CONGRESS TOURS: young birder tours

Your Local Organizing Committee and Affiliates have arranged an array of unique and unforgettable tour options for IOCongress2018 delegates.

The customized mid-Congress tours on Friday August 24th will showcase birds in local alpine, forest, wetland, and coastal habitats. Download the checklist of birds in the Metro Vancouver Area/Lower Mainland during the Congress.

Special multi-day pre- and post-Congress tours will venture further afield in British Columbia, other regions of Canada, and down to Colombia and Ecuador. All these tour offerings have been created by team members with extensive guiding experience specially for IOCongress2018. Click on the tours you are interested in below for more details, dates, and to tentatively register!

If you would like to submit an idea for a tour option, please complete the mid-congress tour survey below. All information submitted is anonymous and will only be used for planning purposes.



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YOUNG BIRDER TOURS


REIFEL MIGRATORY BIRD SANCTUARY, BOUNDARY BAY
& ROBERTS BANK, DELTA
AUGUST 24, 2018

Sponsored and led by British Columbia Field Ornithologists Association
Tour Leaders: Melissa Hafting, Thomas Plath, Dr. Peter Candido

Our bus departs downtown Vancouver at 08:00am and we head an hour south to the fishing village of Ladner and the Fraser River estuary. Following the dyke along the south stem of the river, we cross the iconic swing bridge onto Westham Island where we will look for Mute Swans. At the tip of the island in the Alaksen Wildlife Area is the 300-hectare George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Here, we will spend two hours walking the trails and observing hundreds of waterfowl and shorebirds in the ponds and along the foreshore marshes. 

Landbirds abound in the trees and bushes, and raptors are common. During this tour expect shorebirds during Fall Migration such as Stilt Sandpipers, Red-necked and Wilson’s Phalaropes, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers, Least, Semipalmated, Western and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Also, we should encounter Belted Kingfishers, Bewick’s and Marsh Wrens, Bank, Tree and Northern-Rough-winged Swallows and Purple Martins, Ring-necked Pheasants, Great Blue Herons, Sandhill Cranes, Northern Harriers, Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls and Peregrine Falcons, Merlins and Bald Eagles. We will survey the reeds for American Bittern, Virginia Rail and Soras. Anna’s and Rufous Hummingbirds are common throughout the sanctuary. We may glimpse the annually returning Black-crowned Night-Herons. Youth will have the opportunity to hand feed wild Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Sandhill Cranes. We will search for warblers and songbirds and many different waterfowl such as Northern Shovelers, Wood Ducks, Gadwalls, Mallards, Lesser Scaups, Hooded Mergansers, Pied-billed Grebes as well as American Coots during the walks.

The website for the Sanctuary can be found here: http://www.reifelbirdsanctuary.com/about.html

After a picnic lunch, we say farewell to the island and drive west to the end of River Road. We will walk 2 kilometers along the dyke path following the Fraser River out along Brunswick Point and across to the estuarine mud flats of Brunswick Point located on Roberts Bank. Here in the “crucible” of the Fraser River delta, we will see the mosaic of open-soil agricultural fields, salt marshes and estuarine intertidal flats that form the number one Important Bird Area in Canada. Shorebirds migrating from breeding grounds in the Arctic will be grazing “biofilm” off the mud surface. Raptors, waterfowl, gulls and Great Blue Heron are common. We will have opportunity to see first-hand and discuss the effects of port and other developments that are real ongoing conservation challenges. We will scan for Caspian Terns, Red Knots, Gulls, Black-bellied and Pacific and American Golden-Plovers. We will also look for Marbled or the rarer Hudsonian and Bar-tailed Godwits that are known to frequent the mudflats along with dozens of shorebirds species and peeps. Look out for patrolling Peregrine Falcons and Northern Harriers as well as Rails and Bitterns in the reeds.

We will then head on to 96th St at the locally known “mansion” to look at what shorebirds are present at the tidal outflow. Here we could find Solitary Sandpipers, Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes, Semipalmated Plovers, Least, Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Merlins, Harriers, Great Blue Herons, Swallows, Bald Eagles and the like. We will also travel to 104th St by the historic Boundary Bay airport where we will continue our shorebird search hoping to find a rare shorebird such as a Bar-tailed or Hudsonian Godwit. We continue searching through huge flocks of migrating shorebirds as they touch down in this critical important bird area to rest and feed before migrating on to their wintering grounds. You never know what you may encounter in these flocks, several Red-necked and Little Stints have been found in this area along with Buff-breasted Sandpipers and Ruffs. Our bus will return to downtown Vancouver at 5:00pm.

COSTS:

Costs are not yet available but prices will include all guides, transportation, admissions, lunch, and snacks.

BIRDING ABILITY AND PHYSICAL FITNESS:

We will have BC Field Ornithologists bird guides who are experienced and legally authorized to supervise minors leading all groups. Participants can be birders, photographers, naturalists, learners, or none of the above – and still be thrilled by this experience.

Walking will be over relatively flat but rugged trails except for the Squamish Tour, where there will be hiking in some moderately steep sections. A low to moderate level of fitness is all that will be required for trip 1 and trip 2. A moderate level of fitness is required for trip 3.

