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
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
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!
Aug 8 – I met up with Craig from the Lower Mainland in Penticton at dusk on Aug 8. Craig was interested in photographing some of the Okanagan Valley’s fantastic birds. We visited the dry forests near Penticton, where we hoped we might see and photograph, a Common Poorwill. This task is not always easy, and requires a bit of luck to achieve. We heard up to 4 Common Poorwills this evening, and I saw the red eye shine of one up on a slope, but no poorwills could be found resting on the dirt road. Common Nighthawks were busy, feeding on aerial insects above the trees. We got to an area where I thought we might find an owl or two, but instead we found a couple of loud and aggressive sounding Black Bears. For a few seconds, we watched one of the bears in the beam of the spotlight, before we retreated. Our quest for nocturnal birds was not lost, however, as soon thereafter we enjoyed great views of a Western Screech-Owl.
Aug 9 – After what was a poor excuse for a ‘sleep’, we met up again on White Lake Road shortly after dawn. One of our targets for today was Lewis’s Woodpecker, so we stopped near some large Ponderosa Pine snags and watched 4 of them go about their business. A
couple of juvenile Red-naped Sapsuckers squabbled on a telephone pole, and two White-breasted Nuthatches provided fantastic views as well. Closer to White Lake, we explored the sagebrush habitat, hoping to catch a view of the elusive Sage Thrasher. The thrasher, however, had other plans, and did not show itself today. Still, we enjoyed a nice showing of sparrows, with the highlight being two juvenile Grasshopper Sparrows. Flocks of Chipping Sparrows flew up from the roadside as we drove along, and Vesper Sparrows were quite numerous too. A couple of Brewer’s Sparrows appeared, another nice addition for the day list. On White Lake itself, there were a few ducks, such as Barrow’s Goldeneye and Ruddy Duck. Along the shore were Greater Yellowlegs, Killdeer, a Baird’s Sandpiper and several Least Sandpipers.
Craig spotted 10-12 Gray Partridge as they scurried off through the grass.
It was a beautiful day today, with sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures. The conditions made for nice lighting for photographs this morning. At some cliffs along Allendale Road near Okanagan Falls, we had killer views of Canyon Wren as it sang loudly from a boulder, not far from where we stood. A female Western Bluebird called as she flew by, and a small herd of Bighorn Sheep peered down at us from the cliffs above.
At the Vaseux Lake Cliffs we found a group of 6 Chukar scrambling about on the boulders. Canyon Wren was again singing at this location and high overhead, I spotted two White-throated Swifts. After a bit of hunting, we eventually found a Rock Wren, who appeared to be carrying food off to youngsters. In a gully a little further up the road we
watched as up to 15 Lewis’s Woodpeckers fed on berries, which appeared mostly to be currants and elderberry. Many of the woodpeckers were also engaging in flycatching. Both adults and juvenile Lewis’s Woodpeckers were seen here, making for some nice photo opportunities. A female Lazuli Bunting popped into view briefly, as did a male Black-headed Grosbeak, and several Cedar Waxwings.
At Inkaneep Provincial Park we had hoped to find a Yellow-breasted Chat. As luck would have it, park crews were here mowing the grass and whacking the weeds, and though I did hear a chat calling, we never did see it. Amongst the tall cottonwoods, however, we found Yellow Warbler, Gray Catbird, Black-capped Chickadee, Western Wood-Pewee, American Goldfinch and Northern Flicker. Our second attempt at chats was along River Road. Again, we heard one, but it would not show itself. It was mid-day and closing in on 30 degrees Celsius, and the birds were taking their afternoon siesta. The highlight here was a female type Black-chinned Hummingbird, our only hummer for the day. We saw a couple of broods of California Quail running about, with many youngsters.
We then turned our attention northward, heading to Penticton, where we had a bite of lunch and refueled, before continuing on to Peachland and Hardy Falls. It was a pleasant stroll up Deep Creek, and we checked for American Dipper from each of the several little
wooden bridges over the waterway. Along the way we had views of a couple of Veery, and an adult Red-eyed Vireo feeding some newly fledged youngsters. Warbling Vireo and Pacific-slope Flycatcher were heard as well. Finally, not far from the waterfall and the end of the trail, I spotted an American Dipper. The plump little gray bird was bobbing in and out of the fast flowing stream when I first saw it, and then it began preening for an extended period of time, on a photo-perfect sunlit rock. The only problem was, there was one little twig of dogwood branch right across the bird. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our views and got some decent photos.
After driving across the Bennett Bridge into Kelowna, we visited Robert Lake. Shorebird migration was very slow today, so numbers were low. We did see a Wilson’s Phalarope and a couple of Wilson’s Snipe, both birds on our ‘want list’ for the day. Also present were Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer and loads of ducks. Eared Grebe was seen, as were our only Yellow-headed Blackbirds for the day. Two Virginia Rails crept along the edge of the marsh, while a youngster called from within the reeds. We also saw a couple of Soras briefly, and heard their bizarre whinnying calls. At the end of the day, I’d tallied close to 110 species, and Craig had photographed a nice variety of birds.
