Monday, October 25, 2010

This might be worth attending! Sounds fun. I'll be there too!


Just as I was pulling into the ferry terminal in Langdale... trying to get back to the "mainland" as the rainstorm set in. The phone rings, it's local Gibson's birder George Smith... "you might want to hold on to your hat, Andre Lapointe just had a SMEW on Keats Island..."

After a rainy night of tossing back and forth ideas... mid-day found me on a small boat piloted by Capt Tony. Roger Foxall, Al McTavish, and I were heading for Plumper's Cove-- site of the reported Smew. There are not too many people crazy enough to brave wind and rain in late October by ferrying to Langdale, driving to Gibson's, and renting a small boat, asking the cap't to "drive over to those small islands, we're looking for a little white duck." After an hour and a half of fruitless searching, we gave it up and headed back. Gotta try right? No guilty consciences tonight...



Oct 23-24: It's been about 8 months since I was on the lovely Sunshine Coast. Last time I was here I had just broken my scope and seen a lifer (Rock Sandpiper)... also had some awesome sandwiches, celebratory beers, and great birds. So when Lexi Harrington contacted me a little while ago to ask if I wanted to lead a walk for the birding club, I said "YES!" Here's the group that braved the rain and wind:

(Photo by Marcia Mason)

We managed to see some great stuff despite the weather... around 68 species I think! Highlights included 1 THAYER'S and 1 HERRING GULL (both locally rare), a drake EURASIAN WIGEON, a late CEDAR WAXWING, a calling VIRGINIA RAIL, several MARBLED MURRELETS, and a PIED-BILLED GREBE... of course many other things but I'm finding it hard to think right now.

Why? Well read my next post!

THANKS to the whole COAST for having me! Your weather is indeed better than Vancouver!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Oct 22: Today I drove to Creston in the hopes of tracking down a reported YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. I arrived at Gary Breault's place around 9:30am. He toured me around his fabulous property and showed me where the bird had been hanging out (present since the 20th). It took me about an hour, but finally the bird flew into view (or deep into the middle of a cottonwood I should say). I had to run back to the car for spare batteries (perfect timing right?), and ran into Linda Van Damme (local bird guru) had brought me a piece of plum pie! SCORE! After securing some fresh batteries, we walked back down into the hot-zone and immediately re-found the bird... who came out to pose in the rising sun (2 different angles too)! What a stunner! A lot more cooperative than the timid bird that visited Cawston a few years ago.

If anyone wants to go have a look, Gary is happy to have visitors but would appreciate some notice by email: (also for directions!)

Back in Penticton, 4am to 4pm... quite the road trip today! Heading to Sechelt tomorrow!

All the best,

Russ C

Count update: 367

Oct 17-18: Wood Sandpiper = NO

As luck would have it, the Reifel WOOD SANDPIPER (BC's second ever I think) showed up for around 5 hours at Reifel on Saturday (Oct 16th). Unfortately, I was in Victoria and decided to wait until Sunday morning to go for it (in hindsight there is no way I could have made it in time anyways).

My friend Colin and I arrived at Reifel around 12:30pm and boy-o-boy were there a lot of people!!! I have never seen so many cars parked at Reifel and back along the road, not to mention the amount of bins and scopes cruising around the outer dyke. According to staff, over 800 people visited the sanctuary that day! Most of which were probably looking for the Woody including a large mob from Washington.

[Photo: Birders line-up, hoping for a glimpse of a mega shorebird]

Although both SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS were still present, all those hundreds of eyes could not turn up Mr. Wood.

Colin and I tried again on Monday but no dice. Hopefully he shows up in another couple days!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A few media links

Ever since I broke the record a few days ago, both local and national media have picked up the story. Here are a couple links: Sun/B.C.-birder-breaks-record/2pIHb2ToLuy30kaBvNNDZyEknrHeMsYP

I will also be on CBCs "Daybreak" on Tuesday morning (heard at least throughout the southern interior).

Sounds like some of my blog photos will be used in the big Fox production of "The Big Year" coming out next summer.

Take care and have a great Thanksgiving Weekend!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Top 10 Most Wanted List

Hi all,

Several of you have asked for a "hit list" for the coming months. Here are 10 species that could turn up soon---

1. Harris's Sparrow
2. Cattle Egret
3. Ash-throated Flycatcher
4. Slaty-backed Gull
5. Little/Black-headed/Laughing Gull (any of these would be nice!)
6. King Eider
7. Tufted Duck
8. Hoary Redpoll (should be findable if I head north in November)
9. Thick-billed Murre (might need to hit Haida Gwaii again)
10. Brambling (keep those feeders busy!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The morning started off at 2am with a hard thunping on the car-window... apparently it's "not cool" to camp out beside the airport runway on the road to Iona. I retreated to South Van to catch a couple more hours of sleep, then returned to Iona for some dawn birding. After not finding much I decided it was high time to head over to Reifel to search for the reported Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

Once there it was clear that no Sharp-tailed was present, but since the tide was out... it was time for the waiting game. Mark Wynja, Ilya Povalayev, Larry Cowan, Cathie Barron, Mike and Sharon Toochin and several others showed up, and watched as 4 juvenile PEREGRINE FALCONS took turns diving on the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER flock. This was hardly an invitation for a wayward shorebird! Things eventually settled down, but suddenly the silence was broken when ILya shouted "KINGBIRD-- FAR CORNER!!!" Apparently he had overheard Cathy talking on the phone with Larry who was on the other side of the ponds, and immediately spotted what they were looking at. An Australian birder by the name of Daniel Mantle had apparently seen it first... YES... a TROPICAL KINGBIRD!!! Greenish back, greeny-brown and somewhat forked tail... Vavoom!

I had the record tied! Or did I? Mike Toochin (record holder) broke news that his record was in fact 364 and not 365... meaning that the kingbird was the breaker, not the "tie-er." After not having seen Mike since early January (at Reifel to boot), here I was standing right beside him after over a week of nervous doldrums, looking at the bird to put me over. Clearly, the "Bird Gods" exist. Poetic right? Haha, I can only thank Mike and Sharon for setting the bar so high; now it's my turn to keep pushing for more...

A few hours later, we managed to see not 1 but 2 SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS in the ponds (thanks to help from Rick Wright and Brian Self respectively). Seems like the high-tide was key! A single AMERICAN TREE-SPARROW and a NORTHERN SHRIKE capped off the day nicely.

Wow. Finally I'm here The pressure is off.

Time to go birding.

Russell Cannings
South Surrey, BC