Fraser Valley Birding
April 27 2021
Stunning scenery, great birds, wide open spaces and friendly birders, that's Fraser Valley birding.
Some of the most popular locations to bird include Fishtrap Creek, Mill Lake, Willband Creek Park, Cheam Wetlands and of course the Great Heron Reserve. Hope Airport is a mecca for rarities at any time of the year, where in the past I have had some really good birds including Loggerhead Shrike, Nashville and Palm Warblers.
This year I am steering clear of the Metro Vancouver area, way too much traffic and with Covid-19 far too many people.
Besides the well know locations there are any number of back roads, hidden away sloughs and dense woodland to explore. There is open prairie and cultivated farmland that attracts wintering raptors and their prey. Flooded scrapes in the old lake bed attract migrating shorebirds. As the Fraser Valley narrows mountains tower above and offer the opportunity for some excellent hiking and birding especially during migration when birds funnel through the valleys and into the Interior. During the spring anything can be expected. A flock of Greater Yellowlegs at Ruskin Dam last week or a pair of Townsend's Solitaires along the Harrison River has made for some interesting birding.
Last week five Black-bellied Plovers and ten Whimbrel on migration were a real treat, common on the coast but harder to find in the valley. Every week throws up a surprise.
|Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk|
|Stunning Scenery at Tuttyens Rd Wetlands|
|Greater Yellowlegs |
After Tuttyens I visited the Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area which skirts along the Sumas Lake Canal. I was there for less than twenty minutes and had all the usual duck species, a Northern Shrike and two Turkey Vultures. A recent brush fire ravaged the Nature Trust lands, it took hours to put out and caused substantial damage. The land will eventually heal and the burn area will provide new habitat before returning to its former state.
|Bert Brink Management Area |
On my first ever visit to Chilliwack Lake I found five Canada Jays and a pair of courting Red-breasted Sapsuckers, both good year birds. There was still some snow hanging around in shaded areas. Ruffed Grouse were booming in the cut block while Common Ravens soared overhead. Apart from the flock of Red Crossbills flying overhead there was a blissful silence, no trains, planes or automobiles and best of all no thoughts.
|Canada Jay/Whisky Jack/Camp Robber/Grey Jay|
|Red breasted Sapsucker|
Willband Creek Park
|Dawn at Willband Creek Park|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow|
|A lucky Violet-green Swallow shot.|
Technically imperfect but I like it and that's all that counts.
Delving deeper in the Fraser Valley to bird means doing some homework, planning trips to specific areas, figuring out where particular species might turn-up and of course making contacts with local birders who know the lay of the land. Local knowledge is and has been invaluable. Many thanks to Gord G, Ed K, Dave B and John V for sharing their knowledge.
|A Muskrat, one of a pair carries food or nesting material.|