Birding and Nature are for Everyone along the Trans Canada Trail
Accessible birding hotspots on the Trans Canada Trail are there to be enjoyed by everyone. The iconic trails of Canada have recently partnered with AccessNow to identify twelve barrier-free sections of trail that are welcoming, inclusive, safe, and accessible to everyone. But did you know that some of these pathways offer world-class birding opportunities as well? Here are five of our favourite barrier-free places to watch birds on the Trans Canada Trail.
1. Quidi Vidi Lake Trail, St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
The 3.9 km Quidi Vidi Lake Trail loops around Quidi Vidi Lake, which is a great place for viewing large and diverse groups of waterfowl, and a world renown location for viewing gulls! For this reason, it's a favourite with local birders. Furthermore, over 176 bird species have been spotted at the lake and the flat, hard-packed gravel and paved trail makes them accessible to everyone. In addition, Quidi Vidi Lake has been designated as an Important Bird Area because it hosts globally significant numbers of gulls, including Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, Iceland Gulls, Glaucous Gulls, and Common Black-headed Gulls. In addition, a wide diversity of waterfowl has also been spotted here, including American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, and Ring-necked Ducks.
2. Les Grandes-Fourches, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
The Lac des Nations Pathway, which is part of the 87 km long Les Grandes-Fourches trail, is a 3.5 km paved pathway that loops around the Lac des Nations in downtown Sherbrook. Over 150 species of birds have been reported at the lake on eBird. In particular, it is a great place to watch waterfowl in winter and to watch forest birds in spring and summer. Hooded Mergansers, Common Eiders, Bald Eagles, and Snow Buntings are among the species reported during the winter months, whereas Blackpoll Warblers, Bohemian Waxwings, and Northern Parula are among the species reported in summer. Just one of many birding hotspots on the Trans Canada Trail.
3. Capital Pathway, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
My birding hotspots on the Trans Canada Trail continues with a 25 km section of paved multi-use pathway that runs along the Ottawa River, connecting natural areas, parks, gardens, museums, and attractions. Over 270 bird species have been reported along the waterway, with Remic Rapids Park, Bate Island, and Westboro Beach being popular spots for local bird watchers. Furthermore, the Capital Pathway between Victoria Island and Fitzroy Provincial Park falls inside the Lac Deschenes-Ottawa River Important Bird Area. Consequently, it is a great place to see huge numbers of waterfowl and gulls, especially during spring and fall migration. Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, Brant, and Canada Geese can be observed in large numbers, while less common species like Black-crowned Night-Herons and Great Egrets can be seen fishing along the shore. Moreover, large flocks of swallows can be seen hunting for insects above the water at dawn and dusk. In addition, the Britannia Conservation Area and Mud Lake offer great opportunities for viewing colourful songbirds, although some of the pathways within the forested areas are narrow and uneven.
4. Wascana Center Trail, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
The 6 km Wascana Park Trail is a paved pathway that follows the shores of Wascana Lake through the historical and cultural center of Regina. Over 250 bird species have been reported in the natural areas around Wascana Lake, including at the Regina Plain Native Prairie Restoration Site, the Wascana Waterfowl Display Ponds, and the Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Furthermore, over 200 pairs of Canada Geese nest in the sanctuary each year, as well as other waterfowl, including Mallards, Northern Pintails, and Blue-winged Teals. In addition, three human-made islands in the center of the pond also provide nesting habitat for waterfowl and migratory songbirds alike, which can be enjoyed from the trail.
5. Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The Stanley Park Seawall is an 8 km section of the Trans Canada Trail in Vancouver, British Columbia consisting of a paved waterfront pathway that is extremely popular locals. Over 250 species of birds have been reported in Stanley Park, and over 150 species have been seen from the seawall. In addition, this trail is located within the English Bay, Burrard Inlet & Howe Sound Important Bird Area, which supports globally significant populations of Western Grebes, Barrow's Goldeneyes, Surf Scoters, and Great Blue Herons. As a result, it is a fantastic place to observe large congregations of waterfowl in winter, and migratory songbirds in spring and fall.
Barrier-free Birding for Everyone
These birding hotspots on the Trans Canada Trail have physical, mental, and spiritual health benefits, and a great way to connect with the natural world is through birds. These accessible birding hotspots along the Trans Canada Trail provide barrier-free access to some of Canada's best bird watching locations from coast-to-coast-to-coast. So next time you're in one of these exciting locations, grab your binoculars and essential birding gear and check them out for yourself!