B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. October 6-7, 2020.

October 6

I met my friends Lin and Josh in Penticton this morning at 7 AM and we began birding at White Lake just as the sun came up and bathed the sagebrush covered hills in sunlight. One of the first birds we noticed was a Rough-legged Hawk, the first for the Fall, for me, atop a fir tree on a ridge. It took flight and was joined by a male and a female Northern Harrier. On White Lake were a few ducks, including Barrow’s Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, and some Ruddy Ducks. A single Horned Grebe was there as well, and is not a bird one would expect to find at White Lake. A few Western Meadowlarks were singing away and we saw a couple of the them perched atop the sage.

At Willowbrook, a short stop in the pine forest produced all three Western North American species of nuthatch, Pygmy, Red-breasted and White-breasted. Also here were our first Western Bluebirds, as well as a Cassin’s Finch.

A little strip of riparian habitat near the N.W. Marsh at Vaseux Lake was quite good. Upon arrival, we heard a Canyon Wren calling on the cliffs above the road, but we never did see the bird. We did, however, see a Bewick’s Wren as it skulked away in the vegetation. There were also Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Townsend’s Solitaire. Raptors were well represented as we saw singles of Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk, as well as two Bald Eagles. Perhaps the best bird here, a Great Horned Owl sat quietly in a cottonwood, looking almost as surprised to see us as we were to see it. As we were about to leave, I spotted a group of 41 Sandhill Cranes heading south, high overhead.

At Okanagan Falls Provincial Park, a short walk produced our target species, an American Dipper, as it sang and bobbed on rocks near the dam. Otherwise, we just had the usual Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglet here.

A scan of the north end of Vaseux Lake with our scopes produced large numbers of several species, the most abundant of which was American Coot. We estimated there to be a minimum of 5500 of them covering the lake. Mixed in with the coots were American Wigeon, Gadwall, Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks and Ruddy Ducks.

Up at the cliffs we spent some time trying to get views of Canyon Wren, and eventually we succeeded. An adult Golden Eagle sailed over the top of the cliffs, our only one for this tour. Feeding on cones in a large Ponderosa Pine was our first Clark’s Nutcracker of the trip.

A short stop at Inkaneep Provincial Park proved to be very quiet, though we heard a Belted Kingfisher ‘rattling’ along the Okanagan River, and we saw a covey of California Quail in the campground. Another short stop nearby at River Road yielded some species new for our trip list such as White-crowned Sparrow, Ring-necked Pheasant and a Virginia Rail.

We had lunch in Oliver before carrying on south to Osoyoos and Haynes Point Park. It was fairly active in here, and we found our first American Robins here, as well as our first Spotted Towhee. At least two White-throated Sparrows were noted in the marshy areas along the trail here, as well as a Bewick’s Wren and many Yellow-rumped Warbler.

In the Richter Pass, we explored Kruger Mountain Road, hoping to find a Lesser Goldfinch, though we did not. However, we did find some nice birds such as Western Bluebirds, Cassin’s Finch, Red Crossbills, Steller’s Jay and a Red-tailed Hawk. Josh and I watched a pair of Northern Pygmy-Owls lock talons and tumble down through a fir tree, towards the ground, which was a bit of excitement.

Our last stop of the day was at the north end of Osoyoos Lake. We saw our first Western Grebe of the trip here, as well as Common Loons out on the lake. A Northern Harrier was seen gliding over the grasslands, and I saw a late Barn Swallow, though it swiftly disappeared. We had enjoyed a great day of birding in the South Okanagan, so we began to travel north to Kelowna.

October 7

This morning we again began at 7 AM. I met Josh and Lin with some unfortunate news this morning. They had asked me to recommend a restaurant for dinner the night before and I suggested one of my favorite local places, Olympia Greek Taverna, which is where they went. They were rather surprised when I told them that the restaurant had burned down shortly after they finished dinner! Once we put that news behind us, we headed out and started birding at Sutherland Hills Park in Kelowna. I tried to find a Western Screech-Owl here for them, but we came up empty handed. The birding was rather slow in the park this morning all around, with very few migrants present. We had to make due to Pygmy Nuthatches, a calling Pileated Woodpecker and a couple of White-throated Sparrows.

Next stop was at Scenic Canyon. Here, I finally located a Western Screech-Owl, but there was a hitch. The bird was calling right in front of us, but despite a long search, we never did see it. We did, however, hear a Swamp Sparrow, and we saw a Pacific Wren at a little spring that cascades down a hillside.

At the Mouth of Mission Creek, we finally added our first shorebird to the trip list, Killdeer. There were about ten of them on the sandbar. Gulls were feasting away on Kokanee, and we saw Ring-billed, Herring, California and Glaucous-winged gulls, and a couple of ‘Thayer’s’ Iceland Gulls. Out on the lake were Western and Red-necked grebes, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Gadwall and Common Mergansers, as well as several Common Loons. Our only Osprey for the trip sailed overhead here.

We took a drive out towards Okanagan Mountain Park, stopping first at a picnic table to have lunch, overlooking the glassy calm waters of Okanagan Lake. Once we were in the park, we scanned the lake for loons, eventually finding about 15 Common Loons feeding offshore. We scanned through some noisy groups of Pygmy Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees, finally seeing our first Mountain Chickadees of the trip.

At Sutherland Bay, in Kelowna’s North End, gulls were loafing on the log booms by the hundreds. We couldn’t find anything unusual mixed in with the regular gull species however. We finally saw our first Great Blue Heron of the trip, as there were two of them perched on the logs. Even if the birding was a tad on the slow side today, it was a joy to be out in October in the sunshine, in 24 degree Celsius weather.

Our final stop was at Robert Lake, where we added a few last birds to the trip list. There were several Eared Grebes out on the lake, as well as some distant Long-billed Dowitchers feeding on the far shore of the lake. Amongst the flocks of Canada Geese we picked out a single Cackling Goose, my first of the fall. Two male Wood Ducks sat on a log next to a Gadwall. Wood Duck is not common at Robert Lake. Other ducks included Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck and Ruddy Ducks. Just before we were about to leave, I spotted a lingering Cinnamon Teal nearby on the shore. It had been a fantastic couple of days with Josh and Lin, with nice birds and excellent company. The trip list finished up at 91 species.

