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Detailed Map    note - this may take some time to load!!
General Information
Brief History
Access and Facilities
Recreation
Viewing Highlights

There is a series of wildlife management area brochures.



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   General Information

The Serpentine Wildlife Area (SWA) contains 71.3 hectares (176 acres) of habitat important to wildlife. SWA is managed by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP) to protect the area's habitats. The agricultural lands south of 44th Avenue are owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways and are not part of the wildlife area, but are currently managed by MELP for the benefit of wildlife. These lands are referred to as the Serpentine Annex.

The extensive freshwater marshes, and the small tidal brackish water marsh are important to wildlife populations, including birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects. The wildlife and habitats of SWA can be experienced via the many kilometres of trails, some with dense hedgerows. There are three covered viewing towers. A covered picnic shelter is located off 44th Avenue.

For additional information on this management area contact the Ministry office in Surrey [(604) 582-5200; 10470 - 152nd Street, Surrey, B.C. V3R 0Y3].



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   Brief History

Before 1961, this land was privately owned and was used for mixed farming and hay production. In 1961 the Ministry of Transportation and Highways purchased the lands that make up SWA for the Highway 99 construction project.

In November 1966, management of the area north of 44th Avenue was assigned to the Fish and Wildlife Branch. Public use of the area was encouraged, and consisted mainly of pheasant and waterfowl hunting.

The enhancement of the land for fish and wildlife began in the early 1970's and involved cooperation between Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Fish and Wildlife Branch, and the Douglas College Institute of Environmental Studies. The first major project at SWA was the Fraser Valley Canada Goose Restoration Project, started in 1972. It involved extensive dyking and water level management to provide fresh water marsh habitat for waterfowl.

Today, SWA has a system of interior dykes that allow for the adjustment of water levels in different management units of the area. Seasonal water draw-downs in these units, combined with specific vegetation plantings, have resulted in the establishment of a variety of productive waterfowl habitats for breeding and migrating. These are complemented by 16.3 hectares (40.3 acres) of upland habitat that is actively farmed to provide forage for wigeon and Canada Goose, thereby reducing their utilization of adjacent private agricultural lands. Farming activities are undertaken in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited Canada, a private conservation agency.

Areas of old field habitat are managed to provide foraging opportunities for raptors. Hedgerows located between management units provide habitat for songbirds, as well as perching sites for raptors. Through careful management, agricultural activities and wildlife use also co-exist on the lands south of 44th Avenue.



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   Access and Facilities

To access the Serpentine Wildlife Area from Highway 99, take the King George Highway (HIghway 99A) exit north. From the King George Highway turn west onto 44th Avenue and continue to the parking area on the left. The parking area is closed to public vehicle access after dark. Co not leave valuables or personal items in yout vehicle.

A dyke trail system leads through the interior of the marsh to three covered viewing towers. Most interior dykes are closed to public access to enable wildlife to forage and nest undisturbed. Please respoect these closures. A covered picnic shelter is located at the 44th Avenue parking lot. There are no washrooms.



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   Recreation

Recreational activities permitted within the Serpentine Wildlife Area include walking, wildlife viewing, nature study, hiking and jogging. No hunting is permitted within the boundaries of SWA. Cyclists must keep to the Serpentine River dyke as the interior dykes are closed to cyclists. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times. There is no boat or canoe use permitted within the marshes.


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   Viewing Highlights

The Serpentine Wildlife Area (SWA) is an excellent area to observe a wide range of wildlife species year round. In addition to mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects and fish, 175 bird species have been recorded. A bird checklist is available for the area.

SWA is located in one of Canada's most densely populated wintering areas for waterfowl, raptors and shorebirds. Shorebird and waterfowl use increases during high tides in the nearby Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area. Boundary Bay Regional Park is located on the west side of the bay and a bird checklist is available for the park.

These are just some of the viewing highlights.

  • Great Blue Heron - Herons are visible throughout the year hunting in the marshes, ditches and fields, and along the Serpentine River.

  • Cormorants - Double-crested Cormorant are often visible, especially when drying their outstretched wings while sitting on pilings in the river.

  • Waterfowl - SWA provides important habitat for many waterfowl species, including Canada Goose, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Bufflehead and Common Merganser. While some species nest in the area, the best viewing periods are during the spring and fall migrations, and during the winter months.

  • Owls - Both Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl nest in the area. Short-eared Owls are active during daylight and are more likely to be observed. Barn Owls are more commonly seen at dusk.

  • Hawks and Eagles - This area is used by many hawk species. Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk may be viewed throughout the year. Rough-legged, Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks and Bald Eagle are visible in the fall and winter months.

  • Shorebirds - SWA is used by a wide range of shorebird species, particularly during the spring and fall migration periods. This is a good place to look for rare and vagrant species.

  • Songbirds - Passerine species may be observed throughout the year. The greatest diversity of songbirds occurs in late Spring and through the summer. Listen for the easily identified calls of the Marsh Wren and Red-winged Blackbird.

  • Muskrats - Muskrat activities are easily observed in the marsh, especially in the early evening.

  • Coyotes - Coyotes are frequently seen along the dykes and in the open fields hunting for small mammals.

  • Harbour Seals - Throughout the year Harbour Seal may be observed in the Serpentine River.

  • Frogs - Bullfrog choruses are heard in the spring, especially at dusk. They are visible in the marshes most spring and summer days.