Birds of Deer Lake  LbNA # 54611

OwnerAdoptable    
Placed DateJun 7 2010
CountyBritish Columbia, CAN
LocationBurnaby, BRC
Boxes6
Planted Bybenjemma    
Found By
Last Found
Statusa  
Hike Distance?

Deer Lake is one of my favourite parks in Burnaby. There is so much to see and do here: scenic walks through wetlands, lakeshore, forests, meadows and gardens; canoeing and kayaking on the lake; bird and wildlife viewing; art galleries; a farmer’s market; festivals and concerts; exquisite dining at Hart House Restaurant; and our kids’ favourite, the vintage carousel ride at the Burnaby Village Museum. All right in the heart of the city!

There are two letterboxes hidden on the north side of the lake, two on the south side, and two in the wetlands west of the lake. It takes about 3 hours to do the full loop, faster if you are a speed walker or are on bicycle. But you can also do shorter trips to get to just one or two boxes at a time and it's easily done on foot, with a stroller, or on a bicycle. Dogs on leashes are also welcome.

It’s probably a good idea to print off a trail map before you go: www.city.burnaby.bc.ca/__shared/assets/Parks_-_Deer_Lake_Park_Map_Feb_1__20106120.pdf (if this link doesn't work, try going to www.city.burnaby.bc.ca/Home.html and click on the Burnaby A-Z drop-down menu and click on "D" and then "Deer Lake Park" - there are detailed trail maps on this page).

To do the full loop, start your journey at the Deer Lake beach parking lot on the east side of the lake. If you want to do just some of the boxes, you can also park in the specified spots mentioned in the clues or in the parking lot off Royal Oak Ave.

** Note that suggestions to go north, south, east, or west are based on rough directions on the trail map, and not precise compass directions. **

BIRD #1:

You will likely see lots of this very common bird along the beach east of Deer Lake, but one of my favourite spots to watch this bird is in a secluded little spot by Deer Lake Brook on the north side of the lake. To get here from the Deer Lake beach parking lot, follow the boardwalk on the north side, near the swings. When the boardwalk ends, the path will veer north-east up past the grassy area behind Hart House restaurant. You will have to leave the gravel trail, go left (northwest), and walk a few paces along the Avenue named after this park in order to cross over a little bridge. You’ll know you’re at the correct spot if the wall you lean over to look down at the Deer Lake Brook is made not of straw or sticks, but of the kind of material the smartest little pig would use to build his house.

Walk toward the beginning of the gravel trail on the other side of the bridge. If you are on the correct side of the brook, you should see a man-made yellow “line” pointing down near an iron “circle” as you start to walk along this trail. There is a little path near the “circle” that leads you down to the brook. The large rock just to your right is a wonderful spot to sit, but today you need to circle around it – head toward the brook and then circle back up toward the right. Two living trees touch the rock. You want to go up to the one that is furthest away, closer to the top of the little hill the rock is on. At this tree, turn left, go passed a small decaying tree stump, between two medium-sized rocks, and towards a fallen, weathered, old tree on your right with curled-up limbs. Go to the end of it and circle back towards your right and look under the fallen tree. A small mess of tangled roots from another small tree is close to the spot where this “bird” has made his “nest”. Dig around in the dirt and old leaves to find it. Please hide it well and cover it with dirt and leaves when you return it to its spot.

It’s a 15-minute walk to this spot from the parking lot at Deer Lake beach or a 1 1/4-hour walk from the parking lot off of Royal Oak Ave. You can also do a “drive-by” and park at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts or along Deer Lake Ave. and walk a few minutes down to the bridge and then to this spot.

BIRD #2:

This is my very favourite bird to see at Deer Lake park. The best places to see it are in the shallow marshes along the north shore, seen from the dock or the viewing platforms and benches along the boardwalk.

