So much to see at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Finally, after many attempts, we had found some time to visit the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta. And we were so lucky with the weather. Though it was quite cold, the sun and the excitement to see so many birds kept us warm.

While walking along the many beautiful paths, we encountered so many ducks in and out of the water, heard a lot of birds singing, saw some of them, too, and discovered some sandhill cranes hiding in the marsh.

One of the many amazing moments was when red-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees and even the larger red-winged blackbirds ate some bird seeds right out of our hands.

After we had seen sandhill cranes hiding in the grass, we were pleasantly surprised to see them wade through the water and come out of it right in front of us. That was such an amazing experience to see those large birds up close.

And to top all this, we saw a flock of what seemed to be several hundreds of lesser snow geese fly by and land in the marshlands a bit further away. That was such an impressive sight!

We had a fantastic day, and we will definitely be back – hopefully next spring when we might get to see the ducklings.

Vancouver Aquarium, Lost Lagoon and Burnaby sunset

The last day of May promised to be as sunny as a summer’s day – and is there any better way than to spend it at the Vancouver Aquarium?! – So that we did.

On our way there, at Devonian Harbour Park, we saw a Canada geese family with lots of goslings swimming happily together.

Once inside the Vancouver Aquarium, we made a beeline to Jack and Daisy’s habitat, only to see that now there were six female fur seals in. I had never seen any of those before, and they were fun to watch, too.
Jack and Daisy were still in the little dolphin habitat. But the good thing for us was to be able to see them interact with their trainers during one of their training sessions. Jack seemed to respond more to them than Daisy did.
We then walked over to the Steller sea lions and harbour seals to watch an interesting training session with them as well. Vancouver Aquarium interpreter Lauren and both marine mammal trainers Anna and Leonora made this experience very special.
It was the first time that we actually saw all four female Steller sea lions together with their male colleagues, the three harbour seals.
And then it was time to see the dolphins in action. Once again, Lauren very enthusiastically led the audience through the dolphin show in which Hana and Helen had fun interacting with their trainers Anna and Leonora.
When we went to see Elfin, Tanu and Katmai, they all seemed to have a very relaxing day.
Time is always flying by when being at the Vancouver Aquarium, and as it was nearly time to leave, we quickly headed towards Schoona’s habitat which she shares with lots of fish, some sharks and rays. So one of her co-inhabitants is often swimming in front of the lens and trying to sneak into the picture…

Then it was time to say good-bye to all the animals, but surprisingly we saw quite a few different animals on our way home, too.
In Stanley Park, there was this black squirrel sitting in the grass and climbing a tree later, and some turtles were swimming in the Lost Lagoon. There we also saw those huge berries which looked like raspberries, but I looked them up and found out that these are edible salmonberries.
At Devonian Harbour Park we did not only see two geese families, and one of them had twelve (!) goslings, but also some birds. There were a house sparrow, a male red-winged blackbird and a female Red-shafted Northern Flicker. Did you know that these Northern Flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground? Interesting, eh?
At Cardero Park we also saw a Common Starling, and a bit further away, near the Marina, there was a single duck swimming with its duckling.

Back home in Burnaby, we had a beautiful sunset with great clouds. What a fantastic ending of such an amazing day!

We spent a great day in Vancouver

Sunday showed its sunny side so that we couldn’t resist and head out into the sunlight to enjoy a great day in sunny Vancouver.

On our way to Stanley Park we observed one of the blue herons standing in the water near Devonian Harbour Park and trying to catch some food – and that it did! It just seemed as if its food didn’t want to be eaten and tried to seal the blue heron’s bill. After this exciting experience we continued our walk to the Vancouver Aquarium where we couldn’t wait to get inside once again. Well, it was only the second time this week…

We headed to the first sea otters’ habitat where we watched Tanu and Katmai at feeding time. And then we saw that Elfin, the male sea otter, was in his habitat again – happily playing with a red ball. They are all so cute, and I simply can’t get enough observing them.

Then we went on to have a look at Hana and Helen who were happily swimming in their smaller habitat, especially Helen swam around all the time – on her back!
Opposite them the sea lion jumped out of the water while two seals were looking out of the water.

But as huge Jack and Daisy fans we simply had to go down to their underwater viewing area. Surprisingly, Daisy came down this time posing in front of the cameras – just like a little diva, but so super cute! The funny thing was that Jack didn’t come down as long as Daisy was there, instead he hovered nearby observing the situation. It looked like as if he had been parked there.

Then we made our way to the 3:30 pm dolphin show but had to stand in a second row as it was really crowded. As always, you could see that Hana and Helen had great fun during their training session which was commented on very enthusiastically by Lauren, a passionate interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium. After the show and a little chat with Lauren we went to see Hana and Helen at their underwater viewing area and were amazed how close they swam by.

