Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 5/6: Owling and more Okanagan birding

This morning we birded the southern part of the valley concentrating mostly in the upper elevations. First we spent an hour patrolling the back roads of Summerland and Penticton trying to find a Bohemian Waxwing (a novelty bird for an Arizonite). After seeing 400 in my parents’ yard 3 days ago, it seems as if these birds have mostly departed north. Anybody else see any today? Anyways, we did eventually get 1-- staked out at Mom and Dad's front yard... this guy must have squeezed out a couple extra minutes at the bird bath and missed the flock!

Next we headed up Shuttleworth (out of OK Falls) where the sunshine provided great conditions for birding. Loads of GRAY JAYS and CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS (pictured) everywhere we went, and the juncos have moved up there already. I suppose the top three highlights up there were a single male PINE GROSBEAK (great in the sun!), a soaring adult NORTHERN GOSHAWK (ditto), and a drumming AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER. We also heard several singing BROWN CREEPERS and flushed an unIDed grouse... pah.

On our drive down we stopped at km 3 hoping to whistle up a Black-back but instead we had to settle for all 3 species of nuthatch, a western bluebird, and a small flock of red crossbills all in the same small fir tree! At one point there were 8 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES (pictured) in the same tree-- what a treat!

I finally found my year-bird SAY'S PHOEBE singing at the classic spot at the gravel-end of River Road in Oliver, then we moved along to Osoyoos Lake where no yellow-billed loons were to be found. Scoping conditions were perfect but 6 COMMON LOONS was our best attempt (including 1 bird in close to full breeding plumage).

Then it was up Anarchist to follow in Doug's footsteps; first we cruised through Regal Ridge with not much doing, then up around Sidley Mountain Road where my year-bird MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS we waiting, along with a few WESTERN MEADOWLARKS, and a couple RED-TAILED HAWKS and BALD EAGLES (unfortunately no Harlan's detected!). A side-trip through "downtown" Bridesville produced another surprise SAY'S PHOEBE as well as hoards of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS (waiting patiently for their marshes to unfreeze). Then it was onto the Bridesville-Rock Creek Back Road which didn't turn up much out of the ordinary on our first pass, but when we returned just after dark we picked up a beauty--- GREAT GRAY OWL (pictured), perched in a Ponderosa Pine right beside the road. Not a bad way to finish the day, and good to see that these birds are still in the area after Doug Brown found them breeding here last spring.

Chasing Chris and Ryan's ptarmies tomorra!

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