Spring a great time to enjoy birds on Fraser River Estuary
Fraser River estuary comes alive as the days get longer
With the recent miserable weather that we have been subjected to, it’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. But the evidence is everywhere. All we need is a beautiful day to get out and enjoy it—someone put in a special request please!
With warmer temperatures gardens are rejoicing.
After months of waning daylight, cooler temperatures and dampness we are rewarded with the leafy green vegetation of the early spring flowers. Crocuses, tulips and other early bloomers are unfolding from their soil blankets to bring a welcome smile to everyone’s face and provide that much missed colour.
Spring also marks the annual migration of thousands of birds and the Lower Mainland’s Fraser delta is a key stopover point used by many species of shorebirds during their long migrations across North and South America called the Pacific Flyway.
The Pacific Flyway is the migratory corridor, extending from the Arctic tundra and northwestern rainforest of Alaska to the tropical beaches and mangroves of South America. Twice a year, spring and fall, migrating birds fly all or part of this flyway to follow food sources, reach breeding grounds, or find overwintering sites.
At the mouth of the Fraser, the Fraser River Estuary, an area of fertile farmland, deciduous forest, grasslands, marshes and tidal flats, thousands of birds seek refuge to eat, rest, and build up body fat stores that are depleted during the long flights of migration.
With its mild climate, diverse terrain and plentiful food source, the Fraser River Estuary is uniquely suited to accommodate the food and habitat needs for a variety of species.
Salt water shore birds like western sandpipers and dunlin, feed in flocks of thousands on intertidal mudflats, while others dine on insects, or forage for fish and aquatic plants in the freshwater streams and creeks.
The Fraser River Estuary is mid-way along the Pacific Coast making it an international crossroad of bird migration routes from 20 countries and three continents, translating into approximately 500,000 shorebirds annually.
But if these areas are disturbed by pollution or other human activity and are no longer available as safe feeding and resting places, the world’s bird populations would be at risk of being unable to survive to reach overwintering and nesting grounds.
It is important for people to use the lands and waterways quietly, in ways that minimize stress on these birds.
This weekend we will begin the transition to spring by “springing” our clocks forward to enjoy that extra hour of daylight.
Grab your binoculars and head out quietly to enjoy all that spring has to offer!
• Cindy Sale is the communication and event coordinator at the Fraser River Discovery Centre.