Bird Species: Canada Goose; Wood Duck; Cinnamon Teal; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; American Wigeon; Mallard: Northern Pintail; Green-winged Teal; Redhead; Ring-necked Duck; Lesser Scaup; Bufflehead; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Hooded Merganser; Common Merganser; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Pied-billed Grebe; Horned Grebe; Red-necked Grebe; Eared Grebe; Western Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Virginia Rail; American Coot; Sandhill Crane; Killdeer; Long-billed Dowitcher; Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Herring Gull; Iceland Gull; Glaucous-winged Gull; Common Loon; Great Blue Heron; Osprey; Golden Eagle; Northern Harrier; Sharp-shinned Hawk; Cooper’s Hawk; Bald Eagle; Red-tailed Hawk; Rough-legged Hawk; Western Screech-Owl; Great Horned Owl; Northern Pygmy-Owl; Belted Kingfisher; Downy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Pileated Woodpecker; Steller’s Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Common Raven; Barn Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; Pygmy Nuthatch; Canyon Wren; Pacific Wren; Bewick’s Wren; American Dipper; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Western Bluebird; Townsend’s Solitaire; American Robin; European Starling; Cedar Waxwing; House Sparrow; American Pipit; House Finch; Cassin’s Finch; Red Crossbill; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Song Sparrow; Lincoln’s Sparrow; Swamp Sparrow; White-throated Sparrow; White-crowned Sparrow; Dark-eyed Junco; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Yellow-rumped Warbler.

*All photos by Chris Charlesworth – Rough-legged Hawk; Great Horned Owl; White Lake, B.C.; White-throated Sparrow; Killdeer; Cinnamon Teal.

Bird Photography in the Central Okanagan Valley. Oct 3, 2020.

Today, I had the pleasure of guiding a couple of local photographers around British Columbia’s Central Okanagan Valley. The ladies met me at Mission Creek Park at 7 AM and we spent the next couple of hours exploring Sutherland Hills Park, a local migrant trap. Our objective today was to get some photo opportunities of local birds, focusing on migrant species. Though there were a number of migrants about in the park, such as Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Robins, White-crowned Sparrows, they didn’t all pose nicely for photographs. We were treated to some lovely views of a White-throated Sparrow, however. There were at least two of them skulking in the bushes, and one adult popped into view nicely. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet flitted about in front of us, and frustratingly, as kinglets do, it moved about too quickly and proved difficult to photograph. We spent some time watching a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets chase one another about as well. At the Turtle Pond, we snapped a few shots of the resident Wood Ducks.

At the mouth of Mission Creek we were happy to see that a Dunlin was in attendance, as well as 18 Killdeer. Dunlin are usually found along the coast in B.C., though a few, like this young bird, end up at interior locations. There were also many gulls here, feasting on dead kokanee as they accumulate at the mouth of the creek. There were Ring-billed, Herring, California, Glaucous-winged and 3 ‘Thayer’s’ Iceland gulls.

We then headed towards Lake Country and we explored Beaver Lake Road where the species I hoped to find was a Northern Pygmy-Owl. We stopped for a walk through the forest at one location, and we could hear a pygmy-owl tooting in the distance. This one remained in the distance however. There were plenty of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees to see. At our second stop, I could hear the tooting of another pygmy-owl and this one was not far away. After a short search we were eye to eye with a Northern Pygmy-Owl. We watched the little owl for close to an hour as he sat on a branch and surveyed some brushy edge habitat. While the ladies were photographing the owl, I heard a Fox Sparrow calling in the brush, which is an uncommon fall migrant in the Okanagan Valley.

Once we were fully satiated with pygmy-owl views, we carried on up towards Dee Lake, where a walk through the boreal forest produced some surprises. As we walked along the narrow gravel road, I spotted a female Spruce Grouse at the edge. Soon, we were surrounded by Spruce Grouse, as 5 of them emerged and began feeding along the edge of the road. There was a glorious male and 4 female type birds. The grouse approached us, to less that 5 feet away, as they fed. It would be hard to beat this sighting, though we did find up to three Boreal Chickadees, though they wouldn’t descend from the treetops. We’d had a fantastic day of birding and photography and we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.

PHOTO CREDITS: White-throated Sparrow by Chris Charlesworth; Northern Pygmy-Owl by Chris Charlesworth; Spruce Grouse by Chris Charlesworth.

Chris Charlesworth

B.C.’s Central Okanagan Valley ~ September 30, 2020

7 AM, I met up with three ladies at Mission Creek in Kelowna. We began with a walk through the woods at Sutherland Hills Park, where we hoped to find some migrant birds. The weather today was glorious, with sunny skies and warm temperatures. The ridge of high pressure we’re experiencing right now is not particularly great for migrant birds, as the conditions are favorable and many of them simply fly right over. That said, we still had a good time in Sutherland Hills, where the most abundant migrant species were American Robins and Yellow-rumped Warblers. There was a mix of western ‘Audubon’s’ type Yellow-rumps and eastern ‘Myrtle’ race birds. Other goodies included a White-throated Sparrow, though it didn’t cooperate for good views, a male Varied Thrush, and a Merlin that was feasting on a Yellow-rumped Warbler. We had Downy and Pileated woodpeckers, as well as many Northern Flickers. Overhead were flocks of calling Evening Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills. At the Turtle Pond we watched about 9 Wood Ducks, several of which were leaping out of the water to grab berries from dogwood bushes. There was a lot of bear scat in the park, but we didn’t have any encounters this morning.

Next on the agenda, we visited Munson Pond. Along Munson Road, the ladies spotted a Great Blue Heron hanging out in a tree and I pointed out a Red-tailed Hawk. On the pond, there was a variety of waterfowl. I estimated there were about 250 Canada Geese here and more kept flying in as we were there. In addition, there were Gadwall, American Wigeon, Wood Ducks, a Ruddy Duck, Mallard and a flock of Common Mergansers. As we checked the weedy fields, we found many sparrows, most of which were White-crowned Sparrows. There were a few others mixed in with them as well, however, such as Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow and a nice White-throated Sparrow. A male Spotted Towhee, our only one today, made a brief appearance as well. A couple of Ospreys chased one another over the pond, and an adult Bald Eagle was seen soaring in the distance. A Merlin sat in a tree next to the pond, and at one point an American Kestrel sailed over. We also had a single American Pipit calling as it flew overhead, as well as a little group of Cedar Waxwings and at least two Common Yellowthroats.

We then made the trek out to the mouth of Mission Creek with high hopes for something exciting. There were a few gulls present, feasting on the bounty of dead salmon that are floating down the creek into the lake. There were 5 Bonaparte’s Gulls, including 4 adults and an immature bird, and we were happy to see a first year ‘Thayer’s’ Iceland Gull. Otherwise, the usual gulls, Ring-billed, California, Herring and Glaucous-winged, were tallied. Ducks were not numerous, though a flock of about a dozen Northern Shovelers flew past, and far out on the water were Gadwall, American Wigeon and half a dozen Ruddy Ducks. A group of 5 Greater Scaup winged their way past the sandbar as well. Again, we had Ospreys, Bald Eagle and a Merlin here. The eagle, an immature bird, swooped down right in front of us and plucked a fish from the lake’s surface. There were at least 18 Killdeer present, and Kathy pointed out a different bird, a non-breeding plumage Dunlin, and one of our highlights for the day.

