Well, after 4700 km of driving, I finally pulled into Vancouver this afternoon. But let me back up a few hours…
Around dinner time yesterday, I left Calgary in the hopes of making it to Kamloops. Things were going well up until Banff…then the snow started. I started to get a little worried with all the sharp turns and steep roads, so I decided to stop at Revelstoke. I actually drove a little past Revelstoke, but turned around once I started to drive in pure slush! Driving over the Rocky Mountains at night is quite the experience.
So this morning I got up bright and early and started for Vancouver. Unfortunately it was still pretty snowy, and once again, FOG. As a result, I didn’t see many birds in the mountains, and most of the spectacular scenery was blocked out. The weather improved past Kamloops, and I was treated to some stunning mountain scenery.
I arrived in the Greater Vancouver area by about 2 in the afternoon, so I decided I should probably go and try for the Red-flanked Bluetail, which was reported as recently as yesterday in its wintering home in Queens Park in New Westminster. It’s a fairly big park, so I found a car lot, and started looking for the covered picnic area. After about 10 minutes I saw a few birders looking about, so I knew I was in the right place. Sadly, the first couple I met from Seattle had no luck, nor did the other man from Victoria. After chatting with both, I turned to search a nearby area and then it happened…I raised my binoculars to the first bird that I saw…and it turned out to be…the RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL!!!!!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I still can’t…It’s also my first lifer of 2013.
In keeping with my amazing ability to take THE worst bird pictures, below is the only shot I managed to get before it darted off. We were able to watch it for about 10 minutes as it actively foraged in some low brambles, on the ground, and on the sides of trees. What a little stunner! I plan to go back again to try and get more looks at it.
Tomorrow I hope to track down one of the multiple Bramblings that have invaded this part of the country. There is one in Vancouver, and also one in Victoria. This would also be a lifer.
Here is a list of the birds I had from Revelstoke to Vancouver. Birds in bold are Big Year birds.
Mallard, Common Raven, Common Redpoll, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Pine Grosbeak, European Starling, House Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, STELLER’S JAY, AMERICAN ROBIN, WESTERN MEADOWLARK, Golden-crowned Kinglet, “Oregon” Dark-eyed Junco, VARIED THRUSH, NORTHWESTERN CROWN, Brown Creeper, RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL.