Birding the Central Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Aug 1, 2016


I had the pleasure of guiding Andrew and Cynthia from the U.K. around the Central Okanagan Valley today. We started off early and began with a nice adult dark morph Swainson’s Hawk along Glenmore Road in north Kelowna. We spent the rest of the morning exploring Beaver Lake Road near Lake Country. It was a warm, and sunny day, with comfortable temperatures in the low 20’s while we were in the mountains. As we made our way up through the grasslands we tallied a pretty nice list of birds; Eastern Kingbirds, Western Meadowlark, a Clay-colored Sparrow and a gorgeous male Lazuli Bunting were all highlights. Juvenile Western Bluebirds, two of them, were the only ones we saw today, though we did tally several Mountain Bluebirds. American Kestrels continue to be numerous along the Beaver Lake Rd grassland areas, as do Vesper Sparrows, Calif0rnia Quail and Black-billed Magpies, all interesting species for visitors from other continents.

Areas of Choke Cherry were very rich in bird life. There were Cedar Waxwings, Gray Catbirds, Bullock’s Oriole, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Spotted Towhee and more Lazuli Buntings eating the cherries which are really covering the bushes at the moment. A female Hairy Woodpecker showed well for us as did several juvenile Red-naped Sapsuckers. We watched Western Wood-Pewees flycatch from the large Ponderosa Pines, where we also enjoyed watching a group of about half a dozen Pygmy Nuthatches dangling from the branches. As soon as we entered the mixed coniferous forest we began to add other birds; Evening Grosbeak, Calliope Hummingbird, Swainson’s Thrush, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Pine Siskin to name a few species. A few mammal species noted this morning along Beaver Lake Road included a howling Coyote and several Mule Deer, as well as adorable Yellow Pine Chipmunks.

At the Beaver Lake Lodge we took a stroll along a spruce lined path where we found an extremely tame female Pine Grosbeak. She came right down to within a few inches of us. I suspect she must have had a nest nearby. Also seen here were a few each of Gray Jay and Steller’s Jay, and a pair of singing White-winged Crossbills. We lunch on the patio of the Beaver Lake Lodge and were entertained by watching several Common Loons on the lake. Osprey and Bald Eagle also appeared, as did Tree and Barn swallows. We noticed a tiny head poking up out of a robins nest built on the lodge itself and discovered it was an adult Pacific-slope Flycatcher that had taken over the nest and appeared to incubating.

On Beaver Lake Road we tallied about 60 species, but we needed some wetland birds to compliment our list so we returned to the valley bottom and visited the Kelowna Landfill. Gulls were numerous and about 90 percent of them were California Gulls. The next most common species were Ring-billed Gulls, followed by 2 adult Glaucous-winged Gulls, a couple of adult Herring Gulls and a lone adult Mew Gull, the latter rather rare in the summer. Shorebird numbers were low but we did still see some; Lesser and Greater yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer and Red-necked Phalarope were seen here. Waterfowl also were present with Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Hooded Merganser, Mallard, Ruddy Duck and Northern Shoveler all tallied.

Red-necked Phalarope. Robert Lake, Kelowna, BC. Aug 1, 2016.

Our final stop of the day was at Robert Lake where almost as soon as we pulled into the parking area I spotted our bird of the day, a juvenile Stilt Sandpiper. Rare but nearly annual in the Okanagan, Stilt Sandpipers normally use a migration route that takes them through the prairies. Alongside the Stilt Sandpiper were up close Semipalmated and Least sandpipers as well. A molting female Red-necked Phalarope was here also. More ducks were added with Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead and Redhead noted. In the reeds were both Red-winged and Yellow-headed blackbirds. At the end of the day our list was over 90 species! Not a bad start to August.

stilt sand
Stilt Sandpiper. Robert Lake, Kelowna, BC. Aug 1, 2016. Chris Charlesworth.

Chris Charlesworth, Avocet Tours


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