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By Song not Sight

Summer is a time when many bird species are more secretive and quiet. They no longer call for hours at a time to attract mates, or to establish territories. This makes observing some birds more of a challenge. However, a patient listener will be able to pick out the calls of many birds, even if they can't see them.

In most marsh areas, the dry rattling warble of a Marsh Wren can be heard as it bounces among the cattails, occasionally visible on the top of a stem. The Common Yellowthroat is found in many Lower Mainland marshes, and the male is easily identified by his black mast and yellow throat. Listen for its distinctive wichity-wichity-wichity call.

Learning to identify birds by only their song can be made easier if you learn something about bird habits. For example, what habitats do they prefer and what do they eat? Will they be in thick bush areas, high in the tree tops, or along marsh edges?

Even if you can't identify every chirp or peep, listening to bird songs and choruses is enjoyable!


Habitat Conservation Trust Fund - Viewing Program Continues

Through the continued financial support of the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund (HCTF), British Columbia Wildlife Watch activities will continue in the Lower Mainland Region during the 1997-1998 fiscal year. These new monies provided by HCTF are managed by the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia.

The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund plays a key role in the enhancement of the province's fish and wildlife, and their habitat. Since its beginning in 1981, HCTF has undertaken many hundreds of enhancement projects, and has financed the purchase of large areas of land from private owners.

For more information on HCTF write P.O. Box 9354 Stn. Prov. Govt., Victoria, B.C. V8W 9M1.


Face to face with Wildlife - New Brochure

After more than a year in production, the Lower Mainland Region wildlife viewing site brochure is now available. This informative brochure, titled Face to Face with Wildlife, contains summary information for 66 sites.

For each site the best viewing seasons, the viewing highlights, the access and facilities, and the closest community is summarized. An agency or group, from which more detailed information can be obtained, is identified for each site. Also included are some simple viewing tips, and other sources of viewing information.

The majority of the funds to print this brochure were provided by Canada Trust's Friends of the Environment Foundation (Tri-City Chapter) and Shell Canada Limited's Shell Environmental Fund.


Sechelt, Sunshine Coast - Visit Our Wildlife Series

The second brochure in the Visit Our Wildlife series is now available. Through cooperation with the Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce and five local businesses, the Visit Our Wildlife in Sechelt viewing site brochure has been produced. The first in this series was the Visit Our Wildlife in Mission. Other brochures in this series are planned.

Contributing funds towards the printing of the Sechelt brochure were Ev Maley (Realtor, Sussex Realty), International Forest Products Inc. (Sechelt Operations), Coast Cable Communications Ltd., Rent-It Canada Inc. (Tool Rental and Sales), and Shadow Baux Studio and Cappucino Bar.

The Sechelt brochure contains information on fish and wildlife viewing opportunities at 8 sites on the southern Sunshine Coast, between the Langdale Ferry Terminal near Gibsons, and the Earls Cove Ferry Terminal near Egmont.

Langdale Creek

    This narrow creek runs along the southern side of the Langdale Ferry Terminal and provides spawning habitat for small numbers of Coho and Chum Salmon in the fall.

Chapman Creek Hatchery

    Chapman Creek Hatchery plays a role in maintaining and in enhancing salmon and trout stocks in many local streams, including Chapman Creek. The hatchery is open year round. From August through December runs of Pink, Coho and Chum Salmon spawn in the creek. A creekside viewing platform provides good views.

Porpoise Bay Provincial Park

    Reached by a short 5 minute drive from Sechelt, this park offers good bird viewing throughout the year. A British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklist is available for the park (156 species to April 1996). In October and early November, spawning Chum Salmon are easily viewed in Angus Creek.

Sechelt Marsh

    This is a small, but very productive marsh. It is located next to the head of Sechelt Inlet. The combination of salt and fresh water habitats attracts a wide range of birdlife.

Sargeant Bay Provincial Park

    Located just north of Sechelt, this small park contains a rock and driftwood covered shoreline, a large freshwater marsh, and an upland area of second growth forest. These habitats are visited by a range of birds, and the marsh is home to many beaver. A British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklist is available for the park (152 species to April 1996).

