We had the opportunity to watch a herd of elk, in Banff. Within a herd of more than 80 elk, it would appear that there were two dominant bulls, some lesser bulls, some juvenile bulls with the remainder being cows and juveniles. Above the road we were on, was the dominant bull elk, with a large number of cows. Below the road, there was another large bull elk, with a lesser number of cows. This bull elk, and the cows were clearly agitated and restless. Meanwhile we heard bugling, from the dominant bull in the upper herd. Slowly but surely the cows from the smaller, lower heard started to migrate to the upper herd and the dominant bull. This caused great distress for the other bull and he made moves on several occasions to cross toward the upper herd, presumably to challenge the other bull, Each time he proceeded, he backed off, eventually settling down in the lower field. Meanwhile two lesser bulls started sparring. The following photos illustrate the drama that played out.
Last week we traveled to Mount Saint Helens. It was our third attempt to view the mountain. On our first attempt, we had a good visit to the Visitor Centre, but the mountain was obscured by cloud. On our second attempt, we had to turn back because of dense fog! On this trip, the mountain was in clear view, although as the day wore on, nearby mountains (Mount Rainier and Mount Adams) became obscured by rapidly building clouds, which came with the mid 30’s temperatures (90 degrees Fahrenheit). The National Monument dedicated to the 1980 eruption is awesome, in the truest sense of the word. It is difficult to imagine the slide that took more than 2000 feet off the mountain. It is just as difficult to imagine the blast that scorched and knocked down large trees more than twenty miles away. Similarly it is difficult to imagine an 800 foot tsunami in Spirit Lake, caused when it was hit by the immense slide. The film we saw in the Visitor Center is exceptional. After our visit to the Visitor Centre, we decided to take the back roads that approach Spirit Lake from the east. Despite a long drive over very slow roads, it was well worth the effort.
In Abbotsford, near the Fraser River, there is an osprey nest I like to visit from time to time. Last year, I was able to watch a pair of ospreys raise one chick. On various visits, I saw the adults on the nest, and later when the egg had hatched, bringing fish to the chick. This year, this same pair has had two chicks that are now close to fledging. I was lucky enough to see the ospreys mating in late April, shortly after their return to the nest. More recently I have watched as the parents return with fish and the juveniles practice flapping their wings, soon ready to take flight. One is clearly more advanced than the other- I believe it hatched earlier than the other. But earlier this week I was able to watch the mother selectively feed the less developed of the two chicks. It has been interesting to watch how the one parent on the nest is well aware of the approach of the other with food, well before I can hear or see the approaching parent. It is also interesting to see how defensive the ospreys become when an eagle or vulture passes nearby. On my last visit to the nest, I was also able to observe a raccoon and two black bears that were foraging nearby (too far for good photos). I expect one of the juveniles will fledge this week. I look forward to more visits.
The following photos were taken on our recent (June) trip to the Rocky Mountains. With the cool temperatures and late Spring, the wildlife was lower down in the valleys than normal for the time of year.
Earth Day is a time to reflect! It is a wonderful world of nature that we live in, but so much is threatened. So much is at risk. What will the experiences of nature be for our grandchildren, and for their grandchildren. This post is a compilation of some of the beauty I have experienced, along with a few reflections.
From April 8-10, I participated in the Okanagan Spring Birding Tour organized by Avocet Tours. It was an exceptional tour, led by Chris Charlesworth, an extremely knowledgable and gracious leader. Over the three days, we managed to spot and identify 104 species of birds. Being early Spring in the Okanagan, the weather was unpredictable and changeable…………seemingly changing every 20 minutes or so. In fact, we were turned back by heavy snow one night, while looking for owls!
There were many highlights on this outing, which are highlighted ins some of the photos that follow. One of the most important highlights of the tour was meeting and talking with experienced and interesting people with common interests in experiencing nature. I look forward to further outings!
Since moving to Abbotsford, we have enjoyed having Anna’s hummingbirds in our yard, year round. It amazes us how these tiny creatures have adapted to survive the cold, finding enough nutrition to live on, when temperatures drop below freezing. Clearly, the number of heated hummingbird feeders in our neighbourhood helps, but it is only one factor. The other source of amazement is how early the first brood of chicks fledges. We saw our first fledgeling in early March, meaning the eggs must have hatched in February! One of the most interesting behaviours of the Anna’s hummingbird is the courtship ritual of the male, who will fly straight up into the air, then dive down at great speed in front of the female, and change direction abruptly before he reaches the ground. This causes a fairly loud “chirp” (from the feathers) that can be disturbing to dogs due to the frequencies of the sound. The following photos are a few of my favourites.
This has been a strange winter so far, and a strange January. Severe November flooding, has been followed by abnormally cold weather and snowfall. Fortunately, the last two weeks have been closer to “normal” in terms of temperature and precipitation, and it has been possible to get out and enjoy nature and the exceptional beauty of the region. The following photos were all taken in this past month.