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Osprey Sights - Fish Eater Raptor

A common sight in spring and summer, Osprey are found in the lower third of British Columbia. This fish eating bird flies slowly over water, pausing to hover when fish are spotted below. If the fish is close enough to the surface, the Osprey plunges feet first, grasping the prey in its talons.

Nesting Osprey are found along many waterways and shorelines. The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (just west of Creston in the East Kootenays), along the Pitt River and in the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area (west and north of Pitt Meadows in the Lower Mainland), along the Arrow Lakes (in the West Kootenays), and along the Shuswap River near Enderby are just some of the areas that host many nesting pair.

Osprey nests are constructed mainly of sticks, branches and twigs, with lining composed of a variety of materials, including small twigs, grasses, mosses, weeds and down. Many nests are large and bulky and require a sturdy support structure. Osprey have adapted to using man-made structures, including river pilings, the cross bars of hydro towers, artificial nesting platforms and navigational lights. But they also nest in, or near, the tops of wildlife trees (dead or dying trees).

Along the Pitt River, the Osprey utilize the top of river pilings. By late April many of the nests in this area are home to young Osprey that are easily viewed from the river or the dykes. In the Shuswap River area near Enderby and along the Arrow Lakes, the Osprey nests are clearly visible on the top cross bar of tall metal and/or wood hydro poles.

During the nest building or reconstruction period careful observers may see Osprey "pick" new materials from trees. The larger sticks are collected directly from the dead limbs of trees either by the bird sitting on the branch near its end, using its weight to break the branch off, or by grabbing a branch while in flight.

While Osprey may begin arriving in British Columbia as early as late February, most arrive during early April. While these birds of prey are territorial, nesting sites may be widely dispersed, or relatively close if food availability and nest sites dictate. Most Osprey migrate southward in the fall.

Scanner from Shell - Photos Added

Thanks to a grant from Shell Canada's Shell Environmental Fund, British Columbia Wildlife Watch has been able to purchase a slide scanner.

Over the past fifteen years, a large collection of slides has been taken at viewing sites throughout British Columbia, at special events and festivals, and of wildlife and habitats. These images can now be taken directly from slides, processed and added to the British Columbia Wildlife Watch home page and into future issues of the newsletter.

When combined with the use of a flat-bed scanner, maps, diagrams, artwork and regular photographs will soon be added to the web site.

For more information on the Shell Environmental Fund write P.O. Box 100, Station M, Calgary, Alberta T2P 2H5 [(403) 691-2071].

Coho Bon Voyage - Bowen Island Event

During every spring and early summer thousands of salmon fry are released from fish hatcheries. Many of these facilities are small and are managed by local community groups.

On Sunday June 13th from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. you can participate in the Coho Bon Voyage event at the Terminal Creek Hatchery located in Crippen Regional Park on Bowen Island. This event is organized by the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club, the group that manages the hatchery. Both coho and chum fry are raised at the hatchery.

A number of activities are planned for this event. In addition to sending some coho fry on their way to the ocean, you can watch a fish dissection and get a close-up look at a tank full of local water life, including tadpoles, dragonfly nymphs and caddis fly larvae. Be sure to tour the hatchery and to visit the British Columbia Wildlife Watch display.

To get to Bowen Island, take the short 20 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay. Upon arrival enjoy a half hour walk on clearly marked park trails to the hatchery. Bikes are also welcome. The hatchery is wheelchair accessible.

For more information on this event contact the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club [P.O. Box 51, Bowen Island, B.C. V0N 1G0; (604) 947-0072 (evenings)] or check out the festivals and events section of the British Columbia Wildlife Watch home page.

Short-eared Owls - Daytime Best

Among the many publications produced by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks is a series titled British Columbia's Wildlife at Risk. From the Short-eared Owl information sheet in this series comes the following information:

  • Like most owls, the Short-eared Owl has one ear slightly higher than the other. This enables it to be very accurate when using sound to locate prey in poor light.
  • Short-eared Owls like to sunbathe, facing the sun with eyes closed and wings spread.
  • Short-eared Owls nesting on tidal marshes have been known to move their eggs or young to higher ground to save them from unusually high tides.
  • In winter, Short-eared Owls sometimes roost together in large flocks of 100 birds or more.
  • Because they nest on the ground, the young owls learn to walk and run before they learn to fly.