John Daly Regional Park

    Located in the Madeira Park area off Garden Bay Road, this postage stamp sized park is located along Anderson Creek, an important fish stream. Spawning Chum and Coho Salmon are visible from mid October to mid November. New highway binocular logo signs will help you to find this site.

Ruby Creek

    Ruby Creek is a short length of water flowing from Ruby Lake into Sakinaw Lake. The creek provides habitat for a rare species of Coastal Cutthroat Trout, as well as for Kokanee Salmon. These species can be seen spawning in late fall.

Skookumchuk Narrows Provincial Park

    The boiling waters of the rapids at Skookumchuk Narrows are worth the trip. Twice a day the tides rip through the narrows. The park is accessed only on foot via a 4 kilometres (one way) trail near the end of Egmont Road near Egmont. Along your walk, chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers are common, and once overlooking the rapids there are many diving waterbirds, and often harbour seals visible.

These eight sites are not the only places to look for wildlife on the Sunshine Coast. They are only samples of what can be seen.

For a copy of the Visit Our Wildlife in Sechelt brochure, or for more information on the Sechelt area contact the Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce office [phone (604) 885-0662; fax (604) 885-0691; Box 360, Sechelt, B.C. V0N 3A0]. You can also e-mail the Chamber.


Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia

In 1995 British Columbia Wildlife Watch and the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia partnered to print the Maplewood Flats bird checklist (208 species to September 1995), and with the assistance of the District of North Vancouver, to install binocular logo directional signs for this North Vancouver site.

This partnership is expanding. Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia is managing these new funds provided from the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund for British Columbia Wildlife Watch activities in the Lower Mainland Region.

Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia (WBT) is a provincial organization formed in 1993, and is a non-profit society devoted to the preservation of birds, recognizing them as a vital part of the ecosystem. The loss of habitat is the greatest threat to the survival of birds and other wildlife. The Society's focus is habitat protection and, where applicable, enhancement. One goal of WBT is to establish, and to maintain wildlife refuges throughout the province.

The first project undertaken by WBT was to establish a wildlife sanctuary at Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver. This site contains the largest remaining Burrard Inlet wetland, providing essential habitat for the survival of many mammal, bird and fish species. This 30 hectare conservation area is located at 2645 Dollarton Highway, 2 km east of the Second Narrows Bridge.

Through the hard work of many volunteers and through the donation of funds and materials from local businesses, many successful projects have been undertaken. An office trailer, an information kiosk, a wheel-chair accessible trail, a fenced native plant growing area, a picnic shelter, many nesting boxes, and a new marsh are just some of the projects completed to date.

In May of each year, WBT organizes and hosts the Return of the Osprey Festival at Maplewood. At least one pair of Osprey nest on pilings in the mudflats. This weekend event was first organized in 1996.

WBT is continually looking for new opportunities, and through a partnership with Waterbird Watch Collective of Salt Spring Island and the Islands Trust Fund, efforts are underway to raise $280,000 over a four year period. These funds will be used to purchase a 5.06 hectare (12.5 acre) site on the northern part of Salt Spring Island that contains a Great Blue Heron rookery with approximately 118 nests.

In just over three years, WBT has grown to about 1300 members. Membership in WBT includes the quarterly newsletter Wingspan. For more information on the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia, to become a member, to volunteer, or to contribute to on-going projects write #124 - 1489 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, B.C. V7T 1B8 [phone/fax (604) 924-2581].


Sites Around British Columbia - Other Information Sources

British Columbia Wildlife Watch has been responsible for the production of several different types of brochures that provide wildlife viewing information, including many that have been produced through partnerships with other agencies and groups. While the majority of these are for the Lower Mainland Region, there are fantastic viewing opportunities through the province. Now two updated publications contain information on viewing sites province-wide. Both are available from local bookstores.

Beautiful British Columbia Travel Guide

    This is the fourth edition of the popular travel guide described as "the complete all-season traveller's companion". In its 300 pages is information on all aspects of British Columbia, including site and community specific information for every corner of the province. More than 310 viewing sites are identified, most using the binocular logo.

