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Yesterday I visited the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC (a suburb of Vancouver). My daughter is a bird fanatic so it was a great family day, but it was also a great opportunity to continue testing my review copy of the Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 lens to see how they handled bird photography. Let’s talk first about this beautiful sanctuary and look at some photographs, then we’ll talk photography and nerd out a little on gear (and my thoughts on Fuji’s new autofocus system for bird photography).
The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a 300 hectare (about 850 acres) piece of protected land made up of wetlands, natural marshes, and low dykes at the Fraser River Estuary. The land was originally purchased by George C. Reifel in 1927. In the 1960’s his son, George H. Reifel, leased the land to the British Columbia Waterfowl Society (a private non profit) to establish a bird sanctuary. Assistance was provided by Ducks Unlimited, and the provincial government assisted by establishing a game reserve on nearby land.
Ideally located along annual migratory paths, millions of birds each year find feeding and resting areas at the sanctuary. Depending on the time of year you may see Snow Geese, Mallard Ducks, Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Herons, Eagles, Pigeons, Chickadees, Western Sandpipers, Hawks, Cormorants, and Osprey. According to the official website over 280 species of birds have now been recorded at the sanctuary.
Visiting the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary could not be easier. There is ample free parking located right outside of the entrance. Hours are from 9am to 4pm each day. Admission fees are low ($5 for an adult, $3 for a child), and the sanctuary is open year round (including Christmas). You can purchase food to feed the birds for $1 per bag, and there are benches, bathrooms, and picnic locations throughout the sanctuary.
My daughter was a little intimidated by the charge of Canada Geese when we entered the Sanctuary (see photo above), but you quickly realize that the birds are very friendly… sometimes even photobombing a picture:
And, they do love to talk:
We spent approximately 3 hours wandering the sanctuary and found that to be a perfect amount of time to see everything we wanted to see. Here are a few more photographs from the day:
(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ f/2.8 and 1/500th)
(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ f/5 and 1/1000th)
(Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ f/4 and 1/500th)
Perhaps the best thing for this trip was the total cost: $5 for my admission, $3 for my daughter’s, $2 for bird food, and $4 for a souvenir . $14 in total.
Kudos to the sanctuary, and the society, for making it so cost effective to visit. They even do a 50% discount for classroom visits when the teachers pre-book a visit!
And now, a quick note for my fellow photographers and Fuji lovers:
I shot all of these photographs on the new Fuji X-T10, using the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 lens.
Fans of mirrorless cameras know that the autofocus systems, when photographing moving targets, have not historically been as mature as those found in SLR cameras. Fuji recently updated the firmware in their cameras, which gave us a new autofocus system that is damn near on par with SLR cameras in my opinion.
In the photos in this post you can see birds in flight, birds landing in water (screwed that one up a little – shutter speed was too slow @ 1/500th), birds fighting, birds moving towards the camera. Heck, here is a HEAVILY cropped image of a dragonfly in flight:
Not once did I miss a shot because the camera couldn’t handle the situation. These little mirrorless cameras, and especially Fuji’s new autofocus system, are getting closer and closer to perfection in my opinion. Here is a contact sheet from the first photo at the top of this post. I shutter mashed these frames in AF-C, CH, with the new zone focusing. You can click the photography to view it large. They are all sharp:
Not too shabby, and another evolutionary step forward for mirrorless cameras for sure.
I’m reaching a little for something in the interest of keeping my review balanced, and If I had any “negative” comment about using the X-T10 in this situation it was that the buffer, write speed, and capacity for high rate shooting is slightly less than I get on my other cameras (i.e. the X-T1).
If I was a full time action or sports photographer I might opt for the faster Fuji X-T1 instead of this camera, but as you can see it was not a barrier to capturing images I am happy with. It is simply a matter of choosing the right tool for the job, and at it’s price point ($899 Canadian at the time of this writing) I think the X-T10 did a great job.
End of nerdy camera talk!
I would encourage everyone in the Vancouver area to visit the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It is a beautiful place and a great way to spend a day.