For the Birds – Rainy Day Walks at Maplewood Flats

Birding at the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area Photo: Rob Weiss

Affectionately known by locals as Maplewood Flats, the Maplewood Conservation Area in North Vancouver is an ideal destination for a rainy day walk.  Managed by the Wild Bird Trust of BC, this wonderful natural area along Burrard Inlet near the base of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, is home to over 230 species of birds and features 3km of easy walking trails to explore.


Pacific Environmental Science Centre Photo: Rob Weiss

Arriving at the parking lot, I first noticed the Pacific Environmental Science Centre.  This state of the art facility is one of Canada’s premier science centres focused on marine, estuarine and freshwater studies.  Inspired by the work of these passionate scientists, I quickened my pace and began my exploration of the North Shore’s largest section of tidal mudflats.

Shangri-la to Shangri-la by Ken Lum

Approaching the entrance to the trail system, I stumbled upon a wonderful piece of public art known as From Shangri-la to Shangri-La.  World renowned artist, Ken Lum, created scale replicas of three squatter shacks in 2010 for the Vancouver Art Gallery’s off-site program of rotating artworks.  Fittingly, they are now permanently on display near their original Maplewood Flats location.  Stopping to admire the shacks; I felt as though I had travelled back in time.  I could picture the hippies, artists, loggers and fishers who made their homes on these mudflats.  Off the grid, tiny home living at its best!

Intrigued at this blend of city, science, art and history I continued along the path wondering what I might encounter next.  I was not disappointed!  A “sightings board” greets visitors to the park.  Birders will delight in the list of recent discoveries.  From Killdeer to Hooded Merganser’s the list was long and detailed.  Not to be outdone by the birds, the sighting board also listed deer, turtles and a black bear.  Clearly, the flats are a busy place.

Feeding Station Photo: Rob Weiss

Experienced birders and nature photographers will venture out to Osprey Point and the mudflat viewing areas, but for families, a pit stop at the feeders is a must.  Countless feeding stations are located in a fenced off area just inside the entrance.  During my visit, the area was buzzing with activity, a feeding frenzy of sorts.  Stopping to watch and listen to the Junco’s and Chickadees, I could feel my spirits lift.  My rainy day full of colour and sound at the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area was for the birds!

Getting There:

Located on the North Shore, 2km east of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, the Maplewood Conservation Area can be accessed via Dollarton Highway.

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