|-13 celsius with a wind sheer of -35c. Snow drifting across Banford Road.|
There was help. The BC Rare Bird Alert run by Mel Hafting regularly lists FV rarities and the Fraser Valley Birding site operated by Gord Gadsden reports local sightings. Both are invaluable assets. Another resource for the FV birder is eBird's Fraser Valley Hotspots
The free ap provides stats and sightings. I studied it, mapping out where and when birds might be found.
In the last decade eBird has changed the science of birding in the same way digital photography has.
Here are some of my favourite FV Big Year birds by location.
The Columbia Valley is reached by passing through Cultus Lake and completing a loop which skirts along the US border. A little creepy when you know there are camera watching your every move but great for birding.
Hillkeep Regional Park/Chilliwack Mountain
|A view from Hilkeep.|
North Bend/Fraser Canyon
I spent one day in the Fraser Canyon a week before wildfires closed the roads. In the scheme of things it was the beginning of an Annus Horribilis for BC residents dealing with fires, heat domes, floods and a deep freeze. My heart goes out to anyone caught up in any of those climate disasters. In the scheme of things a Big Year was somewhat of a frivolous endeavour compared to all the woes many others experienced. It did however keep me grounded while so many suffered and continue to suffer from the pandemic.
There were a number of birds that were relatively easy to find in North Bend including Nashville Warbler, Chipping Sparrow and Veery, all really tough in the lower FV.
|North Bend looking toward Boston Bar.|
Willband Creek Park
|Early morning at Willband.|
|Northern rough-winged Swallow.|
Kilby Provincial Park
Cheam Wetlands Regional Park
|Cheam Wetlands in summer.|
Island 22 Regional Park
Great Blue Heron Reserve
Harrison Lake and Lagoon
|Harrison Lake foreshore.|
|Red-necked Phalarope showing the webbed feet.|
Some odds and ends
Sometimes a bird proves really elusive. One such case was the Harris Sparrow in Abbotsford. Once it was reported a number of us went to have a look. The bird was coming to a balcony feeder. Several of us spent hours in the cold and rain peering at the feeder while standing on the roadside. I cannot imagine what the neighbours were thinking but it was a fruitless and frustrating exercise. The only birds we did see were House Finches and Dark-eyed Juncos. The Harris we were told was travelling with a few White-crowned Sparrows but they rarely showed up and always without the Harris. After two attempts I decided to be pro-active and knock on the door of the house across the street where Krissi had seen it fly to. I knocked on the neighbours door explained the concept of a Big Year and politely asked if I could peer over their backyard fence to see if I could see the bird. I tried twice and both times could only stand the bitter cold for about thirty minutes. I finally came up with a cunning plan and vowed to return. The third visit I brought along some bird seed and asked the owner to spread some on the ground. Being a ground feeders, it only took a few minutes for both the White-crowned and the Harris to appear out from the undergrowth and bingo, I had my two-hundredth and sixth species for the year and what eventually turned out to be my last FV tick.
Finding the Harris Sparrow reminded of the lengths I used to go to get a picture when I worked on newspaper photo stories . I felt good to find the Harris and that my plan worked.
Private Yard Abbotsford
|American White Pelican/Vedder Canal|