Oh the Birds You Will See on the Salmon Arm Waterfront Trail

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. (Henry David Thoreau).

A couple of weeks ago on my way back to Penticton following my Yukon trip, I slipped into Salmon Arm to check out the waterfront trail. This was my third time hiking the trail in the last four months and I wanted to see how the wildlife scene had changed.

On my last trip, the birds were just pairing up and looking for nesting sites. I had never seen a Western Grebe before coming to Salmon Arm, and I was lucky last time to witness the pairs screaming as they danced together across the water as part of their bonding ritual. There was a lot of noise back in May, from every kind of creature sporting a pair of wings.

I expected mid-July to be much quieter because this is the time when the nests are filled with eggs and newborns. I wasn’t wrong. Although I could hear birds from time to time (and almost continually from Christmas Island), there was a hush that had come over the waterfront. Even the tourists seemed to speak in whispers.

I wanted, in particular, to see the young Western Grebes riding on the backs of their parents, seeing the world and diving for the first time. But, sadly, it was still too early in the season to observe this exciting event. I also wanted to see some Osprey young, and happily, I succeeded.

I walked for eight kilometers, four kilometers each way across the front of the waterfront. But it took most of the morning, partly because I stopped so frequently just to watch and listen, and partly because I found myself walking slowly, stepping softly as I went, so as not to disturb the tranquility of the place.

Come along with me and I’ll show you the beauty of the Salmon Arm waterfront.

Salmon Arm Wharf 2 - Western Grebe

The Western Grebe. It makes a sound like a shrill whistle, followed by a croak.  Eerie and unforgettable.

• The best viewing times are from April to October for the summer residents, such as the Western Grebe.
• Although there are several places to connect with the trail, I found that starting near the wharf was best. You will see lots of species in that area, including the Western Grebe and likely an Osprey, and there are information kiosks along the boardwalk.
• Most of the streets and parking lots are either metered or have time limits. I found plenty of free unlimited parking at the most southwestern point of the trail, on Harbour Front Drive on the street in front of the Prestige Harbourfront Resort. To get there from Lakeshore Drive, turn towards the water on Marine Park Drive and then immediately left on Harbour Front Drive. You will see the trailhead just past the hotel on the right. Apparently, during July and August, the Salmar Grand Theatre at 100 Hudson Avenue provides free parking.
• The first part of the trail is the Salmon Arm Wharf Trail, much of which is a boardwalk-style trail. This trail pops out at the other end on Harbour Front Drive. Just turn left and walk until the street turns into Raven Trail. This will lead to Christmas Island, which is not accessible during the summer because of the high water, but which sports a multitude of bird species.

Salmon Arm Wharf 3 - Osprey Adults

Osprey adults tending their nest. Ospreys mate for life.


Salmon Arm Wharf 3 - Osprey Young

Ah, and here’s one of the osprey youngin’s showing itself. As an aside, you can see how clean this nest looks. I notice that the osprey leaves its nest to poop from a different tower and then flies back again. (Thought you might find that bit of trivia interesting.)


Salmon Arm Wharf 4 - Duck

You will see plenty of wildfowl on this walk.


Salmon Arm Wharf 7

A duck foraging for food.


Salmon Arm Wharf 9 - Great Blue Heron

I was happy to see several Great Blue Herons on this walk.


Salmon Arm Wharf 10 - Tree Swallow

A Tree Swallow. I saw him fly in this nest and then I stood still for 15 minutes, trying to hold my camera steady at maximum range. My arms were shaking by the time he showed himself.


Salmon Arm Wharf 5

The daisies were in bloom.


Salmon Arm Wharf 6

And the, er, ‘blue’ flowers were in bloom too.


Salmon Arm Wharf 11 - Beaver Evidence

I didn’t see a beaver, but its presence was evident.


Salmon Arm Wharf 1

The wharf. Notice the Western Grebe in the water?


Salmon Arm Wharf 14

The wharf, from the hills to the north.


Salmon Arm Wharf 13 - Christmas Island

This square block of land is called Christmas Island. It seems to be mostly submerged during the nesting season, but the water in the lake drops in the fall, making it accessible.


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