Wildlife Highlights 2022
With the Covid threat somewhat reduced we were able to do a bit more traveling within British Columbia and, for me, memorable boat trips to and from southeast Alaska which both covered the entire BC coast. All photos © Alan Burger
The year began with a couple of exciting owl encounters – first a Great Grey Owl on the road between Merritt and Logan Lake …
A Great Grey Owl at dusk next to Mamit Lake Road, 6 January 2022. Photos: © Alan Burger
I love those penetrating yellow eyes!
Then a few days later a Barred Owl on the Goose Lake Road near Knutsford, also at dusk …
A Barred Owl in the misty dusk on Goose Lake Road, 13 January 20022. Photo: © Alan Burger
On January 11th I assisted with the first Merritt Christmas Bird Count for Kids, run by NatureKids Merritt and the Nicola Naturalist Society. Despite bitterly cold weather this was a fun event. Below is a photo from that outing – more here: CBC4KIDS Merritt 2022
Mallard crowds on the Nicola River, 11 January 2022. There are also two American Wigeon in this flock, one taking off on the left and one with its cream-coloured head crest surrounded by Mallards. Photo: © Alan Burger
In late January I made a trip to Vancouver Island, doing some birding in the Qualicum and Victoria areas and in Boundary Bay on the mainland en route.
Pacific Wren in the Duncan area. © Alan Burger
Bewick’s Wren in the Duncan area. © Alan Burger
Male and female Harlequin Duck on the Victoria waterfront. © Alan Burger
Surfbirds are regular winter visitors to the BC coast – Clover Point, Victoria, 28 January 2022. © Alan Burger
Boundary Bay south of Vancouver is always a wildlife hotspot and during winter supports huge populations of waterfowl and shorebirds.
Dunlin roosting at high tide – Boundary Bay, 29 January 2022. © Alan Burger
Stirred up by a Peregrine Falcon, the aerobatic maneuvering of a huge flock of Dunlin is an amazing sight. © Alan Burger
American Wigeon with a few male Eurasian Wigeon among them, Boundary Bay, 29 January 2022. © Alan Burger
Back home in the BC interior there was also much to see and enjoy.
A dozen or more Common Redpolls were unexpected visitors to our backyard feeder for several days in February 2022. This is an Arctic-breeding species that visits our areas in some winters – always a good bird to see. © Alan Burger
Trumpeter Swans on Nicola Lake, 11 February 2022. © Alan Burger
Our regular Nicola Naturalist Society Snow Bunting Shiver outing on 27th February produced interesting mammals as well as birds (and we did get one Snow Bunting). A full set of photos is here: Snow Bunting Shiver 2022
Mama Moose and her large calf were a highlight of the Snow Bunting Shiver outing on 27 February 2022. © Alan Burger
My favourite season, as migrant birds start returning, flowers start emerging and nature kicks into higher gear.
A pair of Green-winged Teal at Colony Farm near Vancouver, 7 March 2022. © Alan Burger
This Coyote emerged from the bushes to check out the waterfowl at Colony Farm, 7 March 2022. © Alan Burger
Crows are so much a part of everyday life that one seldom stops to take a photo or have a close look. Colony Farm, 9 March 2022. © Alan Burger
A male Wood Duck flanked by two females at Fishtrap Creek Park near Abbotsford, 9 March 2022. © Alan Burger
In April I did a gig as a naturalist in southeast Alaska for Sea Wolf Adventures. This included a pre-passenger trip from Port Townsend WA to Ketchikan AK covering the entire British Columbia coast. Photos are here: Spring BC-AK Voyage
Here is one pic from that cruise:
Humpback Whales bubble-net feeding in southeast Alaska. Look closely and you can see a herring desperately leaping to escape. Photo: © Alan Burger
My return from Alaska took me to Kelowna giving me a chance to explore the Okanagan for a few days. This area has some species that don’t regularly occur in the Merritt-Logan Lake-Nicola Valley area where I live.
California Quail are an introduced species in BC. They thrive in the Okanagan but are not found in the Nicola Valley. This male was on full alert as his mate foraged in the long grass nearby. Photo: © Alan Burger
Another species we don’t see around the Nicola Valley is the Painted Turtle – Vaseux Lake, Okanagan, 2 May 2022. © Alan Burger
Male Yellow-headed Blackbird foraging along the shore, Robert Lake, Kelowna – 29 April 2022. © Alan Burger
Male and female Red-winged Blackbirds. © Alan Burger
And closer to home …
Two unusual geese species together: 2 Snow Geese and 1 Greater White-fronted Goose at Tunkwa Lake, 4 May 2022. © Alan Burger
This young Black Bear was quite curious of our stopped vehicle – on Pennask Lake Road, 14 June 2022. © Alan Burger
Arrow-leafed Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) is a common spring flower across most of southern BC. © Alan Burger
We were fortunate to do several trips within BC this summer. Some are already documented:
Kayaking Kootenay Lakes – July 2022 – click here
Cathedral Park hiking – 15-18 August 2022 -click here
European Skipper (Thymelicus lineolata). Dozens of these little butterflies were in the long grass near our house in Logan Lake, 27 July 2022. © Alan Burger
This tiny grasshopper is still a nymph (no wings yet) and therefore hard to identify. It is one of 40 species of Spur-throated Grasshoppers (genus Melanoplus) found in Canada. © Alan Burger
Chokecherries (Prunus virginiana) are favourites with Robins and other birds. Humans find them tasty too, but the pip is rather large for a small cherry. © Alan Burger
In late summer large flocks of Common Nighthawk (30-50 birds) visit Logan Lake just before sunset.
