After hearing about the appearance of a small group of Ross's Geese in Vanderhoof (1.5 hours west of Prince George), the wheels in my head started turning. Although these rare geese sometimes turn up in the southern interior or on the coast, you just never know. Would I regret it if I didn't go for it? The word "Yes" came immediately to mind, so... I contacted some PG birders and basically said if the birds are seen again, I'm coming! They were re-found on Saturday, plus Phil Ranson had just informed me that the Harris's Sparrow I had missed in February was once again frequenting a feeder in Williams Lake. With nothing important pressing down south I decided to go for it.
I left Penticton at 5am Monday, and arrived in Williams Lake around 10:30am. I met up with Phil at the Harris's Sparrow spot, but try as we might, we could not find it! There were loads of White-crowns, Purple Finches, goldfinches, siksins, and a Downy Woodpecker, but alas no Harris! "Oh well, I guess I'll try on the way down." Besides, I knew I had a shot in the fall. "Time to get up north for the main target!"
Around 2pm I rolled into the Superstore parking lot in Prince George where a group of the city's finest birders awaited-- Sandra Kinsey, Laird Law, Nancy Krueger, and Carolyn McGhee. We all loaded into one vehicle and headed to Vanderhoof, where after a quick pit-stop near the Nechako River we arrived at "the pond." After a few nail-biting seconds we rounded the corner, revealing a group of 20+ white geese out on the water-- the SNOW GEESE that the Ross's Geese had been consorting with... hopefully they were still in there! We got the scopes out and sure enough, there were 5 smaller white-headed geese... ROSS'S GEESE. After a huge sigh of relief, I pumped my fists and let out a loud "YESSSS!!!" Here is a photo of the Ross's Goose crew:
And here are the geese (note the small size, smaller bill and pure white heads in comparison to the big snowies)
After about 5 minutes of watching the geese a large truck drove by and all the geese took off and flew away! Where did they go? I have no idea but I consider myself VERY lucky to have caught up with them!!! There were many other duck species in the area as well as some newly-arrived swallows including my BC year firsts: CLIFF SWALLOW and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW. We cruised around some farm roads nearby and found a small flock of AMERICAN PIPITS (new for the year believe it or not) as well as many LONG-BILLED CURLEWS including a group of at least 12. Perhaps there were more but as you can see, they blend in quite well!
We finished off the day by checking Nulki and Tachick Lakes (of Ross's GULL fame), as well as a few marshes. Highlights: My first PG checklist area REDHEADS, several YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS, and BLUE-WINGED TEAL (the first time I've ever seen this species before Cinnamon Teal in a year). On the big lakes there were hundreds of GREATER SCAUP, RING-NECKED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEAD, and other divers, while the trees and bushes were filled with WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. Up in the sky we had a few raptors: BALD EAGLES, OSPREYS, RED-TAILED HAWKS, AMERICAN KESTRELS, and always a treat: both ROUGH-LEGGED and SWAINSON'S HAWKS on the same day!!! A fantastic outing-- Thank you Sandra, Laird, Nancy, and Carolyn!!! I'm sure I'll be back soon.