Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Heading to Alberta - May 2008 - Day 2 & 3

Well after a few hectic days of appointments with RV dealers and medical professionals, not to mention a couple of beautiful days, weather wise when I was attempting to get some of the yard looking a bit more ready for spring, I am finally able to get back to this blog. As we left last time, we were headed to Juniper Beach Provincial Park on the banks of the Thompson River.

Juniper Beach is rather unique as provincial parks go in B.C. as it is one of just 3 that have 'hook ups'. This is an aspect that B.C. is rather behind the times on. Nearly all provincial parks in our neighbouring province of Alberta, give you the choice of either 'powered' or 'unpowered' sites. Not so in B.C. It is probably this aspect that makes this particular campground very popular, not only do they have power, they also have water hook ups with a sani station on site. The campground itself is not very large so you take your chances as to whether a spot will be available or not. Fortunately, this time, we managed to find a spot right at the far end, sort of all by itself, which suited us to a 'T'. As you can see, it didn't take anytime at all for my alto-ego to get right into this 'camping' routine!
The above view shows the general dry 'sage brush' terrain of this park. Highway #1 runs along that cut at the base of the hillside, which means the park is a long way from traffic noise, however, there are not one, but two railroads that run very close to the park, one borders the campground boundary and the other is immediately across the river. One would think this would be a drawback to the park, but is actually an attractant as there are not only 'bird watchers' out there - but 'train watchers' and believe it or not, you do get used to the sound of the trains so you barely notice them.

This shows the trail that runs along beside the Thompson River. You cannot take your dog along this trail and you don't want to walk it in sandals because the ground is carpeted with Prickly Pear Cactus. I've never been here when the cactus are in bloom, but it must be sight to behold. The campground itself is irrigated with lush lawns and beautiful big shade trees, quite different from the native landscape.

This is a Western Kingbird sitting in one of the many native Juniper which gives the park it's name. Western Kingbirds are one of my favorite birds, I'm not sure why, and are only found in this general area, around Kamloops and in the Okanangan.

Another view of a Western Kingbird

And another, better view. Note the dead pine needles. Unfortunately, nearly all the Pines in this area are dead, thanks to the notorious pine beetle. Western Kingbirds nest in the park. We have been there on the Canada Day weekend and seen fledgling. Bullock's Orioles are also here in abundance, the large shade trees almost 'drip' with Orioles. We have also seen Common Nighthawk here in great numbers, but it appeared that this particular visit was maybe a bit early for them.

In the wildlife department, it is said that there are Rattlesnakes in the area, but fortunately, so far, I haven't seen one. I have seen these Yellow Bellied Marmots though on pretty much every visit.

This guy was enjoying some spring salad.

and another, closer view.

The birdlife in this small park is amazing. Above we have a male Yellow Rump Warbler of the Audubon variety (yellow under the bill) and below, probably the best picture I got, of an American Crow. American Crows are larger than the Northwestern Crow that are only found west of the Cascade Mountains.

It seems that every year becomes a particular species year. In 2008 it seemed to be the year of the Lewis Woodpecker. It seemed that everywhere we went that year, we saw Lewis Woodpeckers which is a good thing as this particular species has been on the decline. Although I was never able to get any really decent shots....these show the spectacular colours of this particular woodpecker.

another exciting find was this Lark Sparrow. He wouldn't co-operate and come out of the shade, but stayed perched in one of the Junipers, but this was the first time I had seen one of these birds in B.C. My only other sightings were in southern Alberta.

another view of this attractive looking Sparrow, but the 'icing on the cake' was this male Lazuli Bunting.

again, the bird would not co-operate for a good photo, but the spectacular coloration shows in this photo. Lazuli Bunting are summer visitors to a very small area of the province.

Finally, this photo was supposed to be first, but shows our campsite, right on the river, and some of those dead pine trees. We had planned to only spend one night here, but waking up on the Sunday morning to find water running across the floor, thanks to a leaky connection to the toilet, we decided to spend a second night so we could stop at an RV dealer in Kamloops to get the necessary part to make repairs, before continuing on.

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