July 18, 2016 Okanagan Valley Birding

On July 18, I had the pleasure of taking a couple from Denver, Colorado through one of my favorite birding areas on earth; the Southern Okanagan Valley. We began bright and early at the Vaseux Cliffs where Canyon Wrens sang loudly, but remained a bit hard to see, but Rock Wrens showed nicely. Male Lazuli Buntings were a treat to see, as were a couple of California Bighorn Sheep. Above the ranch house on Irrigation Creek Road we had a nice Lewis’s Woodpecker, and we got fantastic views of Canyon Wren here as well. In the open habitat we had the typical species of this region; Western Bluebird, Western Meadowlark, Say’s Phoebe and Black-billed Magpie. In the pines were Pygmy Nuthatches, Cassin’s Finches, Western Wood-Pewee, Spotted Towhee and a Western Tanager singing.

Next, we stopped at Inkaneep Provincial Park and enjoyed some riparian, valley bottom birding. We were not disappointed and we saw several goodies here including a Yellow-breasted Chat, carrying food, a singing Bewick’s Wren, several Red-eyed Vireos and Swainson’s Thrush. One or two Black-chinned Hummingibirds zipped by. We then made our way towards White Lake, with a stop at Mahoney Lake along the way. The area of Ponderosa Pine just east of the lake was excellent for birds, producing two Gray Flycatchers, Red Crossbills, Townsend’s Solitaires, White-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadees and Western Tanager. At the lake itself were the usual Mallards along with several Barrow’s Goldeneye and a couple of Spotted Sandpipers. Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks sailed overhead. A short stop near Okanagan Falls Campground produced they only views of Black-headed Grosbeaks for the day. We then checked out Vaseux Lake itself and had loads of Mallards along with a few Gadwall, Redhead, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, California Gulls and Pied-billed and Red-necked grebes. One more quick look at the Vaseux Cliffs was worthwhile as we had our only views of White-throated Swifts here. We then made our way up the Shuttleworth Rd to Dutton Creek Road where we spent the last hour and a half of the day exploring a heavily wooded area of spruce and fir. Quite a variety of new species were added here with the likes of Golden-crowned Kinglet, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Pacific Wren and last but not least a calling Barred Owl, all highlights. At the end of the day we had seen and heard up to 110 species of birds!

Chris Charlesworth



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