Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tunkwa Thanksgiving – Part three

Thanksgiving morning dawned clear and cold, just like the day before, in fact the temperature had dropped even lower over night to minus 18 Celsius

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Hoarfrost again covered the trees…..

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This pine tree (dead) was just behind our camper ~

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this close up shows how thick the frost is ~ at least an half inch!

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Nothing can get me up and outside faster than a bunch of birds, and this morning there were birds all over the place!  Those juvenile White crowned Sparrows were everywhere.  While I was trying to get a picture of them, I spotted this Hairy Woodpecker (that white ‘blob’ is a hoarfrost flake)

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A number of times I had spotted a ‘rarity’ with the juvenile White crowns……this is a juvenile American Tree Sparrow.  After seeing both species up in the Yukon and N.W.T. I’m not surprised that some of the youngsters banded together as they headed south.  American Tree Sparrow are one of the most frequently seen birds up there and White Crowned Sparrows were seen as far north as Inuvik.

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Here is another, better view of the little guy – the identifying black spot in the middle of the chest is just becoming noticeable – and no, that isn’t snow – it’s more of those hoarfrost flakes.

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There had been Chickadees out there in the morning as well, but it wasn’t until we bundled up and headed out for another walk that I got a picture of this Black capped Chickadee.  Never did manage a decent shot of the Mountain Chickadee that were also there. This guy was hanging out by the little bridge across the spillway – which was bone dry.

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Not a great picture, but just after taking the Chickadee picture, this hawk, I think a Coopers, flew from this perch and grabbed something down in the grass.

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So this mornings walk took us across the grasslands and up onto the knoll you see when you look across the lake.  I don’t do ‘up’ very good anymore, so while I caught my breath, I took this shot looking back across the lake to the campground.

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This is the view looking west from the back of the knoll….there are a couple of ‘arms’ that both dead end and not quite visible is another smaller lake that is towards the left of the middle of this picture.  This area is always alive with birds during nesting season.

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We wandered down to the ‘arm’ nearest in the picture just above this one, and spotted a small flock of Mountain Bluebirds……yes, Bill, there were still Mountain Bluebirds there, in fact as the day went on we found LOTS of them!  They are one of the earliest species to arrive and obviously one of the last to leave!

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from there we wandered along the ridge at the back of that dried up marsh.  From this angle you can see there is a bit of water (frozen) left.  Lets hope they get lots of snow this winter so this marsh fills with water again.

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had to do a wide circle  over to that aspen grove, in order to skirt the marsh, then back across the grasslands.  On the way we spotted this male Downy Woodpecker.

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back at the campsite I amused myself taking pictures of this very obliging little Chipmunk.  There had been Chipmunks all over the place but this one was the most co-operative!

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after lunch I went for another bit of a wander and found the place was lousy with Mountain Bluebirds!  They were everywhere! on the ground, on picnic tables, in the trees…..maybe they were flocking up in preparation for heading south….all I know is there were lots.

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and while I was wandering around chasing bluebirds, I spotted something different – Western Meadowlarks!  We never used to see Western Meadowlarks here back in the days it was forested – thanks to the pine beetle, these grassland birds are moving in, although I imagine they’d be heading south pretty quick.  Like the bluebirds they seem to arrive early and leave late.

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after an enjoyable day we sat down to a Turkey dinner with all the trimmings – giving thanks that there are places like Tunkwa to go to and that 25 years after the original diagnosis and with almost 3 years of ‘palliative’ care under my belt, I’m still here and able to enjoy them!

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The day ended with another less than spectacular sunset!

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Temperatures over night dipped even lower – to minus 20c this morning there wasn’t the fog we had seen the last two mornings so there wasn’t much in the way of hoar frost either.  One last walk before packing up……

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the ice on the lake is getting thicker and covering more of the surface…

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it now holds a 55 lb dog with no problem!

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there are still some American Coots and Mallards paddling around at the edge of the ice…

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and then something I’ve never seen here before!  a deer was standing at the top of the bluff at the edge of the campground….a fitting end to a perfect weekend!

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