Trip Start May 17, 2009
23Trip End Jun 15, 2009
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May 17 - Depart Brisbane and arrive Taipei
May 18 and 19 - Birding around Taipei
May 20 - Vancouver - Iona Island Water Treatment Plant and Reifel Waterfowl Refuge
To the delight of non-birders our tour begins with a visit to the Iona Island Sewage Water Treatment plant. During the height of migration, these ponds are excellent for waders. Our visit will be at the end of the migratory season, so numbers will have already declined from the peak in early May. However, we can still hope to see some waders. Possibilities include Western and Least Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin and Semipalmated Plover plus waterfowl species. [It is estimated that 90 % of the world's population of Western Sandpipers stop over in the Vancouver area during migration.] Depending on the tides and the weather, we may also take a walk out the jetty. The nearby Reifel Waterfowl Refuge, consisting of nearly 300 hectares of managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dikes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary. This can also be good for waders and waterfowl, but it will also provide our first woodland birding opportunity. Species will include Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, plus several sparrow and warbler species. The high bird density in the refuge often attracts raptors such as Peregrine Falcon and Cooper's Hawk. Other raptors may include Bald Eagle and Northern Harrier. Spend night in Vancouver.
May 21 - Vancouver - White Rock and Blackie Spit - to Vancouver Island
We continue our tour of the waterfront and the Fraser River estuary with visits to White Rock and Blackie Spit. Waterbirds will remain the focus. At the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal we will look for Black Turnstone, Black Oystercatcher and Caspian Tern before boarding the ferry for Victoria. The 90 minute crossing of Georgia Straight should produce Brandt's Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot and Marbled Murrelet and perhaps our first cetaceans. Spend night in Victoria.
May 22 - Victoria Area
This day will be spent in and around Victoria. Visits to Clover Point and Witty's Lagoon will provide yet another opportunity to find water birds we had previously missed. This will include several gull species that occur regularly in south western BC. Witty's Lagoon has recorded over 160 species, including Belted Kingfishers, Orange-crowned Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos. A visit to Beacon Hill Park will produce a few of the more common woodland birds of the region, such as Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Bushtit. Spend night in Victoria.
May 23 - Victoria to Tofino
Today we will slowly make our way north along the scenic Island Highway to Parksville and then west to Tofino. Incidental birding stops will be made along the way. Afternoon birding will depend on arrival time in Tofino. Spend night in Tofino.
May 24 - Boat trip with Justbirding and Tofino area birding
This morning we board a boat and spend a couple of hours on the water. While this is not a true pelagic trip, we can hope for some good birds, including Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet, Pigeon Guillemot and Pacific Loon. During the remainder of the day we will begin our exploration of the west coast habitat. (Don't be surprised if we have some rain, this is temperate rain forest habitat.) Spend night in Tofino.
May 25 - Tofino - Pacific Rim NP - to Nanaimo
Today we will continue exploring the coastal rain forest. Wandering world famous Long Beach could yield Sanderling, Surfbird and Black Oystercatcher. (The sighting of the occasional hardy surfer may also make you feel a little homesick!) The Rainforest Trail in Pacific Rim National Park may produce Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow and a number of other lowland species. In the afternoon we will drive back to Nanaimo. Along the way we will stop at Cathedral Grove. This is a stand of Western Red Cedar and Sitka Spruce that has been spared from the loggers' saws and set aside as a refuge. Here visitors can marvel at the magnificence of these majestic trees. Spend night in Nanaimo.
May 26 - Nanaimo - to Telegraph Cove
Today we will drive to the northern end of Vancouver Island. Along the way we will look for any lingering Brant in the Parksville-Qualicum area. Other stops will be made along the way before arriving in Telegraph Cove. Spend night in Telegraph Cove.
May 27 - Grizzly Bear Boat Trip
Today we plan to join Rip Tide tours for a tour specially designed to see Grizzly Bears in the wild. We travel in a covered aluminum boat which has a washroom and seats for 12 passengers from Telegraph Cove to Knight Inlet, which is actually part of the BC mainland, (there are no Grizzlies on Vancouver Island). Along the way we often see black bears on the low tide beaches, Bald Eagles, harbour porpoises and seals, Dall's porpoises, sometimes dolphins and river otters and maybe Orcas! Seabirds we encounter include Marbled Murrelets, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots and Rhinoceros Auklets. Late May to mid June is the mating season with lots of interesting interaction. The big bears chase the not-too-interested females, displacing other bears along the beach. Certainly this is great time of the year for viewing bears! Spend night in Telegraph Cove.
May 28 - Telegraph Cove via Nanaimo to North Vancouver
Today we retrace our steps back to Nanaimo where we visit Buttertubs Marsh. Here we should see species such as Great Blue Heron, American Coot, Golden-crowned Sparrow and Spotted Towhee. With luck we might hear a Virginia Rail. And then it's back across the Georgia Straight to Horseshoe Bay. This is a different ferry crossing than the one we took to Victoria. Spend night in Horseshoe Bay.
May 29 - North Vancouver to Hope via the Cheam Wetlands
A morning visit to Lighthouse Park may produce Red-breasted Sapsucker, Black-throated Gray Warbler and Hutton's Vireo. A quick visit to Maplewood Flats may offer a look at Purple Martins, rare birds in BC. Then the drive continues east up the Fraser Valley. An afternoon stop at the Cheam Wetlands is sure to be profitable. A good variety of woodland and wetland species are always present. Hope is located at the confluence of the mighty Fraser River and the smaller Coquihalla River and is nestled between the mountains of the Cascade and Coastal Mountain range. Spend night in Hope.
May 30 - Hope to Kamloops
This morning we will drive east and up into Manning Provincial Park. The upper elevation will provide our first chance as those species that prefer the higher regions, such as: Pine Grosbeak, Sooty Grouse, Spruce Grouse and Clark's Nutcracker. Then it's back toward Hope and then north toward Kamloops. After we cross the Coquihalla Summit on this highway and begin to descend back down into the valleys, you will see a marked habitat transition. Here we will enter the interior grasslands; cattle country. Closer to Kamloops it becomes even drier. The climate here is quite desert-like Upon arrival we will visit Tranquille, one of the area's birding hot spots. Spend night in Kamloops.
May 31 - Kamloops to Vernon
This morning we bird along Paul Lake Rd. In addition to a good variety of woodland birds, including Lazuli Bunting, we may also see Long-billed Curlew here. From here we make our way south to Quilchena and then through the historic Douglas Lake Ranch. Many small ponds and lakes will provide opportunities to see ducks and other waterbirds previously missed. We also hope for Golden Eagle and Horned Lark today. Spend night in Vernon.
June 1 - Vernon to Kelowna - Okanagan Birding
Today we hope to take advantage of a local expert. Chris Siddle will show us the local hot spots and we will search for species not yet seen. Today's targets will include Swainson's Hawk, Grasshopper Sparrow and Clay-coloured Sparrow. Spend night in Kelowna.
June 2 - Kelowna to Oliver - Okanagan Birding
Mission Creek Park, The Kelowna Landfill and Maude Roxbury Park will be some of the places visited today. Target species will include American Avocet and gulls. In the afternoon we will drive south to the southern end of the Okanagan Valley. Spend night in Osoyoos.
June 3 - Oliver - Okanagan Birding
Today we will remain in the South Okanagan and explore three main areas: Venner Meadows, Vaseux Lake and White Lake. Some of today's target birds include: Canyon Wren, Rock Wren, Brewer's Sparrow, Sage Thrasher and four species of hummingbird, (Rufous, Black-chinned, Anna's and Calliope). With luck, we may be able to find the resident Western Screech-Owl which nests in the area. Spend night in Osoyoos.
June 4 - Okanagan Birding - Oliver to Nakusp
Toady we continue our tour of the very productive South Okanagan. We will begin our day with a visit to River Road, Road 22 and Camp McKinney Road in search of some more of the region's local specialties: Bobolink, Yellow-breasted Chat and Gray Flycatcher. By noon we must leave the area and drive north back up the Okanagan Valley and then east to the Arrow Lakes Valley and Nakusp. This will be about a five hour drive. Spend night in Nakusp.
June 5 - Nakusp to Banff National Park
We will enjoy a "lazy morning" today. We will have had several early mornings recently and it will be time for a little lie-in! By mid-morning we will depart Nakusp and drive to Banff National Park. En route we will make two birding stops. A drive up Mount Revelstoke may produce some of the upper elevation species such as Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee and Dusky Grouse. A walk along the Skunk Cabbage Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park is always productive. Scenery will be spectacular today if the weather cooperates. Further birding today will depend on our arrival time in Banff. Spend night in Banff.
June 6 - Banff National Park - Rocky Mountains
We will visit two sites here in the Rocky Mountains today. An early morning walk to Vermillion Lakes may produce Common Loons giving their eerie yodeling call as well as a good chance of seeing Elk. We will then take a walk along the Cave and Basin Trail; target birds here include Tennessee Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler and American Three-toed Woodpecker. From the mountains, we will continue eastward and onto the wide open Canadian Prairie. Spend night at High River.
June 7 - Frank Lake
The main birding site today will be Frank Lake. Since we are now east of the Rocky Mountains, the bird fauna will be quite different for the next couple of days. Target birds at Frank Lake include White-faced Ibis, Franklin's Gull, American White Pelican, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Black-necked Stilt, Ferruginous Hawk, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow and Le Conte's Sparrow. In the late afternoon, for a complete change of pace, we will visit the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump before traveling to Lethbridge. Spend night in Lethbridge.
June 8 - Prairie birding, Purple Springs, Pakowki Lake and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Southern Alberta is a birder's delight. It is here where the Great Plains of the Midwest end almost abruptly with the Rockies. The focus today will be grassland species including Sprague's Pipits, Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown's Longspur and Upland Sandpiper. Spend night in Lethbridge.
June 9 - Lethbridge to Drumheller
Today is a day to try and fill in some gaps. We will drive from Lethbridge to Drumheller with a couple of stops along the way. There is a chance of seeing the rare Snowy Plover along the way. A drive through some of the scenic badlands of the region will provide many photo opportunities. Spend night in Drumheller.
June 10 - Drumheller to Calgary for flight to Vancouver
No trip to Drumheller would be complete without a visit to the world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. And finally, it's on to Calgary airport for the flight to Vancouver.
Note on mammals
There is very little mention of mammals in the itinerary. This is not because I don't expect to see any, but rather that it's difficult to predict where and when we will see them. I fully expect to see: White-tailed Deer, Mule Deer, Coyote, Red Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, Columbia Ground-squirrel, Richardson's Ground-squirrel, Pronghorn and Grizzly Bear. In addition we should see at least some of the following: Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Black Bear, Raccoon, River Otter, Striped Skunk, sea lion, Harbour Seal, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Thirteen-lined Ground-squirrel, Yellow Pine Chipmunk, Least Chipmunk, Douglas Squirrel, Muskrat, Beaver, dolphins, and perhaps Orcas.