Interior British Colombia in Winter

We left Calgary just before noon and embarked on the long six hour drive though the Rockies to the Okanagan. We were doing this to see a Fieldfare, a very rare thrush that had showed up just south of Salmon Arm. It had been quite reliable previously but it was not reported on December 24, 25, and 27 so we were a bit skeptical. We made only one stop on our drive this was in Field a very small town just over the BC border that has limited service but very tame Magpies. While we were stocking up on more water I just had to take the opportunity to photograph these unappreciated corvids in the parking lot.

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)

The drive continued on and I added only five species to my new Colombia-Shuswap list. We arrived in Salmon Arm and checked into out hotel that we would stay at for one night before we would hopefully see the Fieldfare.

We woke up at about seven (eight Alberta time) so that we could be at the intersection of Kernaghan Rd and Krick Rd where the Fieldfare has been seen feeding on Mountain Ash berries with the local flock of American Robins. We only had to wait 10 minutes before I saw a bulky streaked bird fly into one of the far Mountain Ashes and then into the Oak where seemed to hide. I came out only about five times and one time right in front of me!

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

This Fieldfare is the second ever recorded in the Province of British Colombia the first was recorded in December 2003 near Victoria. There is much speculation to how it made its way to the Interior… In my opinion the most likely explanation is that it joined up with the flock of American Robins in Alaska and followed them as they shifted south for the winter. But this is only one theory and we will probably never know for sure how it got there.

We finished up with the Fieldfare and went back to the hotel for a free breakfast and to checkout. We wanted to make one more stop before we drove home so we decided that Swan Lake Grassland Trail would be the best option. We eventually got there and right away we saw a Northern Harrier hunting over the field and a Bald Eagle soaring overhead. We got to the parking lot were we prepared to park before I spotted a bird-like object on the fence, I put my binoculars on it and it was a Short-eared Owl! my previous super-nemesis bird! It stayed stared at us for a couple minutes before it flew away. This was definitely a good way to end our 36 hour trip to BC where I got a lifer something that doesn’t happen in Canada that often anymore. I was more than pleased with this result!

Short-eared Owl (Aiso flammeus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Now I have started uploading to Flickr check it out here!

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