Continuing south along the lakeshore, we headed for Okanagan Mountain Park, an area where Kokanee spawn along the shore of the lake, and the fish attract flocks of loons at this time of the year. Once we finally located the loons, there were perhaps 40 present out on the water. 39 of them were Common Loons and one was a Pacific Loon, another of our highlights today. We studied the Pacific Loon at length, since it had fairly white flanks, and we tried to turn it into an Arctic Loon, but after noting a ‘chinstrap’ we defaulted to Pacific. Far out on the lake there were some grebes too, including Horned, Red-necked and Western grebes. We saw our only accipiter for today, a Cooper’s Hawk. A few woodland species were tallied amongst the mostly burned conifers, such as Mountain Chickadee, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and Red-breasted and Pygmy nuthatches. A slightly out of place American Dipper called as it flew along the shoreline of the lake. Typically, we see dippers along streams, and not along the lakeshore, though occasionally, they can be found there. Overhead, three Mountain Bluebirds called as they flew past.

Our last stops were in Kelowna’s North End. Along Brandt’s Creek at Sunset Park, we enjoyed watching a White-throated Sparrow snatch berries from an ornamental tree, alongside White-crowned and Song sparrows. There were a few warblers, including singles of Orange-crowned, Common Yellowthroat and Yellow-rumped. A Great Blue Heron let out a loud call as we passed by and a pair of Belted Kingfishers chased one another over the creek. Finally, at Sutherland Bay, we scanned the log booms for gulls and there were many, though none of them unusual, just the regular Ring-billed, California, Herring, Iceland and Glaucous-winged gulls. Pied-billed, Horned and Red-necked grebes were here, along with an abundance of American Coots and Canada Geese.

The days are getting shorter and by 6 PM the light was starting to fade so we called it a day. We’d tallied close to 80 species, a respectable total for the last day of September.

Bird Species: Canada Goose; Wood Duck; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; American Wigeon; Mallard; Greater Scaup; Common Merganser; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Pied-billed Grebe; Horned Grebe; Red-necked Grebe; Western Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Mourning Dove; American Coot; Killdeer; Dunlin; Bonaparte’s Gull; Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Herring Gull; Iceland Gull; Glaucous-winged Gull; Pacific Loon; Common Loon; Great Blue Heron; Osprey; Cooper’s Hawk; Bald Eagle; Red-tailed Hawk; Belted Kingfisher; Downy Woodpecker; Hairy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Pileated Woodpecker; American Kestrel; Merlin; Black-billed Magpie; Common Raven; American Crow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; Pygmy Nuthatch; Brown Creeper; American Dipper; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Mountain Bluebird; American Robin; Varied Thrush; European Starling; Cedar Waxwing; House Sparrow; American Pipit; Evening Grosbeak; House Finch; Red Crossbill; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Lincoln’s Sparrow; White-throated Sparrow; White-crowned Sparrow; Dark-eyed Junco; Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Orange-crowned Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Western Tanager.

All photos by Kathy Nuszdorfer. In order: Merlin; Wood Duck; Bonaparte’s Gulls; Dunlin; ‘Thayer’s’ Iceland Gull; Bald Eagle.

Chris Charlesworth ~ Avocet Tours

Central Okanagan Valley Day Tour ~ September 21, 2020

At 7 AM I met up with Erik, from Ottawa, and his uncle Mike, from Kelowna. We began at Sutherland Hills Park, where we paused as we crossed Mission Creek to watch some spawning Kokanee below the bridge. We scanned up and down for a dipper, with no luck. One of the first birds we saw was a Western Screech-Owl. This was a great start to our day. From there on, the birding just kept getting better and better. Sutherland Hills Park was hopping with migrant birds this morning. Also, there was plenty of large piles of bear scat on the trails, so we were sure to make some noise and keep alert for these furry, berry eaters. Most numerous migrants this morning included American Robins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Western Tanager, Warbling Vireo, White-crowned Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Cedar Waxwing.

We had great views of a single Hammond’s Flycatcher that called, confirming its identification. Evening Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills were fairly prominent, both of which were flying around in flocks and calling loudly. In the vegetation we got views of a Lincoln’s Sparrow, and to Erik’s delight, some California Quail scurrying along through the underbrush. A male Red-naped Sapsucker landed on a pine next to the path, and there was also a female Downy Woodpecker in the area. Red-shafted race Northern Flickers were everywhere. Pygmy Nuthatches showed quite well, posing for photos in the morning sunlight and we encountered a few attractive Spotted Towhees in the park as well. Best bird though, for me, was a singing male Purple Finch,, sitting atop a Douglas Fir.

We then headed north to Lake Country and spent the next several hours exploring the variety of habitats along Beaver Lake Road. In the grasslands, we stopped for a bit and watched the skies for migrating raptors. There were a few about, including Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, American Kestrel, Merlin and several Red-tailed Hawks, one of which was a nice dark morph adult. We heard quite a few Western Meadowlarks singing out in the grasslands, and eventually some perched up nicely for scope view. Savannah, White-crowned and a Vesper sparrow were all noted along the road, and Mike pointed out a Say’s Phoebe sitting on a wooden post. American Pipits and a few Lapland Longspurs called as they flew overhead. Two Clark’s Nutcrackers flew overhead, and were the only nutcrackers we saw today. Higher up in the forest along Beaver Lake Road, several stops produced some nice highlights including a lovely male Dusky Grouse along the roadside, and a group of Canada and Steller’s jays, the latter of which was on Erik’s target list. We saw plenty of Red-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, Mountain Chickadees, and Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned kinglets as we made our way up through the forest. A Hermit Thrush flew across the road in front of us, showing off its rusty tail. A single Cassin’s Finch was the only one we had today as well.

Up at Beaver Lake itself, we had lunch and then took a stroll through the forest in search of some elusive woodland birds. A quick scan of the lake produced two slightly out of place Bonaparte’s Gulls, and an adult and large juvenile Common Loon. A Belted Kingfisher called several times, but we never did see it. A male Spotted Towhee was unusual to see at this high elevation, looking slightly out place in amongst the spruce trees. A Brown Creeper was seen, and we had lovely views of a Pacific Wren on a pile of logs. Heard, but not seen, was a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

We tried one more location, this time near Crooked Lake, for higher elevation species, but we just encountered more of the same; Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Canada Jay, Dark-eyed Junco and Golden-crowned Kinglet.

We left the forest and headed back down into the valley bottom, checking out the south end of Wood Lake. There were some Red-necked and Western grebes out on the lake, as well as Common Loons and some gulls, including Ring-billed, California and Herring. A female Redhead swam alongside a flotilla of American Coots. A little covey of California Quail were seen in a yard nearby, along with they day’s only House Finch at a feeder.

