Thursday, November 21, 2013


Ruffed Grouse-Vancouver Island
November, where to begin? Failing to see the Great-crested Flycatcher? And an epic 4 day journey to Port Hardy? The complete lack of any rarities from the 2nd of November up until the last week?
To say this November was unexpectedly dull is an understatement. Last year, British Columbia had, in no particular order: Cave Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Brown Pelican, Citrine Wagtail, and Elegant Tern all showing up for multiple days.

Western Gull-Ferry Terminal

Western Meadowlark-Port Hardy Airport

This year, we had a Great-crested Flycatcher (which I tried for and missed) and an Ash-throated Flycatcher that spent 2 days in Prince George; I seriously considered going for it, but it was not seen after November 2nd, probably because Prince George is not a good place for a Flycatcher to be fly-catching in November. 

Female hooded mergansers-Port Hardy

Shell Creek

Kalamalka Lake unsuccessful search for LBGU

I don't really have any epic stories of tracking down birds, which is the usual for this blog, and all I can really say is I have been digging down deep and working hard to find anything I can. Right now, there are maybe 4 birds that I can get. These include: Sharp-tailed Grouse, which I have already tried for on several occasions between Merrit and Kamloops; Lesser Black-backed Gull, of which, according to reports, there may still be one residing somewhere between Penticton and Vernon; Hoary Redpoll, which hasn't shown up in BC yet this winter, but hopefully does shortly. How I will chase it down, short of flying to Fort St. John, I don't really know. I've looked into flying and its 500 dollars round trip. At this point, I am debating on whether this is something I want to do or not. 

Fox Sparrow-Englishman Estuary

Fox Sparrow-Englishman Estuary

The fourth bird was Glaucous Gull, which I managed to see last Thursday, finding one amongst the thousands of Gulls around the Chehalis estuary. 

I also managed to find Red Phalarope on my trip to Pt. Hardy where I was scoping out the ocean from the Kelly Wharf in Sayward. I had been checking out the Alcids and Boneparts gulls when a small flock of shorebirds came whizzing by. Soon, they landed in the water and there was no doubt they were Phalaropes. That was a nice win for me, as I was maybe the only one who didn't spot one Red Phalarope on the Pelagics.

Probably the craziest thing I've ever seen in my birding days happened while driving from Port Hardy to the Port Hardy airport. As I turned onto the road to the airport, I noticed a falcon like bird flying erratically around the area. At first I figured it was a Kestrel, which would be a weird enough bird way up there. Then I thought, maybe even weirder, a Common Nighthawk. When I pulled over and got my binoculars on the bird, I couldn't believe it: A Leach's Storm Petrel!!! I had already seen one on the pelagic trip, but it was a distant view of a few seconds. This time I got to savour the looks. It was buoyantly floating above the fir trees. it was definitely an unexpected surprise. 

Sunset Port Hardy

Ferry to Malcom Island

And the other bird I've added kind of felt a little dirty: American Black Duck. These ducks were introduced near Nanaimo in the 60's and have dwindled into almost nothingness since. Most of them have hybridized with Mallards, thus making finding a pure one more and more difficult. I wasn't planning on even looking for one, but Russ Cannings had found a few pure looking ones, and since he and Mike Toochin both counted the Yellow point birds on their big years, I decided I might as well have a look.

The pond they were in was filled with ducks, including many American Black x Mallard hybrids, but among them I counted 3 that I would consider still as being American Black Duck.What can I say, I was desperate. 
So here I sit at 360 species, still hoping I can see 4 more birds and be at least number two in Big Years for BC. I think I might have to write a letter to Santa Claus asking for a Rustic Bunting and Red-faced Cormorant. Maybe I will go write that letter now.

Take care

Cooper's Hawk-Goose Spit

Ruffed Grouse

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