Our valley: a place where different species come together

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Lewis’s Woodpecker. Photo by John Tschopp

This lovely insight comes to us care of John Tschopp, our resident birding expert.

In May 1804 the US president at the time, Jefferson, sent an expedition under Captain Lewis and Second Lieutenant Clark to explore the country west of the Mississippi River. The expedition started in St. Louis and worked its way across the continent to the mouth of the Columbia River on the Pacific. There they turned around and traveled back to St.Louis, where they arrived in September 1806. Along the way these explorers surveyed rivers and mountain ranges. They recorded plants and animals. It was an outstanding achievement and as an honour, a bird was named after each of the leaders.

That is the story of Clark’s Nutcracker and Lewis’s Woodpecker.

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Lewis’s Woodpecker. Photo by John Tschopp

A while back, a pair of Lewis’s Woodpeckers showed up near the McEwan Farm. They are not regular birds in the valley. The last time I took pictures of them here was 9 years ago.

On Tuesday (September 10), I went by the farm to have another look at them. While I was there some bird at a distance caught my eye. It was flying into some pines. It was the size of a pigeon. When I raised the binos, it turned out to be a Clark’s Nutcracker.

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Clark’s Nutcracker, visiting Pemberton, September 2019. Photo by Tonette McEwan

Tonette McEwan was standing next to me and rushed for the camera to record this historic moment. Hers is the picture above. I took the woodpecker shots. What a moment! Lewis and Clark within sight of each other.

The two species prefer different habitats. What caused them to meet in the Pemberton valley ?

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