Rufous and Calliope are the common hummingbirds around Logan Lake in summer, so it was a surprise to have this Anna’s Hummingbird around the neighbourhood feeders in late August 2022. © Alan Burger
The local bachelor herd of Mule Deer just above our house. These deer spend a lot of time in the town and are used to people. I took this photo with my phone.
In late summer and early fall there are many interesting wildlife species to be seen by kayaking on Mamit Lake, which is just 14 km from our home in Logan Lake.
River Otters on Mamit Lake, 26 August 2022. © Alan Burger
Many more photos: Mamit Lake wildlife in 2022 – click here
In September I made the return voyage down the BC coast from Ketchikan AK to Bellingham WA. A fabulous week through the entire Inside Passage. Sea Otters in Queen Charlotte Strait were among the many great sightings.
A Sea Otter in Queen Charlotte Strait at the north end of Vancouver Island. © Alan Burger
More photos here – Down the B.C. coast in “Sea Wolf” – September 2022 – click here
In October we loaded up our little camper on our pickup truck and headed to the Rocky Mountains. With a non-functioning heater it was chilly at night but we did lots of hiking and enjoyed great scenery and wildlife.
Fall colours in Jasper National Park, 10 October 2022. © Alan Burger
A Yellow Pine Chipmunk in Jasper National Park. © Alan Burger
We encountered this Black Bear family along the main Jasper-Banff highway. A flock of cars soon joined us, with the usual idiots getting out of their cars and walking down the road near the bears. We and the bears left the area in disgust.
We thought that was the end of our bear encounter, but 15 minutes later they re-appeared, right where we had gone up a side road to have a pee break. This prompted our very rapid retreat to the truck.
Winter comes early in the Rockies. We hiked up to Wilcox Pass in drifting snow and a chilly wind – 11 October 2022 © Alan Burger
This was one of five male Bighorn Sheep I found in the Wilcox Pass hills. Based on their behaviour and what I heard from other hikers there was a herd of females in the nearby valley and these were likely the subordinate males keeping a close watch but kept away by the dominant ram. © Alan Burger
Another three Bighorn rams keeping their distance, Wilcox Pass, 11 October 2022. © Alan Burger
Panorama view from Wilcox Pass of the mountains near the Columbia Icefields. © Alan Burger
Lake Louise at sunrise, 13 October 2022. © Alan Burger
Majestic Castle Mountain in the Rockies, Banff National Park. © Alan Burger
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell – one of several butterfly species that were still on the wing in the Rockies in October. © Alan Burger
A brand new beaver dam blocking a branch of the upper Columbia River near Spillumacheen, BC. © Alan Burger
In November we had the annual influx of Bohemian Waxwings into Logan Lake. These are a boreal-breeding species that overwinters in our area, attracted to the many berries and buds available. At one point we had over 800 waxwings in huge flocks around town.
One of the large flocks of Bohemian Waxwings in Logan Lake, 12 November 2022. © Alan Burger
Mountain Ash berries are one of the favourite foods of the Bohemian Waxwings. For weeks there were orange bird droppings all over town. © Alan Burger
Part of the big Bohemian Waxwing flock – here resting on a spruce tree in between feeds of Mountain Ash berries. © Alan Burger
The interior of BC had an early snowy start to winter. A misty cold day on the Douglas Lake plateau, 19 November 2022. © Alan Burger
Douglas-fir cones in the fall snow. © Alan Burger
Well, not exactly wildlife, but I loved this scene of cows in the mist on the Douglas Lake Ranch, 19 November 2022. © Alan Burger
In late November we made a visit to Victoria. In between visiting family and friends I managed some fun birding ….
This Tropical Kingbird was reported for several weeks at Martindale Flats near Victoria. As its name suggests, this bird’s normal range is Mexico and south, but individuals regularly wander further north as far as British Columbia. © Alan Burger
Another seldom-seen species – Long-eared Owl. This bird was at an undisclosed location near Victoria. Responsible birders usually keep owl locations secret because irresponsible photographers often harass them to try for better photos. This photo was taken with a long lens at a safe distance. © Alan Burger
Black Oystercatchers roosting at high tide, Cattle Point, Victoria. Note that they all have their eyes open, even though they appear to be snoozing. © Alan Burger
A Black Turnstone at Esquimalt Lagoon, 25 November 2022. © Alan Burger
A pair of Northern Pintails at Esquimalt Lagoon, 25 November 2022. © Alan Burger
The year ends with several Christmas Bird Counts. Brutally cold conditions (below -30C at times) and heavy snowfall made this year’s counts difficult, but there were still some interesting birds to be found.
Details from the Merritt Christmas Bird Count here: Merritt CBC 2022
Coyote in the snow – Quilchena on the Merritt Christmas Bird Count, 17 December 2022. © Alan Burger
The highlight on the Merritt CBC was Sharp-tailed Grouse – a species never recorded in the previous 23 counts. Our group found 22 of this elusive grouse in the Quilchena area.
A Sharp-tailed Grouse in the Quilchena area, 17 December 2022. © Alan Burger
This White-throated Sparrow was a regular visitor to our backyard feeder for the last half of December and was the feature species on the Logan Lake Christmas Bird Count. © Alan Burger
And the year ends, as it began, with some encounters with owls ….
A Great Horned Owl roosting in a willow tree near Nicola Lake – Merritt Christmas Bird Count, 17 December 2022. © Alan Burger
A Northern Pygmy Owl at Paska Lake on the Logan Lake Christmas Bird Count, 21 December 2022. © Alan Burger
Most of these photos were taken with a Canon 7D MkII camera with a Canon 300 mm 1:4 L lens. The insect photos used a 100 mm macro lens.