DAY 1 – Meet 8 AM at parking lot of Apple Bowl on Burtch Rd in Kelowna. From here we will carpool and spend the day birding in the Kelowna area. The itinerary of this particular tour will depend on where local bird sightings have been made to some extent so nothing on here is set in stone. We will head up into the mountains this morning, exploring the Beaver Lake area, east of Lake Country. As we gain elevation through the grasslands we’ll keep our eyes peeled for Northern Shrike. This area is also quite good for Golden Eagle. Once we reach the forested areas of the road we’ll quickly pick up resident birds like Mountain and Black-capped chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Hairy Woodpecker and Red Crossbills. With some luck we will get a Northern Pygmy-Owl this morning. We’ll focus on finding some upper elevation species on the plateau such as American Three-toed Woodpecker, Pine Grosbeak, Boreal Chickadee and Ruffed Grouse to name a few species. The upper elevations of Beaver Lake Road are quite good for Common Redpolls in invasion years, and once in a rare while they are accompanied by the much rarer Hoary Redpoll.
After lunch we’ll make our way back down to the relatively ‘balmy’ climates of the valley bottom. We’ll begin our search of Okanagan Lake at Sutherland Bay where the sheltered waters often harbor Tundra Swans, Hooded Mergansers, Red-necked, Horned and Pied-billed grebes, Greater Scaup, and large rafts of American Coots. These large flocks of waterfowl attract Bald Eagles which can often be found watching from tall cottonwoods along the shore. Belted Kingfishers and Great Blue Heron find the log booms offshore quite attractive. At the Kelowna Yacht Club and City Park we’ll scan for flocks of waterfowl which often contain Redhead, Canvasback, Greater and Lesser scaup and on rare occasion Long-tailed Duck. Gull flocks are often found in this area and we’ll search for rarities mix in such as Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull or Lesser Black-backed Gull.
This evening we will attempt to find Western Screech-Owl in the Kelowna area.
DAY 2 – A brief trip out to Okanagan Mountain Park will hopefully produce good sightings of Northern Pygmy-Owl, as well as other montane species like Clark’s Nutcracker, Brown Creeper, Pygmy and White-breasted nuthatches and Pacific Wren to name a few. As we drive along Lakeshore Road we should encounter flocks of Bohemian Waxwings in the orchards and vineyards. The area also produces regular Townsend’s Solitaires and can be good for all three accipiter species, though Northern Goshawk is quite uncommon.
We will then cross the Bennett Bridge and make our way towards Penticton. Once in Penticton we will check the waterfront for gulls and waterfowl as this area turns up excellent birds from time to time. A walk through the lakeside riparian habitat at Esplanade Trail could yield some interesting birds such as wintering Yellow-rumped Warblers, Spotted Towhee, White-throated Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing, Western Bluebird or Hermit Thrush. We will stop briefly at Okanagan Falls to see American Dippers along the river before pushing on towards Oliver where we will spend the night. This evening we can explore the Road 22 area for owls where we could find Northern Saw-whet Owls, Great Horned Owls, Long-eared Owls and perhaps even a Barn Owl with some luck.
DAY 3 – We begin by birding the Road 22 area, excellent for hawks, owls, wintering sparrows, waterfowl and much more. A few species we will try to find this morning include Marsh and Bewick’s wrens, Northern Harrier, Red-breasted Merganser, and perhaps something even rarer like Yellow-billed Loon or Prairie Falcon.
After Road 22 we turn back towards the north, stopping off at Vaseux Lake on the way. We will search for Canyon Wren, Chukar, Golden Eagle and any other interesting birds at the Vaseux Cliffs. If the lake is open and ice free we could see Tundra and Trumpeter swans here.
To finish off our tour we will explore the upper elevation forest again on Shuttleworth Rd where we can try and track down any species we missed earlier in the trip. We will return to Kelowna in the late afternoon where the tour will end.