Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan 19: Dove and Gull search

The only other birder present at 7:30am was Al McTavish, but eventually all the local keeners (and at least one fellow from the island) came out and we scoured the roads, passing other birders and giving nods of half-hearted hope. After tiring of the "driveway-patrol," Kevin and I headed over to Reifel to see if the bird was hanging out near the feeders. No dove, but we enjoyed the thrills of Reifel nonetheless and had some great birds (from an interior birder's perspective!) including getting super-close to a flock of 10 SANDHILL CRANES (photo posted earlier), picking out a lone AMERICAN BITTERN in the marsh (no idea how I found it, can you find it in the picture?), then flushing another one further along the west dyke. We also spied the same YELLOW-SHAFTED FLICKER and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK that were present last time I visited, and had a good number of raptors including PEREGRINE FALCON, COOPER'S HAWKS, and 15+ BALD EAGLES.

We made a few more passes of the dove spots, but by the early afternoon we figured it was time to move on and check for the reported Slaty-backed Gull near Boundary Bay. We found a large flock of Glaucous-winged Gulls in the field but no dark birds. Time to move on to the next Slaty-backed spot in Chilliwack! We got to the Bailey Landfill in Chilliwack around 3:20pm and followed Rick Toochin's directions to a good look-out spot. Sure enough there were thousands of gulls present, but try as we might, we could not pick out a Slaty-backed Gull. There was a bird easily as dark as a Slaty which got us excited but it turned out to be an apparently pure WESTERN GULL-- still a new one! (very dark back, pink legs, huge orangy bill, clean white head, and bi-coloured underwings seen in flight). From our hilltop perch we counted a few Herring Gulls mixed in, as well as a good variety of weird hybrid birds that varied greatly in mantle tones.

From there it was back to the Okanagan where our only stop before hitting the hay at my parents' place in Penticton was 3-Gates Farms for a quick try for saw-whet and screech owl (both would-be lifers for Kevin). Instead we heard a distant LONG-EARED OWL answer to our whistles! Not a year-bird but another awesome moment to-be-sure!


  1. Hey Russ,
    Great to hear about your 'Big Year'! I am going to catch up with all your adventures at the weekend when life is not so hectic and I have time to read. I did my own kind of big year in 2009 on the NMT challenge. It was great fun but am to be done (for now):)

    Here is my site:
    and would like to add you to my links if that is ok?

    Anyhow, looking forward to hearing about all the birds your going to get!

    Good luck man and if you need a place to crash in the mid island just let me know

    Cheers Rich Mooney
    Parksville BC

  2. Great to hear from you Rich! I look forward to seeing you soon, as I will probably be passing through your area in mid-February.

    Your link has been added on the side there, and a NOTICE TO EVERYONE: please feel free to send me appropriate links to post especially if they involve NMT/BC birding/listing.