Over two dozen members of the BC Field Ornithologists (BCFO) – also known as “birders” – were in Cache Creek and Ashcroft over the long weekend, May 16-17.
The trip was meant to be like any other bird tour – search high and low for all the different species of bird you can find, especially the ones you wouldn’t find in your own backyard or have never seen.
“It’s been a cracking day,” said one of two team leaders, Adrian Leather, while sitting down to supper after the first day.
They were able to spot the elusive chukar at Brookside Campground, and some even more elusive Lewis Woodpeckers. And even the more rare white faced ibis near Kamloops (Separation Lake).
About five years ago, BCFO started organizing field trips around the province, trying to attract new birders. They looked at the “travelled through” areas, places where they didn’t usually stop.
There was some doubt as to whether a trip to the Cache Creek area would garner much interest, said Leather, but they had to stop taking names after they reached 25. Although Brian Murland was to lead the trip, they had to split the group into two to accommodate everyone, with Leather leading the second group
It was Nora McMuldroch’s second such trip. “It’s gorgeous,” she said of Mclean Lake. They spotted eared grebes and American pipits, kildeer, and a long billed dowitcher. They also spotted a few leaf birds, also known as “stick birds” and “lamp birds”.
It happens on every trip, said Leather. Someone spots an interesting faraway shape and everyone stops and gets their binoculars out, only to find their rare bird is just a branch or part of a fence or anything other than a bird.
The overall group was a good mix of experienced birders and new ones. They bumped into other birders as they wandered between wetlands and grasslands looking for Bullock’s Orioles, chukars, Belted kingfishers, golden eagles, cinnamo teals and more. They met Michael Day from Nova Scotia who has been birding for 60 years.
They met another man who described the native birds in the area to them but when pressed, refused to admit he was a birder.
“I’ve got you guys down as the number two crazies,” he told them, “but you’re not as bad as the number ones, the trainspotters. They come here, and try and get the best camping spot, then when they see the train coming, they’re jumping about saying, look, here comes the CP. Huh, crazy”!
Shortly into the trip, word spread quickly that a small flock of white-faced Ibises had been spotted near Kamloops on Separation Lake, and several of the members left to see these birds that normally don’t get any further north than southern Alberta.
The group spent their supper hour happily comparing birds and notes and stories.
After the weekend was over, “Birders exchanged farewells and dispersed,” Leather wrote in a brief report, “with some returning to the Heartland Restaurant, where a rainbow appeared over a nearby mountain, and a lone Evening Grosbeak flew over for species #115. It was such an enjoyable weekend that it felt quite difficult to leave.