|The famous CITRINE WAGTAIL that graced Comox for an entire winter. This was the second record for North America and a Canadian first--Photo: Jukka Jantunen|
|The Columbia region in SE BC experienced a mini-invasion of male LARK BUNTINGs in the summer fo 2013, including this bird that Jen Greenwood caught accidentally while mistnetting Savannah Sparrows.|
Summer usually sees a cooling off of rarities in BC, but this year we had lots to talk about, especially thanks to Paul Lehman and Co. who were birding from cruise-ships off-shore. Some of their summer highlights in BC waters included: 1 MURPHY'S PETREL and 7 PARAKEET AUKLETS on June 1st, 1 LEAST AUKLET on June 6th--and on the same day they had a THICK-BILLED MURRE and a MANX SHEARWATER. On July 11, during a similar cruise, a HAWAIIAN PETREL was observed, July 31 produced a SCRIPPS'S MURRELET, then the season was capped off with a GREAT SHEARWATER on August 5th!
Back on the mainland, the Okanagan's first photo-documented WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was discovered in Kelowna on June 8th, a BROWN THRASHER spent mid-June on Calvert Island, yet another LARK BUNTING visited the SE corner of the province (Fernie) on June 21, and a singing NELSON'S SPARROW near Lumby (after some significant flooding in Alberta) was quite a surprise! To cap off the summer, our attention was drawn once again to the water, when a CRESTED AUKLET was photographed near Tofino and hung around for at least 2 days. Oh, and why not a BC-first to add to the seabird list for the year? On August 21st, a DOVEKIE was photographed near Banks Island!
For birders, August is considered full-on "Fall" when wayward juveniles start making their first migrations south, some straying far from their proper paths, at times to the delight of lucky birders. Even adults make a few slip-ups such as the gorgeous adult RED-NECKED STINT that spent at least 2 days on Boundary Bay near Vancouver. A male INDIGO BUNTING was seen at Tunkwa Provincial Park on August 6th; a FERRUGINOUS HAWK was photographed near Golden five days later; then an adult REEVE (female Ruff) was photographed at Pantage Lake NW of Quesnel--observers believed there may have actually been two reeves present! A young male PRAIRIE WARBLER was a big surprise in Revelstoke on August 23rd, but perhaps the best bird of all was a YELLOW-GREEN VIREO (a Canada first) photographed in Stanley Park, Vancouver, on September 18th!!!
|Yellow-green Vireo from Stanley Park--Photo: Gary Thoburn|
The seabird feast continued in September with no less than *3* GREAT SHEARWATERS reported, along with several MANX SHEARWATERS, a LAYSAN ALBATROSS, and yet another CRESTED AUKLET--this one photographed near Victoria on September 8th.
The third annual WildResearchBC pelagic trip was another success with close to 100 birders setting out from Ucluelet on a daylong trip offshore. In addition to the pelagic highlights, the biggest surprise was a hatch-year female CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER that landed on the boat!
Up in Haida Gwaii, Andrew Keaveney from Ontario enjoyed a fun birding trip along with local residents Peter Hamel and Margo Hearne. Highlights from up there included BC's first CURLEW SANDPIPER since 1993 at Sandspit on September 28th, at least 5 RED-THROATED PIPITS (including one photographed on Oct 16), and a very lost BOBOLINK on October 11th.
|CURLEW SANDPIPER in Sandspit, Haida Gwaii--Photo: Andrew Keaveney|
Things slowed a bit going into December but a few doozies still came out to play. The first was a female PAINTED BUNTING that graced a feeder in Bowser (Vancouver Island) for a few days to start the month, then a HOODED ORIOLE appeared in Port McNeill on December 5th and was still present as of January 4th. A BLACK PHOEBE was found in Chilliwack on December 14th, then near the end of the year a birder twitching the Port McNeill oriole found a DICKCISSEL in the same neighbourhood!
|The last rarity of 2013: This DICKCISSEL was found on December 28th my Alex Grey in Port McNeill, right beside a HOODED ORIOLE and HARRIS'S SPARROW. Not bad.|
This website is heavily biased toward rarities, but on behalf of everyone on the Bird Alert, I wish everyone a great 2014, with plenty of wonderful birds around your home patch and anywhere else you may travel to.
January 9th, 2014