Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spring Trip 2010 - Day 9 - Chin Lake, Alberta

Day 9 - Friday, April 30th, we woke up to no snow and clearing skies! A treat after the day before. Took this picture to show the campground....this was the Shady Hollow RV Park... we took advantage of the sewer system to empty the holding tanks...but couldn't do anything about water. Ernie talked to the owner...they were opening 'officially' on the 1st...just a day away..

It seemed the birds here were making up for lost time ~ look at the size of the mouthful of nesting material this Robin had!

Starlings were also busy gathering....
After a bit of a slow start we were ready to hit the road...the question was 'to where?' The RV park operator said that she had a friend who lived south...the direction to Waterton or Police Outpost and the snow was 'thigh high'...obviously that direction wasn't an option!

We decided we'd head east on highway 3 to Leithbridge, then it was either continue on to Taber, then cut north to Brooks and head to Dinosaur Provincial Park (not somewhere we had originally planned to visit this trip), or cut south and try for Writing on Stone....the thinking being that maybe the snow had been concentrated closer to the mountains and that maybe, here, on the other side of the province there would only have been a dusting.... So this is what we elected to do....taking #4 heading to Milk River. It didn't take long to realize that this was a mistake...it wasn't snowy at Leithbridge....

but the further south we got...the deeper the snow...until we reached the Information Center at Milk River (closed of course)....here the snow was about 6 inches deep and it didn't appear that any side roads had been cleared. Writing on Stone is situated another 44 km from this point along a pretty isolated road that probably hadn't even been cleared, the temperature had dropped to 4 degrees, it looked like it could snow again.....it just wasn't worth the risk....so now, thoroughly disgusted, having had no lunch, not even a cup of coffee and getting awfully tired of the wind which continued to blow...we turned north again to the little town of Warner, where we cut off onto secondary highway #36 - heading north towards Taber....the temperature had warmed back up to 10 degrees.....and then, lo and behold, we saw a sign that said 'Chin Lake Campground' go down a dip in the road towards Chin Lake and take the turn off into the campground, thinking we could at least take a break and get something to eat....what we found was this absolutely delightful little campground......

not showing on any map - like all the community campgrounds we encountered. It was open...the fee was only $15 without power, $20 with, we opted for power once we checked that it was on (this so the furnace could run all night if it wanted to) (water wasn't on, same old, same old). The place was absolutely pristine....and we were the only people there. Ernie took the above picture of the whole overlay from on top of the hillside beside it where there were all sorts of foot paths you could wander......

From the same vantage point he took this one that is looking off to the east showing this long narrow lake that I think is probably man made.

Revitalized now, in mind and stomach, we did some exploring....and discovered a number of flower species....see it really is spring!

Ernie took this close up of this white flowered 'Moss Phlox' ~ (I should mention that from this point on, any pictures taken with my SLR camera, remain on the memory card in the camera. My desktop computer remains at London Drugs where it is proving to be as big a mystery to them as it was to me. I can't download the card to this old lap top because it is out of space ~ so I'm just waiting for the desktop to be solved....so will probably re-visit some of these spots...once that happens. )

This little guy is called Cushion Milkvetch......

and this is Musinech....we'll be seeing a lot more of this in the future. It is very similar to Western Parsley but Musinech grows very low to the ground while Parsley has a tall flower stem.

And we'll be seeing a lot more of this too....this is 'Owl Clover'

and remember my goal of seeing 'Prairie Crocus'? Well these are the first....they were growing on the north slope of the hill and I wasn't too thrilled about being perched there on a narrow game trail....trying to get a picture ~ but they might be the only ones we'd see! (Wrong)

Ernie got this close up....

and there were birds here too.....Robins of course.....

but also the first American White Pelicans of the trip! That thing on the beak shows that this is a breeding adult.

another shot Ernie managed as the bird flew over his head.
The day ended very pleasantly with the wind dying, the sun shining, we were able to keep the camper door open until almost 8 in the evening....all the damp mats and chairs etc. got dried out...we were back on track!

Bird List: Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1; Franklin Gull - 23; Magpie - 2; Prairie Falcon - 1; American White Pelican -8; Yellow Rump Warbler (Myrtle) -1; Ringbill Gull - 7; Northern Harrier - 1; Brewer's Blackbirds - 4; White Crowned Sparrows -4; Mourning Dove - 1; Osprey - 1; Killdeer - 1; Great Horned Owl - 2; House Sparrows - 12; Junco - 1.

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