The traditional territories of the scəw̓aθən (Tsawwassen), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and other Coast Salish Peoples.

The mouth of the mighty Fraser River empties into the Salish Sea and all around lie some of the most diverse waterways and marshlands in the province. Just a short 15 km drive from downtown Vancouver, the South Fraser Trail begins in Richmond with a series of important locations along the Pacific Flyway.

Neighbouring Delta is home to three distinct communities, each with its own charm. Tsawwassen holds breathtaking beaches, Ladner boasts a waterfront community with plentiful farmland, and North Delta features amazing parks – including Burns Bog, North America’s largest domed peat bog.

Surrey stretches from the banks of the Fraser River to the USA Peace Arch border crossing along Boundary Bay. The shores of the protected bay are packed with birds, and the rivers and farmland nearby provide plenty of bird-friendly habitats, all near a bustling multicultural city with all the amenities you could need. 

No matter your goal – whether it’s spotting the birds of Sea Island, or enjoying the diverse local communities, there’s something for everyone along this beautiful coastal trail. Opportunities abound for birders of all skill levels to learn, share, and experience the best BC has to offer.

Spring birding in South Fraser

Spring migration means being able to catch waterbirds like grebes, Brant geese and northern pintails, while also enjoying the rush of migrants making their way along the Pacific Flyway. Shorebirds like western sandpiper, dunlin, and black-bellied plover scamper along the water’s edge, making the extensive coast of Boundary Bay a must-visit for activity. Northern harriers are residents which can often be seen doing laps above farm fields, then hovering in place before diving for a catch.

Summer birding in South Fraser

Summer brings a great mix of resident regulars and elusive surprises. Bald eagles can be found soaring or perched on roadside fenceposts, while great blue herons wade on mudflats and make plenty of noise in large rookeries. If you’re lucky, you might catch a ghostly barn owl patrolling the ample farmland in the area. In marshland, searching the reeds may yield a lucky find of a sora, Virginia rail, or even a large, statuesque American bittern. While seeing birds like these is a treat, there’s a good chance you’ll hear them as they hide in the thick reeds and grass by the water. In the sky, there’s lots of action with several species of swallow (including barn, violet-green, tree, cliff, northern rough-winged, and purple martin) darting over fields, lakes, and ponds. The shoreline (especially places like Iona Beach, Boundary Bay, and Roberts Bank) is alive with shorebirds throughout the season.

Fall birding in South Fraser

As fall migration brings many visitors through the region as a stop on the Pacific Flyway, one of the most amazing bird spectacles in the world can be seen in South Fraser: the arrival of the snow geese. In early October, tens of thousands of snow geese that breed on Wrangel Island off northern Russia make their way to the area. The sight of a flock covering an entire farm field on Westham Island (near George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary), or peppering the sky at takeoff, is quite impressive. Bald eagles are also plentiful, and can often be seen casually perched along the road in farmland in trees or simply on fenceposts. The shorelines come alive at Boundary Bay and Roberts Bank with huge numbers of shorebirds, like dunlin, western sandpipers, and black-bellied plovers.

Winter birding in South Fraser

Snow geese can be found aplenty in open areas in South Fraser in winter, from farm fields to lakes, as they prepare to head back to northern Russia in the coming months. The waterfront is quite busy this time of year, with brant geese, northern pintails, green-winged teals, American wigeons, western and red-necked grebes, and even graceful trumpeter swans. Raptors include the resident bald eagle, peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawk, and northern harrier, but you might also see rough-legged hawks and short-eared owls above the fields this time of year.