Thursday, July 4, 2013

A REAL Winter Wren

Black Bear-Alaska Highway

The drive to Fort Nelson in the midday sun seemed to take forever. 370 kilometers is like driving to O

soyoos, but unlike the winding road that traverses a variety of habitats, the drive to fort nelson is pretty much like the repeating static scenery of a low budget cartoon. Muskeg and Oil roads. It also didn't help it was almost 30 degrees out.

The few birds I did see were a Cooper's Hawk fly across the road as well as a few mystery raptor's that had me doing U-turns to find out they were just Red-tailed Hawks when I was hoping for Northern Hawk Owl. And of course a few Black Bears.

Black Bear-Alaska Highway

Thirty kilometers from Ft Nelson the habitat begins to change and there is a turn off for Andy Bailey park. The road from the highway to the park is 10 kilometers varied habitat, all excellent birding. The first 4 kilometers gave me a plethora of warblers, including Magnolia, Redstart, Tennessee and Yellow. After that the road passes a bog and I had some great views of breeding plumage Swamp Sparrows. From the bog onward the forest along the road becomes more spruce dominated with dense underbrush, turning a corner I spotted a Spruce Grouse up on the road. I just had time enough to confirm it was a Spruce through my binoculars, because it flew off the road into the forest before I arrived.

I stopped to wander into the forest, hoping to get a closer look, but it seemed to have evaded me, probably sitting in a tree peering down at me somewhere, or it had gone further into the woods. Making my way back to the road I heard a vaguely familiar sound. It was a Pacific Wren, but different, the song was more smooth and musical, less of a jumble of twitters and more of a bubbling warble. It was a Winter Wren.

Winter Wren-Andy Bailey

Now a few years ago it would just be an Eastern Winter Wren, but the species has been split and it became obvious at least sound wise why this was done. So after 3 years of changing my Winter Wrens to Pacific Wren, I could finally say once more I had seen one.

I managed to pish the cute little fellow in real close, he gave me the stink eye and flitted back into the forest.

I highly recommend birding this area as it was very productive and I birded it in the afternoon, a morning would probably have been even better. A few days later I would camp here and even spot a Lynx, a first for me.

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