25 November 2016

Solar Arrays in the East Kootenay - Basic Info



Since the building of the Sun Mine on brown lands left by the Sullivan Mine in Kimberley, the East Kootenay has drawn the attention of international Solar developers.

A total of 10 applications for use of crown land have been received so far in the East Kootenay by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations
·    Seven have been 'offered' to the proponent,
·    one 'accepted' and
·    three more are being considered

The Regional District (RDEK) has given their support to all applications coming across their desk, with a minority of the board opposing.

Crown lands requested are around Skookumchuck, Galloway, Wycliffe, Ta Ta Creek, Mayook, Elkford.

The companies requesting crown land usage are Node Engineering, Company 0887581 BC Ltd., Innergex, and Sea Breeze Holdings.

The only district in BC where solar arrays are planned is the East Kootenay.

The projects are on

·    essential ungulate winter range
·    native grasslands and valley bottom lands – very rare habitats
·    where many rare wildlife and plant species occur such as on the Important Bird / Biodiversity Area at Skookumchuck
·    rangeland for cattle
·    enhanced / restored areas

By one estimate, 1.2 million has already been spent on these lands for enhancement and restoration through the Ecosystem Restoration program.

The main problems

These solar arrays would alienate the land from all wildlife and human user groups, some would impact Species-at-Risk.  There are many other impacts both positive and negative, of course.

The Provincial government does not appear to have any guidelines in place for placement of solar arrays.

Tell the governments what you think

I, personally, am opposed to solar arrays on these lands, so am focusing on the negative impacts and redirecting ‘greening’ efforts (to areas and methods more beneficial to all).

You may want to say:

·    these lands are more valuable ecologically and economically purposed and managed as they currently are, as functioning ecosystems
·    conversion from their current use to single-use solar power generation is not necessary nor desirable
·    I ask the governments to develop, implement, and enforce a policy specifically for developing solar power generation in the Province of British Columbia
·    I ask the provincial government to declare a moratorium on utility grade solar power facilities until policies are in place
·    Priority should be given to the decentralization of solar power generation – such as on rooftops, which would give direct benefit to more people
·    The first tracts of land converted to solar arrays should be those which have already been depleted by industry and/or areas with little life-sustaining potential

Submit your comments, concerns, thoughts – to

1.       Locally to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations

b.       online for each application at
·    This link takes you to all the solar applications currently being processed.
  ·    Go through each application to get to the online form for commenting.   Online comments are limited to 4000 characters and they have a deadline.

c.       via email or mail to one of the following:
     ·    Land Officer, Christine Lohr at Christine.Lohr@gov.bc.ca
845 Columbia Ave
Castlegar, BC V1N 1H3

     ·    Director of Authorizations, Ray Morello at Ray.Morello@gov.bc.ca
1902 Theatre Road
Cranbrook, BC V1C 7G1

2.       Your elected representative (emails provided, Google for other contact info): 

a.       MLAs
·    Norm Macdonald, Columbia River-Revelstoke, norm.macdonald.MLA@leg.bc.ca
·    Hon. Bill Bennett, Kootenay East, bill.bennett.MLA@leg.bc.ca
·    Hon. Steve Thomson, Minister FLNRO, steve.thomson.MLA2leg.bc.ca
·    Hon. Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, donna.barnett.MLA@leg.bc.ca

b.       Regional District of East Kootenay
·    15 members, contact via http://www.rdek.bc.ca/about/board_of_directors/

The companies and the Land Office insist these applications are ‘for investigative purposes only’.  But, these are large tracts of valley bottom land.  They are ‘staking their claims’.  Monitoring equipment to see how sunny it really is, could be placed on any existing infrastructure in the vicinity.

For more information and updates, keep checking for new posts.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

10 August 2016

Two New East Kootenay 200's

By Number of Species

Congratulations to our two new members of the Top 200 Club for the East Kootenays, Bob Livsey of Fernie and Alan Barnard of Wardner, for reaching 200 species on their 'county' life list!

Bob's 200th species was Least Flycatcher at Maiden Lake in Fernie and Alan's was American White Pelican at Wardner.

By Number of Checklists

The Top 2000 Club for number of complete checklists is another little 'motivator' for birders.  In the East Kootenay, the record is held posthumously by Mildred White, a local, long-time birder who passed away in 2001.  Her checklists on eBird inspire us all.

