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A Great Trip to Salmon Arm

Every year, I try to get to Salmon Arm to look for shorebirds. Although the shorebirding there is not as good as on the coast, it is excellent for interior BC. On our way to Salmon Arm my dad and I decided to stop at a good birding spot near Nakusp, and we were rewarded with my lifer Sabine's gull along with good looks at a Bonaparte's Gull. Sadly our friends that we were birding with us were too far ahead to come back and see the gull, but I saw another later in the fall with them.

Sabine's Gull Boneparte's Gull

Once we arrived in Salmon Arm I convinced our friends to walk on the mudflats to the mouth of the Salmon River. We found ourselves in some unpleasantly deep mud, but we were not willing to give up too easily so we trudged on. I was slightly ahead of them when I heard yelling and saw that one of my friends, who happened to be carrying the scope, had stepped in a deep mud pit by accident and was falling over in painfully slow motion. His partner grabbed the scope just before he hit the ground but found herself off balance as well. In the end the scope was not damaged, only slightly muddy, but both people, especially the man who fell first, were quite muddy! He went back to dry land but the other stayed for a little longer and we were rewarded with rather unsatisfactory views of a Stilt Sandpiper and over 40 Pectoral Sandpipers.

The next day we walked the nature trail to Christmas Island where we saw pelicans, great views of a Lincoln's Sparrow, a Peregrine Falcon, and my first BC Franklin's Gull. Around the pier, we saw many shorebirds like Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, hundreds of Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, and the odd Long-billed Dowitcher or Stilt sandpiper.

(Solitary Sandpiper, Lincoln's Sparrow, American White Pelican, Long-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, Greater Yelowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper)

That afternoon we ran into a friend that I had birded with in Salmon Arm the year before. He said that there had been great shorebirds at the mouth of the Salmon River that morning and gave us directions to avoid the worst of the mud. My friend who had not gotten quite as muddy and I walked through mosquito infested grass and muddy channels before arriving at the mouth of the river. Along the way, we saw many shorebirds including my first Baird's Sandpiper of the year, 47 Pectoral Sandpipers, and a few Yellowlegs. At the mouth of the river, we enjoyed distinguishing the peeps (Least, Semipalmated, and Western Sandpipers), all of which were present. We also were surprised to find two juvenile Sanderlings.

On the way back to the place we were staying that evening I spotted several Sandhill Cranes that my friend we had seen that morning had told me about.

The next day we could only bird in the morning as we were heading back to town, but we still walked the nature trail to Christmas Island one more time. On the walk out, we got great looks at a Downy Woodpecker and thought we saw an early Greater Scaup but our looks weren't able to confirm.

We had an epic moment as a Peregrine Falcon chased a Greater Yellowlegs, but was outsmarted when the Yellowlegs hid among a flock of Canada Geese and American White Pelicans.

All in all it was an excellent trip!

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