We stayed in Kamloops overnight and early morning drove to the north side of the town to a small reserve on the shore of Kamloops Lake and the Tranquille River. Our key target for the site was Lazuli Bunting but we knew that we could well be too early for them, which sadly turned out to be the case. We had good numbers of warblers in the bushes alongside the lake and the fields were very productive for sparrows and meadowlarks. We birded along the lake shore for a short distance until our progress was cut short by the river. A lot of the grassland on the north side of the reserve was private, which was frustrating as it looked really promising habitat.
Lewis’s Woodpecker - The undoubted highlight and definite compensation for dipping the bunting was this stunning Woodpecker. All bunting frustration was quickly forgotten when we picked out this bird perched up in a tree adjacent to the road. This area is the northern limit of this species range, and we thought we were too early to catch one. We were thrilled with this individual!
Wolf - Our wolf encounter yesterday was more than we could ever had dream of, so when we had two together this morning, wandering around in the open we were on cloud nine! From the behaviour that we saw it appeared to be two lone individuals randomly encountering each other, with one clearly behaving submissively to the other. There was also an Elk wandering around at the back of the same field.
Vaux’s Swift - Just as we were leaving the site we spotted a handful of these fluttering swifts flying overhead amongst the Hirundines. Their flight style was completely different to the swifts we were used to seeing in Europe.
Cooney Bay: Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, American Wigeon, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Goosander, Great Northern Diver, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Wilsons Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Vaux’s Swift, American Kestrel, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, American Crow, Black-billed Magpie, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, American Robin, European Starling, Western Kingbird, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Audubon’s Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s Blackbird, House Finch, Spotted Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Vespers Sparrow, Wolf, Coyote, Elk,
We left the lakeside mid-morning, with the intention of beginning our long journey back in good time to get the ferry and hopefully make it onto Vancouver Island before dark. Just south of Kamloops was another site that we had marked out with potential for Lazuli Bunting, so we decided to have a look. As with the White Lake Grasslands site two days ago, this site was little more than a road through some suitable grassland habitat, but we were able to enjoy some nice birding as we drove slowly along.
Sandhill Crane - After seeing the stupidly tame birds at Reifel it was nice to spot a flock of 14 flying high overhead whilst we were driving along. As crazy as the Reifel birds were, there’s nothing that really compares to seeing a flock of migrating birds.
Mountain Bluebird - Although not a new species for the trip, seeing these birds again was just as special as the first time. They really are so blue, no photo or painting would ever do them justice. We found a pair occupying a roadside nest box so we were able to get some really nice views, from a distance.
Calliope Hummingbird - Our final hummingbird lifer for the trip, although it would have been nice to see it better, it was still a cracking male. If it had turned around fully we would have been able to see its stunning pink throat, but sadly it kept its back to us the whole time.
Goose Lake Road: Canada Goose, Mallard, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, American Kestrel, Northern Flicker, Calliope Hummingbird, Northern Raven, American Crow, European Starling, Tree Swallow, Mountain Bluebird, Say’s Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Audubon’s Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Vespers Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Yellow-pine Chipmunk,
Once we had wrapped up the Kamloops area we began our journey back towards Vancouver, where we would then get our ferry to Vancouver Island in the early evening. It was a warm afternoon, and we drove through some stunning scenery making the three hour trip more bearable. We arrived back in Vancouver mid-afternoon and went straight to the ferry terminal.
Swainson’s Hawk - Basically the only reason to include the section of the trip was the fact that we had the most insane encounter with a stunning, presumable adult, pale phase bird flying incredibly low over the car. It was so low it could have been clipped if we were a large lorry, but it did mean that we got the most insane views.
Route 1 - Trans Canada Highway: Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Osprey, American Kestrel, Northern Raven, Northwestern Crow, European Starling,
Our journey to the island was completed during the last hours of daylight. We boarded around 18.00, and spent the journey across the strait on the front of the ferry looking out for seabirds. The ferry took just short of two hours, so allowed us plenty of time to scan for birds. The scenery was fantastic, mind blowing stuff, as it had been for much of the trip. Once we reached Nanaimo it was all but dark, and we lost our car on the boat…
Grebes & Divers - On multiple occasions during our journey across we encountered large groups of divers enjoying a feeding frenzy at the surface. All three species; Red-throated, Great Northern and Pacific were in tow, all of them in stunning summer plumage. There were also a number of Grebes in the flocks, including our first Western Grebes of the trip.
Dall’s Porpoise - We were hoping to enjoy a few cetacean encounters during our time on the island, and we got off to a good start with a handful of sightings of these large porpoises during our journey. The strait was completely flat, so any emerging fins stood out a mile off, making it much easier to pick up the animals locations.
Ferry; Horseshoe Point - Nanaimo: Canada Goose, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Pintail, Goosander, Western Grebe, Pacific Diver, Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Caspian Tern, California Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Mew Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, Feral Pigeon, Northwestern Crow, Dall’s Porpoise,