Check your 'County Life List'

To check your life list for the East Kootenay:
> click on the tab 'My eBird'
> click on the number under 'Life' to the right of 'East Kootenay, British Columbia,
- you will be taken to a new page showing a list of all the species you have recorded on eBird for the Regional District (County)

- you can sort by any of the columns: Alphabetic or Taxonomic species name, Location, 'S/P' county, or Date.

My 200th species was Northern Mockingbird at Reade Lake, 16 July 2008.  I remember that bird!  I can still see it in my minds eye as it floated down toward the little shed at the edge of the lake!  It perched for a bit to give us a fairly decent look, then flitted away, as those smaller birds always seem to do.

Since my 200th local species, I have added on average 6 or 7 species per year.

- you can download your lists in csv format (click on 'download (csv)' at the top right on the white area of the list).

Happy eBirding! and keep up the good work!  Thank you for your eBird observations!

What was YOUR 200th bird?  Leave a comment!

Dianne C.

26 June 2016

Skookumchuck IBA Lewis's Woodpeckers

Quick post: 26 Jun 2016

Well, that was fun yesterday - finding five Lewis's Woodpecker nests!  Well, actually, we found four and got impatient on the fifth - not waiting for the adult to show us which hole exactly.  Oh well.

Here is what their alarm calls sound like:  Do not approach nest sites yourself unless accompanied by an authorized and experienced biologist or surveyor such as myself. If you hear this type of call, back away immediately. Prolonged or frequent periods of agitation can have severe consequences on nest success.  Predators such as Common Ravens may be alerted by your presence. This video is for educational purposes.

After a bit, I realized I could point my phone at the birds rather than the ground.  I panned from one adult, then the nest, then the other adult.

And here are some pics of the nests and habitat:

Short snag

partially alive tree

small grove obviously marked and left standing around snag during enhancement

foreground of what was left after enhancement
closer view of one of the nest holes

The one that 'got away' - adult LEWO flying above right - we did not pinpoint this nest hole

Some habitat shots:

what is this flower?

very green right now since it has been raining a lot - but there aren't any mud puddles - the earth has soaked it all in
These pics are from Skookumchuck Prairie Important Bird Area, British Columbia, Canada.  The IBA is designated for Long-billed Curlew and Lewis's Woodpecker.

Also, yesterday, we found two LBCU chicks diligently attended by two adults.

06 April 2016

My Top 20 by numbers counted

It's dark out.
Just for the heck of it, I summed up some of my eBird data.

How many birds have I counted?

121,530 of 395 and some spuhs and slashes

Here are the top 20 species I have counted:

By number of checklists that species is on:

Common Name CountOfSubmission ID
American Robin 873
Common Raven 846
Northern Flicker 676
Mallard 531
Red-breasted Nuthatch 516
American Crow 486
Song Sparrow 479
Dark-eyed Junco 472
Canada Goose 465
Black-capped Chickadee 452
Chipping Sparrow 434
European Starling 409
Mountain Chickadee 408
Tree Swallow 404
Pine Siskin 395
Yellow-rumped Warbler 384
Red-tailed Hawk 360
House Finch 328
Red-winged Blackbird 327
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 309

And by number of individuals:

Common Name CountOfSubmission ID SumOfCount
Canada Goose 465 11951
Bohemian Waxwing 35 8112
Snow Goose 19 5126
Mallard 531 5122
European Starling 409 4922
American Wigeon 184 3460
Common Raven 846 3242
American Robin 873 3022
Tree Swallow 404 2663
American Coot 177 2487
Red-winged Blackbird 327 2167
Pine Siskin 395 1884
American Crow 486 1827
Chipping Sparrow 434 1724
Dark-eyed Junco 472 1702
Common Goldeneye 220 1649
Ruddy Duck 152 1639
Black-capped Chickadee 452 1496
Bufflehead 186 1449
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 148 1444

18 March 2016

Songs to Learn and When

Curious about which birds arrive when - to help guide you to what songs you should learn or brush up on first?

