May 23 – After a quick McDonalds breakfast and a short walk through a streamside park in Hope, we set off east on Highway 3. Our immediate goal is the small community of Sunshine Valley, where a vagrant Acorn Woodpecker was seen last week. Nobody is home at the sighting location, but from the street we can see considerable bird activity. Peering through a thick hedge from the road, Brian spots our target bird on a thistle feeder and we all get fair looks. A neighbour assures us that it's OK to enter the yard and we find Black-headed Grosbeak, Golden-crowned Sparrow,and Steller's Jay, and the woodpecker poses for excellent views. We finish with a total of 13 bird species at this well-maintained site, plus Douglas's Squirrel, a new mammal.
Continuing east we make several stops in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, finding Yellow-pine Chipmunk and Columbian Ground Squirrel.
Although we don't have time to do justice to this magnificent mountain park (some 70,000 hectares in size) we elect to chase a recent Lynx sighting along the ski area road. Unfortunately it's blocked by a crew removing pine beetle-infected trees. Roads to higher elevations are closed due to snow, eliminating our chances of seeing a Cascade Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and Townsend’s Chipmunk, whose range is restricted to the Cascades. Before leaving the park we refresh our coffee supply at the small store, noting cowbirds begging for handouts along the path where a couple months ago we'd found over a meter of snow. Pine Grosbeaks and Clark’s Nutcrackers are also in evidence.
Up to now the day has been overcast and drizzly, but the sky is blue as we arrive in Princeton. Here we visit a private home where a rare Lesser Goldfinch has been frequenting a feeder. The hospitable owner welcomes us into her bird-friendly yard complete with Western Tanagers, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, and Black-headed Grosbeaks swarming the feeders -- but no Lesser Goldfinch.
Continuing on to Penticton we spot a couple of trip-bird raptors – American Kestrel in the countryside and Merlin at our Super 8 lodging. At the home of Penticton birder and friend Dick Cannings we see our first Calliope Hummingbirds of the year. Dick joins us for a Greek supper, and then guides us to a forest where in ideal conditions we spot Bullock's Oriole, Flammulated Owl and several Common Poorwills -- a marvelous way to end the day.
|Flammulated Owl in a Nest Box|