Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Short Stint at Boundary Bay

On the road to somewhere

Monday Morning I awoke with the intentions on a major coverage of the interior for any shorebirds, my first stop would be Salmon Arm Bay, and Christmas Island, a Stilt Sandpiper had been reported, then on to Vernon and Otter lake, then Robert Lake in Kelowna, then Penticton oxbows where another Stilt had been reported, and then Willow Beach near Osoyoos, where yet another Stilt Sandpiper had been seen.

Salmon Arm did not yield the expected results, partly because I didn't get there til 10am, and partly because it was already quite busy with foot traffic, boaters, dog walkers and the like. The only interesting bird was a pair of Short-billed Dowitchers. At about this time Russell, my big year mentor texted me to let me know the Stint had again been seen this morning. I told him I was in Salmon Arm and debating on going back for it, he said I probably should, and could maybe make it for the High tide at 630pm.

I weighed my options, if I stayed I would probably pick up some shorebirds, but they weren't super rare, if I went, I could get a really rare bird, not to mention a Lifer, but if I didn't get it, I would have wasted a lot of gas, and time for nothing. The term indecisive comes to mind if I were to describe how I felt at this moment.

I drove towards Kamloops, i had to the turn off to Vernon to make my final decision, I mulled it over in my mind, then realized there was something I hadn't thought about, the traffic going back would probably be bad, it was a Holiday Monday, meaning everyone and their dog would be driving home to Vancouver, I might not even make it back in time for high tide...but even still, the reward outweighed the risks, so threw caution to the wind and stayed straight on towards Vancouver.

Four hours later I was stuck in traffic, it was backed up as soon as I reached hope, this did not look good. It was about 4 o'clock now and in good traffic its about an hour and a half, I got off the highway in Langley and headed for highway 10, as soon as I was off the highway the traffic was great, and I pulled in to the 104th st parking lot at around 530, I scrambled to get my stuff and myself out of the car and bolted up to the dyke. The tide was still a bit out which was a relief.

I had seen Rob Lyske's truck in the parking lot, which was a good sign because usually when we both ended up at the same place for the same bird, it was a good chance we would be seeing it. I headed west along the dyke, I saw an obvious crowd of birders further on up, always a good sign. I jogged up to them and in what was probably the most perfect timing in my birding history, Peter Candido caught the bird first in his scope and called out "I've got it!" within minutes I had a Red-necked Stint! I was so relieved I felt like I could collapse right there and fall asleep, but instead spent time watching a gorgeous little shorebird with a great group of birders.

Rob and his son's were there, his oldest Matthew already knew how many birds I was at, since he follows the Top 100 on ebird religiously, he even knows the last species birders has seen, its remarkable, and great to see birders getting into it at such a young age. I bid adieu but instead of going home, like a sane person would, I drove back to hope, my next plan was to hike Needles peak again, this time early enough so I could go after White-tailed Ptarmigan.

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