-bellied Plovers, Long and Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin, Westerns, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers. There was also Semipalmated Plovers and Greater Yellowlegs. Josh Brown spotted a large flock of Common Terns way off shore which was really cool to see!! It was really nice to be out as the rain only lasted briefly. We sure lucked out with the weather today as the forecast was atrocious!.

Whimbrel in  Delta - Photo: Bridget Spencer

After a dinner at Tim Horton's the youth went for some owling and ended the night with a Barn Owl and Common Nighthawk calling and flying by. Check out Liron's video of the Barn Owl below.

A great day with a great bunch of people (Bridget, Liron, Josh and Cole) - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Total species count for the 83km bike-birdathon was an impressive 113

Thank you to everyone who has donated to their campaign. It really is so kind and means a lot to the youth and myself. These youth put their heart and soul into biking all these kilometres for bird conservation. They really are a special giving bunch!. It was great fun to be out with them as always. I was impressed by their correct ids and how fast they spotted shorebirds and birds in general. They have now surpassed their mentor. What an honour it has been to bird with them through their teenage years to adulthood.

So far they have raised over 3200$ for bird conservation!. Their goal is 3500$. If you want to make a donation to their Great Canadian Bike Birdathon you can still do so by clicking this link HERE. Money goes towards Birds Canada's conservation programs.


  1. What a plentiful day for birding! Congratulations on the successful birdathon! And congratulations to Josh for making the Birds Canada calendar cover!

    1. yes was so great shou and nice leucistic birds. seeing so over 40 common terns at boundary bay was really cool and the weather held out!

  2. Congratulations, everyone, on a most successful day!


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