Each year the Kamloops Naturalist Club organizes a competition where teams of birders see if they can spot more species on the south or north side of the Thompson (and South Thompson) River. Glenn and I worked together for as many birds as possible from 5:30am – 4:00pm on the south side. Together we covered Goose Lake Road, Separation Lake, as well as some other higher elevation sites.
Several highlights of the day:
-a strange looking hawk that we thought was a Ferruginous Hawk but later turned out to be a funky Harlans Red-tailed.
-A Sabine’s Gull at Separation Lake that I snapped a few photos of as it flew right above us. Some explanation is needed here: I was engrossed in a Western male Merlin in full colours that I had never seen before and had it in the scope. Glenn yelled out that there was a gull. A quick glance revealed that it had a black hood and so I assumed it was a Bonapartes. I snapped some photos as it flew right over us not showing the diagnostic contrasting wing pattern of a Sabines because the sun was directly behind it. It wasn’t until the next day I finally got around to looking through the photos and went white sitting behind my computer screen! This was within a few minutes of learning that our hawk was confirmed as not being Ferruginous. Quite a whirlwind of emotions and I was a mess. Sad that we hadn’t found a Ferruginous, embarrassed that we couldn’t make out a breeding-plumaged Sabines Gull in the field!, and then elated that we had found a Sabines Gull at separation Lake. It’s moments like these that make birding so entertaining sometimes.
-several new species for me in the Kamloops area for the day
-84 species for Goose Lake Road (a personal record) from Highway 5A to Goose Lake. We did cover a bit of the road below Goose Lake but didn’t record any new species there.
-not seeing one Swainson’s Hawk the entire day despite covering almost all of the Knutsford areas well known for them. (Glenn saw one from his backyard the next day ofcourse)
-confirming a long held principle in birding: if something looks interesting, take photos first and ask questions later! Without this, we would have falsely reported a Ferruginous and completely missed Sabines Gull. We also would have had 2 Hermit Thrushes instead of 1 Hermit and 1 Swainson’s Thrush.
A big thanks to Glenn for great company throughout the day, his local knowledge, and for driving.