12 August 2013

Just cuz

High numbers of Eastern Kingbird around this year. And atm Western Wood-pewee calling everywhere I have been lately.

BirdLog Checklist Summary for: Monday, Aug 12 2013

Number of Checklists: 4
Number of Species: 43

Checklists included in this summary:
(1): Wycliffe--Foster's Small Pond
Date: 2013-08-12 11:00 AM
(2): Wycliffe - Mission Wycliffe Rd (N)
Date: 2013-08-12 11:26 AM
(3): Wycliffe--Pighin Rd S
Date: 2013-08-12 12:30 PM
(4): Wycliffe--Foster Road, from Pighin Rd
Date: 2013-08-12 12:47 PM

200 Canada Goose -- (4)
18 Mallard -- (1),(4)
10 Common Goldeneye -- (4)
15 Ruddy Duck -- (4)
2 Eared Grebe -- (4)
2 Turkey Vulture -- (2),(3)
1 Red-tailed Hawk -- (2)
12 Killdeer -- (1),(4)
2 Wilson's Snipe -- (1)
10 Rock Pigeon -- (1),(4)
8 Mourning Dove -- (1)
1 Calliope Hummingbird -- (2)
3 Lewis's Woodpecker -- (1),(2)
1 Hairy Woodpecker -- (4)
1 American Kestrel -- (2)
7 Western Wood-Pewee -- (1),(2),(3)
1 Western Kingbird -- (1)
19 Eastern Kingbird -- (2),(3),(4)
1 Cassin's Vireo -- (2)
1 Warbling Vireo -- (3)
4 Clark's Nutcracker -- (1),(2)
3 Common Raven -- (1)
5 Barn Swallow -- (2),(3),(4)
6 Black-capped Chickadee -- (2),(3)
3 White-breasted Nuthatch -- (2),(4)
1 House Wren -- (2)
3 Mountain Bluebird -- (3)
4 American Robin -- (1),(3),(4)
2 Gray Catbird -- (2)
23 European Starling -- (1),(2),(4)
2 Cedar Waxwing -- (2)
22 Chipping Sparrow -- (2),(3)
5 Clay-colored Sparrow -- (4)
11 Vesper Sparrow -- (2),(3)
5 Savannah Sparrow -- (1),(2),(4)
2 Song Sparrow -- (2)
12 Red-winged Blackbird -- (2)
3 Western Meadowlark -- (2)
30 Brown-headed Cowbird -- (2)
1 Bullock's Oriole -- (2)
10 Cassin's Finch -- (2)
4 Pine Siskin -- (2)
2 American Goldfinch -- (2)

This trip summary was created using the BirdLog app for iPhone and iPad.
See BirdLog for more information.

Dianne C. 

03 July 2013

Flaming Hot July eBirding!

WHOA! East Kootenay Regional District leads the whole country in checklist submissions so far this month! 222 checklists submitted so far.

We don't take long weekends off from birding 'round here! No sirree. In fact, people come HERE to bird for their long weekends, yup. We're hot! And if we're not birding, we're gettin' 'round to submitting those wilderness checklists - like from the recently concluded Flathead Bioblitz - no internet up there, I hear. 

Way to go eBirders! 

06 May 2013

BirdTrax / Accubirder

Updated 14 Jan 2017

BirdTrax is no more.  Please use eBird's "Explore Data > Explore a Region - Enter: East Kootenay" to see our latest sightings.  You showed them how to do it, Zachary; thank you!

Over on the right side of this blog page is a cool gadget developed by birder, eBirder, and a very generous young man named Zachary DeBruine.

Here is more about Zachary: http://www.nemesisbird.com/

The BirdTrax / Accubirder gadgets (code) can be customized to display recent eBird checklists from any area you wish, unlike the eBird homepage which shows Provincial "rarities" only. And the gadget shows all checklists and  most of the sightings, not just rarities.  I first used it on my iGoogle homepage so when I heard iGoogle is going to be discontinued, I embedded the gadget here because I have grown quite fond of it.

If you are in an adjacent 'county' to Southeastern British Columbia and also have the gadget, I would love to know so I can check out your area's birding activity. Please leave a comment below with a link to your blog / webpage. Thanks.

You can get the gadget and instructions on the following website:

24 April 2013

Tufted Duck on local pond!

It is soooo exciting to see something in your area that you had only ever seen before in the field guides.

If the bird had stayed sleeping, with head tucked under wing, there had been no wind, or if I didn't have just this ever so slight hint of competitiveness in me, we likely would not have picked this bird out. All these were in our favour, though, as an average birding afternoon suddenly turned amazing!

I was paying particular attention to all scaupy, ring-necked things because my birding companion had shown a particular talent of late of being able to quickly pick out single Greater Scaup from floating flocks of its Lesser buddies and I was hoping to get one first.

