Rainy days are definitely good for birding, although sometimes I have to wonder if the birds really like it. The Tourism Kelowna map has a number of birding locations marked on it so I decided to check out a few.
Munson Pond Park
There is an easy 1 km loop around the pond with two viewing areas. No dogs are allowed though, which I found out about half way around when a nice older couple told me. It was cool out so Chester stayed in the van for about 15 minutes while I took a few more pictures. I really have to learn the names of more birds though; as I was leaving, a gentleman asked me if there were any good birds, and my answer was “yes, some yellow ones over there, and a red one here!” After looking them up, I think the yellow was an American Goldfinch and the red a Purple Finch. I was able to identify the Wood Ducks, Great Blue Heron and Osprey, but had to look up the California Quail – love this bird!
Robert Lake Regional Park
Located near the UBC campus between Highway 97 and Glenmore Rd, this is a small lake with one viewing area and no trails. It must get really busy at times and there are only about four parking spots but I had the birds to myself, likely due to the rain. Robert Lake is a salt flat and therefore attracts a variety of water and shore birds. I didn’t see any of the elegant American Avocet; however I did see Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers and Yellowlegs (I’m not sure if they were Greater or Lesser).
I know the Wilson’s Phalarope was included in my baby birds post; however, I think this one is so cute so here is a different shot. Wilson’s Phalaropes winter in South America. The females arrive here first in the spring and then compete for mates when the males arrive. The males build the nest and perform all of the parental care including incubation and looking after the newly hatched chicks.
Out on the open water were Ruddy Ducks, American Coots with older juveniles and the occasional swallow photobombing a few shots.
The patterns on the water can sometimes be amazing. It looks to me like this Mallard is going straight into a wall.
From Robert Lake, take Glenmore Road North for a break from the highway. When you reach Highway 97 at Lake Country, just go straight through the lights and continue for about 16 kms of winding, sometimes gravel road, until you reach Beaver Lake Resort. In hindsight, I should have stopped on the way up more frequently as I’m sure I missed a few varieties of birds. The clouds were low and quite ominous and I wondered if I was going to be able to see anything when I got to the top. At this spot was a lively flock of European Starlings which were fun to watch.
The lake is at 1,400 metres, so the weather was a bit cooler than Lake Okanagan (8C cooler in fact!), and the clouds were mostly below. It is a good idea to go into the resort as the Beaver Centre has a store, coffee, sandwiches and washrooms, just in case the drive was a little longer than expected. Ask for a trail map as the Viewpoint hike is quite nice with a good view at the top. There is also a short walk to the dam along the side of the lake which was a good leg stretcher; however most of the birds were either deeper into the forest or high up, so I wasn’t able to get any good photographs. Sadly I am not yet proficient in recognizing very many bird calls, so I’m not too sure what was in there.
The trails start just outside the gate to the resort at the turn to Dee Lake and are for ATV’s as well. Thankfully I only saw one right when I was starting. The rain was with me for most of the way, but I noticed a few birds which were new to me, such as this pretty Dark-Eyed Junco and Chipping Sparrows.
The sun came out when I was passing by a beautiful, flower-filled meadow I call the chipmunk playground. I sat and had a snack and watched them running over rocks and fallen trees and observing me curiously. A great interlude to a fun day of birding!