At Robert Lake, our list grew substantially. There were birds everywhere. Mixed flocks of European Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brewer’s Blackbirds and some Yellow-headed Blackbirds were seen. Masses of Violet-green Swallows (I estimated 500), were flying over the lake, along with at least one Barn Swallow. Waterfowl were well represented, and we saw Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, Greater Scaup, Redhead, Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Mallard, Gadwall and best of all, a lifer for Erik, a Cinnamon Teal. Several Eared Grebes, two Horned Grebes and a single Pied-billed Grebe, gave us a cool 5 species of grebes for the day. Shorebirds, including Pectoral Sandpipers, a Spotted Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitchers, Killdeer and a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope were seen. Also, a juvenile American Golden-Plover was seen through the scope on the opposite shore.

Mike had to go at this point, so I said goodbye to him, but Erik and I continued on to one last spot, Scenic Canyon. We hoped to seen a dipper here, but we dipped out on it unfortunately. As a consolation prize we had a gorgeous Barred Owl sitting only a few feet off the ground. As we got back closer to the parking area, a Gray Catbird popped up out of a dogwood, and this was the last bird we added to our tally, which was a whopping 106 species.

Bird Species: Canada Goose; Wood Duck; Cinnamon Teal; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; American Wigeon; Mallard; Green-winged Teal; Redhead; Ring-necked Duck; Greater Scaup; Bufflehead; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Hooded Merganser; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Dusky Grouse; Pied-billed Grebe; Horned Grebe; Red-necked Grebe; Eared Grebe; Western Grebe; Mourning Dove; American Coot; American Golden-Plover; Killdeer; Pectoral Sandpiper; Long-billed Dowitcher; Spotted Sandpiper; Red-necked Phalarope; Bonaparte’s Gull; Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Herring Gull; Common Loon; Great Blue Heron; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Northern Harrier; Sharp-shinned Hawk; Cooper’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk; Western Screech-Owl; Northern Pygmy-Owl; Barred Owl; Belted Kingfisher; Red-naped Sapsucker; Downy Woodpecker; Hairy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; American Kestrel; Merlin; Peregrine Falcon; Hammond’s Flycatcher; Say’s Phoebe; Warbling Vireo; Canada Jay; Steller’s Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Common Raven; Barn Swallow; Violet-green Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; Pygmy Nuthatch; Brown Creeper; Pacific Wren; Marsh Wren; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Mountain Bluebird; Hermit Thrush; American Robin; Gray Catbird; European Starling; Cedar Waxwing; House Sparrow; American Pipit; Evening Grosbeak; House Finch; Purple Finch; Cassin’s Finch; Red Crossbill; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Lapland Longspur; Spotted Towhee; Vesper Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Lincoln’s Sparrow; White-crowned Sparrow; Dark-eyed Junco; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Orange-crowned Warbler; Nashville Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Wilson’s Warbler; Western Tanager.

Photo Credits: Western Tanager by Chris Charlesworth; Red-naped Sapsucker by Chris Charlesworth; Dusky Grouse by Erik Pohanka; Barred Owl by Erik Pohanka.

Kamloops Grasslands Day Tour ~ September 17, 2020.

I met up with two ladies, Joan and Pat, and we headed off to enjoy some birding in the Thompson and Nicola valleys. It was smoky, due to the wildfires in the Western USA, but the smoke was not as bad as it had been over previous days. Our first stop was to view an Osprey that was sitting on a small wooden fence near Quilchena, on Hwy 5A. A quick stop at Nicola Lake, at the mouth of the Nicola River, produced a flock of Common Mergansers, as well as some Ring-billed and California gulls, a Belted Kingfisher and a few Common Loons. Best of all though, an American White Pelican was resting on the sandbar at the river mouth. At our next stop Guichon Flats, there was a load of waterfowl, and we estimated 2500 American Coots! As for ducks, there were Lesser Scaup, Redheads, Ruddy Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail and a few others. We had several Pied-billed Grebes and a few Eared Grebes as well. A Merlin sat on a distant telephone pole, and Western Meadowlarks sang from the grasslands but remained hidden. Marsh Wrens were chattering away in the reeds, alongside Common Yellowthroats. Along with several Red-winged Blackbirds, we had a nice male Yellow-headed Blackbird sitting on a fence post. We heard, but couldn’t see, a Virginia Rail as well.

At Planet Mine Road, we finally saw a Western Meadowlark, though it was a bit distant, through the scope, sitting on a rock. We also had a Clark’s Nutcracker here, as well as some singing Townsend’s Solitaires and calling Pygmy Nuthatches. An immature Red-tailed Hawk perched in a dead pine and made for a nice study as well. Atop a tall Ponderosa Pine, there was an immature Peregrine Falcon.

We scanned the south end of Stump Lake, finding it overrun with Horned and Pied-billed grebes, and a few Red-necked Grebes as well. Ducks, including Hooded Mergansers, were here. Shorebirds included a group of about 11 Lesser Yellowlegs, a couple of Greater Yellowlegs and a couple of Killdeer. In a pine on the far side of the lake were two adult Bald Eagles.

We had lunch at Separation Lake, where we were entertained by an American Pipit that was foraging on the road in front of us. We had good looks at several American Pipits here, as well as Savannah and Vesper sparrows. Two or three Northern Harriers patrolled low over the grasslands, and we saw a couple of Swainson’s Hawks soaring over a ridge. A Wilson’s Snipe flushed from a muddy area next to the road and disappeared into the long, marshy grass. New for our waterfowl list was a Barrow’s Goldeneye. We tallied 5 Sandhill Cranes, with a group of three and a group of two, sailing south against the smoky sky.

Next, we headed through Kamloops over to the North Shore and we explored Tranquille for an hour or so. There were 11 Sandhill Cranes in the fields around the marsh, as well as several Great Blue Herons. A basic plumage American Avocet was a nice surprise at the marsh as well. We searched for migrants in the lakeside vegetation, but it was rather quiet, other than the usual Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Our final destination today was Lac du Bois Road and the Lac du Bois Grasslands. Birding was a bit slow here, though as we left the grasslands and entered some mixed forest, we had a group of Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Yellow-rumped Warblers making some noise. We soon discovered what they were upset about, a Northern Pygmy-Owl! We decided this must be our bird of the day. We made one final stop at an aspen grove where there were a few more migrants about, including a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and more Yellow-rumps. There was a male Downy Woodpecker here as well. By the end of the day, we’d tallied nearly 80 species.

Bird Species: Canada Goose; Blue-winged Teal; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; American Wigeon; Mallard; Northern Pintail; Green-winged Teal; Redhead; Ring-necked Duck; Lesser Scaup; Bufflehead; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Hooded Merganser; Common Merganser; Ruddy Duck; Pied-billed Grebe; Horned Grebe; Red-necked Grebe; Eared Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove; Virginia Rail; American Coot; Sandhill Crane; American Avocet; Killdeer; Wilson’s Snipe; Greater Yellowlegs; Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Common Loon; American White Pelican; Great Blue Heron; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Northern Harrier; Bald Eagle; Swainson’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk; Northern Pygmy-Owl; Belted Kingfisher; Downy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Black-billed Magpie; Clark’s Nutcracker; American Crow; Common Raven; Black-capped Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; Pygmy Nuthatch; Marsh Wren; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Townsend’s Solitaire; American Robin; European Starling; House Sparrow; American Pipit; House Finch; Red Crossbill; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Vesper Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; White-crowned Sparrow; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Orange-crowned Warbler; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Western Tanager.

