Birding in Taiwan – 2013
This special tour, offered to BCFO members via the International Taiwan Birding Association, takes place from 19 November – 1 December, 2013.
Click on the page below to read or to download the full itinerary.
Two-Day Field Trips – 2013
Now starting its third year, this very successful BCFO program has four more outstanding trips for members this year. Click here for full details and join in for some excellent birding to stunning areas around the Province.
Two-Day Field Trip Report
April 7-8, 2012
A small but keen group signed up for BCFO’s first two-day field trip of 2012: Doug and Gala Sly from Nelson, Bev Gaal and Holley Rubinsky from Kaslo, and June Ryder and Mike Church from Vancouver. I met the gang at my house in Penticton at 7 a.m., happy to see that a lovely day was in store for us – a rarity during this cold, blustery spring. We decided to head directly to Vaseux Lake, hoping to hear Chukar cackling from the cliffs. We were greeted by the cascading song of a Canyon Wren, and eventually got superb views of this handsome bird, but the Chukar were silent. A Say’s Phoebe sang near the base of the cliffs and a few Violet-green Swallows chirped overhead, but it was apparently too chilly for White-throated Swifts to be out and about.
Out on the lake was a huge flock of coots mixed in with American Wigeon, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck and other waterfowl. Happy with that start, we continued south through Oliver, then drove along the river dykes toward Road 22. We hiked into The Juniper, famous for its roosting owls, hoping to see the Long-eared Owl that was there a couple of weeks ago. Instead we flushed a Barn Owl — a very good species for the Okanagan and another of the Juniper’s regular visitors. Farther south we checked a Long-eared Owl nest; the female was sitting so tightly we could only see her “ear” tufts, but they were definitely long enough to clinch identification.
Dick and the gang search for Bewick’s Wren.
A Bewick’s Wren sang nearby, another good bird for the Okanagan, but one that is becoming increasingly widespread in valley bottom thickets. By now it was almost lunch time, so we drove up to the top of Meadowlark Lane and ate our sandwiches below The Throne. A Western Bluebird flew from post to post in the vineyard, joined by a silent — obviously migrating — Vesper Sparrow, my first of the year. After lunch we drove through Osoyoos and up Anarchist Mountain to the east, one of the traditional spots for Williamson’s Sapsucker in the Okanagan. We weren’t disappointed; the male was drumming and calling as we opened the car doors. As we worked around to get a good look at him, a series of deep hoots came out of the forest to the east. Great Gray? We eventually heard the owl four more times, each one a classic Great Gray hoot series, but the bird went silent as we hiked towards it. Frustrating but fascinating! Driving on, we stopped at a junction where I’d seen a Hoary Redpoll a couple of weeks ago, but were quickly distracted by a wheeling flock of finches higher up the hill. We drove up to meet them, and found 200 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches swirling over a gravel quarry, the sun setting off their pinks, browns and greys to perfection.
Mountain Bluebird MH
We stopped in at one of the Regal Ridge subdivisions on the way back to Osoyoos, where the ponderosa pines were alive with Pygmy, White-breasted and Red-breasted nuthatches, and a small flock of Cassin’s Finches. Once through Osoyoos we continued west over Richter Pass. While stopping to scan the ducks on Richter Lake (mostly Ring-necked with a smattering of Redhead, scaup and goldeneye) a pair of Chukar flew by us!
After a delicious meal at Benji’s Thai Restaurant in Keremeos (who knew Keremeos had such cuisine!) we drove up to Twin Lakes and down to White Lake in the gathering dusk. A couple of late Northern Shrike were on the wires and then a Rough-legged Hawk (our second of the day). In a narrow valley south of the lake we called up a Northern Pygmy-Owl, and then heard a Western Screech-Owl respond to the whistles as well! At Mahoney Lake we stopped in the darkness to call for a Northern Saw-whet Owl, and one soon responded, serenading us with its tooting song and cat-like wails. A great end to a great day!
The next morning we started with some gull-watching on the Okanagan Lake beach, where a small mixed flock of Ring-billed, California, Herring and Glaucous-winged gulls provided a good opportunity to study this challenging group. A flock of moulting Horned Grebes was offshore and a Merlin flew overhead. At Okanagan Falls we quickly found the resident pair of American Dippers and a migrant Townsend’s Solitaire.
