Hotspots

Birding Hotspots


Sechelt Marsh & Head of Porpoise Bay

Porpoise Bay contains many sp of waterbirds in winter, and the mud flat at the head of the bay is good, at low tide, for shorebirds in the summer and fall. Look for Pectoral Sandpipers in September. 
Sechelt Marsh is a small pond with an abundance of Mallards and other common species, but many other rarer ducks have appeared including Canvasback, Redhead & Tufted Duck. Blue-winged & Cinammon Teals appear in May and Green Heron and Gray Catbird have also occurred. The trees and bushes surrounding the Marsh can be good for a wide variety of passerines at any season. Recently, this has been the most reliable location for Black-capped Chickadees which are presently colonizing the Sunshine Coast. 

-Tony Greenfield


Roberts Creek Estuary 

The small estuary of Roberts Creek, which can be viewed by walking out along the pier is a very birdy location in spring, fall and winter. A wide variety of species are always present and include loons, grebes, cormorants, Great Blue Heron, ducks, Bald Eagle, shorebirds, gulls, alcids, Belted Kingfisher and American Dipper. Noteworthy species that are almost always present in season, and easy to observe, are Harlequin Duck, Hooded Merganser, Black Oystercatcher, and Marbled Murrelet (flying by in pairs offshore). Bald Eagles perch in the surrounding trees (look for their white heads in the top of tall trees), listen for the very noisy Belted Kingfisher, and look for the dippers in the creekbed, especially in the fall and early winter when they consume salmon eggs. 

-Tony Greenfield


Wilson Creek Estuary

Formerly this was one of the Sunshine Coast’s premier birding locations, but recent development around the estuary and tampering with the estuary itself has diminished its importance. The estuary is tiny, but encompasses the only real mudflat on the mainland side of the Strait of Georgia between Pender Harbour and the Fraser Delta. Consequently, in the spring, summer and fall it attracts a regular flow of migrant shorebirds and over 20 species of shorebirds have been recorded here. In spring, fall and winter the estuary is home to a variety of waterbirds.
The beaches, gravel flats and scrubby vegetation surrounding the estuary were formerly the single best location on the Sunshine Coast for rare passerines. The potential for rarities is now diminished, but amazing birds do still appear here, for example a Sage Thrasher on 21st April 2001. This proves the powerful attraction that estuaries hold for migrant birds, and the area is always worth checking. Some of the other outstanding species that have been recorded here over the years include Ash-throated Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Horned Lark, Rock Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Green-tailed Towhee, Snow Bunting and Lesser Goldfinch. 

-Tony Greenfield


Mission Point

Mission Point is an excellent place to observe gulls and over the years an impressive 15 species of larids have been recorded here. During the winter the flock may number 2500+ birds with most being Glaucous-winged, followed by Mew. In the late summer & fall Bonaparte’s & California are also common. During the winter the large flock usually contains at least one Herring & one Thayer’s gull, but it can be a challenge to find them among the hundreds of birds. Gull experts should check the flock here, as rarities are always possible. Watch for flocks of Common Terns offshore in September, sometimes pursued by a Parasitic Jaeger. 
Mission Point is also the best place to observe the Sunshine Coast’s 5 alcids, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled & Ancient Murrelets and Rhinoceros Auklet. Marbled Murrelets are commonly seen offshore, rapidly flying low over the water. Ancient Murrelets sometimes occur in huge numbers, on the few days in November & December when they stage a flight along the Sunshine Coast. 