After having spent some time there, we headed to Aurora and Qila’s underwater viewing area, sat on one of the benches and just watched those beautiful belugas in action.

From there it’s just a little walk to Jack and Daisy’s habitat where we spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Jack (me) – and yes, he came down very often – or taking pictures of him (mostly Marcus, sometimes me as I was busy playing with him…). We were literally the last two persons to leave Jack. Strangely enough he somehow sensed that his fun was over and he stopped playing, and it seemed as if he was saying something like ‘You can’t go now. I’m so cute!’ That was heart breaking…

Anyway, we really had to leave the Vancouver Aquarium and strolled through Stanley Park where we saw two squirrels until we arrived at the Lost Lagoon. There we saw a blue heron, together with two ducks, on one of those logs placed in the Lost Lagoon. After a while a tree swallow landed on a bird house nearby. Of course, the usual Canada geese and seagulls were present, too. And then, just like some days ago, a male red-winged blackbird appeared, quickly followed by a female one.

At Devonian Harbour Park we couldn’t believe our eyes as we saw another pair of black-winged blackbirds there. The Canada geese family and their goslings from last time were swimming on the pond before heading onto land for their lunch or dinner.

As we had to get back to Burrard SkyTrain station, we walked along the seafront, passed the marina and saw two seagulls checking out their seafront property, i.e. this interesting piece of art. A bit further on we also had a great view of the Convention Centre, the sea plane terminal and Vancouver harbour. But we had to get some rest on those lovely benches at Jack Poole Plaza (who can’t resist sitting on those huge benches?) where we could once again enjoy the view of Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, North Vancouver and the mountain range with those funnily shaped mountains.

As you can see, we had a most fantastic day which simply has to be repeated soon!

We just love the Vancouver Aquarium

Although it was already around noon, we decided to head towards Vancouver and spend some time at the Vancouver Aquarium. It is always quite a long walk from the SkyTrain station to Stanley Park, but we don’t mind it at all. Besides, we had our first little stop at Jack Poole Plaza where Vancouver’s Olympic Cauldron and the huge Harbour Spirit Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland (installed in 2010) can be admired. The view of the mountains and North Vancouver there is also spectacular.

On our way to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park we saw a raccoon on top of a bin – perhaps looking for its lunch?

Once inside the Vancouver Aquarium, we had a short stop at those epaulette sharks which are somehow cute to watch.
On we went to have a look at the sea otters Tanu and Katmai who were in their front habitat again, either relaxing or grooming. Aren’t they just cute?
And then finally, we made our way to Jack and Daisy’s underwater viewing area but, unfortunately, neither of them came down although we were waiting and waiting…
Well, if those harbour porpoises are too busy, what can we do?!
So we just went a little further to the next underwater viewing area and observed Aurora and Qila swimming by.

And then it was time for the dolphin show starring Hana and Helen who were very excited today, jumping out of the water or swimming very fast already – even before they could show their various behaviours during their show. Once again Lauren, a very friendly and enthusiastic interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium, guided the audience through each and every step of the training session.

On our way back to Jack and Daisy again we passed the sea lion and seal habitat where a sea lion sat on her deck and tried to catch some sun – or so it seemed – and two seals were swimming by very quickly.
Another stop at Penguin Point let us see all seven penguins standing together on one spot, as usual, on their rockwork.

And then, finally, it was Jack and Daisy time! And can you believe it, Jack was in playing mood and came down to the viewing area so often that I was even a little bit exhausted after having played with him for an hour. I really can’t get enough of him, especially as he seems to copy some of my movements. Anyway, he is so cute – and he probably knows it!

Of course, we would have stayed longer but the Vancouver Aquarium closes at 5 pm, and we were literally among the last ones to leave! Just look at those empty spaces there…
However, we had a very quick stop at the epaulette sharks shortly before finally heading out.
But we will be back very soon!

As usual we went to the Lost Lagoon to enjoy the peace and quiet at one of our favourite places. Even our favourite bench was unoccupied so that we could enjoy the swans, ducks, seagulls and Canada geese. Surprisingly, even a male red-winged blackbird came by. I had never seen one at that location before, only at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary so far.

As an additional bonus we even saw a Canada geese family with their goslings swimming at the pond at Devonian Harbour Park.

Well, after such an exciting but also a little bit exhausting day, we just needed some relaxation time at those huge benches at Jack Poole Plaza with breathtaking views of either downtown Vancouver, Lord Stanley Park or North Vancouver, the sea plane terminal in the foreground and the mountains in the background. What a beautiful place to live in!

And to top it off, this wonderful day full of sunshine ended with a great sunset back home in Burnaby.