Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Okanagan odyssey and more...

Phew - I've let the blog slide a bit the last few days...

Anyhoo, last Thursday evening Jenny and I jumped onto the 5.45pm ferry to Tsawassen. We drove eastward, heading toward Princeton via the Crow's Nest Highway. Traveling over the winding mountain roads in the dark, we saw not a single nocturnal bird, though we did spy a coyote on the roadside. Which was nice.
Friday morning was glorious and as we ventured south to Osoyoos I was thrilled to spot some island-rare species I haven't had the pleasure of seeing for several years; western & eastern kingbirds, western bluebirds and black-billed magpies. Tons of western meadowlarks along the way too.
And the undoubted highlight came as we stopped to look for mountain goats on the Hedley-Keremeos road. As I scanned the ridges, Jenny said "what's that bird?" - now, despite this question often resulting in an answer along the lines of "it's a robin", I know always to check as Jen has found me some cracking birds in the past. I looked and sat on the top of a nearby conifer, at eye-level was a Lewis's woodpecker! Now, this was not only a lifer, but a bird I've really, really wanted to see for ages. I couldn't believe it. I got crippling views, and as it flew slowly past I couldn't help but be awestruck by it. Of the thirty-odd woodpecker species I've had the pleasure of seeing, this is the least woodpecker-like woodpecker I have ever clapped eyes on. In flight it is so unbelievably crow-like! Brilliant.
We visited the Desert Centre in Osoyoos, a place we tried to go to on our only previous visit to this part of the world, several years ago. It was closed for a training day that time, so we were happy to find the place open. Bird-wise I added a couple more not-seen-for-ages species in calliope hummingbird and mourning dove. I thought I saw a female black-chinned hummer too, but my view was brief and inconclusive. Other goodies here included ace views of Bullock's orioles, house wrens and yet more bluebirds.
We then headed up to Penticton - the reason for our visit to the interior. Jenny was here in an official capacity, as a maker of quality Elvis jumpsuits for Presley impersonators. Yep, we were spending the weekend at the Penticton Elvis Festival! I, was along for the ride as a wry and amused observer. Oh, what fun.  Other than overhead ospreys, the casual birding pretty much came to an end.
The return journey wasn't nearly as good as our drive in, bird-wise or weather-wise.

Monday evening - I nipped down to the Nanaimo River estuary after work and, thanks to a stiff breeze, avoided too much attention from the wretched mosquitoes. Not too birdy, a few youngsters around including a couple of yellow warblers. For my UK readers, I've posted this digi-film of a cedar waxwing - check out those undertail coverts!

Tuesday evening - Holden Creek this evening where the bugs had more fun than me. I did see my first baby spotted sandpipers though. And my first 'post-breeding' least sandpiper. A hairy woodpecker showed well in the dead trees, and common yellowthroat, rufous hummers, red-tailed hawk, and such, all put in an appearance.

No comments:

Post a Comment