Davis Bay

Davis Bay is the waterfront area where Hwy 101 fronts the ocean. At Davis Bay park at the south end and walk back along the beach for 200 m to the shingle spit which is the estuary of Chapman Creek, known as Mission Point. Mission Point is the single most important birding location on the Sunshine Coast. 
Davis Bay hosts a wide variety of waterbirds in spring, fall and winter, but like most saltwater habitats it can be devoid of birds in the summer. In season look here for loons, grebes, cormorants, ducks, shorebirds, gulls and alcids. In winter there is usually a loose flock of scoters at the south end of Davis Bay that often contains all 3 species, Black, Surf and White-winged. Harlequin Ducks are common on the water close to the shoreline, and Black Oystercatchers forage at the waterline. During the summer months Caspian Terns frequently patrol Davis Bay, just offshore, and make spectacular dives into the water for fish. Ospreys may also be seen fishing here. 
During spring, fall and winter, at low states of the tide, Mission Point may host thousands of birds and it is often possible to find over 30 species here. All of the birds visible at Davis Bay may also be seen at the point. The single main attraction at Mission Point is the large wintering flock of the “rocky shorebirds” consisting of Black Oystercatchers, Black Turnstones, Surfbirds and Rock Sandpipers. These 4 species commingle at the waterline and frequently there are hundreds of turnstones & Surfbirds with the smaller Rock Sandpipers (usually about 30) harder to find in the large flock. Turnstones & Surfbirds are present irregularly from July on, but the Rock Sandpipers are not reliable before November. From November until mid-April this flock is exceptionally reliable at this location and is present on 100% of winter days, though they do not spend the whole day here. The best time to visit is low tide and the birds will NOT be present at high tides. If you visit and the birds are not present, return later and you may be lucky.
 

White Islets

All along the Sunshine Coast are numerous islets and low, wave-washed reefs and these are some of the most interesting and productive bird habitats. White Islet, off the Wilson Creek area, is one of the most important bird locations in the area. It is a roosting area, both day and night, for thousands of marine birds, especially gulls and cormorants, is a foraging area for hundreds of Black Turnstones, Surfbirds and Rock Sandpipers, and is a nesting sanctuary for Glaucous-winged Gulls, Black Oystercatchers and Pigeon Guillemots. It is also a haul-out for Steller’s and California Sealions. 
Many wave-washed reefs are potential locations for Wandering Tattlers in May, July and August. 

-Tony Greenfield


Sechelt Airport

This has become a favoured location for local birders. As with many other airports around BC the short grass habitat amid the coniferous forest is attractive to a wide variety of birds. Access to the runways is not permitted, but careful use of a scope allows all areas to be scanned.
Rarer raptors noted here include Northern Harrier, Short-eared Owl and Pygmy Owl in the fall and early winter. Wilson’s Snipe is regular in wetter areas. In open areas with brush Mountain Bluebirds and Townsend’s Solitaires have appeared in winter and especially during the spring migration. American Pipits are abundant migrants. Twelve species of sparrow have been recorded including rarities such as Tree, Vesper and Lark. Willow Flycatchers and Black-headed Grosbeaks breed. In the surrounding brush and forest Hutton’s Vireos are common, Bewick’s Wrens are possible and Bushtits have been regular in recent years. Western Meadowlarks are regular in the fall and early winter. 
For much of the 1990’s, a small colony of Lazuli Buntings bred, but recent brush cutting may have extirpated them. This has also been the only regular location for Chipping Sparrows on the Sunshine Coast. In 1999 a major West Coast rarity, a Hooded Warbler, was present for a few days and seen by many. In the fall of 2003 and 2004, a banding project was conducted at the airport by Amelie Rousseau, and produced 3 species new to the Sunshine Coast, Dusky Flycatcher, Tennessee Warbler and Palm Warbler. Other rare species banded were House Wren and Nashville Warbler.


Porpoise Bay Provincial Park & Angus Creek Estuary

The mature forest here is good for all 5 common woodpecker species plus other 
birds of similar habitat such as Red-breasted Nuthatch & Brown Creeper. Varied Thrush is common in the winter, and warblers & vireos in the spring and early summer. 
The most interesting habitat in the park is the area around the estuary of Angus Creek. The mudflats here host shorebirds in the summer, the marsh holds Virginia Rails & Common Yellowthroats, the grassy area has Lincoln’s and Savannah Sparrows and possibly even a Lapland Longspur in September & October, and the bay has many waterbirds in winter. American Dippers are always in the lower reaches of Angus Creek during winter as they search for salmon eggs. 

