Friday, June 26, 2009

B.C. Trip Part III

Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park

After a 35 minute ferry ride, we were now on the western side of Kootenay Lake. We didn't see many birds during the crossing, only 2 Osprey (nesting on a buoy) and 1 Mallard as we arrived in Balfour.

Image by Bob

Travelling north along Hwy. 31 we found the hot springs in Ainsworth closed so we returned south to visit Kokanne Glacier Provincial Park. Along the way we stopped at the picturesque Coffee Creek for a photo op.

Reaching the entrance to the provincial park we left the paved, smooth asphalt of the 3A and started our ascent on a 16 kilometre rocky, gravel road to the Gibson Lake parking area. Adventurous hikers can start at the parking lot near the 3A and backpack to a cabin or for the even more adventurous, sites for wilderness camping. The Gibson Lake parking area is only 2 kilometres from the glacier and for those camping overnight, chicken wire and rocks are provided to protect your vehicle's tires and brakelines from hungry porcupines.

During the slow 45 minute ascent to the lake, Jean observed a thrush-like bird on the road, approximately 20 metres ahead of us. Looking through her binoculars, she quickly identified it as a Varied Thrush. In order to tick it as a lifer I needed to get a look at the bird. It flew from the road into some trees to our left. I was driving so I pulled up to the area where it was spotted and was able to get some great views of the grayish-blue and orange bird. After missing what would have been the easiest lifer on our list earlier this year, we were able to find lifer #268 in its regular habitat of dense coniferous forest.

Upon reaching our destination, Jean and I surveyed Gibson Lake and found 2 Spotted Sandpiper on some logs along the lake's edge.

The only other bird we spotted on the lake was a lone duck, a goldeneye. The question was, which one? Common or a lifer Barrow's? A scope would easily determine the species you say. Yes it would, if it was not left back at our lodge. I did not expect to bird a lake this day. We would look at the duck through our binoculars waiting for the right angle and lighting to reveal the white crescent and oval shaped head.

Image by Bob

Jean and I are confident that we found our lifer Barrow's Goldeneye, #269, during our stay in the provincial park. We would spot a second Varied Thrush when returning to our car but no other birds were seen while descending the park road.

We did observe a lone, uncooperative Black Bear on the other side of Kokanee Creek. He was too busy foraging and pushing rocks aside to be interested in the humans on the other side of the creek. Here is a heavily cropped image of the bear.

After dinner at a golf course restaurant, yes Dave at DDolan New Birder would be in his glory, we returned to the Tara Shanti and birded from the deck with the Kokanee Glacier as a back drop.

Image by Bob

On Wednesday we would be visiting the small town of Crawford Bay, including the wetlands, in search of an eagle's nest.

All images by Jean unless stated otherwise.

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