Monday, January 4, 2010

Jan 1: GOT THE GULL!!!

After a long night, I roused myself around 10:30 with a heart full of anticipation and a head filled with a reminder that I was severely dehydrated. After two large glasses of OJ and a bottle of Snapple Peach Iced Tea (hard to find these days), I was refreshed. So what was my first bird? MALLARDS! Seen from the bedroom window and later on from close-up. (In the photo: Kevin Easthope and my #1 species) Other common Kelowna birds followed but after a call from my good buddy Chris Charlesworth who had spotted the Lesser Black-backed Gull on the lake-shore, I knew it was time to boogie! This bird has been seen off and on all fall but hadn't been spotted since mid-December and I was starting to worry about its health. Chris called back again to say that a Red-tailed Hawk and put up all the gulls but some good friends and I headed down to Beach Avenue to check just in case. Down there (near the Kelowna bridge) very few gulls were in sight but a large raft of diving ducks including REDHEAD, CANVASBACK, and both SCAUP provided some hope for a good start to the year. Wyatt SJ spotted a young BALD EAGLE perched silently above us and several HORNED GREBES fed offshore.

Next stop was Maude Roxby where Mud Bay was completely iced over and kids were out there playing hockey! Not promising I thought but wait! Out at the edge I spotted a group of about 300 gulls taking a rest. After a bit of scoping I landed the prized bird: the adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL standing amongst 5 other species. A weight off my shoulders to be sure! (I will include a poor but recognizable record-shot I took through the scope.) Other bits n' bobs were present including an obliging pair of MERLINS and 4 TUNDRA SWANS.

Time to head south though, since I needed to get some rest for the Osoyoos Christmas Bird Count! On the way down to Penticton, my friends Devin Mackenzie and Wyatt Seddon-Johnstone and I stopped by a woodlot in Trout Creek and BAM! The gorgeous resident LEWIS'S WOODPECKER came right in. What a stunner against the snow!!! I probably won't see another one of those until the spring so a nice bird for Jan 1.

Before dark, I added a few more birds in the Penticton and Naramata area including MOURNING DOVE (Devin's driveway), CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Wyatt's driveway), and AMERICAN DIPPER (Okanagan River in Penticton). Not sure what my count was at the end of the day but I was just so relieved to have that gull!

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