I met young birder Tanner and his aunt at Munson Pond in Kelowna nice and early this morning. Tanner, ten years old, was visiting town and was very interested in birds. We had a very productive walk around Munson Pond, producing a list of 30 species. On the pond were several Wood Ducks, as well as the usual Mallards, Gadwall and Canada Geese. Somewhat of a surprise was finding a Wilson’s Phalarope on the pond, as this species does not frequent Munson Pond often. California Quail called from conspicuous perches around the pond, and in the thistles, American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins fed on seed heads. A couple of noisy Belted Kingfishers showed off nicely as they perched at the edge of the pond, occasionally making forays out to plunge for a fish. Flying to and fro were several Barn Swallows, with one or two Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a Bank Swallow mixed in. A few of the more prominent songbirds on our walk included Eastern Kingbirds, Willow Flycatchers, Yellow Warbler, Song Sparrow and Cedar Waxwing. Just before Tanner arrived this morning I had seen two Cooper’s Hawks chasing one another about. We went back to the area to look, but the hawks were nowhere to be found. We did see a Red-tailed Hawk however. Just about as we were back at the vehicles, we spotted a Painted Turtle that was crossing the road. Tanner aided the turtle to the edge of the pond, grinning from ear to ear.
Our next stop was at Sutherland Hills Park, another of Kelowna’s lovely regional parks. We sniffed some Ponderosa Pines, enjoying the strong scent of vanilla that was seeping out through the bark. Western Wood-Pewees gave their lazy songs, and we enjoyed the antics of a little group of Pygmy Nuthatches as they foraged in the pines near the edge of the trail. We glimpsed a couple of Gray Catbirds, and we heard, but didn’t see, some Swainson’s Thrushes and a Veery. Overhead, a Great Blue Heron sailed by, another of Tanner’s favorite birds by the sound of it. It was turning into a hot day, so we finished up before lunch, quite happy with what we had seen.
I met up with three ladies from Kelowna up in the Black Mountain area along Highway 33, shortly after 6 AM. We made our way up towards Big White Ski Resort, where we
walked along a logging road through some nice boreal forest. Being late July, bird song was limited, and the birds we did see were often in a heavy state of molt. It was a cool start to the morning, and there were even a few raindrops falling, but that did not intimidate the hungry mosquitoes! Nonetheless, we enjoyed great views of Hermit Thrush here today, and we briefly saw a Swainson’s Thrush as well. Varied Thrushes were seen and heard too. Pine Siskins were numerous, and we noted some Chipping Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a singing Olive-sided Flycatcher. The highlight here, however, was finding at least three Boreal Chickadees, among the ubiquitous Mountain Chickadees. Both Canada and Steller’s jays were nice additions to the day list also. The showing of wildflowers was quite spectacular up at this elevation (1700 meters).
A stop at a wetland near McCulloch Lake was productive as well. In the willow infested marsh there were birds like Orange-crowned Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Willow Flycatcher, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. A Hairy Woodpecker and a Red-naped Sapsucker were noted here, as well as more Olive-sided Flycatchers.
At Arlington Lakes, we took in the spectacular scenery, as well as some nice birds. We saw an adult Common Loon, as well as a large fluffy brown chick. Canada Geese also had some young, along with Mallards, and Ring-necked Duck. A female Hooded Merganser hid well in the emergent vegetation. We watched Willow Flycatchers tend to their nest at the edge of the lake, and several male Western Tanagers put on a nice showing.
We had lunch south of Beaverdell at Blythe-Rhone Road. Thanks Kathy, for the delicious samosas. Our lunch was interrupted by the appearance of a family group of American Redstarts, with the male flamboyantly flashing about in the vegetation. Red-eyed Vireo sang from the tall cottonwoods and our only Pacific-slope Flycatcher of the day sat on an
exposed perch for a few moments. A female Black-chinned Hummingbird was seen briefly, and up in the sky over the cottonwoods was a single Vaux’s Swift. Red Crossbills seemed to be at almost every stop today, with some flocks numbering in excess of 20 birds.
At Rock Creek Provincial Recreation Site, it was pretty warm and sunny as we walked a track through the burned forest in search of woodpeckers. We saw a couple of Lewis’s Woodpeckers, as well as the usual Hairy Woodpeckers, but the Black-backed Woodpecker remained elusive. There were plenty of Western Wood-Pewees about, including a fledgling sitting next to its nest. Dusky Flycatcher was also found here, as well as a recently fledged Eastern Kingbird. The fireweed growing here was spectacular.
A short visit to the Prospector Pub in Rock Creek, where feeders hang next to the Kettle River, provided us with a few additional species. Among the hordes of Pine Siskins were a few Cassin’s Finches and a single male Evening Grosbeak. On a gravel bar in the river
was our only Spotted Sandpiper of the day, along with a number of Brewer’s Blackbirds. Lewis’s Woodpeckers were feeding young in a cavity in a cottonwood only a few feet from the patio at the pub, as a bunch of bikers sipped beverages unaware of their presence.
