BEWICK'S SWAN AT GUICHON FLATS, S OF KAMLOOPS, BC

Wayne C. Weber contopus at shaw.ca
Sat Mar 30 09:11:27 PST 2002


Tweeters,

Yesterday, March 29, about 1:00 P.M., I had good views of a BEWICK'S
SWAN at the north end of Guichon Flats (Beaver Ranch Flats), on
Highway 5A between Kamloops and Merritt, B.C. BEWICK'S SWAN, formerly
considered a distinct species, is the Old-World form of the TUNDRA
SWAN. The locality is about 5 km north of the north end of Nicola
Lake.

The swan was with a group of 29 TUNDRA SWANS (and hundreds of
dabbling ducks) that were feeding in the recently-thawed north
impoundment of this Ducks Unlimited development on the Guichon ranch.
With the aid of
a spotting scope, it was immediately obvious, and was readily
identifiable from the highway.

The swan had a huge patch of yellow on both sides of the bill,
covering most of the upper mandible, but not extending forward of the
nostril. The forward edge of the yellow patch was almost a straight
line extending down from the culmen-- not extending forward to a point
as in the WHOOPER SWAN. Structurally, the bird was clearly of the
TUNDRA SWAN type-- it had a smaller head and more slender neck than a
Trumpeter Swan would have. At one point, the feathering at the base of
the upper mandible was clearly seen. The edge of the feathering was
almost a straight line between the eyes, rather than extending down to
a point as would be seen in a Whooper or Trumpeter Swan.

With the aid of a 15x to 45x spotting scope, I studied the swan (at a
distance of about 300 metres) for about 5 minutes total, between 1:00
and 1:20 P.M.

Campbell et al., in "The Birds of British Columbia, Volume 1" (1990)
do not mention any records of the Bewick's form of Tundra Swan in B.C.
However, one was seen by a number of observers at Kilby Provincial
Park, in the Lower Fraser Valley near Agassiz, B.C., in December 2000,
and I believe there are other recent records for B.C. (If anyone can
recall other records, please fill us in.) There are also a number of
reports of BEWICK'S SWAN in the Pacific States south of B.C.

Rick Howie briefly studied a group of 70 TUNDRA SWANS at Guichon
Flats
2 days earlier (March 27), and did not see a BEWICK'S SWAN-- the bird
may be newly arrived, and it may not stay long. If anyone wants to see
this bird, better check Guichon Flats in the next couple of days--
swans are on the move!

Wayne C. Weber
Kamloops, BC
contopus at shaw.ca





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