An Important Bird Area well known for owls, raptors, waterfowl, and shorebirds.
By Anne Murray | Published: 10/16/2013
The 10-mile Boundary Bay dyke trail from Mud Bay to Beach Grove offers great birdwatching and exceptional views of salt marshes, mudflats, distant islands, and snow-capped mountain peaks. Hundreds of people have used the trail to see Snowy Owls, which have showed up in big numbers the last two winters. Even when the owls do not winter here, Boundary Bay has many other birds to enjoy. It is a globally significant Important Bird Area, and well known for raptors, waterfowl, and shorebirds.
Every season is different. On winter days, I brave the weather to watch Short-eared Owls hunting voles in the rough grass. Maybe a Northern Shrike will pose on a wind-stunted tree. Dunlin, in the tens of thousands, swirl and twist in unison like clouds of smoke as they evade a Peregrine Falcon.
In late summer, I enjoy biking along the dyke to check out vagrant shorebirds. One spectacular afternoon, other birders and I watched a Ruff, a Stilt Sandpiper, and several Buff-breasted Sandpipers. Flocks of Western and Least Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, yellowlegs, and dowitchers are easy to observe throughout spring and fall migration. — Anne Murray
Anne Murray is the author of A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past: A Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay (Nature Guides B.C.). She wrote about geolocators in the article The golden age of tracking and also about Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Delta, British Columbia, Hotspot Near You No. 132, and Drayton Harbor, Blaine, Washington, Hotspot Near You No. 149.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Grasslands, salt marshes, eelgrass beds, mudflats, and farm fields.
Exposed, level, gravel trail, suitable for walking or cycling.
Residents: Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Glaucous-winged Gull, Marsh Wren. Spring: Western, Least, and Pectoral Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plover, yellowlegs, Brant, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Golden-crowned Sparrow. Summer: Caspian Tern, Cedar Waxwing, Savannah Sparrow. Fall: Short- and Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plover, sandpipers, Pacific Golden-Plover (rare), American Pipit, Horned Lark. Winter: Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Gyrfalcon (rare), Rough-legged Hawk, Short-eared Owl, Snowy Owl (during invasion years), waterfowl, Common Loon, Northern Shrike.
When to go
October through March for raptors and waterfowl. April and August-September for shorebirds.
None on trail. Restrooms available at a park on 17A Ave. in Beach Grove. Portable toilet at Delta Heritage Airpark.
Trail owned by regional park authority. Open year-round, no fees. Parking only at the south end of 64 St., 72 St., and 104 St., at Beach Grove, and at Mud Bay Park. Nearest bus stops on Ladner Trunk Rd.
Consult tide tables in advance: an hour or so before high tide best for shorebirds and waterfowl. At low tides, birds will be too distant to see well. Bring a spotting scope.