Before we left Rock Creek we headed for Harpur Ranch. This area, with open grassland, wetlands and nearby forest provides a nice variety of habitats for birds. In the grasslands we were surrounded by Mountain Bluebirds, and Western Kingbirds. In the saskatoon bushes in the grassland were Bullock’s Orioles, Gray Catbird, Vesper Sparrows and Cassin’s Finch. Around the farm buildings were flocks of blackbirds, including Brewer’s, Red-winged and a few Yellow-headed blackbirds. A Virginia Rail peeked its head out of the edge of the marsh at one
point, and a Marsh Wren called away in the reeds. A few ducks were found on the wetland, including Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Hooded Merganser and Mallard. Two lovely adult Common Loons were a treat to see here as well. A Belted Kingfisher sat on a power line above the lake, and it peered down into the water in search of its next meal. Several Ospreys also hunted over the lake, and other raptors included a Swainson’s Hawk, a Northern Harrier and an adult Golden Eagle.
We began the return trip to Kelowna, stopping in the Goudie Road area at dusk where we enjoyed watching a Common Nighthawk do its aerial display. By the time our day was over, we had tallied 93 species, a pretty respectable total for late July.
I met four clients this morning in Rutland, and in the parking lot at McDonald’s we had our only Ring-billed Gull for the day. Our first stop was at Philpott Road where we searched through the burn, hoping for woodpeckers. We did have a Hairy Woodpecker, and I heard a distant Pileated Woodpecker, in addition to the usual Northern Flickers, but we couldn’t find any of the more interesting woodpeckers here this morning. We saw a nice pair of Mountain Bluebirds here however, and we enjoyed views of Cassin’s Vireo and several MacGillivray’s Warblers.
Next, we visited the boreal forest near Big White Ski Resort. Walking a track through the
forest, we found Yellow-rumped Warblers, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Hermit Thrush and Red-breasted Nuthatches to be rather common. I heard, but could not see, a Lincoln’s Sparrow, a Wilson’s Warbler and a Townsend’s Warbler. Both Canada and Steller’s jays called in the forest, and an Olive-sided Flycatcher sang ‘Quick three beers from atop a spruce next to a clearcut. Our highlight here though, was a female Spruce Grouse next to the path, with at least two fluffy little golden chicks nearby. On the way back to our cars, John and I saw a lovely Anise Swallowtail.
A quick visit to a marsh on upper McCulloch Road did not produce a Rusty Blackbird, though some other nice birds were tallied. Another Olive-sided Flycatcher showed nicely and at one point caught a darner and proceeded to whack it to death against a branch and remove the wings before carrying it off. A couple of Northern Waterthrushes sang
from the wetland, though they remained hidden. In the wet willows we had Lincoln’s Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler and best of all, a female type American Redstart. A family group of Red-naped Sapsuckers were quite active in the area as well.
At picturesque Arlington Lakes we enjoyed our lunch next to the water, where an adult and a young Common Loon swam through pond lilies on the far side of the lake. A female Ring-necked Duck was a nice catch here, and we saw broods of Canada Goose and Mallard as well. Dave spotted a Belted Kingfisher sitting on a stick at the edge of the water, and this was our only kingfisher today. Fran spotted a Willow Flycatcher on its nest as well. We enjoyed watching a male Western Tanager make several forays to the edge of the marsh to gather food and carry it off for its youngsters. At one point, a large dragonfly called a darner, swooped low over our heads and just seconds later the tanager zipped by and snatched the darner. It then beat the dragonfly to death on a branch, and carried it off.
Between Beaverdell and Rock Creek, we explored some riparian habitat along Blythe-Rhone Road. We saw a female American Redstart carrying food here, as well as a pair of obliging Red-eyed Vireos in the cottonwoods. A male Black-chinned Hummingbird sat atop a fir tree for a few moments before buzzing off. A Gray Catbird called, and we had a brief view of a Dusky Flycatcher. Red Crossbills flew overhead but refused to let us get a good look at them.
At Rock Creek Provincial Recreation Site we took a walk through the burned forest, again hoping for some woodpeckers. Margaret radioed us, informing of our first sighting of
Lewis’s Woodpecker for the day. On our walk we watched the Lewis’s parents feed at least one hungry nestling in the cavity in a dead fir. Also along the walk we had several Western Wood-Pewees, Willow Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, American Goldfinch, 2 White-breasted Nuthatches and a couple of noisy Clark’s Nutcrackers. The fireweed glowed purple on the forest floor in the afternoon sunlight. It was quite hot at this point in the day at around 30 degrees Celsius.
A quick stop at the Rock Creek Prospector Pub, not to indulge in beverages, but rather to check out some feeders along the shore of the Kettle River. There was a Song Sparrow here, as well as Pine Siskins. I heard a Downy Woodpecker and we watched another Lewis’s Woodpecker feed young in a hole in a big cottonwood. Margaret spotted a Northern Rough-winged Swallow over the river, and I pointed out our only Spotted Sandpiper for the day.
