Birders take the North Okanagan by storm

Birders take the North Okanagan by storm, counting highest number of species in five years
By Charlotte Helston
infotel.ca

January 08, 2018 - 8:30 PM

VERNON - An increase in wild turkeys is just one of the trends birders in the North Okanagan are reporting after this year’s Christmas bird count.

Marnie Williamson, with the North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, says 60 people were out on Dec. 17 and recorded 93 different species — the highest since 2012.

The group has been holding bird counts for at least 20 years, and Williamson says the origins of the Christmas bird count date back to 1900 in North America.

“The data is given to Bird Studies Canada,” Williamson says. “They keep track of the stats year over year to determine what’s happening with bird species.”

She says it’s an exciting project to be part of, although it can be disheartening at times to see certain bird species on the decline.

“It’s hard to say if it’s cyclical or not, but one that seems to be shrinking is the Rufous hummingbird,” she says, noting a bird count is also done in the warmer months.

One species that seems to be expanding its range is the wild turkey. It’s native to B.C., but in the past has usually been seen more in the Southern Interior and Nakusp, Williamson says.

“In the years I’ve been here, it seems to be increasing,” Williamson says.

The count is made possible through dedicated volunteers who cover the North Okanagan on foot, with snowshoes and by car.

“They’ll listen for calls of birds too, because those are counted too even if there isn’t a sighting,” Williamson says.

There’s special recognition at the end of the day for the person with the “sighting of the year” (this time, a Canyon Wren).

“There’s some friendly competition with Kelowna to see who gets more,” Williamson says.

The competition takes a back seat to a love of birding, however, with lots of volunteers partaking in both the Vernon and Kelowna counts, which are held on different days.

HIGHLIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS 2017 BIRD COUNT

Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail (not seen at every count)

1,011 Common Mergansers (unusually high number for the count)

12 Wild Turkeys (seem to be increasing)

1 Pacific Loon on Okanagan Lake

3 Great Blue Herons (usually a few stay over the winter)

5 Golden Eagles

1 Peregrine Falcon

1 Glaucous Gull (rare gull for our count)

1 Northern Saw-whet Owl

2 Northern Shrike

1 Canyon Wren (voted Bird of the Day)

7 White-throated Sparrows (seem to becoming more common)

1 Yellow-headed Blackbird

220 Common Redpolls (not seen at every count)

Naturalists count swans, eagles

Naturalists count swans, eagles

North Okanagan club hosts annual event Jan. 14

Roger Knox
Vernon Morning Star
Jan. 5, 2018

It’s a rite of January.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club is gearing up for the annual Swan and Eagle Count, a citizen science program that occurs each year mid-January.

The count monitors the current population status of eagles and swans in B.C.’s southern Interior, with the North Okanagan club contributing to the tally annually.

“The count is in its 38th year for swans and 24th year for eagles,” said event coordinator Aaron Deans.

The Vernon-area count is slated for Sunday, Jan. 14.

The North Okanagan count zone covers four areas with a total of nine different routes throughout this region.

The routes are covered by different groups with one group going as far north as Sicamous, another to the south end of Mabel Lake via Lavington and Lumby and a third group counting from Enderby through Kingfisher and out to Mabel Lake.

In the Vernon area, several groups scout the north and south end of Kalamalka Lake, Vernon arm of Okanagan Lake and the Head of the Lake area.

“The count numbers are compiled with others from the B.C. Interior and elsewhere and form a database used by university students and graduate ornithologists in various bird research programs,” said Deans.

All interested people (new and experienced birders alike) are welcome to participate in this year’s count. Contact Deans at 250-542-5122 or bishopwildbird@gmail.com, and organizers will do their best to match you with a group of experienced naturalists.

Bird count success

Bird count success
Josh Winquist - Jan 5, 2018
castanet.net

Despite poor visibility at times, the Dec. 17 bird count was a success.

A report by the North Okanagan Naturalists' Club states, 25,290 birds were counted by the 60 people participating; in total, 93 species were counted, the highest total since 2012.

The main highlights for the group include one Canyon Wren, observed by Rick Bonar near Cosens Bay gate at Kal Lake. And, one Northern Saw-Whet Owl, observed by Margaret Mackenzie's team.

The club also reported observing:

Northern Pintail (not seen at every count),
1,011 Common Mergansers (unusually high number for the count)
12 Wild Turkeys (seem to be increasing)
1 Pacific Loon on Okanagan Lake
3 Great Blue Herons
5 Golden Eagles,
1 Peregrine Falcon
1 Glaucous Gull (rare gull for our count)
2 Northern Shrike,
7 White-throated Sparrows
1 Yellow-headed Blackbird
220 Common Redpolls (not seen at every count).

Past years:

2016 - 92 species and about 20,000 birds
2015 - 89 species and 20,171 birds
2014 - 90 species and 13,351 birds
2013 - 85 species and 17,456 birds
2012 - 98 species and 24,335 birds
2011 - 81 species and 16,709 birds

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club meets on the first Wednesday of each month from Sept. to May.

Photo: Chris Siddle
Rough-legged Hawk
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2018 Swand and Eagle Count

2018 Swan & Eagle Count – Sunday, January 14
SUBMITTED/North Okanagan Naturalists' Club
infotel.ca

The Swan and Eagle Count is a citizen science program that occurs mid-January each year. The North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club contributes to the tally of Swans and Eagles annually. The count monitors the current population status of these birds in southern interior British Columbia. The count is in its 38th year for Swans and 24th year for Eagles.

The North Okanagan count zone covers four areas with a total of nine different routes throughout our region. The routes are covered by different groups with one group going as far north as Sicamous, another to the south end of Mabel Lake via Lavington and Lumby and a third group counting from Enderby through Kingfisher and out to Mabel Lake. In the Vernon area several groups scout the north and south end of Kalamalka Lake, Vernon Arm of Okanagan Lake and the Head of the Lake area.

The count numbers are compiled with others from the BC Interior and elsewhere and form a database used by university students and graduate ornithologists in various bird research programs.

The Vernon area count will be held this year on Sunday, January 14.

All interested people (new and experienced birders alike) are welcome to participate in this year’s count.

For further details on how to join us for this enjoyable day’s outing, please contact:
Aaron Deans, Swan & Eagle Count Coordinator, bishopwildbird@gmail.com Ph: 250-542-5122

We will do our best to match you with a group of experienced naturalists.

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Count is for the birds

Count is for the birds
Darren Handschuh - Jan 2, 2018
castanet.net

This event is for the birds – literally.

The 2018 swan and eagle count will be held Jan. 14 and birders of every feather are invited to attend.

The count is a citizen science program that is held every year in mid-January.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club is involved in the count that monitors the population status of the large birds in the B.C. Interior.

The North Okanagan count zone covers nine routes throughout the area. Each route is covered by different groups fanning out to Sicamous, both ends of Mabel Lake and the Enderby area.

In the Vernon area, several groups scout the north and south ends of Kalamalka Lake as well as the Vernon arm of Okanagan Lake and the Head of the Lake area.

The count numbers will be compiled with others from the Interior to form a data base that is used in various bird research programs.

For more information, contact Aaron Deans, count co-ordinator, at 250-542-5122, or email at bishopwildbird@gmail.com.

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