Chris Charlesworth

PHOTO CREDITS

Osprey: Photo by Chris Charlesworth; Red-tailed Hawk: Photo by Joan Moore; American Pipit: Chris Charlesworth; Sandhill Crane: Chris Charlesworth; Northern Pygmy-Owl: Joan Moore.

South Okanagan Valley Birding – September 12, 2020

At 7 AM, I met up with Al and Deborah from North Vancouver. It was good to see these two again, as I hadn’t seen them for ten years or more. I met them at the campground at Okanagan Falls, where there were many Yellow-rumped Warblers about. Our first stop was along Green Lake Road, near the Vaseux Lake NW Marsh. A little strip of riparian habitat contained a couple of migrants including Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped warblers and two immature White-throated Sparrows. The highlight here was watching a pair of Bewick’s Wrens at rather close range.

Bewick’s Wren. Oliver, B.C. Sep 12, 2020 (C) Chris Charlesworth

We continued on up the winding Green Lake Road, stopping next in the Ponderosa Pine forest at Mahoney Lake. We enjoyed views of all three local species of nuthatch here, Red-breasted, Pygmy and White-breasted. Also of note were Clark’s Nutcrackers, some Chipping Sparrows and a Spotted Towhee. At the lake itself there were a few birds like American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Gadwall and Bufflehead. There were also one or two Pied-billed Grebes here. Red-winged Blackbirds sang from the marsh, while a Marsh Wren chattered away, though stayed hidden in the reeds. On a distant hillside, I pointed out an adult Peregrine Falcon sitting on a snag. We could hear, but not see, a group of Sandhill Cranes. On our way through Willowbrook, a short stop yielded a Great Blue Heron flying through the pine trees, and a group of immature Western Bluebirds on a fence.

Spotted Towhee. Mahoney Lake, Okanagan Falls, B.C. Sep 12, 2020 (C) Chris Charlesworth.

Next, we visited White Lake, where we walked in to the south end of the lake. We had hoped for some shorebirds, though all we got were a couple of Killdeer and a Least Sandpiper. There were several species of ducks here though, including Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal and Barrow’s Goldeneye. We enjoyed watching a group of up to 50 Horned Larks swirling around at the south end of the lake this morning, and occasionally the birds paused long enough to be viewed through the scope. Grassland birds noted include Savannah and White-crowned sparrows and singing Western Meadowlarks. A young Osprey perched on a fence post at the S.W. corner of the lake and we had a quick glimpse of a Golden Eagle as it sailed off over a ridge.

Mahoney Lake, OK Falls, B.C. Sept 12, 2020 (C) Chris Charlesworth

We visited some cliffs near Okanagan Falls on Allendale Road, where we hoped to find a Canyon Wren. Though the Canyon Wren didn’t cooperate, we had views of a pair of Rock Wrens chasing one another about against the cliff face. A group of California Quail scurried about on the rocks at the base of the cliffs and a Red-tailed Hawk sailed above against the blue sky. The weather was nice today, though we did have a bit of smoke in the valley, due to wildfires in the Western USA. We then tried the cliffs near Vaseux Lake, where we heard a Canyon Wren, but didn’t see it. Our first of three Say’s Phoebes were noted here, and we saw Golden Eagle again, this time two adults sailing over the cliffs. Several Bighorn Sheep were found as well.

Down at Vaseux Lake we strolled along the boardwalk to the viewing tower. A few migrants called from the bushes, but most remained hidden. There were Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers and again at least one White-throated Sparrow. Scanning the lake at the north end finally added Canada Goose to our day list, as well as Ring-billed and California gulls. There were hundreds, if not thousands of birds, further south on the lake, but the light was horrible. The majority of these birds may have been American Coots. Our final stop of the day was at Inkaneep Provincial Park. It was pretty hot by now and many of the birds seemed to be having their afternoon siesta. We did find some though, including another obliging Bewick’s Wren, our fourth for the day. Also, we had our first Downy Woodpecker of the day, a male, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. A Western Tanager briefly appeared and then all went quiet. We soon found out why. There was an adult Cooper’s Hawk sitting nearby in the dead top of a cottonwood. All in all, it was a very enjoyable day and we tallied around 70 species!

Bird Species: Canada Goose; Wood Duck; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; American Wigeon; Mallard; Northern Pintail; Green-winged Teal; Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Pied-billed Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Mourning Dove; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Virginia Rail; American Coot; Sandhill Crane; Killdeer; Least Sandpiper; California Gull; Ring-billed Gull; Great Blue Heron; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Golden Eagle; Northern Harrier; Cooper’s Hawk; Bald Eagle; Red-tailed Hawk; Belted Kingfisher; Downy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; American Kestrel; Peregrine Falcon; Say’s Phoebe; Steller’s Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; American Crow; Common Raven; Violet-green Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; Pygmy Nuthatch; Rock Wren; Canyon Wren; Marsh Wren; Bewick’s Wren; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Western Bluebird; Swainson’s Thrush; American Robin; Gray Catbird; European Starling; House Sparrow; House Finch; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Lincoln’s Sparrow; White-throated Sparrow; White-crowned Sparrow; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Orange-crowned Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Western Tanager.

Chris Charlesworth

Fall Migration Daytrip ~ Kelowna To Salmon Arm, B.C. sep 3, 2020

At 6:30 AM, I met up with Dave, Fran, Stew and Dixie, at the grasslands at the bottom of Beaver Lake Road, near Lake Country. A little exploration in the grassland produced some nice species such as Vesper Sparrow, Say’s Phoebe and several Western Meadowlarks. Higher up in the forests of Beaver Lake Road, we encountered some nice mixed flocks of migrant songbirds. There were plenty of Yellow-rumped Warblers about, but we also had singles of Nashville Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and very confiding Townsend’s and MacGillivray’s warblers. Cassin’s Vireos were still singing their rather lazy songs, and we glimpsed a few Warbling Vireos as well. A Dusky Flycatcher sat atop a saskatoon for scope views. Red-breasted Nuthatches were plentiful, and we also had a single White-breasted Nuthatch as well. A male Hairy Woodpecker sat atop an aspen in the morning sunlight, while a Red-naped Sapsucker called from nearby. House Wrens were in attendance, along with some Ruby-crowned Kinglets. An adult Cooper’s Hawk, probably a male due to its smaller size, sat in a Ponderosa Pine snag, and we debated its identification, as birders tend to do. Clark’s Nutcrackers gave their grating calls from the conifers, and we saw a streaky immature Red Crossbill. All in all, it was quite productive along this road today.

