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Early spring is a great time to visit, with plants coming to life and many bird species, including Harlequin Ducks, arriving in the Skagit to breed.

The Skagit offers novice and expert birders a beautiful mountain setting and a classic “U-shaped” glaciated valley bottom that is traversed by a widely-meandering river. Healthy waterfowl populations are found here — including Harlequin Ducks — and lush riparian forests are alive with song birds. There are also dry forests of Ponderosa Pine and open meadows where birds of prey can hunt. And because the Skagit Valley runs north-south spanning the Canada-U.S. border, it forms a natural corridor for spring migrants — an important area to study in the years ahead, as climate change continues to impact the timing of bird breeding and migration.

Human migrants come here too. Both Americans and Canadians can enjoy birding in this trans-boundary wilderness. The Skagit Bird Blitz seeks to replicate the success of the Manning Park Bird Blitz, which attracts large numbers of birders each year and builds on a growing database that now spans over 30 years of sightings. It is hoped that in the Skagit, we can establish another successful birding tradition that reveals the park’s changing species diversity over time. With 199 recorded bird species and a road and trail network that gives good access to a beautiful mountain landscape, Skagit Valley deserves to become a birding Mecca.

COST

ONLINE REGISTRATION CLOSED. Late registrations can be taken at event. Please bring exact change or cheque for payment.

Full Weekend Birder – $50: Fee covers Friday & Saturday camping, barbeque (bring own protein), guest speaker, learning and field data materials and company of friendly, like-minded birders!

Day Birder + Saturday BBQ & Guest Speaker – $40: Fee covers Saturday camping, barbeque (bring own protein), guest speaker, learning and field data materials and company of friendly, like-minded birders!

Day Birder – $25: Fee covers Saturday OR Sunday birding with field data materials and company of friendly, like-minded birders!

Young Birder – $0: FREE for youth aged 18 and under, accompanied by an adult.

We ask that all participants register and pay in advance online through our website – www.hopemountain.org.  If online payment is not possible for you, please arrange payment by cheque with us well before the event.  This will help us plan for the weekend, purchase food and arrange supplies for support/educational materials!  Please contact Hope Mountain Centre at 604-869-1274 or send us an email at info@hopemountain.org if you have questions or need help registering.

PHYSICAL DEMAND

Participants should be in reasonably good physical condition, but there will be plenty of opportunities to rest and enjoy the birds and surroundings–you’ll be on your own schedule!  It’s also your choice of birding trails, from flat and easy to steep and strenuous.  Please be prepared for all weather conditions. Snow may be encountered at higher elevations.   Temperatures at camp can range from 20 degrees during the day to 5 degrees celsius at night.

ITINERARY

FRIDAY, MAY 22

2:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Birders arrive and set up camp at Ross Lake Group Camp in Skagit Valley Provincial Park. 6:00 PM – Check-in and paperwork at camp shelter.

7:00 PM – Birding group registration begins at Ross Lake Group Camp.  Introduction, form birding groups, choose birding trail(s), and receive your birding kits.  Late arrivals can register at the Ross Lake Camp until 10:00 PM Friday, or Saturday morning before 9:00 AM.

8:00 PM – Evening Presentation.

SATURDAY, MAY 23

Morning – Starting at various times through the early morning, birding groups will begin hiking different trails in the Skagit Valley to record species and quantities of birds (by sight or call).  16 birding areas have been identified in the park, and birders are welcome to visit as many of these areas as they wish.  For day-birders, please note that if you want to join one of the birding groups you should arrive as early as possible–birding groups will be heading out from camp anytime between 5:00 AM and 9:00 AM.

9:00 AM – “Introduction to Birding” for beginner birders–we will explore the shores of Ross Lake and a forest trail.  For those arriving Saturday for “Introduction to Birding,” please check-in at the group camp before 9:00 AM.

5:00 PM – Birders gather at Ross Lake Group Camp for an evening barbecue with buns, salads, and drinks (bring your own protein!).

7:00 PM – After dinner, birders will meet around the campfire for a quick run-through of the day’s wildlife sightings, sharing their thrilling moments and exciting debacles.

8:00 PM – Evening presentation.

SUNDAY, MAY 24

More birding will take place in those areas not covered on Saturday.

For day-birders, please note that if you want to join one of the birding groups you should arrive as early as possible–birding groups will be heading out from camp anytime between 5:00 AM and 9:00 AM.

Birders will leave Sunday afternoon on their own schedules.

