Saturday, May 8, 2010

Okanagan Birding

May 7: Today I trying going after Doug Brown's Black-throated Sparrow near Osoyoos. Since it had been seen with a roving band of White-crowned Sparrows I didn't have my hopes up... and rightly so as I missed it of course! I did have a nice day down in the south Okanagan however seeing lots of newly arrived CHIPPING SPARROWS, my first YELLOW WARBLERS of the year singing at Haynes Point, a single WARBLING VIREO (also at Haynes Point), and a WESTERN KINGBIRD (along Black Sage Road). After attempting the BT Sparrow I headed over to Richter Pass for a shot at a Sage Sparrow. Once again I did not fluke out but got some great looks at VESPER SPARROW (pictured-above) and 5 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS.

May 8: I headed up to Vernon this morning to meet up with my friend Aaron Deans and check out his new place... the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary! Not a bad place to live! Great finch diversity at the feeders including CASSIN'S and HOUSE FINCH, a couple families of RED CROSSBILLS (juv., and adult male with juv. shown below), 10+ EVENING GROSBEAKS (male featured below), PINE SISKINS, and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. The main reason for making the visit however was for a North Okanagan Naturalist Club event: Everyone was gathered at the sanctuary to pay tribute to the club's founding member and one of the most esteemed naturalists in British Columbia's brief birding history: James Grant. A Sycamore has been planted in his memory and various group swapped memories about the great man before we all split into groups to "BIO BLITZ" the sanctuary. After 30 minutes and despite it being the afternoon my group had over 30 species of birds and over 50 species of plants! Definitely a nice "yard" Aaron! Below are some photo highlights:

I left Vernon around 3pm and headed straight to Salmon Arm in the hopes of turning up a stilt. No luck on that front (of course!) but there were still tons of birds. Very high duck numbers especially GADWALL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and AMERICAN WIGEON (still a few EURASIAN WIGEONS mixed in). A couple AMERICAN WHITE-PELICANS loafed out on a sandbar and it was absolutely fantastic to watch the WESTERN GREBES carry out their impressive courtship display, with all 6 species of swallows overhead, chirping OSPREY, the "pweep-pweep-pweep" of my first SPOTTED SANDPIPER of the year, and the raucous noise coming from the RING-BILLED GULL colony. I suppose the bird highlight for the Bay was a single BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER near the rive outlet-- always a nice bird in spring in the interior.

On the drive back south as dusk set in, I stopped at Otter Lake where picked up a single LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, and a SWAINSON'S HAWK (among the other usuals). O'Keefe's Pond was full of ducks as usual, and L&A Crossroads turned up a flock of 20 LEAST SANDPIPERS (lots of them around). I made it to Robert Lake just before it got too dark to see but unfortunately still no stilts!

Time for bed, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!
(Here's a photo of some expecting parents-- nice comparison of sexes)

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