We turned off Beaver Lake Road, and began our drive along Dee Lake Road, through the boreal forest. I’m still on my quest to see a Spruce Grouse in the Central Okanagan this year, but today was not the day. We walked down towards Crooked Lake, and we were followed by Canada

Jays throughout the walk. A single Steller’s Jay was also there. We watched one of the Canada Jays catch a tiny Western Toad and carry it off to eat. Brown Creepers were seen hitching their way up the tree trunks and a White-winged Crossbill was a nice addition to the list, though the bird, or perhaps two, were only seen in flight as they called overhead. At Crooked Lake there were two Common Loons, one adult and one large juvenile. There was a female type Hooded Merganser on a log on the shore as well. Mountain Chickadees accompanied us throughout our walk, though we could not detect any Boreal Chickadees today. Perhaps the highlight here, was a male American Three-toed Woodpecker that we were able to watch through the scope. At Crooked Lake there was another American Three-toed Woodpecker calling. A distant Pacific Wren called as well. Flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos have filled the high elevation forests, and will soon descend into the valley for the winter. We flushed a Wilson’s Snipe from a muddy ditch, and it flew into some grass never to come out again. We had some nice views of Golden-crowned Kinglets this morning as well.

We carried on along Dee Lake Road, all the way to Lavington, east of Vernon. We had lunch a Otter Lake, where we scoped a muddy pool for birds. This being our first valley bottom wetland habitat of the day, we added quite a few species to our daily tally. There were several Wilson’s Snipe probing away in the mud, alongside Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, and a single Western Sandpiper. There were several Great Blue Herons feeding in the shallows, and Dave reported 3 Sandhill Cranes to us as we ate lunch. As I got the cranes in my scope, I could see there were two adults and an immature, the latter of which was lacking the red crown patch. These are most likely a family group traveling from their breeding grounds down to the southern US for the winter. Waterfowl included Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, and another Hooded Merganser, as well as our first Canada Geese of the day. We scanned the ridges around the lake, searching for raptors. There were a few sailing around, including several Turkey Vultures, some Red-tailed Hawks and an adult Swainson’s Hawk.

Next, we arrived in Salmon Arm, where we headed down to the pier along the waterfront. There are nice mudflats there currently, excellent for shorebirds. Right in front of us were Long-billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Killdeer, and Pectoral Sandpipers. From the pier we could see many Western Grebes far out on the lake, and there were one or two a bit closer as well. American White Pelicans, perhaps 30+ of them, were scattered across the lake at various locations. Among the Ring-billed Gulls we picked out an adult Bonaparte’s Gull and a first year California Gull. Barn Swallows whipped past us on the pier, and at least one lingering Bank Swallow was in with them. Fran saw a Yellow-headed Blackbird, and we studied some molting Brewer’s Blackbirds.

We walked to Christmas Island next, and it was late afternoon and close to 30 degrees Celsius in the sun. In the reeds along the trail, we found a few Common Yellowthroats, and at one point a Virginia Rail scuttled across the path right in front of Dixie. Black-capped Chickadees accompanied us in little groups, and two Red-eyed Vireos were briefly encountered. Some very well camouflaged female and young Ring-necked Pheasants, likely spooked off the railroad tracks by a train, were hiding in the reeds next to the path. Once at Christmas Island we added several more species to our list. Shorebirds included excellent comparisons of Lesser and Greater yellowlegs, with one of each species perching on the same rock together for photos. Solitary Sandpipers were not exactly living up to their names today, as 5 of the fed along the shoreline. One or two Spotted Sandpipers, lacking any spots at this time of year, were seen foraging along the shore. There were a few larger flocks of shorebirds wheeling around as well, mostly comprised of Pectoral and Baird’s sandpipers. In with one flock were 6 juvenile Sanderlings, easily picked out by their much paler plumage. A single Semipalmated Plover was here as well, in addition to several Least Sandpipers. A group of Wood Ducks, our only for the day, flew past, and we saw a single Cinnamon Teal feeding in a small pond. Back at the vehicles, the crew was flagging as it had been a long, productive, and warm, day out. We tallied over 100 species.

BIRD SPECIES: Canada Goose; Wood Duck; Cinnamon Teal; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; American Wigeon; Mallard; Northern Pintail; Green-winged Teal; Hooded Merganser; Common Merganser; California Quail; Ring-necked Pheasant; Western Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Mourning Dove; Virginia Rail; American Coot; Sandhill Crane; Semipalmated Plover; Killdeer; Sanderling; Baird’s Sandpiper; Least Sandpiper; Western Sandpiper; Long-billed Dowitcher; Wilson’s Snipe; Spotted Sandpiper; Solitary Sandpiper; Lesser Yellowlegs; Greater Yellowlegs; Bonaparte’s Gull; Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Common Loon; American White Pelican; Great Blue Heron; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Cooper’s Hawk; Bald Eagle; Swainson’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk; Red-naped Sapsucker; American Three-toed Woodpecker; Hairy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Dusky Flycatcher; Say’s Phoebe; Cassin’s Vireo; Warbling Vireo; Red-eyed Vireo; Canada Jay; Steller’s Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Common Raven; Bank Swallow; Barn Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; Brown Creeper; House Wren; Pacific Wren; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; American Robin; European Starling; House Sparrow; Evening Grosbeak; Red Crossbill; White-winged Crossbill; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Dark-eyed Junco; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Orange-crowned Warbler; Nashville Warbler; MacGillivray’s Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Townsend’s Warbler; Western Tanager.

Chris Charlesworth

Day tour ~ Kelowna to Salmon Arm, B.C. Aug 29, 2020

Just around dawn I met Kathy, Lesley and Joan at Robert Lake in Kelowna for a day tour with a goal of hopefully seeing as many species of shorebirds as we could. Weather was good this morning, with some cloud cover and cooler temperatures from what we have been experiencing lately. Scanning the limited amount of shore at the lake, we spotted a Wilson’s Snipe, as well as a couple of Least Sandpipers foraging in the mud. It was a slow start for shorebirds, but other species were _F7A1244quite active. Kathy pointed out a Sora crossing the road and lurking through the reeds, and then a Virginia Rail popped out in the same area. An adult Marsh Wren came in and fed two grown fledglings in the reeds. Overhead, I heard a Lapland Longspur calling, and 4 American Pipits flew over, calling as well. Waterfowl were plentiful, with species such as Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead and more. Eared Grebes were still feeding young.

