Download a PDF of our Nature Viewing Guide. (clicking on “Nature Viewing Guide” opens the PDF)
The map of Hornby Island on the viewing guide publication includes nature icons highlighting excellent viewing areas for Birds, Eagle Nests, Otters, Pinnipeds (Seals and Sea Lions), and Garry Oak areas. Below you will find details such as species and seasonal information for each of the locations at which the nature icons are placed.
The descriptions refer to icons on the Hornby Island map, starting at the top left (Collishaw Point) and moving clockwise.
Please note: Always maintain a respectful distance from wildlife. Watch from afar using binoculars or a camera with zoom lens. Avoid sensitive habitats and nest sites. Move quietly and patiently. Do not disturb baby seals; watch and wait for the mother to return, and keep pets away. Take similar action if you find a fawn alone; most likely their mother is away foraging for food. Keep dogs leashed or under tight control.
River otters can be glimpsed around the island, most often at Spray Point, the Ferry Dock, Phipps Point and Flora Islet / Flora and Surrounding Reefs.
Tralee Point: A nest is visible from the road and the beach.
Helliwell Provincial Park: One nest in use, one old one.
Tribune Bay Provincial Park: One nest in use.
Shields Road: A nest is visible from the road.
Dunlop Point: A nest is visible from the beach.
Shingle Spit: A nest is visible from the beach.
Phipps Point: Two nests are visible from the road.
Flora Islet / Flora and Surrounding Reefs: Flora Islet and the rocks in its vicinity are home to Steller and California sea lions. An elephant seal often lies on the pebble beach there; it is his moulting place in summer (please give him space – maintain distance).
Between Flora Islet and St. John Point: Seals.
Norris Rocks: Seals reside year round; sea lions live here in fall, winter and spring.
Ferry dock: Seals frequent the bay year round; increasingly sea lions are seen in the winter.
Collishaw Point: Offshore there are scoters and long-tailed ducks; this is a staging area for spring migrations of scoters, long-tailed ducks, horned grebes and lesser scaups.
The northeast side of Collishaw Point is a staging area for migrations of greater yellowlegs, black-bellied plovers, surfbirds and common mergansers; overwintering birds include pintails, mallards, buffleheads and harlequins.
Grassy Point: Oystercatchers, harlequins and shorebirds.
Cape Gurney: The beach is a favourite hangout of shorebirds; unusual sightings at migration times. Offshore is a staging area for spring migration, mainly scoters; marbled murrelets are observed here.
Flora Islet / Flora and Surrounding Reefs: Large concentration of eagles most of the year (except August and September); Shorebirds, pigeon guillemots and lots of gulls; unusual migrants: rhinoceros auklets, red-necked phalaropes, Heermann’s gulls and others.
Offshore North of Flora Islet: Pacific loons, common murres, scoters and rhinoceros auklets. These birds will approach the shore when feed is present. Good spot to find unusual migrants.
Intertidal zone near Flora: Oystercatchers nesting, harlequins and mergansers.
Northeast of Helliwell: Goldeneyes, buffleheads and harlequins.
Dunlop Point: Large intertidal zone with shorebirds, mergansers, buffleheads and goldeneyes.
Sandpiper Beach: Harlequin ducks are plentiful for most months; surf scoters, wigeon, buffleheads and mergansers live here in winter; bald eagles and oystercatchers reside year round; sandpipers and other wading birds are present.
Nash Bank (extends far into the Strait of Georgia from Dunlop Point): Numerous species of gulls, pigeon guillemots, marbled murrelets, loons, scoters, cormorants, long-tailed ducks, grebes and others spend all or part of the year here. Many spend the winter months and migrate to nesting areas elsewhere.
Offshore between Downes Point and Norris Rocks: Common murres and rhinoceros auklets (migrants).
Offshore – Norris Rocks: Flocks of black turnstones are seen in winter. Gulls nest from May–July. Arctic, Pacific and common loons, oystercatchers, long tailed ducks and red phalaropes are observed on occasion. Many bird species reside off the island. Migrants such as common murres, Bonaparte’s gulls and rhinoceros auklets are found here. Cormorants and harlequins are present.
Offshore from Heron Rocks: Common murres, Pacific loons, Brandt’s cormorants and marbled murrelets.
Strachan Lake: Swans, northern shovelers and buffleheads.
Offshore in Lambert Channel: Murres, Pacific loons and Brandt’s cormorants.
Ferry dock: Pigeon gullemots nesting on ferry dock; nesting site for glaucous-winged gulls; common and red-breasted mergansers visible from the dock. The Shingle Spit area is a favourite winter resting place for oystercatchers, gulls and cormorants. During the spawning season, dozens of eagles often inhabit the fir trees around the spit and you can see them soaring out to fish the herring. Purple martin nest boxes are found in the bay.
Offshore north of Shingle Spit: Gulls, horned grebes, red-necked grebes and common loons.
Phipps Point: Scoters, buffleheads, goldeneyes and common mergansers; hooded mergansers have been spotted on rare occasion.