Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Morphee Mountain

It was time to bid adieu to the Peace. I couldn't believe I had been here for ten days. It felt like just yesterday I was waking up at Moberly Lake to start my adventure. I had to admit I'd done better than I ever dreamed. Of all the specialty birds I'd basically cleaned house. Every breeding Warbler in BC I had now seen. I was still missing the Ptarmigan, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and Rusty Blackbird, but these birds were all still attainable outside of Northeastern British Columbia, though maybe not as common and definitely not as easy to find.

I met up with Russ in Mackenzie and we headed up a decent enough road to Morphee Mountain. After Pink Mountain, this road was a piece of cake, and soon we were up at the top checking the alpine willow area for a Ptarmigan. The view was pretty amazing.

The view from  up here

Russ had seen the Ptarmigan recently, and when we played a call, it didn't take long to hear it's weird alien clucking. It flew in to check us out, majestically gliding past the both of us into the willow scrub. We pursued it a bit more to get some better looks, but I decided looks were all I nee

ded, as I didn't feel like bothering him any longer.

As we walked back to the car, Russ heard a buzzy call, we both thought Gray-cheeked but my pessimism passed it off as an overzealous Hermit Thrush. No way I could be so lucky as to get a Gray-cheeked Thrush as well. And I have heard Hermit Thrush do a good impression of their call. But then it sang, and there was no mistaking that fuzzed out song.

Gray-cheeked Thrush
Russ spotted the Thrush a ways down on the top of a conifer. In the time it took me to run back to the car for my scope and get back, another 2 more had been heard and seen. One came in nice and close, enough to see all the field marks, sadly it was too back lit for me to get a good photo, but alas.

I almost felt in shock. In one day I had a Bay-breasted Warbler, a Nelson's Sparrow, and now both Gray-cheeked and Willow Ptarmigan, two BC lifers and two hard to gets for the year. I had already given up the thought of Gray-cheeked when I couldn't find them at Stone Mountain. Any birder would be happy to find one of these in a day, and here i had seen all four, definitely don't think I can match a day as good as this.

The credit though must go to my guides. These 4 would not have been attained if it wasn't for them, and I was very grateful there are good helpful birders out there willing to share their knowledge and time.

Russ was good enough to let me crash at his hotel, and the next morning I was off for one last twitch in the south Okanagan. I didn't  do much birding on the way, just a few stops looking for Rusty Blackbird.

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