Short-eared Owls are among the easiest of owl species to observe as they are active in daylight hours. When visiting areas that are home to Short-eared Owls you should keep to marked trails to prevent trampling a nest, eggs or young.

One of many good places to observe this owl is at Colony Farm Regional Park along the Coquitlam River in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. The old field areas here provide important Short-eared Owl habitat. GVRD Parks has chosen the Short-eared Owl as the wildlife symbol for this park.

South Arm Marshes and Serpentine - New Interpretive Signs

Eight new interpretive signs are being installed, four each at South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area in Delta and at the Serpentine Wildlife Area in Surrey. These signs are part of a project funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund that previously resulted in 8 signs at the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Pitt Meadows.

Each set of signs consists of two pairs. One pair provides general, historical and recreational information, including a detailed site map. The second pair focusses on watching wildlife and includes viewing highlights and general viewing tips.

Both the South Arm Marshes and Serpentine sites are identified and signed as wildlife viewing sites. Previous projects have included the printing of a site brochure and a bird checklist for the Serpentine Wildlife Area, and the placement of binocular directional signs at the South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area.

Visit Our Wildlife in Powell River

The third brochure in the Visit Our Wildlife series is now available. Other brochures in this series are Mission and Sechelt. In the next few months two other new brochures will be completed, Port Hardy-Port McNeill and Campbell River.

The funds to print the Visit Our Wildlife in Powell River brochure were provide by Shell Canada's Shell Environmental Fund, the Garibaldi/Sunshine District office of BC Parks and the Corporation of the District of Powell River.

The Powell River brochure contains information on fish and wildlife viewing opportunities at 9 sites on the northern portion of the Sunshine Coast, between the Saltery Bay Ferry Terminal and the marine waters north of Lund, including Texada Island.

Lang Creek Hatchery and Spawning Channel

    Located south of Powell River along the Sunshine Coast Highway (Highway 101), this site includes a hatchery, fish counting fence and short spawning channel. Four species of salmon spawn in Lang Creek between mid August and late November. The most visible species are chum and coho, and they are present in the spawning channel from about mid September to mid November.

Lang Creek Estuary

    The estuary area of Lang Creek, where fresh water meets salt water, is visited by many waterfowl and shorebird species throughout the year. The fall salmon migration brings many Bald Eagles that feed on the dead and dying fish carcasses. November to January is best for eagle viewing.

Lang Creek Forest Service Recreation Site

    This small site is located at Lang Creek Falls. Salmon migrating upstream can be viewed here, attempting to jump the series of waterfalls. The falls are unpassable for fish. The best viewing time is September and October.

Khartoum Lake Forest Service Recreation Site

    This recreation site offers wilderness camping and is part of the Powell River Forest Canoe Route. The rocky bluffs visible from the lake and further north in the Lois River valley are good places to look for mountain goats. Best viewing occurs in April, May, October and November. Note that access to this site is via an active logging road that may be closed weekdays.

Nanton Lake Forest Service Recreation Site

    The Nanton Lake site is also part of the Powell River Forest Canoe Route and offers wilderness camping. A small herd of Roosevelt elk has been transplanted to this general area and by all accounts are doing well. They can be observed year-round with early morning and dusk best. Note that access to this site is via an active logging road that may be closed weekdays.

Texada Island

    Texada Island can be explored by vehicle or bicycle and is accessible by ferry from Powell River. The island is home to a large population of mule deer. They are visible during most times of the year, especially if you get away from the more people populated areas. Best viewing is first thing in the morning or at dusk.

Inland Lake

    A 13.5 kilometre, 2 meter wide pathway circles the lake. There are picnic sites, overnight camping sites and fishing wharfs. The trail is totally wheelchair accessible. An interpretive booklet is available from the Ministry of Forests. If you only have a short time, walk the east side of the lake a short distance to the marsh boardwalk. Swallows, songbirds and some waterfowl may be observed. (Editor's Note - This site is now Inland Lake Provincial Park.)