Check out these docs:

East Kootenay song chronology by bird family:

East Kootenay song chronology by month of arrival (or start of breeding season)

06 March 2016

East Kootenay eBird data entry subspecies, spuhs, and slashes

If you are confused about the myriad non-species or multi-species choices available for use when entering data into eBird please follow the link below to a pdf document where I describe the spuhs, slashes, and subspecies groups one may encounter in the East Kootenay.


Google Drive document: Subs, spuhs and slashes comment only.pdf

Thank you for contributing to eBird.

28 February 2016

Monthly eBird averages and February 2016

Quick post before lunch:

Our February monthly average for species reported on eBird is 52 species.

As of February 28, 2016 we have reported 70 species, as seen in the following link:

February 2016 bar chart of spp reported

The highest combined number of species over all years as reported on eBird is 88 species.  We could have gotten any of those species.

So far, with only one and a half days left in the month (oh, we get an extra day, don't we! since it is a leap year) we could still add the following:


(I use the four letter codes here because it is faster and to help you learn to read them - it is easier to write them than to read them but practice will make your data entry much easier - don't forget there are some that don't follow the rules: like TRSW and TRSW - Trumpeter Swan and Tree Swallow - and since I don't remember what the proper codes are, I usually just avoid those abbreviations)

New to the list, never been seen in February before, I think I have this correct, we added Western Bluebird and Cassin's Finch?

Since the average number of 52 is a numerical average - I can't really tell you statistically without creating a more involved excel file, which species we added that we don't normally get above that average (that is: ones we don't always get) but I would say the rarer ones, by looking at the bar chart are:


We had 42 contributors to eBird in the month of February. (If that number ever goes above 100 in this monthly average game - I won't be able to tell you because I am just looking at the Top 100 to get that number).

Thank you all!

Happy birding!

Post script:
Updates to these numbers over the next day and a half MAY show up as comments to this post.

The month of March average is 83 species. To see a complete list of what we can see here in March go to:

March Possibles - eBird barchart

30 January 2016

Long-billed Curlew Migration from eBird

It almost looks as if there are two populations of Long-billed Curlew: Pacific- and Gulf- wintering birds.

Or maybe even three populations with two on the Pacific: the southern Pacific bunch spreading northward from there to as far as the Canadian prairies to breed, and the northern bunch spreading as far north as central British Columbia.  Only radio trackers can tell.

Their habitat is mostly yours, US, Mexico, and Central America! But we've got significant breeding habitat here in Canada even though they are only here for 3 or 4 months.

We love them. Please take care of them down there. They're all our birds.

PS a tracking blog: http://ibo.boisestate.edu/blog/what-happens-in-vegas/

     and the map: http://ibo.boisestate.edu/curlewtracking/locations/

19 January 2016

Skookumchuck Prairie IBA

I'm studying up in preparation for being the new 'caretaker' for the Skookumchuck  Prairie Important Bird Area. (Not the Skokie chuck  that my auto correct keeps insisting on calling it. What is a Skokie chuck, anyway  - hope it's nothing rude).

Here it is on the IBA website (not I VA stupid auto-correct)

There are a few Long-billed there in the breeding season. And some Lewis' Woodpecker. Should be fun! Since the Breeding bird atlas ended, I have been a little directionless, so this will be good. Hopefully gas prices will go down.

Pics to follow in the spring! Cheers!

17 January 2016

Monthly eBird Averages and January 2016

FYI to give focus to your (my) birding goals for the year, here are the average numbers of species by month recorded on eBird for the East Kootenay from 2010 to 2015.

Jan     51     Thank you team of 30 eBirds! We are above average at 68 sp! Woot!
Feb    52
Mar   83
Apr  118
May 173
Jun  155
Jul   150
Aug 137
Sep  112
Oct     91
Nov   68
Dec    56

To date, we have collectively recorded 56 species; the remarkable ones being higher than usual numbers of Pine Grosbeak and White-winged Crossbill. Numbers of Bohemian Waxing are lower than usual.

Of all the species that have ever been recorded, there are still a couple of dozen we could get in January.  Since our club is not doing a 'Winter Challenge' this year, perhaps you would like to focus on getting  these for the monthly list and adding them to eBird (for eBird beginners, I recommend starting with the 'Incidental' or 'Stationary' types of checklists - correct species, date, time, location, and duration are all you really need).

Here are the possible species we could add to the January list:


Happy birding!