Determined to find White-throated Swifts, we stopped at Vaseux Lake again and soon heard them chattering overhead, offering good flight and pattern comparisons with Violet-green Swallows. A careful search through the wigeon produced a single male Eurasian Wigeon, then Rock Wren—another spring arrival—sang from the cliffs, offering brief looks.
We drove up McKinney Road east of Oliver, enjoying great views of Western Bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds, and Red Crossbills. We walked the roads at the Mount Baldy ski village, hoping to find Boreal Chickadees and Pine Grosbeaks, but had to be satisfied with a single Gray Jay and a fly-by Northern Goshawk. On our return through the Fairview-White Lake Road, the pine forests were quiet on this warm spring afternoon, so we capped the trip off with a visit to a very urban Great Horned Owl nest in downtown Penticton.
American Dipper MH
During the two days, we recorded a total of 99 species. The complete list can be found in the Appendix to BC Birding, June 2012 on the BCFO website.
Annual BCFO Conference, (2012) Princeton, BC
Field Trips In & Around Princeton, BC
Trip One: Princeton – Summerland Road
Elevation: 650 – 1100 m; approximate distance: 45 km; mostly driving with short walks
We will drive a secondary hwy NE of Princeton through grassland and forest, past small lakes, marshes, creeks, and 3 larger lakes. Expect to find a variety of waterfowl, raptors, sparrows, swallows, thrushes, warblers, bluebirds, flycatchers, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and more. Less likely are shorebirds, Golden Eagle, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Clark’s Nutcracker, Varied and Hermit thrushes, Black-headed Grosbeak, Wild Turkey and Red Crossbill. We may visit a hummingbird banding site (Rufous, Calliope, Black-chinned) but this is not confirmed.
Trip Two: Baldy and Iron Mountains
Elevation: 650-1000m. This trip will involve more walking than Trip 1, so bring water.
We will drive the Iron Mountain Rd, NE of Princeton, a narrow gravel road with many switchbacks before leveling out at the top in grasslands. Ephemeral ponds and/or waterholes for cattle attract many birds. Many Trip 1 species will be found here, plus Canyon and Rock wrens and there may be more accipiters. Possibilities include Horned Lark (has nested), Prairie Falcon, Common Nighthawk, Long-eared Owl (roosting in Juniper), White-throated Swift, Golden Eagle, grouse. Good views of Similkameen R. from Mt. Baldy.
Trip Three: KVR Trail along the Tulameen R. and River Rd along the Similkameen River
Elevation: 650 m. Length: up to 18 km on foot. This tends to be a very hot walk so bring water.
Access is through tunnel. The trail heads NW, past the Vermillion Cliffs (historical/geological interest).Good area for a host of passerines: lots of shrubs, grass and diverse trees. Look for a variety of sparrows, warblers, and Gray Catbird, Northern Oriole, Swainson’s Thrush, Veery, Black-headed and Evening Grosbeaks, Willow Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, Osprey, Bald and Golden eagles. Possibilities: Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Least Flycatcher, Great Horned Owl. On the river: Common Merganser and Harlequin Duck are common.
Trip Four: Sewage Lagoons, August Lake, Allenby Rd, Copper Mountain Rd.
The sewage lagoons are often productive, and surrounding wet meadows attract a few shorebirds, including Solitary Sandpiper. From the golf course to August L. (hayfields on left, forest on right) look for nuthatches, woodpeckers; possible Williamson’s Sapsucker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Band-tailed Pigeon. At August L: waterfowl, and chances for shorebirds are better than anywhere else; there are records for Barred and Great Gray owls (nesting), and Flammulated, Saw-whet and Screech owls (calling). Allenby and Copper Mtn. Rds: waterfowl, rails and many of the passerines mentioned above. (Caution: traffic on these roads can be quite busy at times.) * Information provided by Madelon Schouten, Vermillion Forks Field Naturalists. Additional information about each Field Trip will be available at the “Meet and Greet” on the Friday evening.
2-Day Field Trips for Members 2012
To see this year’s offerings, click here.
The Fraser Delta with George Clulow – Trip Report
November 12 and 13, 2011
The final Two-day Field Trip for Members in 2011
While there’s always hope for good weather when birding BC’s South Coast in November, expectations should be for rain. And for the hardy group of eight who came from as far afield as Quesnel and Victoria to bird the Coast this November, expectations were met.
