Friday, June 11, 2010

Spring Trip 2010 - Day 6 - Duck Lake, Creston

Now, if everything worked right, we should have a fresh new look to this blog with a nice dark background that I really like as it shows off the pictures much better......I guess I'll know if it worked when I 'publish' this entry!

Now on with our story..... April 27th was not a great day. We knew that the next stage of this trip would be difficult as there were no provincial park campgrounds open yet, between Kettle River where we had stayed and Alberta. The only exception was the one in Fernie - and that one wouldn't be 'officially' open - they just can't gate it off because a road runs throught it.

It had started raining during the night and the rain continued when we got up - at a decent hour this time - and packed up. First item on the 'to do' list was to dump the holding tanks, and that we could do at Kettle River, even though there was no water to flush things out. That done, it was back to highway #3 and head east to the pretty little town of Grand Forks (well pretty most of the time, kind of dreary on this very wet day). Stopped at a gas station to fill up the empty propane tank and the operator also kindly let us fill up our water two more things off the list. Next, a stop at the big Super Store to stock up on groceries. By the time this was done it was getting close to lunch time, so a visit to A&W was in order....then finally, we were ready to hit the road again, by now it wasn't just raining ~ it was pouring!

Now came the long part of the day...up the Blueberry/Paulson where the temperature dropped to 2 degrees and sleet was mixed in with the rain, on to Castlegar, then Salmo, and then climbing again up the Salmo/Creston....a very long steep haul with the temperature once more dropping, now to 1 degree with snow instead of rain....fortunately, the highway remained bare and wet...and down into the town of Creston with absolutely no idea where we would stay that night. The dogs really needed a break, we need a we decided to head out to the part of the Creston Valley Wetlands area known as Duck Lake where we would make a cup of coffee and figure out where we'd go from there.

I don't know if 'Duck Lake' is a separate lake or just the southernmost end of the very long, narrow Kootney Lake....I do know it is a part of the very large protected wetlands in the Creston Valley. This is the lake itself, we're looking north here ~ you can see what a charming day it was although the rain had pretty much stopped now.
This is part of the very large we are looking south towards the town of Creston

and this road, which is actually a dyke, divides the two areas. There was a sign that said 'Camping not allowed except in designated spots' ~ we knew there was a camping area at the far end of that road so drove along it, but as we got closer, we could see there was already someone camped there, so turned around.....

there were a couple of pull-outs along the side of the road....we don't know if they were 'designated' or not...nothing said they were, but nothing said they weren' we pulled into one of them (that white dot is us)....and there we stayed for the night.

We were amazed to see a number of Canada Goose families already (remember it was only the 27th of April) ~ they were standing on the road as we drove it....this is just one of the families.

I spotted a Great Blue Heron down in the reeds.....although they are a common sight back home, they aren't as common when you get away from the coast.

The most interesting sight was this large raft of American Coots...

here is a bit closer look....

and closer still..... I did compile a list of birds that we noticed, either from our camper (which makes a great 'blind') or while driving back and forth on the road as well as from an evening walk.
Bird List: Canada Goose - about 14 adults and 30 or so goslings; Yellow-rump Warbler - 5; Cliff Swallows - 4; Northern Shoveler - 2; Snipe - could hear one; Northern Harrier - 1; Robin - 1; Mallard - 16; Red-wing Blackbirds - 12; American Coots - probably about a 1,000; White Crowned Sparrows - 2; Song Sparrow - 4; Savannah Sparrow - 1; Great Blue Heron - 3; Red Neck Grebe - 5; Pied billed Grebe - could hear one; Tree Swallows - about 40; Cinnamon Teal - 6; Osprey - 1; Gadwall - 2; Bufflehead - 2; Northern Pintail - 12; Hooded Merganser - 2; Blue Wing Teal - 1; Killdeer - could hear one. also something large, white with black wing tips which could have been Pelican (I've seen them here before) but flew more like a don't know.

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