Steeves/Trail Mix: Count birds but stay safe outdoors this winter

Enjoy being outdoors this winter, but be sure to take precautions and maybe buy safety gifts for loved ones.

Count quail on the fence for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Count quail on the fence for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

With the valley now cloaked in white, I truly feel that Christmas is imminent, which means so is the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Coordinator Chris Charlesworth says this year he’d like to encourage more people to participate from home with a feeder count—counting the birds visible from your window and phoning in the total by 4 p.m. Saturday. Don’t add them all up or you’ll count some birds twice. Identify and then count all of one species that you see at once and jot it down.

Denise Brownlie of the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club is coordinating the feeder watch and manning the phones at: 250-717-1809 or e-mail her at:

The Central Okanagan count is Dec. 14, while Penticton’s is Dec. 15 and Lake Country’s is Dec. 16.

Tens of thousands of birders around North and South America will commit a day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 to this 114th annual count—the longest-running citizen science project ever.

The Central Okanagan circle is from downtown Westbank to the south end of Duck Lake and the base of Black Mountain to just past Bertram Creek. If you live in that area, join in—both for the fun of it and to help out with a huge effort that helps track bird trends.

Luckily for birders, the cold snap has snapped, although there could be flurries on count day.

That extreme cold weather meant the Kelowna Winter Fishing Derby that had been planned for last weekend was postponed until this Sunday, Dec. 15. Go to for details.

Unfortunately, extreme cold weather is not the only danger for outdoors people at this time of year.

An average of 10 a year are killed in B.C. while skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling, while a further 15 or more die each year from hypothermia, reports the Canadian Avalanche Centre.

It’s good news to see that the province has provided some additional funding this year to help the centre and the Search and Rescue Association save lives.

They advise winter sports enthusiasts to get the gear, get the training, check forecasts and leave a plan before heading out into the back country.

When compiling gift lists, think about safety for your favourite outdoors enthusiasts and see what’s available at our many excellent outdoor shops such as Outdoor Adventure Gear, AG Superstore, Grouse River Outfitters, A&C Sports, Antler Creek Outfitters, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Far West and Trout Waters Fly and Tackle.

Nick Pace and Savas Koutsantonis of Trout Waters recently hosted Santa and Mrs. Claus as part of a drive for the food bank. They were pleased with the many donations brought in by customers.

All set up now in their new location, the pair are also busy launching a new website and online store and they’re on Facebook and Twitter (troutwatersbc) and invite you to follow them. Their year-end sale continues until Dec. 29.

Looking forward to seeing another outdoors store in West Kelowna in the new year, with Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters moving into the old Future Shop location.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.



Kelowna Capital News

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