Honoured to receive BC Nature's "Daphne Solecki Award" plus an encounter with Red-breasted Sapsuckers

I was truly honoured to be awarded the 2021 Daphne Solecki Award by BC Nature for my work with young birders in the province of BC. 

According to BC Nature's website it states: "The Daphne Solecki Award (Only one may be presented annually). This Award recognizes persons who have contributed to nature education for children in British Columbia."

This truly touches my heart. Usually recipients receive it at the AGM but not this year due to COVID-19. However, the notice of award winners is now posted in the summer 2021 issue of BC Nature's Magazine. Which you can read below if you are not a member. It is an honour to receive an award named after an amazing woman like Daphne Solecki.

Daphne Solecki Award 2021

Thank you to BC Nature and its board of directors for awarding me with this award. Thank you to Debbi Hlady for nominating me. This nomination and award was a true surprise to me!. The work I have done with the young birders in this province by mentoring them and leading trips to bring youth together through birding and nature has inspired me to no end. The youth have given me such immense joy that I couldn't adequately put it into words. They have changed my life for the better. This award should go to them, as much as it goes to me.

To celebrate this yesterday, I went up to Cypress Mountain in West Van. I was kind of distressed to see they are building a 1.7 km, 279m vertical drop, Mountain Roller Coaster there on a peaceful mountain full of wildlife. However, much of my distress disappeared when I saw a pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers actively flycatching. They would go back and forth between tapping trees to fill their beaks with grubs, sap and insects for their young. Their dedication to their young was something else and exhausting to watch!. They truly are such a gorgeous woodpecker!.

Red-breasted Sapsuckers are stunning - Photo: Melissa Hafting

I think I got my best photos of this species now. I find them normally pretty hard to photograph!. There were lots of nice breeding birds on the mountain too: Sooty Grouse, Mac Warblers, Townsend's Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Varied Thrush, Hermit and Swainson's Thrushes, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers, Red Crossbills, Tree and Violet-Green Swallows, Vaux's Swifts and more!.

Red-breasted Saspsuckers in West Vancouver - Photos: Melissa Hafting

I will also share a vertical crop (even though Blogger destroys the sharpness and resolution when vertical). I wanted to show you one of the adults with a bill full of food.

Photographing Red-breasted Sapsuckers is a real treat - Photo: Melissa Hafting

It couldn't have been a nicer way to spend the day after being given this award. I stopped in at my friend Rob's house who made me 2 cedar Purple Martin boxes (including 1 on the spot! THANK YOU ROB!) for my next project in Richmond. Then we celebrated with a delicious dinner at Kypriaki Greek Restaurant in North Van. A great way to celebrate a special day!.

Purple Martin boxes made that I hope start out a new colony in Richmond - Photos: Melissa Hafting


  1. Congratulations on the award!! It is truly well deserved!!

  2. really mel no one is more deserving than you and I couldn't be happier that bc nature's board awarded you this. you have helped so many young birders enjoy wildlife and you have made kids feel connection through nature. there are few things better than that. also you have been so generous helping me even though I'm not a young birder. those kids couldn't of had a better mentor. I know things haven't always been easy for you but you did it. you changed the status quo mel. a female, young and a woman of colour. you are special and don't forget it. remember if there has been any detractors in your path they have either been jealous or threatened. it is a sign you have done right. as those young birders get old they won't forget you mel. I know I've never forgotten the adults who made a difference in my life. you really do have a kind and caring heart and want everyone to experience the joy of birds, I felt it the first moment I met you!.

    1. aww thanks wendy I really am touched, you brought a tear to my eye. I genuinely enjoy helping people that is for sure. saying all that the kids truly made a difference in my life that is priceless.

  3. I am really happy for you melissa. I am a big supporter of what you have done for the young birders in bc and the whole birding community. you have really brought us together. really nice to see you be finally publicly recognized for your work!

    1. thank you dear dave. you have always been such a good friend and supporter and I am grateful for it.


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