At Harpur Ranch, we enjoyed some grassland birding late this afternoon. There seemed to be Mountain Bluebirds everywhere, with several males, females and youngsters about on fence lines and in bushes and trees. Cassin’s Finches were also rather numerous and were feeding on berries in the Saskatoon bushes. Family groups of Western Kingbirds
noisily bickered at one another, while a few Eastern Kingbirds also joined in on the ‘party’. We saw Western Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting and California Quail in the grassland area as well. Two Pileated Woodpeckers quietly foraged in some pine trees close to the road, while Spotted Towhee called. Down by Myers Wetland, we had a couple of Great Blue Herons, as well as at least 4 noisy Virginia Rails in the marsh. A male Common Yellowthroat came in to investigate my ‘pishing’. Waterfowl were not seen in numbers, but we had a few ducks including Ring-necked Duck, Gadwall, Mallard and a family group of Blue-winged Teal. Mixed flocks of Red-winged, Brewer’s and Yellow-headed blackbirds lined the telephone wires, alongside many young European Starlings.
Our last new species for the day was the highlight bird of the day. At dusk we spotted a Great Gray Owl. To protect the owls, I won’t give any direct locations to the bird, but we watched the silent giant owl as it looked for prey in some long grass. A fine ending to the day. Our trip total was 90 species.
At 6 AM, I met up with two couples from the Kelowna area at the Trepanier Road exit on the Connector near Peachland. Veery and Western Tanager were singing at our meeting spot, and a Great Blue Heron flew upstream as well. We drove up and over the connector, spotting a couple of Bald Eagles along the way. Our first official stop was at the Laurie Guichon Memorial Grasslands and Interpretive Site. A small wetland with a viewing platform provides a nice spot for some birding along this route. We added birds like Mallard, American Coot, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck and nesting Marsh Wren here. A Red-naped Sapsucker was also feeding young inside a nest in a cavity in an
aspen. An Eastern Kingbird sat on its nest while its mate caught insects along the edge of the pond nearby.
We then drove along scenic route Hwy 5a between Merritt and Kamloops, stopping in first at Guichon Flats where high water levels appear to have had a negative impact on nesting Eared Grebes and waterfowl. Still, there were some Eared Grebes about, as well as a Pied-billed Grebe. Ducks were still plentiful and included Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Cinnamon Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall and more. Loads of Yellow-headed Blackbirds were rustling about in the reeds, along with chattering Marsh Wrens. A few early southbound migrant shorebirds were noted as well, including an adult Long-billed Dowitcher and several each of Lesser and Greater yellowlegs.
Next, we visited Planet Mine Road, where tall Ponderosa Pine snags are dominant. We watched a Lewis’s Woodpecker with an unripe berry, attempting to feed its young in a cavity in a pine snag. The bird didn’t seem to want to come in to the nest while we were present, so we quickly retreated and let this beautiful pink and green woodpecker get back to its business of raising young.
As we neared the west end of Shumway Lake, I spotted a pair of Golden Eagles soaring over the ridge nearby. Also, in the same general area, were about a dozen Bald Eagles that were congregated along a creek.
At Separation Lake, we watched as a couple of Swainson’s Hawks played in the breeze overhead. We also saw some Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrel, both species that we saw several times throughout the day. Swallows were numerous, and we quite a number of Bank Swallows here. The usual expected grassland species such as Savannah and Vesper sparrows and Western Meadowlarks were present here, and at many stops throughout the day. A Spotted Sandpiper posed nicely atop a fence post, protesting our presence, so we assumed it had young or eggs nearby. As a rain squall approached we quickly retreated to our vehicles just in time.
We then went on the chase for a rare duck, reported the day earlier, at Mitchell Lake, by a couple of local Kamloops birders. It was a Tufted Duck, and as we pulled up to Mitchell
Lake, it was about the first bird we saw on the water! This Eurasian species shouldn’t be in North America to begin with, and the time of year was most unusual, since Summer records are scarce. Amongst the other regular species of waterfowl, we saw a single Hooded Merganser, our only for the day. Other goodies noted along the route to Mitchell Lake included several Say’s Phoebes, an Eastern Kingbird and an adult Peregrine Falcon.
After a quick stop to grab a coffee and use the facilities in Kamloops, we headed up into the grasslands of the Lac du Bois area. This road is fantastic with such a wide variety of habitats, beginning with open grasslands covered in sagebrush, and a little higher up beautiful mixed grass grasslands. Aspen copses dot the landscape as do small lakes and ponds. Several kilometers up the road you enter a mixed coniferous forest with dominant species being Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine. We tallied about 60 species on our drive up the road. In the grassland section there were about a dozen Clay-colored
Sparrows buzzing away. Lazuli Buntings sang but remained hidden in the sage, while the usual Western Meadowlarks put on a nice show. Raptors included several Red-tailed Hawks, a Swainson’s Hawk and an immature Cooper’s Hawk. Margaret and John saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk as well. On the ponds and wetlands was a nice selection of ducks. At one little pond we watched as tiny ducklings of Green-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal and Bufflehead all mingled together. We had a female Barrow’s Goldeneye resting on a log, our only for the day. Marsh Wrens seemed to be at every little patch of reeds. Overhead, a number of Common Nighthawks called as they hunted for insects and two large swifts flew over, most likely White-throated Swifts, though they were just silhouettes against the sky. A stop at a grove of aspens not far from Lac du Bois itself was very productive. Here, we had our first Mountain Bluebird of the day, a lovely male. Flycatchers were well represented here and we had views of Least Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher and Western Wood-Pewee. Also in the aspens were Orange-crowned Warbler, House Wren, Red-naped Sapsucker, Pine Siskin, Warbling Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Cassin’s Finch and a Lincoln’s Sparrow.