You need to start by going to one of the ends of the north shore boardwalk, the one that is silver screen siren Mae’s last name. To get here from Box #2, go back onto the main path and go left/west (rather than back up to Deer Lake Ave.), and then veer left/south towards the start of another boardwalk. Keep walking along the boardwalk. When this boardwalk ends, there will be a path to your left towards a dock, and a path going right towards the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. Instead, keep going straight onto the next boardwalk. Go to the end of this boardwalk. Here, you can go north up a quintessential country path towards Price Street, but instead, turn around and go back a few paces along the boardwalk to find this “bird”. There is a viewpoint just up ahead along the boardwalk that has two benches pointed like a tip of an arrow toward the lake. As you walk towards this viewpoint, look down along the edge of the north side of the boardwalk. As the boardwalk curves, there is a big patch of holly and three tree trunks growing from one spot – down low, you may be able to see that one of them was marked by lovers TC and MY. Near their base, next to the holly, is an old tree stump with a hole in the centre which makes a great stepping stone from off of the boardwalk. Just above that stump, the end of a fallen tree makes the shape of 2 circles with a crack in between. This “bird” is hiding deep inside that crack. Remove the bits of bark and reach inside. Please be careful of people watching, as this is a busy walking trail, and hide it well and cover the hole with the bark when you return it to its hiding place so no one can see it from the boardwalk. Be sure to go check out the viewpoint after you’re done to see if you can find the real version of this bird out in the marsh. (NB. there are some instructions for a Bonus Box here, but the Bonus Box is currently missing. It will hopefully be replaced soon!)

It’s a 45-minute walk to this spot if you’re doing the full loop from the parking lot at Deer Lake beach or a 45-minute walk from the parking lot off of Royal Oak Ave. You can also do a “drive-by” and park along the wooden fence by 6110 Price St. At the east end of the wooden fence, the trail is marked by a green sign saying “Deer Lake Trail” and a metal pole with red and white reflective tape. It is a couple of minutes south along this path to the boardwalk.

BIRD #3:

This funny looking fellow is an occasional visitor to the east side beach, but you may be lucky and spot him out in the wetlands west of the lake too. There’s another lovely secluded spot to watch him and other birds along Beaver Creek on the west side of Deer Lake, out by the Biofiltration Pond. I love this area. It is so quiet and peaceful, and fewer people venture out along this path so I often have this spot all to myself. The ponds are used to filter out urban pollutants such as fertilizers, as Beaver Creek makes its way into Deer Lake.

Find the Biofiltration Pond by Beaver Creek on the trail map. To get here from Box #2, take the path north off the boardwalk up through a country meadow and people's private gardens. When you get to Price Street, turn left/west and go all the way to the end of the road and onto the path. Turn left/south when you get to the intersection in the path a few paces ahead. Follow this path, and when you get to the next intersection, there will be a wooden boardwalk going left/south. Instead, keep going straight along the path. At the next intersection, go left/south. A few steps ahead, there is a smaller rocky trail that veers left/east along the banks of the pond, marked at the trailhead by a sign labelled “Beaver Creek Biofiltration Pond”. Go east along this path. After a couple of minutes, you will find a perfect place to sit. Be sure to “wave” hello in memory of the person this place has been dedicated to. Directly behind this spot are two coniferous trees. One is right but not correct. Go to the other one instead. You’ll have to crouch down low and dig in the dirt and leaves behind the base to find this “bird” nestled in the ground. Please cover it up with dirt and leaves again when you return it to its spot.

It’s a 15-minute walk from the parking lot off of Royal Oak Ave. or a 1 1/4-hour walk to this spot if you do the full loop from the parking lot at Deer Lake beach.

BIRD #4:

This is one of the most common birds of prey you will find in this area. A great place to see it is from the wildlife viewing tower southwest of Deer Lake. Find the wildlife viewing tower on the map and then make your way there. From Box #3, you need to head back to the main path, where the “Beaver Creek Biofiltration Pond” sign is. This time, go left/south. At the first intersection, keep going straight. Up ahead, you will see zigzagging ramps with metal railings that lead you up towards the wildlife viewing tower. At the bottom end of the ramp, before going up to the tower, make a little detour to see if you can find this bird’s hidden “nest”. At the entranceway to the ramp, go to the right and walk a few steps ahead to go under the ramp. You will walk between two wooden pillars, each fastened to the crossbeam by 2 circular metal knobs. The only thing “left” for you to do is figure out which of those 2 pillars this bird decided to roost on. You’ll know you have the correct one if you duck under the ramp and then turn back and reach up on top of the pillar and find the “nest”. Be careful of the prickly raspberry bushes under here! Please place the box back carefully, so that it is well hidden from view so as not to attract the attention of those doing regular maintenance on the ramp. Then be sure to head up to the top of the tower before continuing on your journey to watch for the real version of this bird circling the skies.

