Young Birder Hike To Whistler


Young Birders on Blackcomb Mtn in Whistler - Photo: Melissa Hafting

We had a lovely young birder hike with 12 participants on Saturday in Whistler. We took Epic Rides comfy shuttle bus and were in Whistler at 9:30am. We took the gondola up at 10 am to Blackcomb Mountain and had a few Canada Jays on the ride up. At the top we found several Hoary Marmots that the youth loved photographing. There was even an adorable baby there fattening up on grass before they will soon hibernate. 

Young Birders photographing the first Hoary Marmot we saw - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Hoary Marmots on Blackcomb Mtn in Whistler - Photo: Heather T.

Hoary Marmots on Whistler - Photos: Melissa Hafting

We waited for the gray gondola (with a glass bottom so we could look out below) and took the peak to peak gondola across to Whistler. We didn't see too many birds over there but did see an unusual for the elevation Brewer's Blackbird. We took the gondola back to Blackcomb and did a hike on the Overlord Trail to Blackcomb Lake. At the lake we watched several people swimming while we ate our lunches. Everyone said how freezing the lake was. A few of us dipped our feet in the lake it was extremely freezing but refreshing! There wasn't many birds by the lake except for some Common Ravens who kept us company. We were surprised we didn't see any Pipits or Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches or raptors like Sharp-shinned Hawks and sadly no Pygmy-Owls this time! The weather was super beautiful and warm at 25 degrees Celsius. There was virtually no snow on the peaks so I figure the Rosy-finches were staying up high where we couldn't get to, especially since the Peak Express chair closed Sept 11th. I have taken other young birders and seen over 450 Rosy-Finches so it was a little disappointing. Bentley was there with his dad and he had seen a Goshawk and some Mountain Chickadees while we were in a different area. We had a few passerines like Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos but fewer than on past visits. It was no matter as Anica kept us laughing with her funny stories at the lake. She was telling us about her wrist injury and then Cam jumped in about his neck injury and Daniel about his hip injury. I told them they were making me feel young and they were falling apart haha. Harry ever the joker was making us all laugh the entire time. Clay made us all laugh with the funny words he called the marmots. Heather thought the Marmots looked like fat seals but ones that could run haha. Quinn kept us entertained with his Bear adventure stories and everyone present made the trip special. For some like Heather, Raymond, Lukas and Cameron it was their first ever trip to the mountain. 

Speaking of Cameron, check out a video with him in it during the 2022 summer Young Birders Workshop at Long Point in ONT below:

Harry telling me to Hang Loose at Blackcomb Lake - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Raymond taking in the sights at Blackcomb - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Young Birders at the very cold Blackcomb Lake - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Hiking in the hot sun felt like summer not October! - Photo: Melissa Hafting

On the trail to and from the lake we had many Pikas gathering food and the youth got great photos of the cute little fella. At one point a Pika was sitting on the main path right beside Julia! She got some incredible photos! I told her how lucky she was because Pika usually don't sit on the trail right by your feet!! We also saw several Yellow-pine Chipmunks!

Pika on Blackcomb Mtn - Photos: Heather T.

Yellow-pine Chipmunk in Whistler - Photo: Heather T.

Pika on Whistler gathering food for the winter - Photo: Melissa Hafting

On the Overlord Trail we had several Clark's Nutcrackers. Some of the Nutcrackers appeared to have pink faces but it was actually their skin being stretched and exposed from a mouth full of nuts!

Clark's Nutcrackers on Whistler - Photos: Heather T.

The youth enjoyed feeding Canada Jays. One of the Canada Jays was aberrant and had stress bands on his wings and tail probably due to malnutrition when he was young. None of us had ever seen a Canada Jay that looked like this one! The youth decided to name this one "Stripey." The Canada Jays even landed on several of the youths' heads! The Canada Jays and Nutcrackers were a lifer for some of the youth like Anica.

"Stripey" the aberrant Canada Jay with stress bands on wings and tail in Whistler - Photo: Daniel Graca

Harry and Paul feeding Canada Jays on Whistler - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Heather feeding a Canada Jay on Blackcomb - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Young birders Julia, Cam and Daniel waiting for the jays - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Wide-angle view of the Canada Jay eating out of Harry's hand - Photo: Harry Sedin

Canada Jay on Daniel's head in Whistler - Photo: Heather T.

Canada Jay in Whistler - Photo: Raymond Liu

A video of one of the Canada Jays eating from Daniel's hand is below:


When we took the peak to peak gondola over to Whistler Mountain, we took a group shot in front of the Inukshuk.

Young Birders on Whistler Mtn in front of Inukshuk - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Anica and Daniel hiking on beautiful Blackcomb Mtn - Photo: Heather T.

Clark's Nutcracker looking down at the youth on Blackcomb Mtn - Photo: Raymond Liu

The views on our hike were stunning on Blackcomb Mtn! - Photos: Melissa Hafting

After a lovely day on gorgeous Blackcomb Mountain, we descended back into Whistler, where we watched Crows behaving like American Dippers in the rushing river and then we had a delicious dinner at the Mongolie Grill.

Youth on the Whistler-Van shuttle - Photo: Melissa Hafting

We took the bus home and were back in Vancouver at 9 pm tired but happy! Thanks to all the young birders who came out and for the very fun day! Also a big thank you to the supportive parents and generous donors.

Comments

  1. Looks like it was a blast, and what a great group of youngsters you've got there! Thanks for doing this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Yousif they had a really fun time. Thanks for all the support!

      Delete
  2. Wow what a great turnout. It’s amazing work you’ve organized with these youth! Looks like great weather and a great time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks it was really a good turnout and a lot of fun was had by all !

      Delete

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