MEETING PLACE

Meet at Ross Lake Group Camp, Skagit Valley Provincial Park.  Click here for map and directions

TRANSPORTATION

Participants must arrange their own transportation.  Directions from Hwy 1 as follows: From the WEST on Hwy 1 – Take exit 168 just before reaching Hope – Turn RIGHT onto Flood Hope Rd. – After 300 metres, turn RIGHT onto Silver Skagit Rd. – Follow Silver Skagit Rd. approximately 60 km. to Ross Lake Group Campground. From the EAST/NORTH on Hwy 3/5 – At Hope, continue onto Hwy 1 going west – Take exit 168 – Turn LEFT onto Flood Hope Rd. – After about 800 m., turn RIGHT onto Silver Skagit Rd. – Follow Silver Skagit Rd. approximately 60 km. to Ross Lake Group Campground on left. Click here for map and directions

The Skagit Road is open and recently graded, so potholes and rough spots will be minimal.  Any two-wheel-drive vehicle can travel the road. There may be active logging in the area, so be aware that there may be logging trucks on the road. Give them a wide berth and be cautious going around corners. It is a well-built road with plenty of room for trucks and cars to pass safely, but please do not cut corners. Stay alert and leave maximum space for the oncoming lane.

ACCOMMODATION

CAMPING

Ross Lake Group Campsite has camping areas for tents and RV’s. No electrical or sewage hookups. Facilities include pit toilets, well water, a covered cook shelter with wood stove, and a group campfire ring. Bring your own table and chairs if possible, as picnic tables and seating are limited. There are no fixed-roof accommodations in the Skagit, so birders must come prepared for tenting or RV camping. The nearest accommodation is in Hope, which is a 60 minute drive from Ross Lake.

WHAT TO BRING

Be prepared to camp and provide your own food and cooking stove. An exception is the Saturday night barbecue, when you can just arrive with your choice of protein for the grill. Come prepared to hike in a variety of weather conditions, with temperatures at camp ranging between +20 C during the day and +5 C at night. Recommended items to bring hiking:

  • Water container (at least 1 litre)
  • Drinking water (pumped well water is available for dish and hand washing)
  • High-energy lunches and snack food
  • Hiking boots or sturdy runners
  • Warm clothes and rain gear
  • Sunglasses, hat, camera, binoculars, guide books

ADDITIONAL INFO

Map and directions

Bird blitz results 2011-2014 (Excel spreadsheet)

Liability waiver

Everyone age 19 & over must sign a liability waiver form in order to participate in this program. Please take the time to read this form because you must understand and agree to it when you sign it. By signing it you are waiving certain rights, including the right to sue. These forms will be available to sign when you check in. Please seek legal counsel if you have any questions. Everyone age 18 & under must have an informed consent form signed by their parent or legal guardian in order to participate. Please contact us if you need this form prior to arrival at this program.

GREG FERGUSON BIO

Greg is a Registered Professional Biologist with over 12 years of experience working and volunteering in the fields of ecology, environmental education and research, and natural resource management. He specializes in wildlife and habitat assessment, with an emphasis on Species at Risk, habitat enhancement and restoration, conservation planning, and community engagement. Greg has worked as a biologist with federal, provincial, municipal, and aboriginal governments, private consultants, environmental non-governmental organizations, and academia throughout southern and central British Columbia. He holds a B.Sc. in Natural Resources Conservation; a multidisciplinary degree focusing on the forest, grassland, and aquatic ecosystem ecology and management. He also possesses an Advanced Certificate in Habitat Restoration, with specialization in wildlife, fisheries, and watershed management, habitat restoration, and biophysical inventory techniques. On his personal time, Greg enjoys hiking, bird watching, species at risk inventory, cycling, swimming, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

CANCELLATIONS

If a registration is cancelled 7 days or more before a program starts, HMCOL will refund the program fee and equipment rental fees (as applicable) minus an administrative cost of $20 per person. Program and equipment rental fees will not be refunded if a cancellation is received less than 7 days before the start of a program. A program may be cancelled at the discretion of HMCOL. If a program is cancelled, participants will receive a full refund of program and equipment fees.

A NOTE ABOUT LIABILITY

Hope Mountain Centre carries liability insurance and maintains excellent safety records. Due to the nature of outdoor programs, these trips do involve some personal risk. Hope Mountain Centre assumes no responsibility for personal injury or damage to personal property and we will require each participant to sign a liability release and assumption of risk form before participating in this program. Please be aware that activities typical of this program involve many risks, dangers and hazards including, but not limited to: accidents which occur during transportation or travel to and from events; slips and falls; loss of balance; impact, cold water immersion; repetitive strain injuries; dislocated shoulders; hypothermia, frostbite, sunburn; changing and inclement weather conditions including storms, blizzards, whiteouts and high wind; steepness of terrain, tree wells, crevasses; avalanches, cornices, landslides and falling ice, snow and objects; encounters with domestic or wild animals; negligence on the part of releasees and other participants. While we love animals of all kinds, we ask that you please leave Fido at home.

PROGRAM PARTNERS

Co-Sponsorship of the Bird Blitz

The Skagit Valley Bird Blitz is supported and delivered by two non-profit organizations – BC Nature and Hope Mountain Centre. Both organizations share a commitment to nature appreciation and stewardship. Important financial support comes from the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission (SEEC).