Ambleside Park is located in West Vancouver near the mouth of the Capilano River. Park Royal shopping centre and the Lions Gate Bridge are also relatively close by.

Directions

To get there by car head west onto Marine Drive from the Lions Gate Bridge and enter West Vancouver, turn left on 13th Street, cross the railroad tracks, and turn left onto Argyle Avenue. I recommend trying to park towards the end of Argyle Avenue so that you are closer to the pond and the mouth of the Capilano River.

Alternatively, you can take exit 13 on Highway One, head south on Taylor Way, turn right onto Marine Drive, and continue as mentioned above.

If you’re using public transit visit Translink’s trip planner to figure out how to get there. Typically what I do is catch a bus that heads to Park Royal and then walk out its southern end to the trail that follows the Capilano River and then heads to Ambleside Park.

Birding Locations

Below you’ll find a map of the area with particular locations that I feel are worth checking out. I don’t mean to say that these are the only places worth visiting but they tend to be more “birdy” than other areas (depending on the time of year).

  1. Ambleside Pond.
  2. Jetty.
  3. Mouth of the Capilano River.

1. Ambleside Pond

The pond attracts a fair number of duck species during the fall and winter months. The path that follows the southern and western sides of the pond allows for some close views of the birds in the water; close enough, in fact, to watch the diving ducks swimming around underwater. In addition to the resident Mallards and Mute Swan pair, American Widgeon, migratory Mallards, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, and Hooded Merganser can usually be found somewhere on or near the pond.

American Coot and Great Blue Heron can also be found at this location.

The brush around the pond and pathway also attracts several species of sparrow during the winter. I’ve seen Song, Fox, Golden and White-crowned, as well as Dark-eyed Junco and Spotted Towhee foraging among the leaf litter and gravel of the path.

2. Jetty

This is a good place to see the kind of birds that inhabit Burrard Inlet; winter is again a good time to visit. I also recommend visiting during low tide as this is when some gravel bars are exposed; these attract a fair number more birds than when the tide is out.

Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Scoter, primarily Surf, can often be seen plying the waters for food.

3. Mouth of the Capilano River

I’ve found that the quality of birding at this location depends on the tide and whether or not the spillways are open up at Cleveland Dam. It seems to be better when the tide is out and the spillways are closed as this leaves some exposed rock and gravel bars which attract a number of gulls. Diving ducks and occasionally some cormorants may be seen feeding in the deeper sections where the river enters into Burrard Inlet.

Conclusion

One of the things you’ll notice when you’re there is the abundance of dogs, both on and off leash, and where there are dogs there are careless dog owners who leave their pet’s waste for any unsuspecting birder to step on. Maybe it’s just my luck, but I’ve had to scrape the stuff off my shoes on a number of occasions, so watch out!

I’ve also mentioned that winter is a good time to visit Ambleside Park and my reason for this is that the birding tends to be better (the pond is a lot busier) and there are a lot of people here in the summer. During the warmer months parking can be difficult and the large crowds of beachgoers tend to scare most of the birds off; I highly recommend that if you visit at this time of year that you do so early in the morning, before the crowds show up, or on a rainy day.

Ambleside Park is a great place to bird if you’re short on time or as part of a multi-location daytrip. Typically what I do is check out the pond and Burrard Inlet and this takes me anywhere from half an hour to just over an hour depending on how much activity there is.

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