Our usual view point above the lake, at 200 meters to the water, is still a bit of a stretch for my battered up scope so when I saw those long plumes fluttering in the breeze, a few blinks were needed before I could admit to myself I may actually be seeing a, what's that called? Oh yeah, TUFTED DUCK. Holey Gaia!

This 'record' photo, taken by G. Ross, catches the plumes pretty well! And, is that a female just in front of it? We didn't notice her in this view. We were so fixated on keeping track of the male, alternately sleeping and preening, as it steady drifted downwind and further away.  All the while Scaup, American Wigeons, Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks swam slowly this way and that, and all around him. And we were also trying to pick out another male, to no avail.

When he preened, and sometimes, as he angled to the wind while sleeping, his plumes fluttered or whipped straight up or curved delicately in silhouette. Very pretty. And the line between his white sides and dark back is such a beautiful curve, one created by nature but so perfect in design, even those painstakingly copied by all engineers and artists are wanting and his envied.

01 April 2013

Young birder reconnects during his Big Year

Great day birding yesterday with 'young' ryan johnston, and partner Vanessa. Ryan started birding around here at age 13, I believe, and now lives in Vancouver. He is doing a Big Year this year for himself. His stories were of strange happenings and characters during Christmas Bird Counts and Little Big Days around here in years past. So fun to hear.

It was that-kind-of-funny because we had just been evoking his name this past CBC season as a young birder that had taken to birding quite well and seemed to have continued.

Yesterday, he picked out a calling Spotted Towhee for us, a Brown Creeper, a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers, and many more. I must have added about 10 species to my year list!

At present, he is number one on eBird for BC species submitted. Yay! We were able to show him Blue Jays by following the sights of a kerfuffle happening in a big fir tree up from the end of Baker Street - three Jays were worrying a pair of American Crows breaking off twigs for a nest. The Jays flipped and flapped and called but the crows basically just ignored them non-plussed.

We hope ryan has fun this year and hope he will return to get the Grackles in Fernie or any other BC rarities we can scrape up for him. Thanks ryan!

Here is his blog's initial post.


Here is his flickr page.


 Dianne Cooper

09 February 2013

eBird Live Map

Very cool:  real-time checklist submissions to the online bird sighting database eBird out of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Two people with eBird accounts submitted a checklist at the time the screenshot below was taken. Anyone with internet access anywhere on Earth can have an account and record their bird sightings from anywhere around the globe to keep track of their own sightings and share them.

Each checklist must record at least one species of bird.
The most useful checklists for data analysis are ones where you record all the birds you can identify
- either at a single location for at least 5 minutes, or
- if you are walking, biking, or touring in a motor vehicle, you record what you see in stretches about 8 kilometers (5 miles) long at most.
You can enter sightings from today, or day in the past, and you can attach photos and record a few notes, too!

All sightings entered are checked for accuracy, either automatically by a software programme, or by volunteer 'reviewers'.

Like I said above - all very cool!


Screenshot showing two checklist submissions occuring

05 February 2013

The Mauve Gumpy Zazus of Kitcheneer Omega

Pardon me, but it IS my blog.

a la Douglas Adams.  Bless him and bless his atoms. And Bless Monty Python, too!

The Mauve Gumpy Zaxu of Kitcheneer Omega
(Formerly known as the purple Gumpy Zaxu of Snorkelblat Prime)

The Mauve Gumpy Zaxu is a small, cute, fuzzy animal smelling like fermented garlic which lives on the paisley boulders found at the tops of the volcanoes of Kitcheneer Omega.

Originally from Snorkelblat Prime, they arrived on Kitcheneer Omega one evening in late October of last year as a form of a sort of intense mauve hail storm.

This is the story of why they left Snorkelblat Prime:

The people of the planet Snorkelblat Prime's favorite wild animal is the Gumpy Zaxu. They are cute and they smell like fermented garlic, which, if you know anything about Snorkelblatians, is a smell they just can't resist.

There are several kinds of Gumpy Zaxus on Snorkelblat Prime; big ones and small ones, fuzzy ones and furry ones, ranging in colour from black to rainbow. Some even have spots! Spots shaped sort of like half the "M" on our M & M candies.

The Snorkelblatians especially liked Purple Gumpy Zaxus; the big, purple ones that only grew on big paisley boulders on the tops of the tallest mountains of Snorkelblat Prime, the only place in the galaxy where could be found the largest, hugest, most humongous paisley boulders.

These paisley boulders were also much loved by the Snorkelblatians. So much so, that when they went on their annual pilgrimage to rapturously view and deeply sniff their beloved big Purple Gumpy Zaxus, and moan contentedly, they would each bring along a big long stick to help them roll a big paisley boulder down the long mountainside to their homes, where they would pile up the boulders in a mound right in front of their front doors to proudly show their neighbours how many annual pilgrimages they had made to rapturously view and deeply sniff the big Purple Gumpy Zaxus.

