Badgers and Great Gray Owls Oh My!

We took a trip up to the interior of BC and had an incredible weekend. We inadvertently found an American Badger den and also a Great Gray Owl nest. We found Grasshopper Sparrows, Clay-coloured, Lark Sparrows, Lazuli Buntings, Williamson's and Red-naped Sapsuckers, Ruddy Ducks, Cinnamon and Blue-winged Teals, Lewis's Woodpeckers, Common Mergansers with chicks, Barrow's Goldeneyes, Clark's Nutcrackers, Burrowing Owls, Swainson's Hawks, Dusky, Olive-sided, Willow and Hammond's Flycatcher and many more birds.

We photographed many Eared, Pied-billed and Red-necked Grebes who were either on the nest or had babies. Days like this are ones you can only dream of and it was nice to experience such a magical weekend. We even bumped into our good friend Guy Monty while viewing some Lewis's Woodpecker while he was on his way to Valemount.

The highlight of the trip for me was definitely seeing the American Badgers because they are endangered in BC  with less than 350 and it was my first time seeing them in the province. I have only seen them in the prairies. Locations are withheld since it is a den with young and they are endangered. The Great Gray Owls were also a highlight and their location is also withheld as they are nesting birds that are sensitive to disturbance. Not sure if you heard but a Badger was just caught in a wolf trap a few days ago in BC luckily it was released and is ok! You can read that story HERE. We don't want to lose anymore of these amazing animals.

What I found really unusual was how the Steller's Jays near the Great Gray Owl family would mimic the owlets begging calls and then also mimic the other adult Great Gray Owl confusing one of the adults. It was as if the Jay was teasing the poor Great Gray who would respond and fly in, only to be met with the mocking Jay. One of the owlets had to do loud bill clapping and climb high up a tree to right his mom's attention! I had never seen that behavior before in Steller's Jays. I have seen them mimic other birds but never in this manner so relentlessly. The way he mimicked the owls really sounded just like the Great Gray, no wonder he fooled them, he was a real ventriloquist!

Great Gray Owlet looking cute - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Adult Great Gray Owl - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Great Gray Owlet - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Perched Great Gray Owl in BC - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Great Gray Owlet in BC - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Great Gray Owl looking at the pesky Steller's Jay - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Great Gray Owl looking at a squirrel - Photo: Melissa Hafting

With less than 350 of these animals in BC  I was thrilled to find a den of 3 young badger cubs with a sow. I'd never seen them in BC before so it was one cool treat! They seemed to be eating rats off the side of the road. The way they ran with those massive claws was one cool sight they sure were cute.


American Badger cubs in BC - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Male Ruddy Duck in Quilchena - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Grasshopper Sparrow in Cawston - Photo: Melissa Hafting

I had no nice Eared or Red-necked Grebes photos in breeding plumage so seeing them up close for some nice photos was a real treat. I loved watching the babies ride on the back of the parents and hear the interaction calls of the parents. All grebe chicks really look so unlike the parents and they are just so adorable. Here is a photo of the male leaving the female and chicks to catch some food.

Red-necked Grebes in Pritchard - Photos: Melissa Hafting

I got my best photos ever of a pair of very accommodating Eared Grebes when I scouted this location a few weeks back I had found 4 Eared Grebes but today only 2 were present, meaning they didn't nest at the location as I thought they would. Due to the high water they are popping up at all these flooded fields, so I took advantage of that this year. We had to get up really early to make sure the light was good by 10 am shooting was done. The lush green and gold setting really added to the stunning finery of this breeding pair.


Eared Grebes in Pritchard - Photos: Melissa Hafting

On the way home we stopped to see a Veery, that Paul Foth had found a few days before in Agassiz. We found it within 5 mins singing 200m down the dyke trail on McDonald Rd S. You can listen to a recording I got of the bird HERE.

Another great weekend in Beautiful British Columbia.

Comments

  1. Another terrific adventure account, thanks. You sure did see a lot of nice species and get such terrific images too. I have to say I am especially taken by the badger - what a great surprise to find one and have it cooperative enough to allow the interesting pix. Way to go on having had such an eventful weekend.

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    1. Thanks Peter so much cool stuff to see in bc and diverse habitats and amazing birds I love this province!

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  2. Beautiful photos, you were treated to some very rare and amazing sights! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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    1. Thanks Liron so kind of you :) looking forward to reading about your Alaska trip!!

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  3. That's a lot of sightseeing to pack into a weekend.! Must have done a lot of planning with insider information. Then there is wolverine possible in the alpine rockies and cascades.

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    1. No insider info only my own knowledge I did scout the grebe locations the week before though :)

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    2. Very nice shots and finds! eared grebes are a target but hoping to get those before we reach Bc. congrats on the Badger find!

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  4. Super trip Mel. I love the subtle use of the morning light, it makes such a difference. So many great birds and memories. Happy you saw the Badgers too.

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    1. Thanks John good memories to tell the kids when I'm older lol

      I've sure learned the difference that good light makes for photos and what a difference it makes for good photos. It's never easy for a nightowl like me to get up though lol

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  5. Something like a Badger is so exciting to see and photograph. Great shots Mel.

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  6. What can I say other than outstanding finds and captures Mel!
    It's amazing what you can find if you make the effort to get out there! The Badgers are amazing and the Great Grey's are to die for. Wonderful account as usual!

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    1. thank you so much ian! yes so much fun to be had as you get out and explore and since our province is so big and diverse there is always something cool and new to discover! cheers and happy canada day ian!

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  7. Awesome shots! Looks like you had a great trip ! There is always something new to find in the interior.

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    1. yes and lets hope we find something cool on our next young birder trip to princeton!

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