2020 Annual Conference – Smithers POSTPONED until June 25 – 27, 2021

Smithers – A Northern BC Gem
Postponed until Jun 25 – 27, 2021. Updated details to follow.

The details below describe this year’s postponed conference. They will be updated as soon as we confirm details for 2021, which are being worked on now.

The 2020 BCFO Annual Conference, the first ever held in Smithers, promises to deliver a birding adventure, and for most attendees, a chance to bird a relatively unknown part of the province. In addition, the pre-conference extension will explore the Terrace and Kitimat area, another relatively lightly birded part of the Province.

Join us at the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge and Conference Centre in Smithers from June 26 to 28. Smithers field trips will include wetlands and trails and higher elevations at Hudson Bay Mountain and Babine Mountain Park. The pre-conference extension out of Terrace runs from June 23 to 25.

Smithers Remax
Remax image

Smithers is located in the Bulkley Valley half way between Prince Rupert and Prince George. The Bulkley River valley is located between the Hudson Bay Mountain range to the west and the Babine Mountain range to the east and is relatively warmer and drier than mountainous areas to the west; July average temperature is 14 C/59 F; January is -10 C/14 F; average annual precipitation 325 mm/13 inches. The town itself has a population of 6,000 with another 20,000 in the surrounding area.

As the regional service centre it has a wide variety of amenities and services. Perhaps because of the relatively benign climate and wide range of outdoor activities available it has become a “lifestyle” destination for some and so has an excellent selection of restaurants, coffee houses and cultural activities. Because of its alpine environment, the town has adopted an ‘alpine theme’. Main Street was reconstructed with red brick sidewalks and alpine style roof lines on buildings and shops.

You can get an idea of the spirit of the town on the city website: https://tourismsmithers.com/

The surrounding mountains and valleys are dominated by coniferous forests of lodgepole pine, spruce and sub-arctic balsam fir. Deciduous trees include aspen, birch and cottonwood.

This website outlines the great hiking, biking, paddling activities that are at your doorstep in Smithers. And of course the wide valley offers wonderful opportunities for wildlife viewing and bird-watching. We will coordinate closely with the Bulkley Valley Naturalists: http://www.bvnaturalists.ca/resources/flora-fauna/birds/.

Getting There:
Smithers is located on the Yellowhead Highway – so from Vancouver drive north to Prince George on Route 97 and then take Route 16 West to Smithers.
For those who wish to fly the airport at Smithers is served by Air Canada and Central Mountain Air. For those with “points” the point requirement at this time is quite modest.

Schedule of Events

Location: Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge & Conference Centre, 3251 East Highway 16, Smithers, B.C.V0J 2N0.

Friday, June 26
5:00 PM to 8:30 PM – Registration and Social at the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge, Cascade Room. Pick up your conference package, socialize with fellow birders and confirm your trip selections. There will be appetizers and a cash bar.

Saturday and Sunday, June 27 & 28
Breakfast: 5:30 to 6:00 AM, prior to field trips (both days).

Conference Field Trips:
Trip 1 – Hudson Bay Mountain
Trip 2 – The Bluff Trails
Trip 3 – Telkwa High Road to Tyhee Provincial Park
Trip 4 – Harvey Mountain Trail
Trip 5 – Pacific Wetland Trail
6:15 AM departures, both days, from the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge.

See below for field trip descriptions.

Lunch: 12:00 to 1:00 PM (both days).

Saturday Afternoon (1:00 to 2:30 PM) Speakers:
Frank Doyle: Harvesting for Northern Goshawks
Curt Gesch: Habitat restoration for birds on farmland.

Annual General Meeting: 2:30 to 3:30 PM, Saturday.

Field trip sign-ups for the Sunday trips will be available after the AGM.

Social Hour Cash Bar 5:30 to 6:30 PM, Saturday.
Banquet 6:30 to 7:30 PM, Saturday.
Banquet Keynote: 7:30 to 9:00 PM, Michael Kawerninski Birds of the Bulkley Valley.

Registration Process

Register for the Conference/AGM

Via Regular Mail: Complete the registration form in this issue of BC Birding and mail it along with your cheque for payment to:
P.O. Box 61670
RPO Brookswood
Langley, BC V3A 1K0.

Via the BCFO Website
Go to the AGM/Extension Payments tab under the Events > Annual Conference drop-downs. Registrations open 4 April 2020.
Please complete the fillable registration form. To pay for more than one registration, simply make sufficient single payments for each person you wish to register.

Register for the Extension Trip

Via the BCFO website
Note: The only way to register for the extension trip is via the website.
Payment may be made either by cheque, or via the PayPal button.
Go to the AGM/Extension Payments tab under the Events > Annual Conference drop-downs. The fillable registration form will include the opportunity to indicate your desire to attend the post-AGM Extension.
To pay for more than one registration via PayPal, simply make sufficient single payments for each person you wish to register.
Online registrations open on April 4 at 9:00 am PDT.

Field Trip Descriptions

Hudson Bay Mountain: Alpine meadows are accessible on an easy hike from the T-bar at the base of the ski hill to Crater Lake where species such as Willow, Rock and White-tailed Ptarmigan as well as Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur and American Pipit may be found. Below timberline will yield Clark’s Nutcracker, Spruce Grouse, Boreal and Mountain Chickadee, Pine Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill and Hermit Thrush. Northern Goshawk and Golden Eagle are a possibility, with probable sightings of Mountain Goats and marmots. American Three-toed Woodpecker and Black-backed Woodpecker may be found en route to the alpine. A wetland en route to the mountain will be checked for Blackpoll Warbler.

The Bluff Trails: The field trip begins with a 500 meter boardwalk traversing a willow thicket wetland rich in warblers such as MacGillivray’s and Yellow Warbler as well as American Redstart and Common Yellowthroat. The trail ascends to an aspen forest with birds such as White-throated Sparrow, Least Flycatcher and Western Tanager. The trail end up in mixed deciduous and conifer forest with birds such as Magnolia Warbler, Cassin’s Vireo, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Pacific Wren. The morning will finish with a trip to a wetland which will add Sora, swallows, more warblers and Red-winged Blackbird.

Telkwa High Road to Tyhee Lake Provincial Park: Discover Calliope Hummingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Mountain Bluebird and Clay-coloured Sparrow en route to the park. Great Grey Owl has been found in the area. Tyhee Lake has a varied list of waterfowl and wetland species as well as Red and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Alder, Least and Dusky Flycatcher, White-throated, and Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Pacific Wetland Trail: has an extensive list of warblers including Blackpoll and Tennessee Warbler, and Northern Waterthrush. Sparrows include White-throated and Lincoln’s with a wide variety of Flycatchers including Willow, Dusky, Least Alder and Olive-sided Flycatcher. The Riverfront Park on the Bulkley River is another destination that has recorded Northern Shrike, American Bittern, Sora, Red-eyed Vireo and Magnolia Warbler.

The Harvey Mountain Trail: in Babine Mountains Provincial Park is another option for high elevation birds where subalpine meadows are accessible after 4 km of a 4.5 km long trail. The Malkow Lookout Trail is 3 km long through aspen forest and farmland ending in mountain and valley views of the region.

A wetlands canoe trip could be arranged for Sunday morning.