-Tony Greenfield


Wakefield Creek

The viewing area is at the foot of a short cul-de-sac at the foot of Wakefield Rd. Wakefield Creek enters the Strait of Georgia here and the area attracts a variety of ducks, shorebirds and gulls. This is a good location to observe the many species of waterbirds between the mainland and the Trail Islands, including loons, grebes, cormorants, ducks, gulls & alcids. It can be a good location in September to look for migrating Common Terns and Bonaparte’s Gulls being harassed by Parasitic Jaegers. I once observed 2500 Marbled Murrelets here in a feeding frenzy, and on another occasion 2000 Brandt’s Cormorants.

-Tony Greenfield


Smugglers Cove Provincial Park

There is a cornucopia of habitats here containing a wide variety of species. In the summer the forest is home to empidonax flycatchers (Hammond’s & Pacific-slope), vireos (including Hutton’s) and warblers (including Black-throated Gray). 
In winter the sheltered waters of Smuggler’s Cove have various ducks. From the trail’s end at Welcome Pass there may be Black Turnstones, Surfbirds and Harlequin Ducks on the rocky shore, and alcids (Common Murre and Marbled Murrelet) in the pass proper. In 2004 a Tufted Puffin was well photographed in the pass by a kayaker. 

-Tony Greenfield


Sargeant Bay Provincial Park

This park contains a variety of habitats from the saltwater of the bay, the grassy berm, the freshwater and cattails of Colvin Lake, and a series of trails above Redrooffs Road that wend through conifer forest to Triangle Lake. 
Colvin Lake and the extensive cattail area are home to the usual denizens of marshland such as Common Yellowthroat and Red-winged Blackbird. Virginia Rails are year round residents. The forested trails leading to Triangle Lake host a variety of birds in summer, with flycatchers, vireos and warblers well represented, and also Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeaks. Up to 5 species of woodpeckers occur throughout the park year round, and all 5 regular Sunshine Coast owl species are possible. 

-Tony Greenfield


Esplanade

This beachfront area and the 2 km long Esplanade allow excellent views of many loons, grebes, cormorants, ducks, gulls and alcids. Viewing seasons are spring, fall and winter, as the ocean is generally devoid of birds in summer.


Lily Lake

This shallow woodland lake right beside Hwy.101 is always worth checking. In summer it has breeding Common Loons. At other times of the year it has a variety of waterbirds including Pied-billed Grebes & Ring-necked Ducks. Frequently Painted Turtles may be seen sunning on logs. 

-Tony Greenfield


Oyster Bay

This large, shallow, protected bay has a wide variety of waterbirds through the winter, including loons, grebes, geese, ducks and gulls. A Yellow-billed Loon was easily observed here during the winter of 1995-6.

-Tony Greenfield


Ruby Lake Lagoon

Thanks to Aldo Cogrossi, the bird-loving proprietor of the Ruby Lake Resort who spends a small fortune feeding the birds, the Ruby Lake Lagoon is an excellent place to observe many waterbirds. The Lagoon is now famous for its large breeding population of Wood Ducks and on the first weekend in May the resort hosts the Wood Duck Festival. During the winter months many ducks of numerous species are present. Aldo also maintains numerous nestboxes that are home to various swallows in summer. Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures (summer) are common. 

-Tony Greenfield


Egmont Wharf & Skookumchuck Narrows

The waters of Sechelt Inlet leading to the Skookumchuck Narrows are nutrient rich, and during the winter there can be hundreds of loons, grebes, cormorants, ducks, gulls and alcids present. Two species that are particularly attracted to this location (winter) are Marbled Murrelets (sometimes hundreds) and Bonaparte’s Gulls (upto 2,000). 

-Tony Greenfield


Tetrahedron Provincial Park

The Tetrahedron plateau is the high, mountainous area “behind” the Sechelt-Gibsons area. The prominent peaks are Tetrahedron (1739m), Panther Peak (1690m), and Mt. Steele (1650m). The region is accessed by logging roads, and then well defined trails. The trails begin at about the 1000m level so high elevation forest species such as Northern Goshawk, Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak & White-winged Crossbill are possible. 
A trail leads above treeline on Mt.Steele and in this true alpine habitat Rock Ptarmigan have bred. American Pipits are also regular breeders. At the very peak of the mountain, around the snowbanks, Gray-crowned Rosy Finches are regular. Similar habitat and species occur on both Panther Peak & Mt. Tetrahedron, though they are both more difficult to access. 

