"Unbelievable"... that's the word I said when Mark Phinney sent me his pics of the Common Crane he had just seen in Peace River. This would be BC's 2nd record of this majestic bird.

On Oct 4rd, Mark had gone to look for a bird that Jeannie Smith from Alberta thought may have been a Whooping Crane. When Mark got there he found it was an even rarer bird - a Common Crane!.

I really wanted to go see this bird so thanks to Ilya's Aeroplan points I was lucky enough to go. Thank you Ilya!. A whole group of us got together and shared a rental car as well and drove out to the spot at the crack of dawn. The bird was an hour away from Fort St. John near the little town of Rolla. This was by far the furthest I have ever traveled in the province to chase a bird.

When we pulled up just after sunrise we were taken aback by the large number of Sandhill Cranes. There was over 2000 Sandhill Cranes!. It made me think of the large flocks I would see every fall in SK. I just love the sound of Sandhill Cranes. It took about 30 mins to pick out the beautiful Common Crane.

I could not believe that I had just seen a Common Crane in Arizona last month!. I thought to myself that I may be the only person alive to have seen 2 Common Cranes in the ABA (North America) this year!.

The views in Arizona were far more distant. So distant in fact that I could not get a usable picture. Well not this time.. the views were great by scope and I was able to get a few record shots. We got to see him feeding and in flight which was cool.

We met some nice locals at the twitch named Brian and Inge. They told us about some great local birds. We went to their place and I enjoyed playing with their dogs. The farmer where the crane was feeding was also super nice. It was nice to see such friendly behaviour because some farmers get a bad rap from birders and society in general.  We looked around for Great Gray and Hawk Owl since the habitat looked right but it was the wrong time of day. We had to settle on Merlins, Bald Eagles and a Roughie. Lots of goose flocks flew over the pretty landscape both Canada and Greater White-fronteds. It was bitterly cold with a constant wind it felt like it would snow soon. However, looking at the Crane made us all feel so happy we were able to spend hours outside in the harsh cold wind.

Common Crane amongst the Sandhills  in Peace River, BC - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Common Crane feeding in a field in Peace River - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Sandhill Cranes in flight in Peace River - Photo: Melissa Hafting

This was my tenth new BC bird this year! Making my total to be 435 this year which is just incredible - since the year is not even over yet.

After this we celebrated at a delicious East Indian restaurant called "Spicy Fusion" and then went birding at the Fort St. John Sewage Lagoons where we saw many Pectoral Sandpipers, a few Lesser Yellowlegs, an American Golden-Plover and an American Tree Sparrow.

We went to Charlie Lake next where Mike Toochin quickly spotted a Eurasian Wigeon. Other good birds seen during our trip were Blue Jays, Townsend Solitaire, Rough-legged Hawk, Greater White-fronted Geese and Lapland Longspurs.

What a fun twitch with great people.


  1. So happy you and others found the bird. With more trained eyes all over the province, i am sure we will get to see or hear about more rare finds in years to come. Birding help bring awareness to the change in the environment and nature and we have to do much more to help retain its beauty. Your work with the young birders helps at this mega level. Hats off!

    1. Thank you so much Mario for reading this post but also for your kind words. I'm
      Very touched it means a lot. You are right more trained eyes are finding more and more rarities and climate change is pushing more birds North than ever before. A double edged sword that's why it's so important to get out there and enjoy the nature and bring awareness along the way. Thank you again.


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