June 13-15 2017
Quesnel to Soda Creek Williams Lake-Alkali Lake and Dog Creek.
On my drive back from Dawson Creek and Prince George I stopped off at a quiet rest area just north of Quesnel. I headed down to a small creek where I heard a Northern Waterthrush. I was finally birding on my own so approaching birds was much easier. This bird was singing and easy to locate.
West Fraser Timber Park
West Fraser Timber Park was a busy place with a softball game in full swing and a packed tennis court. Despite an impromptu soccer game there was still plenty of birdlife everywhere. Western Tanagers, American Redstarts, Red-eyed Vireos, Calliope Hummingbirds and other canopy dwellers.
On the pond were two pairs of Barrow's Goldeneye with their broods.
Old Soda Creek Rd.
After a night in Quesnel I decided to take the Old Soda Creek Road to Williams Lake. The drive would take me through some stunning scenery and better still, some great birding. I was happy to be off the main road and had the place to myself.
|One of the many stunning views from the Old Soda Creek Township Road.|
I was on the Soda Creek Road for only a few minutes when I heard a Western Tanager. I had only taken a few shots when a rancher stopped his truck to have a chat. Maybe he thought I had broken down. He told me about some of the birds he had seen over the years on his farm and then we parted ways, he to the hay field, me to Williams Lake and the tanager long gone into the forest.
Although the area south of Quesnel and toward Williams Lake is very arid, every now and then I would find patches of green where thickets and bushes flourished. These areas were good habitat for Lincoln Sparrows.
I am not too sure about this crop which looked like a type of dandelion but smaller, the field was being watered so maybe it is a bona-fide crop. I took all the scenics with my Nikon P900 camera during the heat of the day, a real landscape photographer would have a ball here if they had the time.
|Soda Creek Macalister farmland.|
|The Fraser River.|
After spending the previous week with some very good birders I had begun to hear bird song in quite another way. These Lazuli Buntings, which I heard before seeing them were sitting on wild rose. I shot them from the window of my VW Westfalia.
I hear a lot about bird pictures being cropped too close and the lack of background/habitat being included to give context but there is more than one way to look at cropping or framing a picture.
The picture below would fit nicely onto a cover of a magazine while the second picture gives more info about location and habitat would not make a cover.
I my humble opinion there is a place for both especially if the subject is co-operative.
|This time I decided to include more of the background.|
Williams Lake to Alkali Lake and Clinton
After arriving in Williams Lake I took the Dog Creek Road to Alkali Lake. I have too say it was one of the most interesting drives with ever changing scenery and birding opportunities.
|Scenic Arid Benchlands |
Eventually I arrived at Alkali Lake where I spotted six American White Pelicans, the first of my trip.
Also present were Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, Mallard, Green and Blue-winged Teal. The marshes had good populations of Song Sparrows, Eastern Kingbirds, Mountain Bluebirds, Willow Flycatchers, Common Yellowthroats and Vesper Sparrows.
|Gadwall and American White Pelican.|
Wherever I went there were Brown-headed Cowbirds and to a lesser extent Brewer's Blackbirds. I hardly saw any raptors except for the occasional Red-tailed Hawk. Probably if I had two or three days I might have had more luck but that's just the best excuse to return and do some serious birding.
|Dry grasslands of the Fraser Valley.|
I continued my drive through the arid landscape, nesting boxes had been occupied by Tree Swallows and Mountain Bluebirds. In the skies Ravens dived bombed each other perhaps in jest or maybe some type of intricate courtship ritual.
Had I known I would be stealing furtively glances at my fuel gauge I would have stopped for gas at the Dog Creek Reserve. I didn't realize they sold gas and how far it was to both Williams Lake and Clinton. When I came to a fork in the road I waved down a farmer for directions and advice. He explained that both towns were a two hour drives away and to follow him. He was kind enough to guide me through twenty kms of forest logging roads to Beaver Lake which is just north of Clinton. As it turned out I had plenty of gas to make it to Clinton.
|Mountain Bluebird (Male)|
When I retrace my steps next year I will take the turn off for Dog Creek about ten kms north of Clinton and head for Beaver Lake where there is a BC Recreation site with lakeside camping.
|Mountain Bluebird (Female)|
An alternate route is well documented if you want to start at Williams Lake and head north to Soda Creek and beyond check out Russell and Dick Canning's book, Birdfinding in British Columbia.
"It's never too late to start birding"