Lightning Lake, Manning Provincial Park, with Mt Frosty in the background
Despite persistent drizzle on the Saturday count day, the Manning Provincial Park bird blitz was great fun. I arrived on the Friday evening and took a stroll around Sumallo Grove, admiring the giant western hemlock and cedar trees and listening to the quiet sounds of the forest: twittering birds and creaking branches, backed by the sound of the rushing waters of the Sumallo River. I missed seeing the Harlequin Duck there but found a young Varied Thrush, waiting to be fed by its mother.
- Juvenile Varied Thrush
Nearly 50 people gathered on Friday night at the group camp ground to organize into birding groups for an early start on the Saturday. It was a fine evening so we were hoping for some good birds. A Pileated Woodpecker flew over as organizer, Kelly Pearce, of Hope Mountain Centre, was explaining the logistics. Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning and BC Nature organize the Bird Blitz, an annual event started by Gail Ross of BC Parks 28 years ago.
Wild Rhododendrons just coming into bloom at Rhododendron Flats
With the fine mist and light rain persisting most of Saturday, much of the birding was done by ear. As our group walked along the river valley paths, we attempted to sort out the subtle differences between the warblers, identifying such species as Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler and Townsend’s Warbler, as well as Brown Creepers, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Chestnut-backed Chickadees. A pair of Spotted Sandpipers called and teeteered on the edge of the lake. Many wild flowers lined the paths and we had to be careful not to step on delicate orchids and other rare species. We were successful with finding members of the woodpecker family, recording both Red-breasted and Red-naped Sapsuckers – this species pair meet at Manning Park – in addition to seeing and hearing Northern Flicker, a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers, and Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers.
Janne Perrin spotted a Gray Catbird in a cluster of willow bushes, while the rest of us had wandered on, thinking she was photographing flowers. So we all hurried back to see it, as this is an unusual bird for Manning, and as far as we know, the first one recorded on a blitz there. It was being mobbed by two irate White-crowned Sparrows and a tiny Calliope Hummingbird. While we watched it, an Osprey flew over, another Spotted Sandpiper visited the adjacent pond, and a number of flycatchers and vireos flitted around in nearby trees. We later got better views of Olive-sided and Hammond’s Flycatcher, and heard calls and got fleeting glimpses of Pacific-slope and Willow Flycatchers. A female Western Bluebird and some Red Crossbills flying over enlivened the afternoon. Clark’s Nutcracker and Ravens were common at the Manning Park lodge, and the next day I got a good view of Evening Grosbeaks there too.
The evening tally produced a reasonable number of species (about 85) for such a wet day and many tales of snow covered trails from the groups that took the higher routes. Black bears were abundant all weekend, with scat along many trails and sightings quite frequent. I saw five bears in the park, as well as yellow-pine chipmunks, red and Douglas’ squirrel, Columbian ground squirrel and mule deer.
Participants enjoyed a fine barbecue supper and a campfire at the end of the day.
Yellow-pine chipmunk at Manning Provincial Park
A group of three black bears at Manning Provincial Park