With the arrival of the Common Nighthawk, one of the last arrivals, virtually all the migrating birds have returned to the Okanagan Valley. Undoubtedly this is one of the very most important breeding areas in all of Canada; with almost 200 species breeding here it is a critical environment for our avian friends.
One June 15, 2010 I led a bird watching and nature adventure tour with a couple from Calgary, who are very experienced birders. We were able to hit up several hot spots and ended the day with 78 species, including Lazuli Buntings, Yellow Breasted Chat, Long Billed Curlews, Bobolinks, Brewer’s and Vesper Sparrows, Calliope Hummingbirds, Red Naped Sapsuckers and Western Wood Pewee.
However, the best was saved for last—we got a Williamson’s Sapsucker, a Life Bird. This made the whole tour, both my guests came away very satisfied having struck off another bird on their life list. They now have “Bragging Rights” which they will share back home amongst their fellow birders.
In talking with this couple, it is obvious that they were quite familiar with the South Okanagan and had visited several birding areas. So what motivated them to hire a guide? It probably had something to do with “Value Added” which local people bring to the table.
Any time that one sets out into unknown territory, there are many risks that are present, for instance wildlife (bears and rattlesnakes), getting lost, an injury or unstable terrain. For some the fear of mitigating these risks is more than warranted through hiring a guide.
If you have limited time or are looking for a specific bird, like the Williamson’s Sapsucker, it’s more effective to engage the services of a local guide.
A well informed guide will truly make your next birding adventure a very memorable one, by providing behind the scenes information which can be woven into stories bringing credibility and inspiration.