Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 8/9: More Okanagan birding

March 8:

On Monday, Denny and I spent most of our time searching for grouse up in the hills above Penticton. In terms of grouse we were unsuccessful but once again we found hordes of nuthatches as well as a good mix of other forest species. Boy was a cold wind blowing today! We tried watching for Prairie Falcons around the Throne but the wind made things very unpleasant so we retreated to the car and cruised the Oliver feedlot-- where we found the male RUSTY BLACKBIRD who is now coming into alternate plumage, difficult to spot especially in poor light! On the drive home we spotted a single (Tundra) GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE feeding with Canadas near Vaseux Lake.

Tonight we tried something different, instead of hitting all the same places for Boreal Owl we hiked off-road to the far end of the Ellis Creek Reservoir. It was a chilly night up there-- at least -15 by my estimation-- but the stars, the Milky Way, Mars, and even the International Space Station made things quite beautiful. But how about the birds? Well... nothing doing once again. We did here one whistled note that could have been a Boreal Owl but it came from the opposite end of the reservoir so certainly not what we were hoping for. A distant pack of coyotes were about the only other living things we detected up there.

March 9:

Today Chris Dale and I headed north to Kelowna to tour around some of the hotspots. We stopped by Strathcona Park on the lake where several thousand gulls were scattered on the beach and out on the lake. Mostly Cals of course, but 4 other species were present as well as a few groups of migrant dabblers. Next it was up Beaver Lake Road where the grasslands yielded almost nothing (crazy considering the lovely sun and recent reports of phoebes, bluebirds etc. from a couple days ago here!). Up in the forest however we started putting up a good list including a flock of VARIED THRUSHES (one pictured), many MOUNTAIN and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, PINE SISKENS, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, as well as a couple HAIRY WOODPECKERS, DOWNY WOODPECKERS, 3 GOLDEN EAGLES, a PILEATED WOODPECKERS, and a distant flock of what I'm sure were COMMON REDPOLLS (getting a little late for these guys).

Further up on the Dee Lake Road we ran into a couple AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS, a single NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL, a BROWN CREEPER, and best of all-- 3 BOREAL CHICKADEES (pictured... out of focus unfortunately).

We tried for Black-backs up Gillard Creek but the sun started going down and the birds were going to bed so... we called it a day. Getting quite chilly too!

Here's hoping a day back in the south OK will be warmer tomorrow!

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