Some Snorkelblatians had made so many annual pilgrimages and rolled down so many big paisley boulders, that the mounds completely blocked their front door, which meant they had to use their back door instead.  This was a bit of a pain because Snorkelblat back doors were dug two meters below the ground, Snorkelblatian legs are very short, and stairs had not yet been invented on Snorkelblat Prime. But they didn't mind  because digging their doors two meters down let them evade back-door taxes, since their back doors weren't doors really, just a hole in the ground.

Well, of course, after a few generations, ALL the big paisley boulders were now sitting in mounds on the front lawns of the Snorkelblatians down in the valley, blocking their front doors. They were NOT up on the mountaintops where the beloved big Purple Gumpy Zaxus grew. The big Purple Gumpy Zaxus on the mountaintops grew small now and were just kind of a washed-out mauve sort of colour rather than being big and fuzzy and cute and purple.

The Snorkelblatians, although most were somewhat bewildered and all were quite disappointed about there being no really big, really purple, Purple Gumpy Zaxus anymore, were a stoic bunch so made due with liking the "Greater Red-flanked Gumpy Zaxu" which does well in the wild gladiola fields lower-down on the mountainsides below the big paisley boulder fields.

Unlike the Purple Gumpy Zaxu, the Greater Red-flanked Gumpy Zaxu grows only on small striped pebbles, of which there were quite a few. The Greater Red-flanked Gumpy Zaxu also smells of fermented garlic, but with just-an-ever-so-slight hint of coriander and watermelon. But the Snorkelblatians didn't mind that either.

So, Snorkelblatians stoically continued their annual pilgrimage to view and sniffle and sigh at their favorite Gumpy Zaxu, rather than rapturously viewing and deeply sniffing and moaning at it, and they didn't have to climb as far to do it.  They didn't have to buy a stick, either. It was much easier getting a striped pebble down the mountainside than it was to get a big paisley boulder down. All they had to do was pick up a pebble with their elbows and put it in their pocket!

Gladiolas, as you may know if you have mites, once schnuggled and dried, make excellent behind-the-ear scratchers. The people of the planet Abnia VI considered the Snorkelblat wild gladiolas to be the best behind-the-ear scratchers, and they should know, for they all had very large ears, even the babies, and were always very itchy behind them due to the mites. (see Mosala Mite of the Encyclic Nebula).

But, back to the sticks, the ones used to roll the paisley boulders down the mountainside, you remember. Well, not the sticks exactly, but the Stick Sellers of Snorkelblat Prime. The name "Stick Seller" is a bit of a misnomer, really, for the Stick Sellers also manufactured the sticks. Well, in truth, they didn't manufacture the sticks, they just sort of found them and picked them up off the ground in the Yerbadillion forest across the river.

Anyway! The stick sellers suffered greatly when the other Snorkelblatians stopped buying their sticks. Some of them knew why the big Purple Gumpy Zaxus didn't grow big and purple anymore but they were all tired of paying for the ferry across the river to pick up sticks and return and, actually, they were quite bored with sticks altogether. They also realized no one wanted to bother trying to roll the big paisley boulders back UP the mountainside so the big Purple Gumpy Zaxus might grow big and purple again. And THEY certainly did not want to roll any boulders back up themselves! It was hard rolling a boulder up a mountainside, especially the paisley ones.  Also, they got a very small government incentive from the Ministry of Treetops (MoT) for NOT developing a stick to help roll boulders back up the mountainside, for some reason.  So they switch to selling tongs. Tongs would be perfect for picking up the striped pebbles from the wild gladiola fields where the Greater Red-flanked Gumpy Zaxus grew, they thought.

Unfortunately for the sellers of tongs (formerly know as the sellers of sticks), the other Snorkelblatians were not so stupid they could be fooled into believing they had to buy tongs to pick up pebbles. No, no, no! Tongs are much more expensive than sticks, and tend to get stuck between the teeth. The other Snorkelblatians continued to just pick up the striped pebbles with their elbows as they usually did, put them in their pockets, take them home, and add them to their slowly growing pile of pebbles in front of their back doors.

So, the sellers of tongs (formerly known as the sellers of sticks), still in economically dire straits, appealed to their government for some kind of help. The Ministry of Gladiolas and Mountaintops (MoGM) would be happy to give the tong sellers some kind of grant, they said, but what would they use the money for? "Developing an easy up-hill pusher stick, perhaps?" they asked, not knowing that the MoT were paying them to not develop easy up-hill pusher sticks. "Or, what?"

Meanwhile, the Abnians of Abnia VI had been begging for longer gladiola scratchers for some time now, since their ears just kept on growing. It wasn't long before someone put two and two together, came up with five, and hatched a plan to cultivate gladiolas and develop a new nutrient from striped rocks to make the gladiolas growing there on the mountainside grow even taller.  

