Although the Upper Arrow Lake doesn’t have much shore to speak of at the moment

Shorebirds now busily shoring up for winter

As the name suggests, these birds spend most of their time at the water’s edge either feeding in the shallow water or on the adjacent shore.

I was a bit surprised last week to see two Greater Yellowlegs near the mouth of Kuskanax Creek. Yellowlegs belong to the sandpiper group, which together with the plovers and a couple of other small families comprise a much larger group known as the shorebirds.

As the name suggests, these birds spend most of their time at the water’s edge either feeding in the shallow water or on the adjacent shore. Some species will also feed in grassy fields, particularly in wet conditions.

Ideal conditions for most shorebirds are gently sloping shorelines providing extensive shallows and abundant wet shorelines or mudflats. The ever-changing water levels on Arrow Lakes make these conditions almost non-existent here. Our shorelines are almost all sand and gravel, neither of which contains food. As a result, very few shorebirds use Arrow Lake as a migration corridor.

It may seem a little early for migration, after all, summer only just arrived! But shorebirds, particularly the adult males, migrate southward very early. In most species, males play little or no role in the raising of young. So as soon as the mating period has ended, there is no reason for them to stay any longer. Female and immature birds move southward a little later.

Greater Yellowlegs do not migrate as far north as many species; this may also contribute to their early appearance in southern B.C. In this province, their breeding range is primarily found in the Caribou and the Central Interior, but there is some evidence to suggest that they may breed even further south than this. For example, three years ago I saw an adult, and two immature birds at a small lake on the Monashee. While they will sometimes migrate in family groups, the agitated behaviour of this adult suggested that the immature birds were quite young and still under the careful watch of the parent. I strongly suspect that these birds had nested at that lake.

Most shorebirds pass through southern B.C. in the latter part of August and in September. Provided the water levels have dropped a little by then, we may get a few more shorebirds stopping in for a visit at that time. The flats at Burton are the best place to look for them.

But by far the best place to see shorebirds in the Southern Interior is at Salmon Arm. There, the wide mud flats provide a haven for thousands of shorebirds every fall. It’s quite a spectacle to go there on a good day and see huge flocks of several different species, fattening up on the nutrient-rich mud flats before continuing southward to their winter homes far to the south of cold and snowy Canada.

 

Just Posted

Last of southern Selkirk caribou relocated to Revelstoke area

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

How to stay safe in the Nakusp backcountry: BCSARA

The B.C. Search and Rescue Association recommends planning, training and taking the essentials

Skier caught in backcountry avalanche near Rossland

‘The man was lucky he had the ‘A-Team’ of ski patrol people able to respond as quickly as they did,’ says Rossland rescue spokesperson

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read