Wednesday, July 22, 2009

B.C Trip Part IX

June 19
Birding at The Summit

The previous day Jean and I had birded the summit of the Kootenay Pass, adding a Pine Grosbeak to our life list. This day the weather was less than birder friendly and we spent most of our time exploring Kaslo on the west side of Kootenay Lake.

In the evening we would visit Danie's sons' (Keith & Greg) home and recording studio (The Summit) for a barbeque.

Greg strumming a few chords on a newly acquired guitar.

While Keith was grilling the burgers, Jean and I strolled the property looking for birds. In the conifers between the buildings we spotted a female Golden-crowned Kinglet and a Chipping Sparrow. That would be it for birds in the trees but two swift-like birds flying overhead caught our attention. OK. So we had a swift but which one? In this region of B.C. it could either be a Black Swift or a Vaux's Swift. Looking up at the birds in flight we could see a short, stubby tail on a cigar-shaped body, similar to but smaller than the Chimney Swifts we see in Ontario. The Black Swift is a much larger bird with a slightly forked tail. No fork, Vaux's Swift added to the life list, #279.

After dinner our host Keith and his dog Echo took Jean and I on a guided tour of the forested section of the property. We hiked up a hill to reach the summit of The Summit. More Chipping Sparrows (2) and 2 Hermit Thrushes were found while Echo ran through the forest as if he was a deer. Reaching the summit, once used as a site for a radio tower (only the foundation remains), a greenish-yellow bird with wing bars came into view. As we both looked at it, Jean said "I think that's a female Western Tanager.". The bird would disappear into some tall pine trees that stood beside the cliff edge of the summit. Although we could no longer see the female bird it continued to call. So I "pished" with hopes of drawing the female from the trees. She would stay hidden but its mate, a beautiful male Western Tanager, popped out onto a branch in full view confirming Jean's identification of the female. For a few minutes we were all entertained by the brilliant colours of the male tanager. Seeing a mating pair of a lifer bird (#280) was thrilling indeed. Another target bird crossed off the list. Thanks to Keith for capturing the moment with Jean's camera and to Echo for not pushing us off the edge in his excitement (not for the bird, just excited to be out for a walk).

Saturday would be the start of our return to Calgary for our Monday evening departure. With Steller's Jay and Clark's Nutcracker still remaining on the target list we would have to plan our stops with hopes to tick these two birds classed in the Corvidae Family.

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