Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21: LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (and falcons)

After catching a ride down to the coast with Jared and Mary-Ann, I met up with my Dad in West Van where we stayed with family friends. With a mixture of anxious pleasure and mild horror, I opened my email to find that Chris Charlesworth and Ryan Tomlinson had found a Loggerhead Shrike in the Okanagan-- why only when I am not there!!! So this morning (March 21rst) Dad and I left West Van at 7am and drove straight to White Lake where the bird had been seen the day before (it's practically on the way home anyways), but despite some concerted scanning we could not find any shrikes that were not of the "northern" variety. Tired and hungry we started to head to Penticton; my Dad had a funeral to attend so I figured after some grub and a shower I would head back out and explore the site some more. But as we exited the area via the Green Lake Road and started heading north out of OK Falls I got a call from Chris informing us that he was watching the bird right then! "Turn! Turn! Turn!"-- by chance we were just coming up to the north end of White Lake Road. So we headed back down the road and found Chris and Tanya Seebacher scanning the field where it had "JUST BEEN."

Of course of course... but, with the help of Tanya's eagle-eyes the bird was re-found foraging along a fence-line at the north end of the field. "YEEESSSSSS!!!!" I screamed. High-5s all around as this species has eluded me many times over the last 5 years, and what a time to get it! Chris and Tanya offered to take me along for the day so I gave another high-5 to Dad and hopped into the other vehicle. Instead of rest today would be another full birding day! We started off by walking across the field to get closer to the bird. We managed to get within 25 or so meters until we managed to lose it some how... he's a sneaky little thing! Out there we ran into a flock of 9 HORNED LARKS! Year birds for Chris and a lifer for Tanya!

From there we retraced by Dad's and my steps along the Green Lake Road; while stopping at the OK Falls drop-structure to tick off dipper and Barrow's Goldeneye for the day, Chris spotted a large falcon flying south against the cliffs-- "PRAIRIE FALCON!!!" I shouted. Another fantastic bird and another lifer for Tanya. I also added a couple year-birds in the area: VIOLET-GREEN and TREE SWALLOW.

We spent the rest of the day birding the south Okanagan-- a beautiful day that began with the shrike and ended at sunset near Rd. 22 where we spotted 3 more falcons flying over "The Throne" .... 2 PEREGRINES and 1 PRAIRIE... wow!!!

Ok, definitely time for bed now. Searching for White-headed Woodpeckers tomorrow!

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