On a spring or fall morning, you can find more than 50 species at these two spots in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver.
By Gord Gadsden | Published: 4/10/2018
Harrison Lake is the largest lake in the southern Coast Mountains of Canada. Located in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver, it covers about 250 square km (95 square miles) and is about 60 km (37 miles) long. This may be why it snares a good share of bird species that would be more typical of a pelagic birding adventure.
Harrison Lagoon and the nearby East Sector Park are two spots at the southern end of the lake that are worth birding any time of year. They feature a variety of habitats, attracting a wide range of bird species. On a spring or fall morning, it’s not unusual to see more than 50 species.
An added bonus is that I never know what surprise will pop up. Shorebirds are annual migrants, and they often provide very good views as they feed in the lagoon. Migration brings many sparrows and the occasional Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur to feed in the stunted shrubs and grass.
After birding the lagoon area, I put away my scope and head to the forest in East Sector Park — an excellent site for songbirds. This includes annual breeding Hutton’s Vireos. The park offers varied forest types, a marsh, and a slough.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Lake, shore, forest, marsh, and agricultural.
Trails and pathways mostly flat. East Sector Park’s 4 km of trails have exposed roots in areas and some wet spots after heavy rain.
Lagoon and lake: Loons, grebes, ducks, gulls, shorebirds, Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur, Yellow Warbler, Osprey, Surf Scoter, American Pipit, Caspian Tern, Savannah, Vesper, and other sparrows. East Sector Park: Virginia Rail, Wood Duck, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, and Nashville Warblers, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bullock’s Oriole, Western Tanager, Swainson’s Thrush, Anna’s Hummingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Hammond’s and Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Varied Thrush. Rarities: Eared Grebe, Sabine’s and Franklin’s Gulls, Red Phalarope, Arctic Tern, Surfbird, Stilt Sandpiper, American Avocet, Black Scoter.
When to go
East Sector Park best from spring to early fall. Lagoon and lake worthwhile year-round; best in spring and late summer/fall through early winter.
East Sector Park has an information kiosk and well-signed trails, as well as a pit toilet and small picnic area.
Public beach. Park managed by Fraser Valley Regional District. Parking free for East Sector Park. Pay parking is in effect in select locations around the lagoon. It is about a 20-minute walk or a three-minute drive between the lagoon and park.
Bring a spotting scope when birding the lagoon to look out over the lake. During June and July, bring bug repellent.
For more info
About 20 minutes southwest in Harrison Mills off Hwy. 7. Breeding Purple Martins and Bullock’s Orioles. Excellent Bald Eagle viewing in winter in the estuary.
About 40 minutes northeast at Flood Hope Rd. 4 km of country roads surround airport. Look for Northern Shrike, MacGillvray’s Warbler, and Lazuli Bunting.