-Tony Greenfield


Spipiyus Provincial Park & Caren Range

The other accessible mountain area on the Sunshine Coast is the Caren Range, which is the mountainous ridge that forms the spine of the Sechelt Peninsula. This area achieved fame twice in the early 1990’s. Firstly, when some of the oldest known trees in Canada were found here, including a yellow cedar stump with 1736 rings and the area is referred to as “the oldest known forest in Canada”. Secondly, after an intensive research project involving many people, the remnant stand of old growth trees yielded the first ever nest of a Marbled Murrelet in Canada. In midsummer the murrelets are very active from about 4.15 to 6.00AM as they fly in with food for their nestlings, and announce their presence with a “keer, keer” call. Eventually the ancient stand of trees was protected and given park status with the name Spipiyus, the native Sechelt’s name for the Marbled Murrelet. 
Other species to look for on the Caren Range include Blue Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Black & Vaux’s Swifts. Lyon Lake has nesting Barrow’s Goldeneyes and Mew Gulls, and Fox Sparrows have nested nearby. The old growth forest has a large summer population of Hermit & Varied Thrushes, and the dawn chorus here in June is a thing of exquisite beauty. 

-Tony Greenfield


Bertha Island

All along the Sunshine Coast are numerous islets and low, wave-washed reefs and these are some of the most interesting and productive bird habitats. 
Many wave-washed reefs are potential locations for Wandering Tattlers in May, July and August.
For more detail on species possible, see the text for Whyte Islets.

Should you be in the area of Bertha Island, nearby Mary and Franklin Islands are also worth checking out.


Arrowhead Park

Located in Gibsons off Trueman Road between Burns and Cochrane Roads, this small but often productive mixed deciduous and conifer parkland set in the midst of lower Gibsons often provides a good mix of winter birds, including Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, both Kinglets, occasionally owls, and at the feeders on the Truman Road access side, the usual suspects - sparrows, juncos and towhees - amongst others. In the summer look for mixed warblers and the occasional vireo if you are lucky. The end of the trail opens onto an open field, and in the summer, look for hummers at the feeders nearby. Also you may find Anna's in the winter if the locals are keeping their feeders full, that is. Ocean Overlook is nearby at the south end of Headlands Road. A walk up Franklin Road in the winter is usually very productive as well, as there are a number of local residents who keep their feeders well stocked over the winter in particular. 

-Rand Rudland


Ocean Overlook

This small area of beach access has a steep set of stairs to the water’s edge, but the best birding view is from the high bank near the park benches offering an excellent high overlook to the ocean looking south and west. Look for diving ducks, alcids, loons, mergansers and gulls. 

-Rand Rudland


Gospel Rock Ocean Overlook

To get to the Gospel Rock Overlook, follow Gower Point Road northwest and up the Coast about 0.5 km from the junction with Franklin Road. You will be able to park on a small pullout on the ocean side of Gower Point Road. Watch the slippery rock surfaces if there is any moisture, as they can be very slippery, but the view is excellent. Scan the open waters for alcids, including and occasional Rhinoceros Auklet in the winter, along with large rafts of scoters (3 kinds if you look hard). Also Pigeon Guillemot and Common Murres have been seen here, as well as cormorants and 2, occasionally 3 species of loons, Excellent site for waterbirds in general, usually more productive in the winter. 

-Rand Rudland


The Shores

Birding area commonly referred to as "The Shores" includes this residential area and stretch of farmland along Heritage Rd. 
Kinnickinick Park (which spans between Ripple Way and Heritage Rd) is a year round hot spot for owls, wrens and alive with warblers and flycatchers in spring. On the South side of Ripple Way, the Sechelt Golf Course can attract migrant ducks and even yellow-headed blackbirds. Note, the Golf Course is private property but can be viewed well from Ripple Way.


Epsom Point

Stretching off the west end of North Thormanby Island, the shallows off Epsom Point have long been a good birding spot attracting large groups of feeding birds. Recent rarities include Heermann's Gull and Parasitic Jaeger.


Agamemnon Channel

This channel can be viewed from Sakinaw Drive and is a good location to scope during winter when large groups of Long-Tailed Duck and Common Murre congregate.