Heading up Beaver Lake Road, where we took a bit of a break from shorebirding. The grasslands were a bit quiet, as can be expected in late August, but we still did encounter some birds, such as a flock of Western Meadowlarks, and a mixed group of Savannah and Vesper sparrows, Lazuli Bunting, as well as Say’s Phoebe. Once we climbed into the

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Western Meadowlark. Lake Country, B.C. Aug 29, 2020. Photo: Chris Charlesworth.

forest, we added the usual Mountain and Black-capped chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins and Cedar Waxwings. There were a few migrants about, and we saw Cassin’s and Warbling vireos, Nashville, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped and Townsend’s warblers, Western Tanager and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We followed Dee Lake Road all the way to Lavington, just east of Vernon. In the boreal forest along the road we encountered a few species, including Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Clark’s Nutcracker, Pacific Wren and some Canada Jays, the latter of which were spotted by sharp-eyed Lesley. A Belted_F7A1053 Kingfisher, our only for the day, called several times near Crooked Lake. I spotted a rather large Black Bear, but it disappeared before anyone else saw it.

Once we popped out on Hwy 6, we headed towards Vernon, stopping along the way to watch two adult Swainson’s Hawks soaring overhead. We stopped at the north end of Otter Lake, where we got back to shorebirds, and we had our lunch. Despite there being a Merlin sitting on a fence post next to the muddy edge of the pond, there were still a few shorebirds to see. There were Greater and Lesser yellowlegs, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper and a bunch of Wilson’s _F7A1214Snipe here. Ducks were numerous, with most being Mallards. There were a few Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon in attendance as well. Our only Hooded Merganser for the day was here as well.

From Otter Lake we made our way to Salmon Arm, stopping in first at the pier. Lake levels have dropped significantly, exposing some nice mudflats for birds. Upon arrival we were surprised to find the mudflats covered in birds. There were many Killdeer, but there were also close to 200 juvenile Baird’s Sandpipers here. Three Sanderlings were mixed in with the sandpipers, and could be easily picked out, especially when the flock was in flight, due to their paler plumage. Mixed in with the Baird’s were a_F7A1142 few Pectoral Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Again, both Greater and Lesser yellowlegs were seen, as well as our only Solitary Sandpiper for the day. Semipalmated Plovers were heard, and seen in the distance. The highlight, however, was a single juvenile Stilt Sandpiper foraging near the base of the pier, alongside a Long-billed Dowitcher. Other than shorebirds, highlights included at least 25 American White Pelicans, as well as Bald Eagle, Osprey, loads of Western Grebes and a nice variety of waterfowl.

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Lesser Yellowlegs chasing Solitary Sandpiper. Salmon Arm, B.C. Aug 29, 2020. Photo: Chris Charlesworth.

It was now late afternoon, so after a quick stop to grab a coffee for the road, we were heading back towards Kelowna. Our final stop of the day was back at Robert Lake, where we searched some exposed mudflats, producing a Baird’s Sandpiper, several Pectoral Sandpipers, Least, Semipalmated and Spotted sandpipers, Lesser and Greater yellowlegs and numerous Killdeer. Two more Virginia Rails popped out of the lakeside grasses as well. A Ring-necked Duck was the final new species added for the day, bringing our tally close to 100 species.

SPECIES LIST: Canada Goose; Blue-winged Teal; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; American Wigeon; Mallard; Northern Pintail; Green-winged Teal; Redhead; Ring-necked Duck; Bufflehead; Hooded Merganser; Common Merganser; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Pied-billed Grebe; Eared Grebe; Western Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Mourning Dove; Virginia Rail; Sora; American Coot; Semipalmated Plover; Killdeer; Stilt Sandpiper; Sanderling; Baird’s Sandpiper; Least _F7A1206Sandpiper; Pectoral Sandpiper; Semipalmated Sandpiper; Western Sandpiper; Long-billed Dowitcher; Wilson’s Snipe; Spotted Sandpiper; Solitary Sandpiper; Lesser Yellowlegs; Greater Yellowlegs; Ring-billed Gull; tern sp; Common Loon; American White Pelican; Great Blue Heron; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Northern Harrier; Bald Eagle; Swainson’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk; Belted Kingfisher; Northern Flicker; Pileated Woodpecker; American Kestrel; Merlin; Eastern Kingbird; Say’s Phoebe; Cassin’s Vireo; Warbling Vireo; Canada Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Common Raven; Violet-green Swallow; Bank Swallow; Barn Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; Brown Creeper; Pacific Wren; Marsh Wren; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; American Robin; European Starling; Cedar Waxwing; American Pipit; House Finch; Red Crossbill; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Lapland Longspur; Chipping Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; White-crowned Sparrow; Dark-eyed Junco; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Orange-crowned Warbler; Nashville Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow Warbler; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Townsend’s Warbler; Western Tanager; Lazuli Bunting.

Chris Charlesworth

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Kathy Nuszdorfer, unless otherwise specified.

Birding B.C.’s Southern Okanagan Valley – August 20, 2020

I met Pat, a friend of mine from Vernon, at 6:30 AM in Oliver. From here, we drove along Fairview Road, towards White Lake, and along the way, we noted our first birds for the day; Eastern Kingbirds, Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Western Bluebirds, and more. Once at White Lake, we took a walk down to the south end of the lake, where there was

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Red-necked Phalarope. White Lake, OK Falls, B.C. Aug 20, 2020. (C) Chris Charlesworth.

some nicely exposed shore for shorebirds. There were not many species, or individuals present, but we had great views of a pair of juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes here, along with several Least Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Killdeer and a nice bonus, a Wilson’s Snipe. On the lake itself, waterfowl were sparse, but, species were nicely assorted, with Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye and a Common Goldeneye. We explored the sagebrush, with hopes of finding a few elusive species, and they did prove to be elusive. No Brewer’s Sparrows could be found today, but we did have Vesper, Chipping, Savannah, and three Lark sparrows here instead. Sage Thrasher could not be found, though we did see and hear several Western Meadowlarks, as well as Say’s Phoebes, an American Kestrel, and a large number of Violet-green Swallows over the lake. An Osprey sailed overhead, while a Sharp-shinned Hawk glided

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Eastern Kingbird. Vaseux Lk, B.C. Aug 20, 2020, (C) Chris Charlesworth.

through the sage, perhaps trying to startle a sparrow into its talons.

We took a short drive down Twin Lakes Road, where a field had quite a large gathering of both Violet-green and Barn swallows foraging just over the grass. An immature Bald Eagle sailed over a distant ridge. Pat pointed out a bunch of Rock Pigeons down on the top of a barn. The birding was enjoyable in the White Lake / Twin Lake area today, but the scenery and just the beautiful habitat down there was equally impressive.

At Mahoney Lake, we took a stroll through the Ponderosa Pines, hoping to find some woodland birds. We were not disappointed, as we had all three nuthatches of the region here, Pygmy, Red-breasted and the least common the bunch, White-breasted nuthatches.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch. Mahoney Lk, OK Falls, B.C. Aug 20, 2020 (C) Chris Charlesworth.

In addition, there were Mountain Chickadees, House Wren, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Cassin’s Finch and Western Wood-Pewee. At Mahoney Lake, there was a nice number of ducks, with Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead and Green-winged Teal noted. Overhead were Turkey Vultures and our first Red-tailed Hawk of the day.

