Our most recent trip to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec netted us 5 new species – Red Phalarope, Pomarine Jaeger, North Atlantic Right Whale, Beluga Whale and Northern Wheatear bringing our total to 493 which is tantalizing close to our target of 500. However, winter is looming in Canada and the opportunity for new species is diminishing rapidly.
Our true most wanted list would include Cougar, Lynx and Wolverine but I’ve left them off this list as we are unlikely to get them. Other “most wanteds” such as the Narwhal and Walrus have also not been included as they are no longer possible this year (based on our travel schedule).
WANTED: American Badger
Despite many local sightings, Bad Gerry has eluded us. Now that the crops have been harvested, he should be easier to spot in the fields.WANTED: Northern Pocket Gopher
This species is nocturnal and lives underground – always a tough combination for sightings. It announces its presences with large mounds of dirt. Our strategy is to find one actively creating the dirt mound and wait for it to pop its head out of the hole (this worked for me a couple of years ago). We have tried dusk and dawn but may have to do a midnight stakeout.
WANTED: House Mouse
Mickey is well known to everybody but has been in hiding this year. This city dweller can be seen at the base of feeders and occasionally has the audacity to move indoors (our spouses would not be pleased if we encouraged the latter activity!).
WANTED: Long-tailed Weasel
Often seen near golf courses (I saw one today), we will keep our eyes out for it while playing the final round of the Birders Cup next week. Normally quite common around Calgary – perhaps its numbers are reduced due to a drop in the local rodent population.
This species often travels in packs though a lone wolf is not uncommon. Wally the Wolf is known to frequent the valleys in Banff and Kannaskis Country in the winter. Also known as a technology adopter and is sometimes seen with a radio collar.
WANTED: Yellow-billed Loon
We missed this Arctic species on our two northern trips and hope to see it from the Prince Rupert-Haida Gwaii ferry.
WANTED: Whooping Crane
This is one of Canada’s rarest and most endangered birds. It nests in Wood Buffalo National Park in the far north of Alberta and winters in Texas. Fortunately, it usually stops over for a few days in Saskatchewan on its way south.
WANTED: Short-tailed Shearwater
This shearwater looks remarkably like its more common cousin, “Sooty”. It has also been seen on the Prince Rupert-Haida Gwaii ferry. We have been studying its field marks but will want photographic evidence to be sure.
WANTED: Rock Sandpiper
“Rock” is known to hang around rocky shores on the west coast and is most reliably seen on Haida Gwaii.
WANTED: Ancient Murrelet
WANTED: Ancient Murrelet
This murrelet is in Haida Gwaii waters year-round and we’re hoping to nab this guy from the ferry.
Other species on our wanted list are American Marten, Dall’s Porpoise, Killer Whale, Ermine, Least Weasel, Norway Rat, South Polar Skua and Buller’s Shearwater.
With so many possibilities, reaching 500 should be easy but we know it won’t be. In October, we will make trips to Saskatchewan and Haida Gwaii and look for some local Alberta mammals. With luck, this will get us to our goal; if not, we will consider making one more trip in November or December.
So, if you live in the west, be on the look out for some of these most wanted species - successful leads could make you famous through the recognition you'll get on our blog!