Leaving the extended city behind we struck off east on the morning of 26 May. We were heading for a couple of nights at Manning Park followed by one night near the town of Oliver in the wine growing region of the Osoyoos Valley.
Arriving at the west end of the park we stopped at the Coldspring Campground for a leg-stretcher scoring with Audubon's Warbler, Townsends Warbler, Steller's Jay and Colombian Ground Squirrel. Then it was on to the area near the park HQ and the circular walk at Beaver Pond where I enjoyed my first close-up Barrow's Goldeneye. We then drove the winding road up to the Cascade Lookout (unfortunately the road above the lookout was closed). Around the carpark we were surrounded by confiding Clark's Nutcrackers, Canada Jays, Yellow Pine Chipmunks and Cascade Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels! A Raven was also knocking about and a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew past and alighted briefly in the top of a pine. After checking in to our room and grabbing a coffee we ventured out to the Lone Duck Campground set around a bay of Lightning Lake. Here I was delighted to find a pair of Mountain Chickadees more Barrow's Goldeneyes, American Red Squirrel, Douglas's Squirrel and plenty of the common pine wood species like Pine Siskin, Crossbill, Oregon Junco, Chipping Sparrow etc. In the last hour of light I had a walk around the reception area of the park HQ with 2 Evening Grosbeaks flying about but never seen on the deck. That would have to wait for tomorrow!
A full day walking various trails in the park beginning with our main walk around Lightning Lake. 2 summer plumage Great Northern Divers on the lake started things off nicely in the early morning but as we neared Rainbow Bridge things got a whole lot better with probably my most wanted bird - Varied Thrush, and a stunning male too! A little while later another individual popped up on the path ahead of us and a female Calliope Hummingbird showed all too briefly. We then walked back to Spruce Bay where the colourful theme doubled-up with mega views of 3 Evening Grosbeaks! Also there were Yellow Warbler, Purple Finch, Canada Goose and Gadwall. Walking the Monument 78/83 and Canyon Trails during the afternoon and evening gave us Canada Jay, Steller's Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Hammond's Flycatcher, 4 Hermit Thrushes, good numbers of Townsend's and Audubon's Warblers, both kinglets, Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Red-breasted Nuthatch amongst the more regulars.
On the morning of 28 May we left Manning Park early and immediately had a very welcome surprise as a Moose crossed the main road in front of us. Sadly too quick for my camera! Having done a little digging around on eBird the previous evening I'd earmarked a couple of ponds (actually small lakes) near the town of Princeton to check as we wound our way towards Oliver. The first was Ferguson Pond which paid off straight away with my hoped-for drake Cinnamon Teal. Into the bargain I also ticked Red-naped Sapsucker and Western Pewee plus 6 Ring-necked Duck, Sora, 2 American Coot and several California Quail along the lane. The 2nd spot was August Lake which was equally good as I scored with new birds of Pygmy Nuthatch and Cassin's Finch with a backing cast of 2 Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Dusky Flycatcher, Savannah Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow.
After a bit of a torturous drive we reached the Osoyoos Valley and began to explore the area around Osoyoos Bow Lakes and nearby Road 22. The lakes held another Cinnamon Teal, 2 Redheads, 2 Lesser Scaup while the surrounding bushes and along the lane gave us a responsive Veery, Yellow-breasted Chat, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat and Yellow Warbler. The small carpark also has Say's Phoebe (my first) and Eastern Kingbird which was a bit of a surprise this far west. A drive along track alongside one of the straight dykes revealed 2 Ospreys of which one was on a nest.
Next up was Vaseux Lake where we stopped at the north end and in a short walk along the boardwalk in very hot conditions had my first Bullock's Oriole, the only Grey Catbird of the trip, another Eastern Kingbird and c20 Redhead on the lake.
White Lake Grasslands to the west of the lake was our next destination for some specialist birds. t took us a while find a good area tht looked right but on our search we stopped at a nice meadow area which was fantastic with mega views of Lazuli Bunting and a male Calliope Hummingbird plus Western Meadowlark, Lark Sparrow and Black-billed Magpie. A small lake also en-route had Pied-billed Grebe and 2 Ruddy Duck on it to keep the triplist ticking along. Reaching what finally looked like good limestone grassland gave us what we wanted with Western Bluebird followed by Mountain Bluebird and a surprise American Badger well spotted by Belinda.
That evening I returned to the Vaseux Lake area to drive up the dirt road Shuttleworth Creek Road. The highlights were a close roadside Ruffed Grouse, Lazuli Bunting, Lark Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak, Mule Deer and several Yellow-bellied Marmots.