Sliammon Hatchery and Spawning Channel

    This hatchery is located a short drive northwest of Powell River. Chum salmon spawn in Sliammon Creek with the best viewing in October and November. A small spawning channel provides enhanced opportunities to see the fish. A few bald eagles visit throughout the year. Also look for pink salmon from mid to late August.

Copeland Islands Provincial Marine Park

    This park contains a group of small islands located northwest of Lund. Access is by boat only. The waters are frequented year-round by many species of diving waterbirds. Bald Eagles may be observed. Marine mammals include seals and sea-lions, especially in the winter months.

Canada and U.S. Sources - Guides for B.C. and Beyond

If you travel within British Columbia or to neighbouring provinces, territories or states, there are many sources of wildlife viewing information available.

British Columbia

    Now available from Beautiful British Columbia Magazine is the latest revised edition of The BC Explorers Travel Guide. There are over 300 pages of information on communities, parks, activities and events throughout British Columbia.

    Through a partnership with British Columbia Wildlife Watch, there are more than 320 wildlife viewing sites marked with the program's binocular logo, making it the best source for finding viewing opportunities in the province.

    Other guides available for British Columbia include Where to See Wildlife on Vancouver Island (1997, Goldberg, Harbour Publishing) and the British Columbia Wildlife Viewing Guide (1991, Wareham, Lone Pine Publishing).


    Wildlife viewing guides are available for other provinces and territories. The Alberta Wildlife Viewing Guide (1990, Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife, Lone Pine Publishing) is available through bookstores while the Yukon's Wildlife Viewing Guide (1996) is available from Yukon Wild, Renewable Resources, Yukon Government [P.O. Box 2703, Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6].

United States

    Thirty-two viewing guides are available for specific states, with updated versions and new guides in production. There is a guide for each state, except Idaho, that borders British Columbia, as well as for each state along the Pacific coast. All of these can be ordered at local bookstores and have been published by Falcon Press Publishing Company. They are:
    • Alaska Wildlife Viewing Guide (1996, Sydeman and Lund)
    • Washington Wildlife Viewing Guide (updated version just released)
    • Montana Wildlife Viewing Guide (Fischer and Fischer)
    • Oregon Wildlife Viewing Guide (1994, Yuskavitch)
    • California Wildlife Viewing Guide (1996, Clark)

Address Change - Please Note

Effective immediately, the mailing address for British Columbia Wildlife Watch is:

    11385 - 238th Street, Maple Ridge, B.C. V2W 1V3

Please use this address if you are forwarding, or seeking, information about events, projects, the newsletter or the web site. General information about British Columbia Wildlife Watch can also be obtained from any regional office of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.

Bird Tracks

Deas Island Regional Park

    This regional park is located in the biologically important Fraser River estuary. Migrating birds are easily seen in the waters around the park, and many gull species are visible along the shore areas. One of the highlights is the opportunity to watch an active Bald Eagle nest. The wildlife trees located around the park are heavily used by swallows and other cavity nesting birds. For more information contact GVRD Parks [4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, B.C. V5H 4G8; (604) 432-6350]. Don't forget the Fraser River Festival on June 6th!

Sidney Spit Provincial Marine Park

    Located a short boat ride from Sidney on southern Vancouver Island. One of the highlights is watching the island's large population of fallow deer. The marine waters, including the lagoon, are visited by herons, waterbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds. More than 150 bird species have been recorded for the park. Also look for killer whales, seals and sea-lions. For more information contact the South Vancouver Island District of BC Parks [2930 Trans Canada Highway, Victoria, B.C. V9E 1K3; (250) 391-2300].

Okanagan Falls Provincial Park

    Located just south of Okanagan Falls, this small park is a wonderful place to observe up to 14 species of bats feeding on insects. Viewing is best at dusk in spring, summer and early fall. Explore the park's open water and riparian habitats for songbirds, swallows, nighthawks and some waterfowl. Beaver and muskrats live in the river. For more information contact the Okanagan District of BC Parks [Box 399, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0; (250) 494-6600]. The park has 25 campsites, including wheelchair accessible sites.