Post by paulos on Mar 14, 2020 10:14:08 GMT -8
January 1 in Creston started off with a life bird for me: a couple Long-eared Owls in willows near Duck Lake. I was getting ready for the Christmas Bird Count for Duck Lake and South Kootenay Lake later that week. 15+ Short-eared Owls were hanging around Duck Lake for a few weeks, and we saw a good number on the count,. The other highlight of the count as an immature Goshawk.
Otherwise winter here is a bit quieter than in the Fraser Valley, but with the bonus of some of winter songbirds like Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwings, Townsend's Solitaires and American Tree Sparrows. I had the odd sighting of a couple White-throated Sparrows. I had a surprise Golden Eagle on a forest road. I spent some time owling in February, and Saw-whets are calling everywhere. Barred owls are much more uncommon, and I'm still looking/listening out for one this year.
There has been a marked change in the last few weeks, as lakes thaw and ducks arrive in good numbers... there are hundreds of Pintails and Wigeons around. The other day I found a Eurasian Wigeon and a Eurasian Green-winged Teal at Duck Lake. Songbirds are arriving back too, including Towhees, Meadowlarks, and the odd Yellow-headed Blackbird in flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds. Birding around the farms and ranches in Lister produced my first Quail for the area (there's a small population), and a few Say's Phoebes and and Western Bluebirds in the last week.
I'm to 97 birds for the year thus far. I'm still fascinated by the different habitats and flora here compared to the wet coast, the dry Okanagan, or the Cariboo plateau--the other places where I've spent significant time in the province. It's not uncommon to find Douglas Fir-Western Red Cedar-Larch-Ponderosa Pine woods, with Spruces not far up in the hills. It's still strange to me to see Chestnut-backed Chickadees in Ponderosas and Magpies in fir-cedar forests. It's a small valley with plenty of micro-habitats worth exploring, and with them some bird surprises.