I am a bird nerd.
I didn’t start out this way. At one point in my life, I would have been hard pressed to name a single bird that wasn’t a Magpie or Mallard.
Then came digital cameras and suddenly, I was a bird-watcher. At first, that was a bit distressing to me. I had this mental image of khaki shorts, a matching vest with lots of pockets, and a hat. Bird-watchers were NOT cool.
Then I found out that we call ourselves “Birders” now, and I thought, “Okay, so maybe we’re not THAT uncool.”
Then I found out that we refer to hummingbirds as “hummers” and I thought, “No…No. We’re definitely NOT cool.”
Then I reached a point in my life where I just didn’t give a *&%@ what was cool anymore which, in itself, made me cool. See? It’s a process.
Chances are pretty good that no one uses the word cool anymore. Don’t care about that either – and some people look good in khaki.
Back to birding.
I did a lot of birding in Alberta. Some of my photos were included in Nature Alberta’s “Important Bird Areas” brochure, and one of my photos graces the cover of their checklist. I knew lots of local hotspots for the peak migration periods. I knew weird things like the fact that Snowy Owls are usually only found East of Deerfoot Trail. You know, bird nerd stuff.
I admit, I’m a little lost here. I don’t know where to go during migration. I don’t even know for sure WHEN peak migration occurs here. But I do know about Vaseux Lake.
Vaseux Lake is a Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located just south of Okanagan Falls. It’s a popular spot for camping and fishing, but I was there for the birds.
There were no vehicles in the parking lot, and very few on the road, either. But it was Canada Day and I was on the road by 7:00 am. Most Canadians weren’t going to be up for another three hours or so. I was kind of happy about that. The last time I had visited Vaseux Lake, there were children running down the boardwalk, screaming with excitement and dogs running loose. Not exactly ideal conditions for bird watching.
As I wandered down the boardwalk to the lake, there were plenty of things for me to look at.
Ponderosa Pine Bark
I could hear lots of birds, but they were difficult to see in the thick canopy of leaves and branches. I did spot an Oriole, a Waxwing and some Chickadees.
Faces in the Wood – how many can you see?
There were huge dragonflies with black and white spots – 8 Spotted Skimmers – and of course, wildflowers.
There was also Poison Ivy, this time a bit of a concern as, even though I stayed on the boardwalk, at times I had to push through the vegetation that crowded it.
I reached the lake and the three storey bird blind and observation deck, where I was greeted by a curious little dude – a Bushy-tailed Wood Rat. I’d never seen one before and this one was quite accommodating, sticking around long enough for me to shoot a couple of dozen photos.
Bushy-tailed Wood Rat
I climbed to the top of the observation deck and looked out over the lake. This is NOT a peak migration period, and most of the birds were out too far for me to get any clear shots. I did see something interesting, however.
At first I thought I was looking at a few Ravens and Turkey Vultures hanging out on the shoreline. It wasn’t until I zoomed in that I realized that there was another bird there – an immature Bald Eagle, and he was being attacked by the other birds. I couldn’t determine how injured he was, but he was, in a way, saved by an errant kayaker who happened to come close. The attacking birds flew off, and the eagle relocated to an island in the middle of the lake.
I spent a good amount of time at the top of the observation deck. I was trying to get a shot of a Marsh Wren that was flitting about the shoreline, plucking fluff from the cattails and taking it back to what I assume was the nesting site.
The journey back along the boardwalk was pleasant. The sun was getting hot and I was thankful for the shade of all those lovely trees.
Unidentified Lepidoptera – if you can help me out with this one, I’d appreciate it!
I spotted a bird and lifted my camera. To my delight, it was a Yellow-breasted Chat, the first one I’ve ever seen, a lifer. Or so I thought. According to an early riser, this is actually a photo of a female Bullocks Oriole – but still a lifer! Thank you, Lois!
Female Bullocks Oriole
Could this day get any better?
Well, yes, it could. There’s a Tickleberry’s on the way home. Ice cream, anyone?