A quick spin down the road to Isobel Lake provided a few more woodland birds such as Hammond’s Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Cassin’s Vireo.
On a little pond along the way we saw a female Bufflehead with 7 ducklings all nestled together along a half-submerged log. At Isobel Lake, it was fairly quiet, other than the distant rumble of thunder. We saw our only Rufous Hummingbird of the day here, near the feeder at the camp host site. As we left this location, heavy rain began to fall.
We drove east of Kamloops to Campbell Lake where we had hoped we might find some Black Terns. No terns were present unfortunately. It was a beautiful drive though, and the lakes and ponds produced more ducks and waterbirds. Several Common Loons were seen here, and swallows fed over the water by the hundreds. Here, we said our goodbyes and began the very wet drive back to Kelowna. By the end of the day we had seen and heard 100 species!
Bird Species: Canada Goose; Blue-winged Teal; Cinnamon Teal; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; Mallard; Green-winged Teal; Redhead; Ring-necked Duck; Tufted Duck; Lesser Scaup; Bufflehead; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Hooded Merganser; Ruddy Duck; Pied-billed Grebe; Red-necked Grebe; Eared Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Common Nighthawk; Rufous Hummingbird; Calliope Hummingbird; Sora; American Coot; Killdeer; Long-billed Dowitcher; Spotted Sandpiper; Lesser Yellowlegs; Greater Yellowlegs; Common Loon; Great Blue Heron; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Golden Eagle; Sharp-shinned Hawk; Cooper’s Hawk; Bald Eagle; Swainson’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk; Belted Kingfisher; Lewis’s Woodpecker; Red-naped Sapsucker; Downy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; American Kestrel; Merlin; Peregrine Falcon; Western Kingbird; Eastern Kingbird; Western Wood-Pewee; Willow Flycatcher; Least Flycatcher; Hammond’s Flycatcher; Dusky Flycatcher; Say’s Phoebe; Cassin’s Vireo; Warbling Vireo; American Crow; Common Raven; Tree Swallow; Violet-green Swallow; Northern Rough-winged Swallow; Bank Swallow; Cliff Swallow; Barn Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; House Wren; Marsh Wren; Western Bluebird; Mountain Bluebird; Veery; Swainson’s Thrush; American Robin; European Starling; Cedar Waxwing; Evening Grosbeak; House Finch; Cassin’s Finch; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Clay-colored Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Lincoln’s Sparrow; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Orange-crowned Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow Warbler; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Western Tanager; Lazuli Bunting.
Kathy, Lesley, Joan and Annette joined me today, as we explored areas in the Thompson / Nicola region. We left Peachland shortly after 6 AM and made our way over the connector to Merritt. From Merritt, we followed Hwy 5A to Kamloops, stopping in at several locations along the way. Our first stop was at Beaver Ranch Flats, also known as Guichon Flats. Here, we scanned the extensive marshes, tallying many Eared Grebes, American Coots, Redheads, Ruddy Ducks and Lesser Scaup. In smaller numbers were Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall. Marsh Wrens seemed to be
chattering everywhere, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds were also plentiful. At one point, all the of the Yellow-headeds began giving alarm calls and just then, an adult Peregrine Falcon appeared and flew off across the marsh. I was somewhat surprised to see three
adult Greater Yellowlegs here, but more expected were several Wilson’s Phalaropes.
Our next stop was at Planet Mine Road, where open grasslands are dotted with giant Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs. Here, we easily found our target species, a pair of Lewis’s Woodpeckers near the nest tree. Other birds noted out here included Eastern Kingbird, Western Meadowlark, and an adult Bald Eagle sitting on a distant pine snag. At the south end of Stump Lake the water was very high, and therefore the number of Red-necked Grebe nests was very low. There were a couple of them nesting however. At Separation Lake, our visit was cut short by a strong rain shower. Before the rain hit, we enjoyed watching the antics of Spotted Sandpipers and Killdeer, as well as a Greater Yellowlegs. A bunch of waterfowl including
a flock of Cinnamon Teal rested on the edge of a pond with a few Blue-winged Teal mixed in. In the distance, a Swainson’s Hawk hovered above a ridge, while a female Northern Harrier perched on a fence post near the waters’ edge.
