It’s never too late to get into birdwatching. Whether you’re an amateur birder or an aspiring ornithologist (or just want another excuse to get outside), the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region is the perfect spot to take your binoculars and brave the great outdoors. There’s no shortage of fantastic spots for birdwatching, so here are a few to get you started.
1. Anahim Lake
Sitting at a cozy population of just over 1,500, Anahim Lake is a tiny town in central B.C. near Nimpo Lake. It’s known for its outdoorsy spirit, offering hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing in the winter. It’s also a hotspot for birdwatching, and those with a keen eye should be able to spot white pelicans, trumpeter swans, waterfowl, and bald eagles. The Eagle’s Nest Resort to the west is also a good bet, featuring log cabins and a picturesque view of the natural beauty unique to the area.
Located in the western slopes of the Cariboo Mountain Range, Bowron Lake Provincial Park’s claim to fame is their canoe circuit, encompassing a whopping 116km chain of lakes and waterways. This makes it a perfect spot to see waterfowl, of which visitors can spot upwards of 20 species between late April and mid-September. The park is also notable for its large songbird population, including the western wood-pewee, Hammond's flycatcher, and eastern kingbird.
3. The 100 Mile Marsh
A small wetland near the town of 100 Mile House, this marsh is a birdwatcher’s paradise, featuring a grassy picnic area and plenty of benches fit for sightseeing. Visitors can expect to catch a glimpse of yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds, as well as sandpipers, swallows, grebes, and ducks. Don’t miss the chance to check out the town as well, as there are plenty of activities to check out there, including mountain biking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.
4. The Scout Island Nature Centre in Williams Lake
Williams Lake is a fantastic spot for wildlife viewing, and there’s no better place to see flora and fauna than the Scout Island Nature Centre. The Centre encompasses 2.5 km of trails along a lake and marsh, and promises the opportunity to spot foxes, beavers, and turtles. But the main attraction are the hundreds of species of birds, including osprey, riparian songbirds, and American white pelicans. Scout Island is also dog and wheelchair friendly and offers community programs year-round, though your best bet for birdwatching is during spring and fall.
5. Knight Inlet
The largest of the principal inlets on the B.C. coast, Knight Inlet is a far cry from the more urban areas of southern B.C. – meaning visitors can expect a wild and untamed experience perfect for exploring. The Knight Inlet Lodge is best known for its grizzly bear tours, but there are plenty of birds to be found in the area, including: rhinoceros auklets, pileated woodpeckers, black oystercatchers, bald eagles, and horned puffins (if you’re willing to brave the open ocean). Accessible by seaplane or boat, Knight Inlet is a hidden gem of the province’s collection of inlets near Vancouver Island.
6. Horsefly Bay
Known as the first spot where gold was found during the 1859 Cariboo Gold Rush, the town of Horsefly is now most popular for its proximity to Horsefly Lake. This site borders the Horsefly Lake Provincial Park and includes campsites, a beach, and a nature trail, and is known for its fishing and hiking. Birdwatching is also a popular hobby here, and bald eagles, waterfowl, and riparian songbirds are among the many species that can be spotted.
Tweedsmuir is one of the largest provincial parks in B.C. and is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway spent hiking, camping, canoeing, and angling. The birdwatching here is top notch, including ample chances to see spruce grouse, rainforest birds, and white-tailed ptarmigans. Tweedsmuir is also one of the best spots in the province to spot grizzly bears, although visitors should make sure to keep their distance – bear watching is a lot more dangerous than birdwatching!