Spring is a favorite time of year for many, and in Quesnel it is also one of the best times for birdwatching.
The observation of birds has taken off in the area.
“Spring migration in April and May here is very, very active and it can change day by day,” said Adrian Leather, a member of the British Columbia Field Ornithologists.
“It can even change within the day, so it makes it really interesting and exciting because you never know what’s going to come out.”
Leather is also the president of the Quesnel Birding Club, known as Q-Birds on Facebook, which has soared to more than 600 members.
He began birdwatching at a young age back in Manchester, England, where he regularly watched birds from a window as his mother fed them in their garden.
It wasn’t until he was older, however, that he fully delved into the beloved pastime that has grown in Quesnel.
More than twenty years ago, Leather immigrated to the area where he would meet local resident and birder Manfred Roschitz.
Before the Quesnel Bird Club took flight, the two began swapping birding reports leading to an email listing with sightings and the odd photo.
“For the first two years I was here, I couldn’t even track down a birder,” Leather said.
“Now it seems have become really active in Quesnel…It used to be seen as some guy with a multicolored woolly hat chasing around with a butterfly net or something like that, and now it’s just mainstream—anyone is a birder.”
One of the beauties of Quesnel and B.C. in general is you can bird just about anywhere.
While some birdwatch at local parks and trails such as the Riverfront Trail and West Fraser Timber Park, Leather said, one of the best overall spots is at Dragon Lake.
He doesn’t keep count of the different species he has seen over the years but noted of local birder Rod Sargent who completed what is known among birders as a “big year.”
“A big year is when you set out to see the highest number of species in a particular year, in a particular area, so what he did was a North Cariboo big year, and he hit 234 species in this area,” Leather said.
“That gives you sort of an idea of what potential there is.”
A big surprise for Leather was a confirmed sighting years ago of a whooping crane at Gravelle Ferry.
It was also a record year in 2021 for sage thrashers at Soda Creek.
“There’s really just a few sage thrashers down in the south Okanagan, and they don’t usually range north of there, so that was quite stunning really,” Leather said.
It can take years to encounter a particular bird species.
To Leather, that’s one of the allures of birdwatching. It provides the opportunity to go out and have fun while meeting new people to share sightings and locations.
“It’s like a whole parallel universe,” he said.
“I think one of the other appeals to me is peace and quiet. It’s really relaxing, and you sort of realize that there’s a lot more going on in the world than just the human existence.”
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