Tuesday, August 11, 2009

B.C Trip Part XI

June 20

Elizabeth Lake

As some of you may have guessed, a few postings of my vacation in British Columbia remain to be transcribed from memory to the blog. Kootenay Lake was now behind us and so far Jean and I had ticked 20 lifers. We had travelled from Kootenay Bay to Cranbrook and it was now mid-day (a bit later actually, we had crossed back into the Central Time Zone). Time for a break. Slightly west of the Cranbrook city centre is the Elizabeth Lake Sanctuary, a 6 hectare wildlife area in Confederation Park. I think every Canadian city has a Confederation Park.

Image by Bob

Looking out onto the lake we were amazed with the number of American Coots (adults and young) we saw. I counted close to 150 but there were probably additional numbers on the other side of the lake.

We observed two types of grebes, an adult Pied-billed Grebe with 2 young and 2 adult Eared Grebes in breeding plumage. The golden "ears" behind their eyes were a spectacular sight as we have only seen the birds in their winter plumage on previous occasions.

There were a few gull-like birds flying above an island of bullrushes in the middle of the lake. Looking through the binoculars and scope we could see that the gulls were in fact Black Terns (a total of 12). Entering the number on eBird prompted a confirmation for the number observed. An excellent observation according to eBird Canada. I'll wager there were probably more that we could not see nesting on the island.

Waterfowl seen included the ubiquitous Canada Goose, Redhead, Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds were flying back and forth along the lake's edge as well as exploring the picnic area for any left overs.

It was time to move on. We enjoyed our lunch break at Elizabeth Lake. I don't know how we missed it when we were travelling to Kootenay Bay on the 14th.

The rest of the day was spent travelling north to Radium Hot Springs.

Shire horses in Fort Steele

Columbia Lake

Dutch Creek Hoodoos

Looking west, slightly south of Radium Hot Springs.

There was a city park across the street from the hotel we had booked for the night and after relaxing at the hot springs and some exploring in Kootenay National Park, I attempted some birding at 10:00 PM. Though I only spotted an American Robin it was pretty cool knowing I was looking at a bird this late in the evening. Radium Hot Springs is very close to 51 degrees N latitude and what do you know, we were on the doorstep of the Summer Solstice.

The hot pool in Kootenay National Park

The cool pool (which was not very cool according to Jean)

The Rockies, Kootenay National Park

Looking west from the Radium Hot Springs entrance to Kootenay National Park

Birding at 10:00 PM

The owner of the hotel informed me of an annual birding event in the area, Wings Over the Rockies. May 3-9, 2010? Why do the majority of birding festivals occur in May? Remind me, why do I have to work? Work = cash = house + birding. Oh yeah, that's why.

More travelling was planned for the next day. We would pass through two national parks on our way to Lake Louise in Alberta. There are no guarantees that we would encounter wildlife but this was the Rockies. We had to see something, right?

All images by Jean unless otherwise stated.

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