We made a cracking start at Blackie Spit with good views of the expected Long-billed Curlew, and Marbled Godwits, and were treated to good numbers of ducks, grebes, loons, and other shorebirds expected for the time of year. A cooperative Cooper’s Hawk captured the group’s attention for a while. As the rain started in earnest, and we departed the spit, a somewhat late Bonaparte’s Gull provided a nice farewell.
Birding the farmland around Mud Bay we found a Rough-legged Hawk, which augured well for our raptor sightings, but only if the rain would stop! Soon after, we sighted our first Eurasian Collared-Dove – a now ubiquitous bird around Boundary Bay.
Despite our best efforts to stay vertical and view the birds on Boundary Bay at the foot of 104th St., the wind and rain rapidly drove us off the dyke. A rapid change a plans was called for to avoid the wind and rain pounding in from the South East. So we headed for Reifel and had lunch in the warming hut while we dried out a little. As it turned out Reifel was a good choice. Not only were birding conditions reasonable, but the Snow Goose flocks in the fields were spectacular, Trumpeter Swans were recently returned, and Black-crowned Night Heron was a BC tick for at least one member of the group. A Northern Saw-whet Owl was also a welcome addition to our list. Wild Sandhill Cranes (as opposed to the semi-wild resident family) graced the west field and many Northern Harriers continually quartered the saltmarsh. We finished the day with Canvasback, and the far less common on the Coast, Redhead, as our final birds of the day.
We retreated to a Greek Restaurant in Crescent Beach for dinner, libations and birding talk.
The morning of Day 2 found us at Boundary Bay again, but this time actually able to see the huge, wheeling flocks of Dunlin and get close looks at Black-bellied Plover and the massive rafts of Pintail, Wigeon, and Mallard that fill the Bay at this time of year.
Heading west we found Short-eared Owls at two locations on the Bay, The Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty was our next stop, and our targets of Willet and Snow Buntings were soon found, while sea-ducks provided some close-in looks for us.
Brunswick Point was our last stop, and for most of the group it provided the highlight bird of the whole weekend. Far out on the salt marsh, but providing pretty good scope views was a single Snowy Owl. We didn’t know it then, but this bird was one of the advance guard of the huge flight of this species we’re having this winter. What a great way to finish our weekend – Snowy Owl, ninety-two species, and it wasn’t raining!
Photographs: Leona Breckenridge and George Clulow
Species seen:Snow Goose Brant Canada Goose Mute Swan Trumpeter Swan Wood Duck Gadwall Eurasian Wigeon American Wigeon Mallard Northern Shoveler Northern Pintail Green-winged Teal Canvasback Redhead Greater Scaup Lesser Scaup Surf Scoter White-winged Scoter Bufflehead Common Goldeneye Barrow’s Goldeneye Hooded Merganser Red-breasted Merganser Ring-necked Pheasant [I] Pacific Loon Common Loon Horned Grebe Red-necked Grebe Western Grebe Double-crested Cormorant Great Blue Heron Black-crowned Night-Heron Bald Eagle Northern Harrier Sharp-shinned Hawk Cooper’s Hawk Red-tailed Hawk Rough-legged Hawk Peregrine Falcon American Coot Sandhill Crane Black-bellied Plover Killdeer Black Oystercatcher Greater Yellowlegs Willet Long-billed Curlew Marbled Godwit Dunlin Long-billed Dowitcher Wilson’s Snipe Bonaparte’s Gull Mew Gull Ring-billed Gull Glaucous-winged Gull Rock Pigeon (I) Eurasian Collared-Dove (I) Snowy Owl Short-eared Owl Northern Saw-whet Owl Belted Kingfisher Downy Woodpecker Northern Flicker Northern Shrike Northwestern Crow Common Raven Black-capped Chickadee Brown Creeper Bewick’s Wren Pacific Wren Marsh Wren Golden-crowned Kinglet Ruby-crowned Kinglet American Robin European Starling (I) Cedar Waxwing Northern Shrike Spotted Towhee Savannah Sparrow Fox Sparrow Song Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow Golden-crowned Sparrow White-crowned Sparrow Dark-eyed Junco Snow Bunting Red-winged Blackbird Purple Finch House Finch American Goldfinch House Sparrow [I]