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Hotspots Near You

319. Virginia Lake, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador

This birdwatcher’s oasis within the city boundary hosts nesting Osprey, Boreal Chickadee, ducks, waterbirds, and many other birds.

I was first attracted to Virginia Lake as a fabulous location to observe and photograph Ospreys, while they dive for trout. I have seen as many as six of them fishing the lake’s very shallow waters all at the same time during the spring and summer breeding season. It’s such an Osprey-heavy hotspot, I had the pleasure of guiding and assisting a UK-based documentary film crew at the lake when they shot Osprey fishing footage for the documentary film Canada: A Year in the Wild, which is now available on Amazon Prime.

This wonderful birding location is within walking distance of my house. I have spent a lot of time there over the past decade and have been constantly surprised by the concentrated variety of local and rare species that are attracted to the sheltered wetlands area at the lake’s west end, where a small stream flows into it. It’s not uncommon to be torn between what to photograph at any one moment, with an Osprey hovering overhead and about to dive in for a trout, while a rare Purple Gallinule wades across the wetlands in the foreground, a Belted Kingfisher perches on a nearby overhanging branch, and a Boreal Chickadee forages on a spruce tree behind you.

Virginia Lake is a birdwatcher’s oasis within the city boundary, despite not officially being parkland. It’s not difficult to imagine yourself miles within the interior of the boreal forest backcountry while observing and photographing the birdlife from the lake’s wetlands area. Despite being conveniently located near many amenities within the historic city of old St. John’s, it is surrounded completely by boreal forest. The houses built on the north and east sides of the lake are set well back, and most of the original spruce- and fir-treed shoreline is still intact.

319. Virginia Lake, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador

Directions

Virginia Lake is in the middle of St. John’s. Parking is available at nearby St. Paul’s School and Paul Reynolds Recreation Centre.

Downloadable Files

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
47°36’13.96″N 52°42’21.31″W

Habitat

Boreal forest, shallow lake.

Terrain

Flat gravel trail, grassy lakeshore, wetlands.

Birds

Boreal Chickadee, Belted Kingfisher, Canada and Blue Jays, Northern Pintail, Wood, Tufted, and Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Shoveler, American and Eurasian Wigeons, Green-winged Teal, Short-billed Dowitcher, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, Bohemian Waxwing, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Goshawk, American Kestrel, Caspian and Common Terns, Common Grackle, American Crow, Common Raven. Rarities: Purple and Common Gallinules, Little Blue Heron, Great and Snowy Egrets.

When To Go

May through October. Access is year-round, but ice on the lake during winter and early spring limits number of species present.

Amenities

Restaurants, fuel, and bus stop nearby.

Access

Public land, within city. Parking available at nearby St. Paul’s School and Paul Reynolds Recreation Centre. Short walking trail from both parking locations (soon to be wheelchair-accessible). Trail continues along half of lake’s southern shoreline, with many viewing points along the shoreline.

Tips

Dress in layers and bring rain gear, as the weather can change quickly on the island of Newfoundland. Spring weather can be cold and early summer cool. Portable seating is advised, as there is only one small bench in the wetlands viewing area.

For More Info

Visiting St. John’s
Virginia Lake eBird hotspot

 

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Geoff Smith

Geoff Smith

Geoff Smith is a bird and wildlife photographer from St. John’s, in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. View his photos at https://500px.com/wayouteast.

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