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A rainy day in the Okanagan

March 12, 2010

It’s a rainy day in the Okanagan and probably as good a day as any to start my blog.  We haven’t had anything in the way of snow here since the first week of January, but this is our first good dousing of spring rain.  It hasn’t seemed to have dulled the spirits of the Great Horned Owls.  The male, roosting in the spruce tree nearest our house, is still hooting every hour or so throughout the day, eliciting a short answer from his mate, who is ensconced near the top of a thick blue spruce a few metres away, presumably sitting on eggs.  The California Quail, too, still go about their business, scurrying from cover to cover, flying into full on panic when one of the local Cooper’s Hawks (that’s one below!) cruises through the yard.  The Bohemian Waxwings seem to have left for the season.  Up until two weeks ago there were still hundreds in the neighbourhood, gleaning the last of the mountain-ash berries from local gardens, the trilling flocks nervously circling again and again before landing, then gone again in a whoosh of wings.  

The first migrants have returned from the south.  I heard the first meadowlark song on the last day of February, then within a few days there were three or more singing at dawn from the grasslands across the fence as they have for millennia.  On March 7 I saw a Turkey Vulture tilting on a warm south wind, back from Central America a couple of weeks early this year.  Then a Say’s Phoebe singing at the gravel pit, then a half-dozen Killdeer quietly feeding on the school field.  I expect the Violet-green Swallows will be next.

I’ve been waiting for a calm, dry evening to do my owl surveys, but Pacific storms have brought high winds to the Okanagan Valley recently so I haven’t ventured out.  The Northern Saw-whet Owls should be whistling away out there, and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to hear the bouncing ball toots of a Western Screech-Owl.

For those of you who are CBC listeners, I’m scheduled to be on BC Almanac on Friday, March 19.  One thing I’ll be mentioning on air is my new book–Flights of Imagination— an anthology of writing about birds.  More on that later!

Immature Cooper’s Hawk looking for quail


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