Hey! My name is Kalin Ocaña. I’m an 18 year old birder and casual photographer from West Kelowna, BC. I’ve been paying attention to birds since I was very young, but started looking for specific species when I was around 13, the year I got my first camera. Because I hike, often deep in the backcountry, lugging around a DSLR isn’t exactly my style, for that reason I shoot with my Nikon Coolpix P1000. This is by no means a professional quality camera, but over the years I’ve learned to work around its challenges, and have ended up with some pretty nice shots of our local birds here in the Okanagan.
A target bird of mine this year, I lucked into this Loggerhead Shrike on a warm evening in early spring. I watched the bird from a far as not to scare it off before any other birders got there, but to my surprise the shrike flew over and perched right beside me!
Growing up in Northern Pygmy-Owl country, not once have I ever troubled myself with searching for one of these charismatic birds, but rather the songbirds seem to find them for me. This rather brown looking individual was hunting in my patch earlier this spring when I heard the agitated chatter of nuthatches, chickadees and kinglets, leading me right to the ferocious little owl.
Harlequin Ducks are easiest seen in late April where they can be found foraging near the mouths of our major creeks here in the Okanagan. This stunning male hung out for a particularly long time this year and seemed completely unbothered by people, often popping up right in front of me after lengthy dives in the rapids.
Mountain Bluebirds are striking migrants and breeding birds who are often extremely compliant for photos, choosing both low and open perches. The only complication with shooting this bird was a sapling lodge-pole pine between myself and the bird, however by using it as a frame I was able to add a nice green wash to the otherwise flat background.
Long-eared Owls always seemed more mythical than real to me here in the Central Okanagan. Sure, there were records, but far from annually. It was always said to be a luck bird more than anything, but I had my mind set on finding one last winter. My heart dropped when I made eye contact with this owl in a dense fir only about 6 feet from where I was standing. I had seen Long-eared owls before, but they always seemed frightened. This one seemed rather unbothered and dosed back to sleep after a few photos.
A little bit of patience is all it takes to get great photos of Lazuli Buntings. By working around the dense shrubs I was able to get some nice foreground to what would have otherwise been a pretty basic photo of a bird on a branch.
Golden-crowned Sparrows have a very narrow window in which they trickle through the Okanagan in small numbers. This was the first time I had ever heard one sing. It was extremely tame, but in order to make for a more interesting photo I slid over and used a rotting log as some foreground.
Snow Buntings are most regularly detected here as fly overs during late fall. This was only my third time ever photographing a perched individual and I was able to make the most of the morning lighting catching the orange bushes.
Not many birds have a presence quite as awe inspiring as the magnificent Great Grey Owl. I’ve been lucky enough to see 8 and hear 3 of these birds in my life, but every time I’m near to one, I just can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pure euphoria.
Getting eye level with shorebirds is a well known trick to make photos feel a lot more intimate. This basic plumage Red-necked Phalarope was sitting pretty in some extremely nice light last August and made for some great images of this uncommon Okanagan visitor.
The scraggily cliff dwelling Canyon Wren is easily one of my favorite birds. Their winding, down-spiraling song brings so much life to the rocky habitat in which they reside. Their curious nature enables a patient photographer to end up with some pretty unique images.
The raw intensity and power of the Peregrine Falcon is an easily admirable trait. These birds have captivated the human imagination for thousands of years. I befriended this female bird three years ago, and every spring she flies up to greet me high up at one of my favorite vistas in the valley.
Note: you can see more of Kalin’s work on his Instagram account @birdz.Okanagan