It will take you about 1 3/4 hours to get to this spot if you are doing the full loop from boxes #1 to #6. It’s a 45-minute walk to this spot from the parking lot off of Royal Oak Ave or 1 1/4-hour walk if you take the south-side trail from the parking lot at Deer Lake beach.

BIRD #5: (update: this box is missing, but it will hopefully be replaced soon!):

You will hear the twittering calls of many songbirds as you walk through the forest and wetlands of Deer Lake, but the birds can be hard to spot. Luckily, you can find this little “bird” and his “nest” tucked away in the woods on the south side of the lake. There are two stretches of wooden boardwalks on the south shore. You want to head to the one that passes over the creek that leads not to the first beach, but to the beach that’s “next in line”. Each end of this section of boardwalk is marked by a wooden pergola, or latticed archway. You want to go to the pergola that is closest to where the sun sets. To get to this spot from Box #4, head back down to the path closest to the wildlife viewing tower and turn right/east. There will be many intersections as you walk along this wetlands path, but keep going straight. After 10-15 minutes, you will arrive at the pergola and entrance way to the boardwalk. At this entrance way, the boardwalk curves left/north towards the main boardwalk trail or goes right/south down a short boardwalk ramp and into the forest. Take the ramp going down and cross the little bridge that takes you over the creek just a few paces ahead. Immediately over the bridge, go left and walk down toward the creek. What’s that saying when people tell you to forget about it, don’t worry about past events? “It’s water ______ the _______”. This little “bird” thinks that’s a great saying and has made his “nest” in the gravel ______ the _______ too. Dig around in the gravel to find it. Please cover it up with gravel again when you return it to its spot.

It will take you about 2 ¼ hours to get to this spot if you are doing the full loop from boxes #1 to #6. It’s a 45-minute walk to this spot if you take the south-side trail from the parking lot at Deer Lake beach or a 1 1/4-hour walk from the parking lot off of Royal Oak Ave.

BIRD #6 (update: this box is missing, but it will hopefully be replaced soon!):

This bird loves Deer Lake and you can’t come here without seeing these guys everywhere. In fact, their poop means the kids shouldn’t really swim in the lake or build sandcastles in the sand. But they are a Canadian icon and one of the largest birds you’ll see here. A lovely viewing spot to watch these birds on Deer Lake beach, and a great place to picnic too, is on the south side of the lake, just off the paved path between the two main boardwalks. Only one of the creeks on the south shore is named after a bird. Between that creek and the spot where the trail splits into a dirt trail headed northeast toward Deer Lake beach and a paved trail heading east toward Sperling Ave., is a picnic area where this “bird” has made its home. To get there from Box #5, head back onto the boardwalk and follow it into the forest. After you leave the boardwalk, the path will take you up onto a road past private residences. As you walk along this road, you will eventually see a secluded picnic area on your left/north. You’ll know you’ve found the correct picnic area if it is “guarded” by two short “blue-eyed” wooden pillars and a large wooden pergola with stone bases, all draped in vines. Head downward towards the lake, passing between two sets of picnic tables on either side of the grassy area, and towards a small grove of trees by the lake. To the left of the grove you will find a perfect place to sit and view the lake, shaped like the top portion of a stop sign. Slide over to the side of the bench that is closest to where the sun rises and you will face a large cedar tree with a big tangled base. There is a “right” way to go around this tree to get to the side of the trunk that faces the lake. You’ll notice that there are two ways to reach into the base of the tree – an opening at the bottom left and an opening at the bottom right. Reach into the opening to your right and dig in the dirt and leaves to find this “nest”. Please be careful of people watching, as this is a very popular picnic spot, and cover it well with dirt and leaves when you return it to its hiding place, or else it’s likely to be found by accident by non-letterboxers. Make sure you can’t spot it from the other side of the tree as there is an opening on that side as well.

It will take you about 2 ¾ hours to get to this spot if you are doing the full loop from boxes #1 to #6, and then another 15 minutes to get back to the parking lot at the beach. It’s a 15-minute walk to this spot if you take the south-side trail from the parking lot at Deer Lake beach or a 1 3/4-hour walk from the parking lot off of Royal Oak Ave.

Hope you had fun and have fallen in love with Deer Lake, just like I have.

This series is dedicated to my aunt and dear friend Therese, whose love of birds and nature has been truly inspiring and contagious. This place always reminds me of her and of all the trails we explored together.