Last Saturday morning (June 24th) Audy and i drove up to Manning Park to bird it up.
Having been told about a Three-toed woodpecker nest, the hope was to see it and also get some good looks at other species we couldn't readily find in the lower mainland.
We left just after 4:00am and it was an easy drive up.
Good coffee and good tunes meant we were in good spirits (well, Audy was just sleepy) when we pulled into the lodge area just off the highway (roughly 40km from the entrance of the park).
It was pretty quiet at 7am but there were early-morning sorts out and about, among them a group of obvious birders who seemed to be meeting up there before heading off somewhere.
Right after jumping out of the car we saw swallows, most of them walking around in the mud picking twigs and such for nesting material.
Barn swallows were plentiful, as were a handful of Cliff swallows.
Audy says she saw Northern Rough-winged in amongst them as well but i never saw any.
My attention was drawn instantly to the Lifer bird i saw fly by silently and i took off after it.
Clark's Nutcracker is a new one for us and i had great fun throwing a few peanuts it's way to see if i could draw it to a better perch.
Little did i know that my nut throwing actions would bring a flock of the birds in to swarm around me.
It was hard to keep from laughing since the birds would sometimes try and sneak up behind you like they were going to rob you.
At one point a crafty Lesser chipmunk snuck up and tried to pick-pocket me! It was pretty funny.
Audy came over soon after and she was able to get some great shots in close with her 80-400 VR but with the 50X eyepiece on i was at a disadvantage, and it seemed i couldn't get far enough away from the action to get a good shot.
The lodge area is also great for chipmunks and Columbian Ground squirrels
We didn't however see any Gray jays (and we were really hoping to, too) at the lodge area.
Our actual destination was the area out by Strawberry Flats trail, specifically the parking lot area.
on the drive up we passed a banner that said Bird Blitz and i remembered reading about a bird-a-thon that was going to be held at Manning but thought it had passed.
This explained the small group of birders congregated by the trailhead when we drove up.
I was told about the Three-toed woodpeckers and as i looked down the trail i could see a few people standing around looking at them.
As we walked towards the group Audy spied a woodpecker down at ground level working away at a fallen tree.
I didn't take much time to ID it i admit (since i was looking forwards to the 3-toed) but my initial impression was that it was a Hairy.
a member of the group ahead came back to see what we were looking at and i threw out that it looked like a Hairy.
Right away two of them ran off to look for themselves and i remembered again the Bird Blitz.
I felt a bit sheepish when they came back and told me that it was actually a Three-toed i had seen.
Serves me right for not taking the time to positively ID the bird.
But wow! there they were, a pair of Three-toed
I'd like to say they were lifers but actually we first saw (and photographed) one in July of '06, at Minnekhada.
The woodpeckers were a bit far for Audy's reach but she soon found she had more than enough to shoot at when a rambunctious pair of Gray jays showed up and basically shook us for all the peanuts we had
After all the jay fun got some looks at Western Tanager and many Pine Siskins.
We drove back and stopped off at 20 Minute lake...
and spent 26 minutes there.
Didn't get many pictures there but saw quite a few birds.
Among them; Osprey flying overhead, Belted Kingfisher flying past at speed, Olive-sided flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, American robin, and another pair of Gray jays.
As well, we got some great looks at a Yellow-rumped warbler and watched as it hawked low to the ground, (much like a flycatcher) snapping up flying insects galore.
I actually got a cleaner (less clutter) shot than Audy's but i like her's better for some reason, the pose for one thing is superior.
Well, soon after all this it started to rain and we were done for the day.
Oh, just one more shot to share if i may.
Audy finally got to see her first wild bears.
Just before she snapped this beauty (from the side of the highway, and the safety of the car) we saw a mother and two super-cute cubs ambling along by the side of the road