We then explored an area up at the cliffs near Vaseux Lake. On our way up the road, we saw several Bighorn Sheep, in their traditional summering grounds. Several Lewis’s Woodpeckers, perhaps ten, were seen in the area, which was a highlight. Another highlight, a White-throated Swift zoomed along the top of the cliffs. Three juvenile Brown-headed Cowbirds were the only

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Bighorn Sheep. Vaseux Lake, B.C. Aug 20, 2020 (C) Chris Charlesworth

ones we encountered today.

Our final birding destination today was Road 22, at the north end of Osoyoos Lake. At this point in the day, it was over 30 degrees Celsius and birds were a little hard to find. We explored the S.E. dyke, where we had Black-capped Chickadees, Song Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Willow Flycatcher and Downy Woodpecker. A Belted Kingfisher called several, but remained hidden, and we saw a juvenile Northern Harrier sitting on a fence post. Several Ospreys were seen, including a couple of noisy, and fully grown youngsters, sitting in their nest. An adult Red-tailed Hawk sat up on a large radio tower. We then headed to an overlook where we scanned the north end of Osoyoos Lake. We spent a little more time here than we had expected as we encountered vehicle problems. At least we were stuck at a nice location with lots of birds to see. After a couple of hours, we were back in business, but not before we had amassed a nice list of birds. We added Western, Red-necked and Pied-billed grebes to the day list, as well as an adult Common Loon. Gulls included Ring-billed and California Gull and an adult Herring Gull that appeared to be feasting on a dead sockeye salmon. Our only Ring-necked Pheasant, a male, was seen foraging in a grassy field below. I spotted a Common Tern foraging over the lake with some gulls, and by the end of the day, we’d seen about 87 species! Thanks to Pat and her pup Birdy for great company today.

Bird Species Seen: Canada Goose; Cinnamon Teal; Northern Shoveler; Mallard; Northern Pintail; Green-winged Teal; Redhead; Ring-necked Duck; Bufflehead; Common Goldeneye; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Ring-necked Pheasant; Pied-billed Grebe; Red-necked Grebe; Western Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Mourning Dove; White-throated Swift; American Coot; Killdeer; Least Sandpiper; Wilson’s Snipe; Spotted Sandpiper; Red-necked Phalarope; Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Herring Gull; Common Tern; Common Loon; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Northern Harrier; Sharp-shinned Hawk; Bald Eagle; Red-tailed Hawk; Belted Kingfisher; Lewis’s Woodpecker; Downy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; American Kestrel; Merlin; Eastern Kingbird; Western Wood-Pewee; Willow Flycatcher; Say’s Phoebe; Clark’s Nutcracker; American Crow; Common Raven; Violet-green Swallow; Cliff Swallow; Barn Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; Pygmy Nuthatch; Rock Wren; House Wren; Western Bluebird; European Starling; Cedar Waxwing; House Sparrow; House Finch; Cassin’s Finch; Red Crossbill; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brown-headed Cowbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow Warbler; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Western Tanager.

Chris Charlesworth

Day Tour in Kelowna ~ Aug 11, 2020

I met up with Larry and Janice at 5 AM in Kelowna and we headed up Highway 33, into the mountains east of town. Our first stop was along Goudie Road and Sun Valley Road. Birds hadn’t fully woken up yet, and it was chilly prior to sunrise, but we heard several species, like Swainson’s Thrush, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Mountain Chickadees, and we saw a Pileated Woodpecker.

A short walk through the burn on Philpott Road yielded a couple of Hairy Woodpeckers, and a nice little mixed flock of early migrants including Nashville Warbler, Lazuli Buntings, Chipping Sparrows, House Wren and others. Further down Philpott Rd we heard a Chestnut-backed Chickadee, but it remained hidden in the cedars. This Joe Rich Valley, east of Kelowna, is the best place to reliably find Chestnut-backed Chickadees in the Okanagan. We were also treated to views of Western Tanagers, all of which now seem to be in basic plumage. A Cassin’s Vireo appeared briefly, and we saw a female

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Northern Pygmy-Owl. Kelowna, B.C. Aug 11, 2020 (C) Chris Charlesworth.

Evening Grosbeak as well. As we pulled up to one particular location, Janice noticed a Ruffed Grouse feather on the road. I mentioned that this was quite a good spot to find them, and at that moment, a Ruffed Grouse flushed from the thickets next to us. One of our target species for the day then began calling nearby, a Northern Pygmy-Owl. After a short search we were looking at the little owl, as it sat atop a tree above us.

Along Three Forks Road, we checked along Mission Creek for American Dipper. We had no luck unfortunately, though we were happy to find a female Pine Grosbeak on the road, picking up gravel. On our way back towards the highway, a little group of Canada Jays caught our attention so we stopped to check them out. We stopped briefly at Three Forks Park, where we encountered a couple of Hammond’s Flycatchers, as well as Dark-eyed Junco, Cedar Waxwing and

We pulled off the highway where we could view Black Mountain and the grasslands. I hoped we might be able to find another of their target birds here, a Golden Eagle. We watched a Say’s Phoebe forage from a fence line, and Vesper Sparrow called from nearby. After a bit of scanning, I spotted a giant raptor sailing in the sky near Black Mountain. It was a Golden Eagle. We watched through the scope and determined it to be an adult. Another highlight on the grasslands, was a Lewis’s Woodpecker. The bird was sitting on a snag overlooking Gallagher’s Canyon.

We tried one more time for dippers along Mission Creek at Scenic Canyon, with no luck. We heard, but did not see, a pair of calling Western Screech-Owls. A Swainson’s Hawk

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California Quail. Kelowna, B.C. Aug 11, 2020 (C) Chris Charlesworth.

flew overhead as well, and California Quail posed for photographs.

We turned our attention to waterbirds. As we ate lunch at Sutherland Bay, next to Okanagan Lake, we scanned the log booms offshore, which were covered in gulls. The majority were Ring-billed and California gulls, with a few Herring Gulls mixed in here and there. Highlights were an adult Bonaparte’s Gull and up to 5 adult Common Terns. Farther offshore were Common Loon, and Red-necked and Western grebe. A stop at the mouth of Mission Creek did not produce anything noteworthy.

Our final destination was Robert Lake, and we added quite a few species to our day list here. Upon arrival, baby American Coots were being fed by adults almost right at our feet. Waterfowl were plentiful, as usual, with some of the species we noted including Bufflehead, Greater and Lesser scaup, Ruddy Duck, Gadwall, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck and Green-winged and Blue-winged teal. In the reeds were plenty of Red-winged Blackbirds, as well as a few Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Virginia Rail called from within the reeds, and a Sora actually ventured out for scope views. Shorebird numbers were low, but nonetheless we did see Spotted, Least and Semipalmated sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer. A final tally of the list and we had seen or heard just over 100 species today!

Chris Charlesworth

 

 

Tales and photographs of the adventures of Avocet Tours