Saturday 11 June 2016

BCFO Birding Walks

May 27-29 2016 Cranbrook BC
 British Columbia Field Ornithologists (BCFO)
 Annual Conference Field Trips 
Day 1

There were plenty of field trip choices available on both Saturday and Sunday so I blindly put my name on the Wycliffe Rambler walk led by Ruth Goodwin. My choice turned out to be a good one.
We began on Porteous Road where we scoped long-billed curlew searching for food in the hayfield, while all around us snow capped mountains stood out against the cloudless blue sky.
On the way to our next stop we made a brief stop at a house where the owners had a feeder. In a tree a black-chinned hummingbird kindly posed for me. A lifer and the day had just begun!

Black-chinned Hummingbird.
 We left there and made our way to Twin Buttes for a three kilometre hike. We were soon into the birds, mountain bluebirds first then as we climbed the butte clay-coloured sparrows. A dusky flycatcher was a lifer for a few on the trip then a flock of six red crossbills flew overhead, we would catch up with them later on in the walk.
Clay-coloured sparrow with food for the brood.
 This clay-coloured sparrow was bringing food to the nest and singing at the same time or perhaps it was telling me I was to close and that it was time to move on...which I did!

Pine Siskin
I took three shots of this pine siskin feeding on the yellow balsam seeds, this one I prefer over the others as the bird balances under its own weight.

Red Crossbill

The flock of crossbills just wouldn't keep still but of the six shots I rattled off I did manage to catch the one above.

Twin Buttes.
Our last stop of the day was at Pine Butte Ranch where there were again plenty of birds including this gorgeous Northern Waterthrush, again a lifer for some of our group. There were high fives all around.
Out of a tangle of thickets and dead branches and from some distance I and others managed to photograph this beauty. I think it is one of my favourite shots of the weekend.

Northern Waterthrush.
Due to the distance from the bird I was able to compose a shot which includes branches, creating what photographers term a frame within a frame.

I know what your thinking, but I have never been so close to a turkey vulture. I had our chauffeur (who happened to be thesoon to be BCFO past president) slap on the brakes so I could take this quick shot from the car window. I was initially attracted by the contrast of the red head and the blue sky then I noticed the wing patterns. Had I not zoomed in so close I would have had a flight shot too but moments after I pressed the shutter the bird flew off and I was left with half a flight shot.

It was on this drive we saw a pair of American kestrels, a red-breasted nuthatch and Lewis's woodpecker nesting in the same tree. Quite possibly there may have been a starling nest too, making it a veritable bird condo. 

Day 2 Sunday May 29
Last day of the convention. 

Field Trip leader Dean Nicholson'

The weather had changed and a cold wind whipped across the spray Irrigation ponds. The birds were still around but hunkered down. Dean, our leader  had a good ear and could pick out a birds from a hundred yard away. If we didn't know how a clay-coloured sparrow sounded we sure do now!

Around one corner we came across a bank swallow colony. They seemed to making a living although the cold weather kept insects to a minimum.
Bank Swallow colony.

A bank swallow takes break from hunting insects.
Another clay-coloured sparrow because we rarely see them in the Lower Mainland and I like clean background.

Finally I would like to congratulate all those involved in organizing the BCFO conference and those who volunteered their time to make us all welcome in Cranbrook. The city and surrounding area offers some great birding, magnificent scenery and great hospitality. Try it out, you won't be disappointed.

So until the next post
"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada

1 comment:

  1. Glad you had a great time at the conference and you couldn't have gone with anyone better than George. Dean is a great guy must have been a great field trip also with Ruth sounds like it too! Lovely shots as usual and congrats on your lifer. In nearby Creston we were surprised to see so many black-chinned hummers and posing nicely too. Well done!