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

This area offers novice and expert birders a beautiful mountain setting and a classic “U-shaped” glaciated valley bottom that is traversed by the widely-meandering Skagit 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 hawks, eagles and other raptors have a chance to scan the landscape for their prey.  Because the Skagit Valley runs north-south (spanning the Canada-U.S. border), it forms a natural corridor for spring bird migrants — an important area to study in the years ahead, as climate change continues to impact the timing of migration and breeding.

Human migrants come here too!  Both Americans and Canadians (and others of course) can enjoy birding in this trans-boundary wilderness.  The Skagit Valley 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 the beautiful Cascade Mountains, Skagit Valley is becoming a hot spot for birding in its own right.

BIRD BLITZ DATA AVAILABLE FROM PREVIOUS YEARS. SEE “ADDITIONAL INFO.”


Comments from previous Skagit Valley Bird Blitz programs:

“Friendly and welcoming staff and participants!”

“Great weekend. I was attending by myself, and with a small group like this it was easy to meet new folks and get out birding. Never been to Skagit Provincial Park before; the Blitz was a wonderful way to get introduced to the park!!”

“Very well organized and welcoming.”

“As usual everything was very well organized. Birding materials, trail maps etc all there. Excellent evening programme on Saturday.”

“Very, very wonderful group of people, thoroughly enjoyed.”

“Great coffee! Fine food. 1st class leadership. Encyclopedic naturalists participating. Fantastic evening speakers both nights. And all those species of birds including a Screech owl… What more can I ask for?”

COST

No fee this year.

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 0 degrees celsius at night to 20 degrees celsius during the day.

Please also be aware that many of the trails in early May have windfall on them, as the Ranger staff have often not had the chance to cut out the fallen trees. You should also stay alert for bears as they walk the trails, and consider carrying bear spray as a precaution. First-aid and other 10 essentials are also recommended.

ITINERARY

FRIDAY, MAY 8

On your own. Thanks for helping us maintain bird data continuity this year!

SATURDAY, MAY 9

On your own. Thanks for helping us maintain bird data continuity this year!

SUNDAY, MAY 10

On your own. Thanks for helping us maintain bird data continuity this year!

MAPS & 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 or NORTH on Hwy 1/3/5

  • At Hope, continue onto Hwy 1 going west
  • Take exit 168 – Turn LEFT onto Flood Hope Rd.
  • After 800 m., turn RIGHT onto Silver Skagit Rd.
  • Follow Silver Skagit Rd. approximately 60 km. to Ross Lake Group Campground on left.

NOTE: The Skagit Road will be open and two-wheel drive vehicles can travel the road.  There may be active logging in the area, so if encountered, give logging trucks a wide berth and be cautious going around curves in the road–do not cut corners.  Stay alert and leave maximum space for the oncoming lane.

MAPS & DIRECTIONS

ACCOMMODATION

CAMPING

Camping facilities are currently closed due to the coronavirus.

WHAT TO BRING

Come prepared to hike in a variety of weather conditions, with temperatures at camp ranging between +20 C during the day and 0 C at night.  Recommended items to bring hiking:

  • Drinking water
  • High-energy lunch and snack food
  • Hiking boots or sturdy runners
  • Warm clothes and rain gear
  • Sunglasses, suncreen, hat
  • Binoculars, camera, birding field guide

Want to try birding by bike?  There are excellent opportunities in many of the bird blitz areas for this mode of transportation.

ADDITIONAL INFO

Explore eBird! Sightings from 2010-2017, March-May, Skagit Valley Bird Blitz locations

Bird blitz results 2011-2019 (MS 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.

Informed Consent Form

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.

CANCELLATIONS

COVID-19 NOTICE: With our public programs scheduled throughout the year and knowing the uncertainty of where this is all going, we may need to postpone or cancel programs at any time. If you want to register for programs going into the summer and fall, we have temporarily updated our cancellation policy to allow for full refunds in case of personal illness of any kind or simply cancelling due to a concern over the situation at time of the event. As always, a full refund is provided if Hope Mountain Centre decides to cancel a program. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves, follow guidelines set by provincial and federal agencies, and keep you informed should conditions change. 

Our Outdoor Programs

Hope Mountain Centre maintains an excellent safety record. Due to the nature of outdoor programs, these events do involve some personal risk. Hope Mountain Centre assumes no responsibility for personal injury or damage to personal property. 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 your pet at home.

Program Partners

Sponsorship of the Bird Blitz

The Skagit Valley Bird Blitz is supported by two non-profit organizations – Hope Mountain Centre and BC Nature. Both organizations share a commitment to nature appreciation and stewardship and recognize the importance of these citizen science programs.

Funding Support

We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.