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Grouse Galore

Posted by Liron on Tuesday, September 1, 2015
On August 30 2015, Mel and I did what turned into a "Grouse Big Day". Our main goal was to find a Spruce Grouse, which would be a lifer for me!

We started off in Manning Provincial Park, where Spruce Grouse are uncommon, but there have been many recent reports. Walking around turned up no grouse, but this juvenile Common Loon did pose for some pictures:

ImageCommon Loon (juvenile) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



Just past the Common Loon we ran into this young American Dipper:


ImageAmerican Dipper by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr


After taking these shots, we continued walking. As we walked, we spotted a raptor shoot by overhead- a Northern Goshawk! A tough bird in Manning, and a lifer!

Clouds were rolling through the surrounding mountains making for a very pretty setting:

ImageManning Park by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



We decided to continue our search for grouse from the car. We hadn't driven far, when all of a sudden we spotted a grouse by the road!

ImageSooty Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSooty Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSooty Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



It was a female Sooty Grouse. It turned out she had her whole family with her! The juveniles were very tame and walked right up to us- one even brushed up against Mel!

ImageSooty Grouse (juvenile) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSooty Grouse (juvenile) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



The adult female climbed up to a high vantage point to keep an eye on things:

ImageSooty Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSooty Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSooty Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



We left the family and continued on. It wasn't long before we spotted more grouse on the side of the road! Once again they were Sooty Grouse. One was a male however, which are harder to see than the females:

ImageSooty Grouse (male) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSooty Grouse (male) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSooty Grouse (male) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



After photographing we continued on. We saw many more Grouse! In total, 16! Soon, the rain really started picking up and it began to bucket, so we decided to head on to Merritt, where we hoped to find more grouse. Other birds we saw in Manning included Pine Grosbeak and Townsend's Solitaires.

A while later we arrived in the Quilchena area, near Merritt. Our first stop produced a Common Loon in nearly full breeding plumage, seen here shaking of water from its feathers. The wind was blowing like crazy, making photos of this bird tough as the dock was bouncing up and down and the bird was usually hidden behind waves on the lake:

ImageCommon Loon by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



The highlight of our next stop was this slightly distant but gorgeous Swainson's Hawk:

ImageSwainson's Hawk by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSwainson's Hawk by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



This Red-tailed Hawk also was cool:

ImageRed-tailed Hawk by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



We now drove up a road towards a lake, continuing our search for grouse. Our target here was Spruce Grouse, but Ruffed and Dusky would be more likely. Soon, Mel spotted a grouse on the road:

ImageRuffed Grouse (male) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

It was a Ruffed Grouse! Turns out that it was a family of five.


We now made a detour to look for pelicans. While we did not find Pelicans, we did see some other birds, including the following:

ImageVesper Sparrow by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageBlack-billed Magpie by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageMountain Bluebird by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



We had one last area to try for grouse. So far we had seen 16 Sooty Grouse and 5 Ruffed Grouse. This last spot was a forest service road where lots of grouse can be found. It wasn't long before we got grouse! First up were lots of Dusky Grouse, the Sooty Grouse's interior cousin:

ImageDusky Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr


We were so thrilled to get great looks at this male Dusky Grouse. Male Dusky Grouse have a reputation of being very hard to see, and even harder to photograph!

ImageDusky Grouse (male) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



Driving along this forest service road turned up more and more grouse! We saw lots more Dusky and Ruffed Grouse, but no Spruce.

Nearing the end of the forest service road, Mel spotted some more grouse by the road. They were Spruce Grouse! One female sat up on a rock posing for pictures while her three young sat on the ground behind her. It was awesome! A lifer! It always is so great to finally find a nemesis bird!

ImageSpruce Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSpruce Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSpruce Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSpruce Grouse (female) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr



Her young also posed for pictures:

ImageSpruce Grouse (juvenile) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSpruce Grouse (juvenile) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr

ImageSpruce Grouse (juvenile) by lironsnaturephotography.com, on Flickr


It was an awesome day! In total we saw 44 grouse:
18 Sooty Grouse
12 Ruffed Grouse
10 Dusky Grouse
4 Spruce Grouse

One interesting thing is that on this forest service road we had all of these species. It is unusual to see Sooty and Dusky in the same area so this was very neat!

It was an awesome day of birding with Mel!


BC Year List: 284 (Goal: 305)
BC year list additions in this post: American Dipper, Northern Goshawk, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse




 

 

 

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