The interpretive sign at Alkali Lake lists all of the birds who use this lake either for migration purposes

The interpretive sign at Alkali Lake lists all of the birds who use this lake either for migration purposes

Bird watching is for all ages

Bird watching is something people of all ages and physical abilities can enjoy.

Bird watching is something people of all ages and physical abilities can enjoy.

Whether you just want to get to know the birds flying around in your back yard or take a trip further afield with people who know a lot about birds, joining the Williams Lake Field Naturalists club is a great place to start.

These hard working volunteers offer many free workshops during the year at the Scout Island Nature Centre.

And during the spring, summer and fall months they offer a variety of bird watching and nature adventure field trips.

A couple of weekends ago, a group of seasoned naturalists led a morning birdwatching jaunt to Alkali Lake.

I joined a friend in the club thinking the drive would end at Alkali Lake and we would be walking a great distance to look for birds.

On the contrary, most of the trip meant stopping here and there along the road to look at various birds spotted along the way by more experienced birders leading the way, having lunch at the Alkali Lake viewing station and heading back home again.

The group met at the nature centre and carpooled to save on gas.

The best spotters are put in the lead car, three cars in all for this trip.

Being a novice I was spotting the bigger animals along the way — “lookout for those deer,” “watch those cows,” “watch that truck” etc. but didn’t see many birds until we stopped and they were pointed out to me.

Some people in the group were specifically looking for their first sighting of the year of the  Long-billed Curlew.

And we did see a couple, happily grazing in a rancher’s field.

There were bluebirds, hawks, geese, ducks of various kinds, and a whole flock of pelicans huddled up against the cold on Alkali Lake.

There is also a nice big information sign at Alkali Lake with information about what types of birds one might expect to see on the lake.

One of the unexpected treats of the adventure was arriving at Esket just in time to park at the look-out and watch the cowboys moving their horses from the winter feeding grounds to the summer feeding grounds right up the main road.

It was a short, easy morning trip which older people who are not up for big hikes would enjoy.

The naturalists also lead various hiking adventures into beautiful areas of the Cariboo Chilcotin to view birds and just enjoy nature in its finest forms.

The Scout Island Nature Centre Centre is a great place to get started on this rapidly growing hobby of bird watching.

There are all kinds of natural exhibits to study and information provided on birds and other wildlife that call the Cariboo home.

You will be in good company joining this group as they have put the Scout Island Nature Centre on the world map of nature reserves that are well respected.

A total of  3,016 people visited the nature house from around the world and many more used the trails from dawn to dusk, during 2013.

Many visitors were from close to home and British Columbia as usual, but some came from Scotland, Kuwait, and even Nunavut, says the naturalist’s annual report.

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