"Aha!" said some in the Ministry of Interplanetary and Family Relations. "This is the answer!"

"Yes!" said some in the MoGM.  "THIS will make ALL the people happy! (forgetting about the old Snorkelblatians who often reminisced about the beautiful pure fermented garlic smell and the rich colour of the big Purple Gumpy Zaxus).  The young people would have good jobs in the gladiola fields and the pilgrims would be able to pick up as many striped pebbles as they wanted, since "There surely are plenty of them".

"Right on!" Said some of the sellers of tongs (formerly known as the sellers of sticks, soon to be known as the sellers of nutrient) who were eager to offload their surplus of a gazillion pairs of tongs by marketing them as essential for picking up the striped pebbles used to make the nutrient. (And some in each these groups secretly thought to themselves "The sooner everyone forgets how all these paisley boulders got to be in their front lawns, the better for us" and "Whew!" said some in the MoT.)

The nutrient sellers (formerly know as the tong sellers formerly known as the stick sellers) got a gazillion purfuffle grant to develop this special nutrient for gladiolas from the striped pebbles scattered there amongst the beautiful gladiola fields on the mountainside just below the now Mauve Gumpy Zaxus' mountaintops, and proceeded to cultivate really tall gladiolas to make very long behind-the-ear scratchers to sell to the Abnians.

Having gotten secret reports on all this from their friends, (some of the employed and unemployed zaxuologists and gladiolologists and rockologists, or people who studied these fields a bit, and some of the "some" I mentioned earlier), most of whom also have a mound of paisley boulders in front of their front doors and a pile of striped pebbles at their back doors; and those of the "some" whom were still functioning and doing their best while being stuck between a boulder and a pebble, while others were trying to get to "five" (and some of them actually got there), . . . Inhale . . .

. . . the small Mauve Gumpy Zaxus, realizing their big paisley rocks were never going to be returned to the mountaintops so they could grow big and purple, decided to abandon Snorkelblat Prime altogether by hitching a ride on the dorsal fins of the dolphins (you remember the "So-Long-And-Thanks-For-All-The-Fish" dolphins) . . . anyway,  . . . That is how the big Mauve Gumpy Zaxus came to be on the tops of the volcanoes of Kitcheneer Omega where they now enjoy a less tenuous existence, the size of paisley rocks is "just fine", and the sulphur from the volcanoes overpowers the Mauve Gumpy Zaxu's garlic odour so the Kitcheneerachs aren't too offended.

These new longer behind-the-ear scratchers are highly prized by the Abnians of Abnia VI, although some are of the opinion this new model made from the taller cultivated gladiolas are 'not quite as good' as the older model (made from wild gladiolas) on account of when being used to scratch behind the ears, these longer ones make a dichromatic sound like a refrigerator instead of a chromatic sound like a furnace.

Leshinka Amudstud, PhD, University of Oobah finally invented stairs after watching a foreign movie. Yes, everyone is more or less happy on Snorkelblat Prime, except for the ferry people, who are trying to make up for the lost income when sticks were no longer in demand, by marketing the Yerbadillion forests as an exotic backdrop for weddings; and the Greater Red-flanked Gumpy Zaxus, of course, who are finding it very difficult nowadays to find striped pebbles to grow on, for some reason.

As I write this Guide entry, I, myself, am currently on Snorkelblat Prime ostensibly to check out the Yerbadillion forest for my upcoming nuptials and taking in the magnificent vistas of the very tall gladiola fields.

If you visit Snorkelblat Prime, if you are human, and even if you LIKE the smell of fermented garlic, I recommend you pick up a package of Tingleman's Anti-Fermented Garlic Odour Nostril plugs at the departure lounge duty-free shop as they are very hard to find on Snorkelblat Prime. During your visit to Snorkelblat Prime, be sure to keep an eye out (don't bother with a local tour guide, though, as they really just want to sell you some tweezers) for the rare "Mini Minky Gumpy Zaxu" that lives in the sand at the valley's edge between the mountains and the river. You can distinguish the Mini Minky Gumpy Zaxu from its close cousin the Mini Mikey Gumpy Zaxu (who hate each other on account they both like the green sand grains, which they fight over incesently) because the Mini Minky Gumpy Zaxu is the one with two of their four eyes constantly looking in different directions - one eye looking wistfully up the mountainside and off into space, and the other looking diligently at the river - no one knows why.  Their other two eyes are, naturally, keeping an eye out for green sand and Mini Mikey Gumpy Zazus.  Also look for the mini dolphins in the river.  No one knows why, but they're in the habit of jumping very high, but being quite small, they're often mistaken for raindrops falling up.

. . . Oh, hang on.  What's that shadow? . . .