Burnside Delta Hike

Red-necked phalarope

Another hike of great interest for a windy day or when we have a group of ardent birdwatchers, is a hike on the Burnside Delta. Here, sand dunes deposited after the retreat of the continental ice sheets are slowly being vegetated. Oxbow lakes and tiny ponds provide nesting sites for tundra swans, red-throated loons, red-necked phalaropes, green-winged teal, occasionally other ducks like lesser scaup, pintails, or northern shovellers. Least sandpipers, white-rumped sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs, and semi-palmated plovers all nest in the dunes. Harris’ sparrows, savannah sparrows, and Lapland longspurs sing from the trees. 

Thickets of willows and alder alternating with grassy areas and sandy blowouts make the delta a place of surprises. It’s not unusual to run into caribou there, or a moose, or to see a red fox or a wolf slinking away through the willows. We have seen muskox on the delta, and occasionally (mostly late in the evening), a foraging grizzly, and one time, a young grizzly and a wolf travelling together! Gyrfalcons, northern harriers, and short-eared owls hunt over the grassy areas, and sandhill cranes occasionally are seen.