If you think that you’ve got to break a sweat to enjoy the great outdoors, then prepare to be pleasantly surprised. There’s a lot to appreciate in nature without raising your heart rate or burning an unprecedented number of calories.
You don’t have to complete a hike, huffing and puffing as you strive for a personal best. And you don’t have to partake in anything extreme, like flying through the air as you traverse trails on a mountain bike! A lot can happen in the quietest and most meditative moments.
Whether you take life fast or slow, Surrey has enough parks, trails and bodies of water to suit every kind of traveller, including ones with wings.
Did you know that Surrey is home to a number of parks that provide year-round birdwatching? In fact, there are over 200 unique species of birds to see in Surrey! Birdwatching is a contemplative, peaceful activity. For those who aren’t fans of ogling animals in captivity, it’s an ideal way to appreciate Surrey’s winged wildlife in their natural habitat.
Surrey is situated on the Pacific Flyway, a north-south migratory bird route that stretches 6,430 kilometres (4,000 miles) from Alaska to Patagonia in South America. Why is the Pacific Flyway important? Millions of migratory birds travel this route … twice yearly! Some of them travel the entire length while others stop partway and most travel the same route every year, making it much easier for birdwatchers to plan their birding adventures.
Spring is the season in which rare migrant birds like eagles and snowy owls stop to rest and refuel before continuing their journey North. During this time, local birds also seek out breeding spots, which makes the season of new beginnings a fun one for birdwatching. Keep your keen eyes peeled at Mud Bay Park, Blackie Spit Park and Serpentine Wildlife Management Area, better known as the Serpentine Fen. At Serpentine Fen alone, there are over 130 species of birds to see over an expanse of 370 acres. The popular viewing tower is a great way to gain a different perspective.
Birdwatchers looking for a challenge will love the summer months as it’s when birds are busy caring for (and protecting!) their young. Be prepared to look a little harder, as during these months waterfowl such as ducks shed their feathers and grow new ones and may be more difficult to identify. Birdwatch in the sun at Green Timbers Urban Forest Park, Surrey Lake Park and Crescent Park.
As the leaves disappear from the trees, so do some of the challenges associated with birding. Autumn is the perfect time of year to see songbirds and woodpeckers due to the season’s typically sparse branches. Advanced birders will also appreciate the fall months as young birds who haven’t yet developed their adult patterns can be spotted. Migrating shorebirds and waterfowl also stop in at this time of the year before heading south for the winter. Grab your gumboots and head to Elgin Heritage Park, Blackie Spit Park and Crescent Beach.
It’s worth bundling up and braving the cold because winter is quite possibly the best season for bird watching in Surrey. It may be chilly, but as the temperatures dip, the chances of spotting migrating birds increases. Inland, in spots like Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, Redwood Park, Green Timbers Urban Forest and Surrey Lake Park, spy chickadees, bushtits, nuthatches and raptors like eagles and owls. Along the shoreline, Mud Bay Park, Blackie Spit Park and Serpentine Wildlife Management Area are perfect for watching migrating waterfowl like massive flocks of Dunlin, Sanderling, Black-bellied Plover, Mallards and Widgeons.
So grab your binoculars and your camera and get birding! To help you identify what birds you’re looking at, it’s helpful to download a birding app like Merlin or BirdNET to your phone. And once you’ve spotted your birds, be sure to enter your sightings into eBird, a global citizen database-driven bird-watching resource. Not only can you upload your finds, but you can also use eBird to discover what birds to look out for in Surrey’s bird-watching spots.
GUIDED BIRD WALKS
If you’re new to birding or are looking to take your bird-watching skills up a notch, book a guided bird walk with Kris Cu. Kris is a nature photographer and Conservation Engagement and Outreach worker for Birds Canada, and leads 90-minute guided bird walks in Surrey’s key birding areas and around Metro Vancouver.
BC BIRD TRAIL
Launched in September 2020, the BC Bird Trail is an online resource and trip-planning tool. Discover self-guided birding itineraries for the South Fraser, the Fraser Valley, the Columbia Valley and Central Vancouver Island. Look up, stay grounded and start planning your trip to the heart of BC’s Pacific Flyway!