Trip Report – June 2009
Day 1: Start with a walk in Beaton Park. The woods will offer Gray Jay, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and maybe a Black-throated Green or even a Bay-breasted Warbler. Check out the lake for gulls, ducks and shorebirds. Then move to the boat ramp at Charlie Lake which will give you a view of the lake from the other side and may throw up some good gulls and ducks.Then as you go back onto the Alaska Hwy (heading east), take the last turn on the left before the traffic lights ( you would turn right for Hudson’s Hope at this light) and work your way east along the edge of the lake until you hit a marsh area ( there is a car park here) which is behind the Rotary Campground. A walk around here will give you some good birds, including the possibility of Eastern Phoebe.
Now head for Hudson’s Hope but stop on the way at Watson’s Slough. This is a little tricky to find (it is marked on most maps) because
the sign itself is set back in a pull-out on the right hand side of the road. Good for Solitary Sandpiper and Wilson’s Snipe, among others.
Further along you will pass Attachie Lookout – great views not much else. Opposite the lookout ( a few yards back towards FSJ) is Upper Cache Creek Road – maybe worth a drive as lots of marsh area – quite a few bears as well.
Drive through Hudson’s Hope (you will see the Lakeview Hotel where you can stay tonight) to a gorgeous little park called Alwins Holland Park on the left. A walk down to the river offers spectacular views and the park has plenty to offer – including Violet-green & Cliff swallow. Plenty of warblers and flycatchers.
Day 2: Drive to Mobberly Park and start in the campground – good spot for Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart, Philadelphia & Blue-headed Vireo. Continue on the main road passed the campground and listen for any activity to know exactly what spots to stop at.
Then about 4 km passed Chetwynd, try some of the dirt roads on the left .Listen for the call of the Ovenbird – if you have a tape playback of the song you are almost guaranteed good views of it.Pass through Dawson’s Creek (you can stay here tonight – plenty of choices on the way to the airport) to McQueen’s Slough. Take the left trail out to the end – this area is supposed to be good for Nelson’s Sharp tailed and Leconte’s sparrow (we didn’t see it – but evening is a good time) but there are also a number of other species here including Baltimore Oriole and Black Tern.
Day 3: Start in the campground at Sudetan Park (south of Dawson’s creek) Rose-breasted Grosbeak should be a given here but also watch for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Warbling Vireo. Continue on the main road to the south end of Swan Lake and start by turning right onto Road 201. Drive up to the top of the hill, passed the radio tower until the road takes a sharp turn to the right. There is a lane that goes straight on (it is gated) where you can park. Listen here for the calls of the White-throated Sparrow (try your playback again) Black &
White Warbler and Philadelphia Vireo.
After wandering around here you can head back down, across the highway all the way to the water. You can access this by parking and walking straight ahead as the road curves to the right. Then moving back towards Dawson’s Creek you can check out the campground at Swan Lake (right opposite Sudetan Park). This can be quite a well used area and may not produce much if it is a weekend or a busy camping time, but could be worth a quick look. Stay in Dawson’s again tonight.
Day 4: Check out McQueen’s Slough again this morning before driving up to Boundary Lake – this is a large area and can be a little hard to pin down where to find the birds but drive in north on road 203, just west of the Alberta border and go down some of the oil lease turnings to check out the lake and the forests. Should get Tennessee Warbler, Ring-necked Duck, and many of the other ducks.
Driving west towards FSJ, as you pass through the tiny hamlet of Cecil Lake you will see a Co-op store on the left. A short distance passed this there is a right turn ( a dirt road that could be muddy) that goes down to Cecil lake. Upland Sandpiper are know to nest in the fields on the left and the lake itself can be very productive.
You will enter FSJ from the north and turn left onto the Alaska Hwy to find the South Sewage Lagoons. Turn right at the lights opposite the Super 8 hotel onto 93rd. Go to the end and turn left to park. The lagoon says no entry but they didn’t seem to mind us being there. Lots of gulls, shorebirds and ducks. We even had an American Avocet.
We stayed at the Super 8 which was fine.
Day 5: Start your last day at Peace Island Park – the camp site is the best. There is a lake in the park – turn left passed the lake and park at the end. There is a lovely trail off to the left. Warblers, flycatchers etc.
Then as you head back in to FSJ take 259 Rd – at the round-about, go straight across ( slightly to he right) look for Common Grackle in the marsh on the right. On the next bend take the road on the left which is also 259 Rd. This will take you to the North Sewage Lagoon which you can see on the left.
As you turn into the road on the left – park and walk in – you may get Sharp-tailed Grouse.
You will have Clay-colored Sparrow, possible LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed as well. The lagoons are great for ducks and there will be plenty of activity all around.
General Comments: While this area can offer a great opportunity to see some wonderful
eastern species, it is tough birding because there is nothing to funnel birds into a particular location. With such vast areas for the birds, they are not exactly dripping off the trees which can be a little frustrating.
We went at the end of June.
Because we just stayed in motels that we found along the way I don’t think you really need to pre-book.
Guides & Resources
As expert North American birders, we didn’t use guides.
Guides – Our main resource was The Birder’s Guide to British Columbia by Keith Taylor but it is a bit out of date now.
Sibley’s, of course, was our field guide.
Bird Song – we use the Stoke Western Region – although I’m sure half the recordings are of eastern birds and we found the differences significant!