Next, we spent some time exploring the vast array of habitats offered along the Lac du Bois Road near Kamloops. The road begins in sagebrush habitat, and climbs up into nice grasslands dotted with aspen groves, and then heads into a mostly coniferous forest of pine and fir. Along the length of the road, small ponds and wetlands dot the landscape. In the sage, we enjoyed watching a plethora of sparrows that included Clay-colored, Chipping, Vesper and Savannah, as well as a couple of Lazuli Buntings. Western Meadowlarks sang their hearts out, while in the skies overhead were Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle and American Kestrel. A patch of aspen provided us with a bunch of new birds for the day list, including a very obliging Least Flycatcher, a Willow Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, nesting Red-naped Sapsuckers, a calling Bullock’s Oriole and more. Wetlands yielded a nice variety of waterfowl, including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwall, Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal and more. We watched 5 tiny, stripe-headed Pied-billed Grebe chicks climb onto the backs of their parents on one pond. At Isobel Lake, where rain showers again threatened, we had a female Barrow’s Goldeneye
with several youngsters sleeping on a log. A Pileated Woodpecker flew across a couple of times, and we found a nesting pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers. The campsite host had a couple of Rufous Hummingbirds patronizing their feeder. Songbirds in the area included Hammond’s Flycatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee, Chipping Sparrows, Red-breasted Nuthatch and more. We enjoyed watching a pair of Common Yellowthroats as they carried food to a nest in the reeds nearby. As we left, the skies opened up with a rather epic downpour that lasted 20 minutes of so. On our adventures along Lac Du Bois Road, we stopped to move several Painted Turtles off the road.
Time seemed to fly past and before we knew it, it was 5 PM. We headed for one last area of forest, lakes and wetlands, west of Kamloops. Woodland birds included Swainson’s Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, Hairy Woodpecker, Evening
Grosbeak, and much more. On wetlands we added a couple of Canvasbacks, and we saw more of the usual Barrow’s Goldeneyes, American Wigeon, and the likes, as well Herring Gull. In a distant field, two Sandhill Cranes called as they flew in. At the end of the day, we’d seen or heard about 93 species.
This evening, June 18, I was joined by three ladies from Kelowna, Kathy, Lesley and Joan. We headed south from Peachland, as dusk fell, stopping at the Pyramid Provincial Park along the way, in hopes of finding a local rarity, Northern Mockingbird. The ‘mocker’ had been present for a few days, but unfortunately, it appears to have moved on to ‘greener pastures’. Still, we saw three Common Loons on the lake, as well as a few songbirds in the park including Eastern Kingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Bullock’s Oriole and Cassin’s Finch.
Due to concerns about hordes of people visiting owl sites, I will not use exact locations in this report to protect the birds. Over a little wetland we watched several Common Nighthawks fly, giving their ‘peent’ calls as well as their ‘boom’ display. As darkness fell,
insect-eating birds took advantage of a hatch, with numbers of Bank Swallows, some Cedar Waxwings, Willow Flycatcher and a nice male Western Tanager all putting in one final appearance before the sun sank below the mountain tops. Veeries continued singing until it was almost dark. We moved away from the wetland and headed into an area of mixed Ponderosa Pine / Douglas Fir. Upon arrival we heard more nighthawks and soon the plaintive calls of Common Poorwills began. Once it was quite dark we heard the bouncing ball calls of a Western Screech-Owl. After a short search we were looking at the owl in the beam of my light. Up a slope we could also hear the whiny, rasping hiss begging calls of perhaps 5 fledgling Northern Saw-whet Owls. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see them because they were up a steep slope.
We decided it was time for a change of venue so we headed further south, passing by White Lake on our way. In the darkness, a Clay-colored Sparrow sang out in the sagebrush. We also brought out the scope for a view of Jupiter and three of its moons. It was a very nice evening for star-gazing. A surprise, for me anyhow, a Northern Flying
Squirrel swooped right in front of my vehicle as I slowly drove along. Our next stop proved to be quite productive. As soon as we got out of our vehicles we were surrounded by the hissing calls of baby Northern Saw-whet Owls. We estimated there to be at least 6 hissing fledglings in the thick cover nearby. A lot of searching unfortunately didn’t turn up any visuals on the little owls, but we decided to try one last time before we gave up. On our final attempt, I spotted one of the birds, sitting with its back to us on a fir tree. As I put my light beam on him a second fledgling landed next to him and the two had a little scuffle. All the while this was going on, another Common Poorwill was calling in the hills nearby. One of the ladies requested a Great
Horned Owl, so we visited a rural area with lots of fields where I had seen this species before. I checked each telephone pole with my light, hoping to find a large owl perched atop, and finally, we were rewarded. A Great Horned Owl gobbled a fairly large rodent down from its perch atop a pole as we watched. This was a great finish to an exciting night of owling indeed!
I was accompanied, again on a socially distant tour, by three friends from Kelowna (Lesley, Kathy, and Annette) and we began our morning with a stroll through a woodland in West Kelowna. Early morning bird activity was high and we had quite a variety of species at our first stop, including Gray Catbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Pacific-slope
Flycatcher, Veery, nesting White-breasted Nuthatch and a pair of nesting sapsuckers. The sapsuckers were of interest because the male of the pair was a classic Red-naped Sapsucker, however, the female appeared to be a hybrid between Red-naped and Yellow-bellied sapsucker. On our way south through West Kelowna, we spied the only Swainson’s Hawk for the day, sitting on a telephone wire alongside the road.
We then headed south, stopping at White Lake near Okanagan Falls. We spent an hour or so here, scouring the sagebrush for birds, and in the end we were quite successful. Sparrows were the highlight and we had views of Clay-colored, Brewer’s, Vesper and Grasshopper sparrows here. A Sage Thrasher was singing out in the sage, but remained
hidden. A pair of Gray Partridges called a couple of times before flying across the road in front of us. Of course, Western Meadowlarks were everywhere. On White Lake itself there were a few ducks including Cinnamon Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Ruddy Duck. There were Killdeer, and several Wilson’s Phalaropes, however a female Red-necked Phalarope was a bit of a surprise as this species should be up on its arctic breeding grounds by now. Both Western and Mountain bluebirds were noted, alongside Western and Eastern kingbirds.
From White Lake, we headed down Green Lake Road, stopping near Mahoney Lake to look for some pine forest species. We were not disappointed, as there were Cassin’s Finches, Western Wood-Pewee, Nashville Warbler, Calliope Hummingbird, a male Black-headed Grosbeak and a singing Gray Flycatcher. On Mahoney Lake we saw two family groups of Pied-billed Grebes, both with 4 stripy headed chicks. There were also some
Mallards, Canada Geese, American Coots, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks and a Yellow-headed Blackbird at the lake.
We then began the ascent of Shuttleworth Road, east of Okanagan Falls. On the way up, we paused to watch a pair of Lewis’s Woodpeckers at their nest tree, which they were sharing with American Kestrel! Along Dutton Creek Road we found both Swainson’s and Hermit thrushes, Clark’s Nutcracker, Canada Jay, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and several Dark-eyed Juncos. Back at the Venner Larches, we couldn’t track down any Williamson’s Sapsuckers unfortunately. We did, however, obtain good scope views of a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers on a tall snag, so that was a bonus. At Venner Meadows, birds appeared to be having their afternoon siesta. We heard, but couldn’t see, a Northern Waterthrush here. A Willow Flycatcher perched obligingly for scope views, as did a Dusky Flycatcher. Yellow Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler and Common Yellowthroat were spotted in amongst the willows, while Lincoln’s Sparrow and Wilson’s Snipe called but remained hidden. A single male Green-winged Teal was hiding on a little pond at the meadows as well. On the return trip back down to Okanagan Falls, we were treated to roadside views of a Ruffed Grouse, and after a couple of stops we finally had good views of a male Lazuli Bunting. At the end of the day, we’d found at least 114 species as a group, so it was a very successful day indeed.
Bird species: Canada Goose; Cinnamon Teal; Northern Shoveler; Gadwall; Mallard; Green-winged Teal; Ring-necked Duck; Common Merganser; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Gray Partridge; Ring-necked Pheasant; Ruffed Grouse; Pied-billed Grebe; Eared Grebe; Rock Pigeon; Mourning Dove; Black-chinned Hummingbird; Rufous Hummingbird; Calliope Hummingbird; American Coot; Killdeer; Wilson’s Snipe; Spotted Sandpiper; Wilson’s Phalarope; Red-necked Phalarope; Great Blue Heron; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Cooper’s Hawk; Bald Eagle; Swainson’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk; Lewis’s Woodpecker; Red-naped Sapsucker; American Three-toed Woodpecker; Hairy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Pileated Woodpecker; American Kestrel; Western Kingbird; Eastern Kingbird; Olive-sided Flycatcher; Western Wood-Pewee; Willow Flycatcher; Gray Flycatcher; Dusky Flycatcher; Pacific-slope Flycatcher; Cassin’s Vireo; Warbling Vireo; Canada Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Common Raven; Tree Swallow; Violet-green Swallow; Northern Rough-winged Swallow; Barn Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; Pygmy Nuthatch; House Wren; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Western Bluebird; Mountain Bluebird; Townsend’s Solitaire; Veery; Swainson’s Thrush; Hermit Thrush; American Robin; Varied Thrush; Gray Catbird; Sage Thrasher; European Starling; Cedar Waxwing; House Sparrow; House Finch; Cassin’s Finch; Pine Siskin; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Clay-colored Sparrow; Brewer’s Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Lark Sparrow; Savannah Sparrow; Grasshopper Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Lincoln’s Sparrow; Dark-eyed Junco; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brown-headed Cowbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Northern Waterthrush; Orange-crowned Warbler; Nashville Warbler; MacGillivray’s Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow Warbler; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Townsend’s Warbler; Wilson’s Warbler; Western Tanager; Black-headed Grosbeak; Lazuli Bunting.
