Thursday, April 25, 2013

Northern Saw-Whet Owl- Reifel Sanctuary

I'ts a little late to start blogging about my big year, hell I'm already 207 species in. I suppose after seeing a link to my blog posted a few days ago, and reading things I had written and forgotten years ago, I got to thinking perhaps for the benefit of just myself, I should be documenting goes.

I will start off by saying yes, the rumors are true, I am doing a British Columbia Big Year. It happened on a Whim, it may have been a drunken new years resolution, I can't actually remember the point in time where I decided to do this, I guess it doesn't matter now, all that matters is yes, I am doing this. Somehow I must have decided that this year, as opposed to years past, or years in the future, was the perfect year for me. I haven't been the most dedicated birder in some time, and after dedicating the past 2 years of my life wholly and fully into my band, I figured I needed to take a break from it.

 Although now that I think about it, there isn't really a break, just putting my obsession with one thing onto another thing, in fact it may even be more work, never had to wake up at 5am to play guitar... But in all honesty this is something I have dreamed of doing, and so far its been a trip and a half to say the least.

So here we are the end of April and I'm sitting at a reasonable number of species seen so far(207). Doing the math and factoring in the amount of time I have, and the amount of species i have at least a 10% chance of seeing I figured out that 350 is an attainable but challenging goal. The record is held by wunderkind Russell Cannings, and its quite a remarkable record, because already in April I have probably spent more time birding this year than I have in the last 5...which is kind of sad, but ive lived a few different lives in that time.

Anyways, because I can't even begin to recount all that has happened this year, I will list my best memories so far, and going forward will try and be a better blogger...which isn't one of my strengths as anyone who reads the dates on my posts can easily see.

Northern Pintail-Reifel Sanctuary

January to April Birding:

- Seeing my lifer Gray Partridge. Years I had spent driving down Nighthawk road and traversing the sage flats around White Lake hoping to flush a partridge, and it never happened. Well I finally struck pay partridge and had 8 fly right up over my car along nighthawk road, it was an amazing sight.

- Waiting in the rain with Rob Lyske before work for atleast half an hour for the Brambling that was reported at a feeder in Vancouver, it showed up right before I had to leave. Gorgeous bird. Funny part of the story is I got a text from one of my friends asking if I had seen this rare asian finch, it turned out it was his yard! I could have watched from the comfort of his living room that whole time. Random.

- Frantically driving to New west before work in a snowstorm to see the now famous Red-flanked Bluetail. I managed to see it and get a record shot, all the while not getting stuck and making it to work on time.

Red-flanked Bluetail-Queens Park

-Making the trip out to Comox twice and getting skunked both times on the Citrine Wagtail. I saw it in November, but alas I can't trade months out in a Big Year. I did however see lifers Palm Warbler and Yellow-billed Loon. But man its still a tough pill to swallow missing it for my year.

- Looking for a Western Scrub Jay in New West again with Rob Lyske, and just as I was giving up Rob yelled that it was sitting right above my head.

- A day trip to the Sunshine Coast and arriving at Mission Point at the perfect moment where a Mass of Surfbirds/Black Turnstones and Rock Sandpipers had gathered. It was amazing to see all three at the same time, which I never have in Canada.

-Going back to where I began birding(Cranbrook) and meeting Diane Cooper, and seeing Greg Ross my birding mentor from when I was just 13. Seeing Three-toed Woodpeckers in courtship, Blue Jays, flushing a Lapland Longspur, was a great time just revisiting my old haunts.

Female Mallard Idlewild Park

-Getting attacked by a crazed Canada Goose at the Iona sewage ponds. Trying to flee I tripped over my scope, bent a leg on my tripod and fell getting a nasty gash on my hand, and my knee. Ok that wasn't such a great memory.

Those are just a few of the last 4 months, my next post will be about my second Okanagan trip and then the race back to see a Dickcissel.


Short-eared Owl - Boundary Bay Regional Park

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