Unusual visitors took a flight into Salmon Arm Bay recently.
Roger Beardmore spotted three Forster’s terns when he was counting species over about a two-kilometre distance.
The sighting was posted on the Birding in British Columbia website.
Beardmore, who got into birding a couple of years ago, did a little research and found that Forster’s terns in Salmon Arm are unusual, but not a rare occurrence.
“It’s not something that’s ‘oh my God,’ but it is a little bit different around here. They’re not common in the Salmon Arm area but they do show up.”
Beardmore explains the birds typically travel a little farther south in the Okanagan.
“Apparently they do breed around Creston but they’re much more common in the Prairies. They also have a breeding area that they habituate in Northern California, Southern Oregon.”
They’re an interesting bird, he says.
“They’re one of the only terns restricted almost entirely to North America. Most of the other terns are vagrants and wander around the globe quite a bit but this tern sticks to North America. It winters around the Gulf states and Northern Mexico and then spends its summers mostly in the Prairies.”
The Birding in British Columbia website featured another sighting about 10 days later, this one by a Kelowna resident.
“Just had a gorgeous Forster’s tern flying and fishing at Peter Yannick (Jannink) Nature Park in Salmon Arm! It was a long-awaited lifer, and a truly beautiful bird. After fishing for several minutes in the water off the park, it flew in the direction of Christmas Island…” wrote the birder.
Beardmore spotted 32 species of birds in his 75-minute walk. Along with three Forster’s terns, he saw 45 Canada geese, five wood ducks, 20 Gadwall, two American wigeons, six northern shovelers, four redheads, one ruddy duck, six Western grebes, one great blue heron, four osprey, one bald eagle, one red-tailed hawk, two sora, six American coots, 100 ring-billed gulls and one herring gull.