I enjoyed the company of a couple of lovely ladies from Kelowna today, Joan and Nancy, as we explored the South Okanagan. We left Peachland at 6 AM and our first stop was at White Lake. It turned out to be a gorgeous day with nothing but sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20 degrees Celsius range. The usual cacophony of Western Meadowlarks made it difficult to hear other birds amongst the sagebrush at White Lake. The high-pitched buzzy song of a Grasshopper Sparrow could be heard up a slope nearby
so we walked up towards the song and soon we were looking eye to eye with the sparrow. Next up, we had good looks at a Clay-colored Sparrow, followed up by even better views of a Brewer’s Sparrow. One a fence line, I spotted a Sage Thrasher, another of our target species for the day. The thrasher flew off of the fence and preened in a Saskatoon bush for several minutes before disappearing. The croaky calls of Gray Partridge were heard coming from the sagebrush, but we never did see one. At one point, a single Eastern and a single Western kingbird perched on the same twig.
Our next destination was the mixed larch / spruce forests up in the mountains, east of Okanagan Falls. We were treated to great views of a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers as well as a noisy Pileated Woodpecker. A pair of Williamson’s Sapsuckers, our target species for this area, were seen very well, with the female perching out in the open for a prolonged time. In addition to the woodpeckers, we also had good views of both Dusky
and Hammond’s flycatchers, Townsend’s Warblers, a male Varied Thrush and we heard both Swainson’s and Hermit thrushes here. At Venner Meadows we enjoyed watching a Northern Waterthrush sing his heart out from the top of a short Lodgepole Pine. There were also Wilson’s Warblers, Common Yellowthroats and Lincoln’s Sparrows at the meadows, as well as a ‘chirping’ Wilson’s Snipe. On our way back down the road, we paused at a lookout point where we were treated to views of a pair of Lewis’s Woodpeckers, as well as a singing Rock Wren. Lazuli Bunting was also a nice species to see this sunny morning. We enjoyed our lunches here as well, all the while taking in the spectacular view up the Okanagan Valley towards Skaha Lake and Penticton.
At Inkaneep Provincial Park we had a nice look at a male Black-chinned Hummingbird. He was sitting atop some dead trees near the entrance to the park. Also in the park, we heard a Yellow-breasted Chat, but it remained hidden in the trees. A late Lincoln’s Sparrow was noted here, as well as a little group of Evening Grosbeaks, the latter of which were high up in a cottonwood tree.
On our way down to Road 22, we had a short stop at the top of Meadowlark Lane, where
we hoped to find a Lark Sparrow. We could see Turkey Vultures sailing over ‘The Throne’ and a pair of White-throated Swifts ventured over our way, screeching away as usual. Finally, at a puddle at the edge of the road, a Lark Sparrow came down for a drink and was joined by a Vesper Sparrow. Down at Road 22 we scanned through the hayfields, eventually having good looks at several Bobolinks. A male Northern Harrier glided back and forth over the fields, while we watched some Cliff Swallows come and go from nests on a bridge. In the scope we watched a Gray Catbird skulking in the bushes, and we also had scope views of a Yellow-breasted Chat singing away out in the open.
Our final stop of the day was at Kruger Mountain Road, west of Osoyoos. This is an area where a small population of Lesser Goldfinches can be found. It didn’t take us too long
and we were face to face with a male Lesser Goldfinch as it sang away on a telephone wire. Other nice birds seen at Kruger Mtn Road included Western Bluebirds, Say’s Phoebe, and Rufous, Black-chinned and Calliope hummingbirds. All in all it was a fantastic day and we saw over 100 species!
Bird species seen: Canada Goose; Cinnamon Teal; Gadwall; Mallard; Ruddy Duck; California Quail; Gray Partridge; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Mourning Dove; White-throated Swift; Black-chinned Hummingbird; Rufous Hummingbird; Calliope Hummingbird; American Coot; Killdeer; Spotted Sandpiper; Wilson’s Snipe; Turkey Vulture; Osprey; Northern Harrier; Bald Eagle; Red-tailed Hawk; Lewis’s Woodpecker; Williamson’s Sapsucker; Red-naped Sapsucker; Northern Flicker; Pileated Woodpecker; American Kestrel; Western Kingbird; Eastern Kingbird; Western Wood-Pewee; Hammond’s Flycatcher; Dusky Flycatcher; Say’s Phoebe; Cassin’s Vireo; Warbling Vireo; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Common Raven; Tree Swallow; Violet-green Swallow; N. Rough-winged Swallow; Cliff Swallow; Barn Swallow; Black-capped Chickadee; Mountain Chickadee; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; Rock Wren; House Wren; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Western Bluebird; Townsend’s Solitaire; Swainson’s Thrush; Hermit Thrush; American Robin; Varied Thrush; Gray Catbird; Sage Thrasher; European Starling; House Sparrow; Evening Grosbeak; House Finch; Pine Siskin; Lesser Goldfinch; American Goldfinch; Spotted Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Clay-colored Sparrow; Brewer’s Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Lark Sparrow; Grasshopper Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Lincoln’s Sparrow; Yellow-breasted Chat; Bobolink; Western Meadowlark; Red-winged Blackbird; Brown-headed Cowbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Northern Waterthrush; Orange-crowned Warbler; Nashville Warbler; MacGillivray’s Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Yellow Warbler; Yellow-rumped Warbler; Townsend’s Warbler; Wilson’s Warbler; Lazuli Bunting.
Tales and photographs of the adventures of Avocet Tours