British Columbia Recreational Atlas

    This map-based book includes seasonal wildlife viewing information for 189 sites across the province. There is also a full listing of British Columbia's more than 600 provincial parks and 6 national parks.

Small Mammal Heaven - E.C. Manning Provincial Park

E.C. Manning Provincial Park, located between Hope and Princeton on Highway 3, is an excellent place to observe a wide range of small mammals. In addition to the chipmunks and squirrels that are common in the campgrounds and along the forest trails, you can observe five other small mammal species, often in a single day. Columbian Ground Squirrel, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Hoary Marmot and Common Pika live in the park.

The best time to view these animals is during the summer months from mid June through August. This viewing season can be cut shorter depending on when the bulk of the snow melts, and on when the cooler fall temperatures arrive.

The easiest species to observe is the Columbia Ground Squirrel, found in thriving colonies around the lodge and restaurant area, and at Lightning Lake. These tawny coloured critters are diurnal, visible only during the daylight hours, and often retiring to cool burrows on a hot afternoon. Their diet consists mostly of plant material, such as grasses, seeds, berries, flowers and roots, and sometimes insects. Please do not feed these animals, as human foods may damage their delicate digestive systems.

A smaller species, the Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, is commonly seen at the Cascade Lookout on the way to the Blackwall Alpine area. This small mammal's white stripes give it a chipmunk look. Its primarily plant based diet is supplemented in the summer by insects such as ants, beetles, flies and butterflies.

The Blackwall Alpine area is the best place to look for pikas and hoary marmots. They frequent the rocky slopes next to the alpine meadows. For your own safety and theirs, please do not climb over the rocky slopes to follow these animals. Your best viewing opportunities will come if you sit quietly and wait. This way you can learn about their daily activities.

Common Pika, fondly called rock rabbits, are small tailless, stocky mammals with rounded ears. When sitting still, a pika will blend into its rock surrounding, so look carefully. Of special interest are the pika's small haystacks of cut plant materials. These piles of cured fodder are its winter food supply.

Hoary Marmot, known as the whistler, can weigh up to 13 kg (30 lbs). This species is often observed sitting high on an observation post. Hoary Marmot are plant eating mammals that store no winter food, but eat throughout the summer to put on fat for hibernation. Like other small mammals, the hoary marmot is frequently seen stretched out on a smooth rock surface to sun itself, with its belly flat to the rock and its legs fully extended outward.

The less common Yellow-bellied Marmot is still observed in a few rocky areas along the road to Blackwall Alpine. The best time to see them is on a warm sunny day.

E.C. Manning Provincial Park is truly a small mammal heaven. Look for these critters on your next visit.


Bird Tracks

Coquihalla Canyon Recreation Area

    Located along the Coquihalla River, this small park contains the Othello Quintette Tunnels and several kilometres of the old Kettle Valley Railway right-of-way. During the summer months from mid June through late August, Steelhead Trout may be observed migrating up the river. These fish are most visible as they jump through the rapids. The recreation area is located about 15 kilometres east of Hope, not far from Kawkawa Lake.

Burnaby Lake Regional Park

    On cooler days, in the morning hours and in the evening, park visitors are treated to spectacular bird choruses. This 300 hectare park has more than 10 kilometres of trails that provide excellent views of the lake and its inhabitants. Beaver are very active, and lodges dot the lake edges. In the spring and summer months the park is filled with baby birds, including many ducks and geese. The Nature House, open regularly during the summer, is located on Piper Avenue. Attend a naturalist program, or take a canoe ride on the lake. A British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklist is available.

Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area

    This 2882 hectare area is located in northern Pitt Meadows and in northeast Coquitlam. There are many kilometres of primarily dyke-top trails that lead to 5 viewing towers and 3 hillside viewing pavilions. Viewing opportunities include raptors, waterfowl, songbirds, Muskrat, Beaver, and occasionally Sandhill Crane. During the winter months Bald Eagle and Trumpeter Swan are common visitors. During the summer months, the best viewing occurs in the early morning hours, at dusk, or on a cool day. A British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklist is available.