Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter 2009 - Inaugural trip part 2

We left Keremeos and headed towards Osoyoo's, the skies were dark and threatning with a strong wind just screaming straight at us. Not the most inviting welcome! At one point I noticed some early Balsam Root and Sagebrush Buttercups in flower, but the weather was so miserable I didn't even attempt getting the driver to pull over so I could get a picture. At Osoyoo's we turned and headed northwards. The Okanangan appeared to be maybe a week behind the coast as far as trees being in leaf, but daffodils and forsythia bushes were in flower in gardens, so it was definitely 'spring'. We stopped in Oliver for a minute to pick up some milk at the grocery store, and then back on the road. I suggested we check out Vaseux Lake campsite, as I've always wanted to try staying at this small site right on the lake, but it was usually full. 'Checking out' apparently meant looking as we drove by - it wasn't full - but I guess Okanangan Falls Provincial Park was our destination.

Okanagan Falls is a small, very 'civilized' campground but a favorite spot, at least in the early season, as there is lots of bird life and you can walk for as far as you want, either south along the tamed 'Okanagan River' or north along the shores of lake.

The campsite had obviously been full for the Saturday night, but some people had pulled out and we were able to find a nice spot. Skies were still very gray and overcast. Okanagan River, looking north towards the campground which is on the left side of the picture. Bird life didn't disapoint. There were Mallards, both types of Goldeneyes, and Canada Geese on the river. A Kingfisher sat on a wire overhead. The whole canal (river) was swarming with Violet Green Swallows.
One area had a number of very quiet Steller's Jay - I've been here before and I'm sure they nest in this bushy area, just to the south of the campground itself, as they are always very sneaky and hush hush - in other words acting not at all like their usual boistorous selves!

There were also a lot of these little Ruby Crowned Kinglets bouncing around in the bushes. Despite taking numerous pictures, this was the best I could manage as they are so small and so active. If you have your camera on automatic, it tends to focus on a twig rather than the bird, and if it is on manual, I, at least, have trouble getting it to focus clearly as they move so fast.

I was also thrilled to see that the Yellow Rump Warblers had already returned. The above shot, taken on Monday, is of a male.
Weather deteriorated throughout the day on the Sunday, in fact looking at the snow line creeping down the mountainsides I was beginning to wonder how we were going to make it back home the next day. During the night there was a terrific thunder and lightning storm with hail pounding down, but that obviously cleared the air because we woke the next morning to beautiful sunny skies.

The campground cleared out nicely during the morning and as is so often the case, I hated having to pull out too and felt very envious of those luck 'retired' folk that could stay during the week.
I took one last trip over to the washroom before we hit the road and saw this pair of Black Cap Chickadee busy checking out potential nesting sites.

This looked like a really good site!

This one - the vent to the washroom - not so much!

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