Saturday, October 31, 2009

B.C. Trip Part XIII

June 21

It was Sunday, Father's Day as well as the annual Great Lake to Lake Classic back home in the Niagara Region. Since 1999, Steve, Tim and crew, with help from the St Catharines Cycling Club, have organized the citizen's mountain bike race that travels across the Niagara Peninsula from Port Colborne to Port Dalhouise. I had participated in every race, some dry and some not so dry, until this year.

Image by Frank Hampson Sr., 2004

I was on vacation in western Canada travelling to Lake Louise while cyclists covered in mud were crossing the finish line at Lakeside Park. We had travelled from Radium Hot Springs to Lake Louise and had found some accommodation for the evening.

After settling into our room Jean and I explored the property of the hotel while her mum rested. We ticked Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping Sparrow, American Robin and Yellow-rumped Warbler while walking through the Paradise Lodge property. We found a trail east of the hotel and followed it to a picnic area where we entered into the forest. While hiking behind the picnic area we found a few Gray Jay.

Returning to the picnic area we observed this Common Raven exhibit some interesting behaviour. This bird was enormous!

Taking a closer look we can see it held a piece of bread in its beak. A very stale, hard piece of bread. Even by raven standards.

The raven carried the bread it had found to a small pile of snow. It then dropped the pieces into the snow. Within a short period of time, the bread had softened and the raven could now swallow the morsels of bread with little discomfort.

Later in the evening, we encountered a Common Porcupine running along the road. A rare sight as this species of rodent is usually spotted dead at the side of the road. We were happy to see the porcupine leave the roadside for the carless environment of the forest.

June 22

Our last day out west. We had visited Lake Louise the previous day. The morning of the 22nd we would visit Moraine Lake (our own Lake to Lake). Little did I know that this was the lake on the back of the old twenty dollar bill.

I was the only brave soul wearing shorts this day.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Some great scenery was seen between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

Image by Bob

Image by Bob

When travelling from the village of Lake Louise to Banff one can either use the Trans Canada or the Bow Valley Parkway. The parkway includes 18 kilometres of a seasonal road with restrictions from March 1 to June 25 (evenings 6 pm -9 am). This helps protect wildlife at a critical time of year. And we saw first hand why this is necessary. While travelling along the parkway, a truck towing a motor home ahead of us started to weave, eventually pulling off to the side of the road. We slowed down, anticipating that they had stopped to view some wildlife. Jill (Jean's mum) spotted it first. A young Grizzly Bear was in a clearing to our right. A third vehicle stopped and the occupants got out to capture some images as the Grizzly Bear crossed the road behind us. Though an attempt was made we were unable to capture any images of the fleeing bear. Another first!!

Along the route are a number of interpretive displays at pull-offs. We stopped at the first pull-off when we observed a small group of photographers sitting on a concrete barrier overlooking the Bow River. What could they be waiting for? All were checking their watches periodically. Running along side the river was a set of railway tracks. They're waiting for a train!

This was a beautiful view but for some train enthusiasts and photographers a train travelling through the valley would be an added bonus.

Timing is everything (with some luck thrown in). A few minutes later and I would not have been able to capture this image.

Or this one.

Our next stop, the Storm Mountain pull off with views of Mount Ball and Storm Mountain.

Image by Bob

We ticked a White-crowned Sparrow during our break in the picnic area.

A short stop at the Moose Meadows pull off with a view of Castle Mountain. Most likely a good spot for birding if one did not have a flight to catch.

We viewed our last lifer of our trip near Johnston Canyon. I was driving and from the back seat Jean caught a flash of blue to our left. A pair of Mountain Bluebirds (#283).

Approaching Banff, mountains are in every direction.

Mt. Rundle

Sulphur Mountain

Mt. Howard Douglas

And it just would not be the same without a cattle image when one is travelling out west.

Next stop, Calgary airport for the flight back to southern Ontario. Boy, did I have a lot of checklists to enter on eBird Canada.

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