Birding Nature Reserves on Newfoundland’s Southwest Coast
For 2021, this tour is a self-drive guided tour (your guide will be in a separate car).
2021 tour dates are flexible and can be booked for any date between January 1 and December 31.
2022 scheduled tours are every Saturday January through December, advance booking is required.
This one-day guided birding tour takes you on a journey through two nature reserves managed for conservation by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. We’ll visit a reserve with an old growth forest and uncover its natural and historical significance; then we’ll explore the magnificent Grand Codroy Estuary Nature Reserve, an Important Bird Area (IBA) and RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance. The Grand Codroy Estuary is the only designated RAMSAR wetland in the province.
Tour Starts / Ends
2022 Tour Includes
Pick up and drop off service within Stephenville
Transportation during the tour
A packed lunch
Proceeds going to support Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Newfoundland & Labrador programs
What you might see on this tour
Set against the backdrop of the majestic Long Range Mountains is the Grand Codroy River and Estuary, a 925-hectare RAMSAR wetland and IBA where 19 species of waterfowl have been observed, and the provincial stronghold for breeding Blue-winged Teal.
Within this area is the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Grand Codroy Estuary Nature Reserve, a collection of land parcels totaling 262 hectares that protect habitat important to a variety of birds including the Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, and breeding American Wigeon.
In the spring, the surrounding forests are full of songbirds including Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Blackburian Warbler – the only area of the province these species are currently known to breed.
Forty-five minutes to the northeast is a 245-hectare Nature Reserve also managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada that protects old growth forest – important habitat for a variety of birds as well as the at risk Newfoundland Pine Martin – and riparian habitat that protects portions of a salmon river and a number of rare plants. The trail through the forest also passes by lush wetland, where American Bittern and Northern Waterthrush make their home.
In the fall, we can admire Surf Scoter and a variety of shorebirds as they rest and feed at staging areas along the Grand Codroy Estuary.
Thousands of Canada Geese and winter waterfowl like Greater Scaup pepper the Grand Codroy River later in the season.
In the wintertime, we’ll bird woodland trails by snowshoe to spot resident birds and finch species as they forage among the snow-covered trees.
Nature Conservancy of Canada Nature Reserves – Tour Fact Sheet
2021 Flexible: Book for any date between January 1 and December 31
2022 Scheduled Tours: Every Saturday January through December, advance booking is required
When to visit
End of May through June is best for songbirds, Blackburnian Warbler, spring vagrants
July to see rare plants in bloom
Throughout the fall for migrating Arctic shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors
January through March for resident birds, winter waterfowl and finches
Birds we may see
Canada Goose, Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Blue Heron, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Boreal Chickadee, Hermit Thrush, Common Redpoll, White-winged Crossbill, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Northern Waterthrush, Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, gulls, raptors, woodpeckers, swallows
Other possible sightings
Moose, Woodland Caribou, Red Fox, Black Bear, Newfoundland Pine Martin, Seal, Snowshoe Hare, Pink Lady’s Slipper, Yellow Lady’s Slipper (blooms in spring), Purple Pitcher Plan (NL provincial flower), rare plants.
Boreal forest, old growth forest, estuary wetlands, hay fields, riparian areas.
Climate / Weather
Spring (mid-May to June 20): 15°C (61°F)
Summer (June 21 to September 20): 20°C (68°F)
Fall (September 21 to December 20) 11°C (59°F)
Winter (December 21 to March 20): hovers around 0°C (32°F)
Visit our Getting Here page for more information about our climate.
Maximum group size
4 to 8 (plus your guide)
Tour pace & walking
Comfortable pace, easy walking over flat terrain
Ease of birding
Easy to moderate, with some rare sighting opportunities
Rare visitors to the area
Tundra Swan (2020)
Cackling Goose (2017)
Little Egret (ABA Code 4) (2009)
Excellent for birds and scenery
Not included 2021
Pick up and drop off service, transportation during the tour. For 2021, this is a self-drive guided tour (your guide will be in a separate car). Contact us for assistance.
What to bring
Visit our Getting Here page for information on what to bring.
Yes, however there are patches of dead zones in some areas
The Nature Conservancy of Canada manages a number of reserves in Southwestern NL including the Grand Codroy Estuary Nature Reserve, which is a collection of properties totaling 262 hectares bordering the Grand Codroy River and Estuary. A well-maintained trail accessible from the Codroy Valley Wetland Interpretation Centre provides access to one piece of this nature reserve.