WHAT TO BRING AND EXPECT:
Binoculars, backpack, water bottle with water, camera, hat, sunglasses and notebook. Scopes will be provided. Even in August, weather in Vancouver can change suddenly. Be prepared with multiple layers of clothing, which can be added and removed to match the conditions. Rain is possible, so you can bring a poncho that can fit in your pack, wind likely, and in sunny conditions the UV index can be high. Sunscreen and a chapstick necessitities. Mosquito repellent is also a good idea to bring along.
IMPORTANT - REGISTER NOW!
These expeditions are being planned exclusively in conjunction with IOCongress2018 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Spaces are limited but you can register your interest now without obligation and we will keep you updated on details.

SQUAMISH ESTUARY, SEA TO SKY GONDOLA, & PORTEAU COVE
AUGUST 27, 2018 

Sponsored and led by British Columbia Field Ornithologists Association
Tour Leaders: Melissa Hafting, 
Ilya Povalyaev, John Reynolds

The sea to sky tour takes us from Vancouver to the estuary of the Squamish River and surrounding mountains, on the traditional territory of the Squamish First Nation. Departing from downtown Vancouver at 07:00 am the bus ride is truly spectacular, as we wind along the famous “Sea to Sky” Highway along the eastern side of Howe Sound with remarkable mountain range and sea views.  Our first major stop is at the Sea to Sky Gondola.

The ride up the gondola will take us from sea-level to 890m where we will have panoramic views of Howe Sound and the Squamish Valley. We will hike along “Al Habrich's Ridge Trail” and hope to see Northern Pygmy-Owl, Sooty Grouse, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Goshawk, Townsend's Solitaires, Varied Thrushes, Townsend's Warblers, Dark-eyed Junco and Chipping Sparrow, Red Crossbills, Western Tanagers, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcrackers, Pine Siskin, MacGillivray's,Yellow-rumped and Wilson's Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Vaux's and Black Swifts, American Pipits, Common Ravens, Hermit Thrushes, Pacific Wrens, Steller's Jays, Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Hutton's and Cassin's Vireos and Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, as we traverse through the high-elevation forest. We will return back to the gondola, traverse a suspension bridge and look out at gorgeous views of the Squamish area. We will walk the trails, including through a bog, with views of the Chief, while looking for birds.

We will lunch at the gondola restaurant looking over Howe Sound before travelling down the gondola to our bus waiting to take us on to the Squamish River estuary. We will have a leisurely walk along the coastal forest, wetlands, and marsh trails with our expert guides and enjoy views of Howe Sound. From here will we will also have a stunning view of the Stawamus Chief, a huge granite dome always busy with climbers. The estuary has had several rarities such as a Tufted Duck, Swainson's Hawk, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Wandering Tattler and we will be watching for all of them. We will then travel to the spit at the other side of the estuary looking through the channels for waterfowl and watching the windsurfers off the spit. We may see Black Bears during our visit. Birds expected here are Evening Grosbeaks, Willow, Hammond's, Pacific-Slope and Western Wood-Pewees, Warbling vireos, Swainson's Thrushes, Anna's and Rufous Hummingbirds,  Spotted Towhees, Savannah and Song Sparrows , Black-throated Gray, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Red Crossbills, Tree, Barn, Violet-Green and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Belted Kingfishers, Eastern Kingbirds, Purple Martins, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Pileated and Northerm Flickers, Marsh Wrens, Western Tanagers, Band-tailed Pigeons, Cedar Waxwings, Pine Siskins, Purple, House and American Goldfinches, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Canadian Geese, Pied-billed Grebes, Bushtits and Black-capped Chickadees.

As we scan the meandering waterways we should spot waterfowl such as American Widgeon, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teals and Hooded and Common Mergansers. We will also see Great Blue Herons, Virginia Rails, Yellow-headed and Red-winged Blackbirds, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Yellowlegs and the aquatic songbird the American Dipper. Possible Raptor species include Bald Eagles and Red-tailed and Cooper's Hawks.

After the afternoon hike in the estuary, we will board our bus and head back through downtown Squamish via a stop to Porteau Cove, where we will sea Black Oystercatchers, Bald Eagles, Pigeon Guillemots, Common Loons, Harlequin Ducks, Common Mergansers and Common and Barrow Goldeneye, California, Bonaparte's and Glaucous-winged Gulls. This will be our final stop before heading back to Vancouver by 7pm.  

COSTS:
Costs are not yet available but prices will include all guides, transportation, admissions, lunch, and snacks.
BIRDING ABILITY AND PHYSICAL FITNESS:
We will have BC Field Ornithologists bird guides who are experienced and legally authorized to supervise minors leading all groups. Participants can be birders, photographers, naturalists, learners, or none of the above – and still be thrilled by this experience. 

Walking will be over relatively flat but rugged trails except for the Squamish Tour, where there will be hiking in some moderately steep sections.  A low to moderate level of fitness is all that will be required for trip 1 and trip 2. A moderate level of fitness is required for trip 3.

WHAT TO BRING AND EXPECT:
Binoculars, backpack, water bottle with water, camera, hat, sunglasses and notebook. Scopes will be provided. Even in August, weather in Vancouver can change suddenly. Be prepared with multiple layers of clothing, which can be added and removed to match the conditions. Rain is possible, so you can bring a poncho that can fit in your pack, wind likely, and in sunny conditions the UV index can be high. Sunscreen and a chapstick necessitities. Mosquito repellent is also a good idea to bring along.
IMPORTANT – Register Now!
These expeditions are being planned exclusively in conjunction with IOCongress2018 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Spaces are limited but you can register your interest now without obligation and we will keep you updated on details.