Friday, July 15, 2011

July 1st long weekend at Tunkwa

As promised, we returned to Tunkwa Lake Provincial Park for the Canada Day long weekend, as I wanted to see if I could find any baby Great Gray Owls….since I’ve done an extensive report on Tunkwa recently, I’m just going to post random pictures and bits and pieces of information, rather than doing a full, day by day, blow by blow, report….and speaking of ‘blow’ the wind was certainly blowing so there was, once again, no chance of getting the inflatable kayak out onto the water!

Least Sandpiper

This was a real surprise!  I thought I was aiming the camera at a young Killdeer – not a Least Sandpiper.  We are used to seeing all sorts of different shorebirds at Tunkwa in August, when they are migrating through…but this one was seen during breeding season…was it nesting there?  I don’t know.

Male Red Wing Blackbird with a bug

Of the Blackbird species, Red-wings are the least common at Tunkwa….this male obviously had a hungry mouth to feed.

The Aspen Grove

We did pay a visit to the Aspen Grove or ‘bird nursery’ and as usual, it didn’t disappoint…

Mountain Bluebird with bug

this male Mountain Bluebird was doing some breeding chores…

Red Naped Sapsucker with bugs

as was this Red-naped Sapsucker.  Lots of Tree Swallows nesting here and a family of Northern Flickers, fresh from the nest.

Geese on Leighton

of course there were Canada Geese with lots of youngsters…, this batch down on the shores of Leighton Lake by the spillway.

Pair of Scaups on a log

Because it was a long weekend, the campsite was about 85% full, so most of our usual spot selections were occupied…the spot we chose was beside a little pond and it proved to be a good choice – this pair of Lesser Scaups spend a fair bit of time at the pond…

Stone Crop

Wildflowers were out in force…this Stonecrop growing right beside our campsite…

There in the bush

I went searching for the Great Gray owl…and found him…

I see you

this picture was taken about 8 or 8:30 at night….with the campground being busier now, they (there is a breeding pair with 3 young)…have moved further back…

Leighton in the sunshine

This year, a new walking trail has been completed…you have always been able to walk a circle walk, from the campground at Tunkwa lake, down to the one at Leighton, and back to Tunkwa…but it used to involve walking along the road on one side of the lake…now there is a path cut between the road and the private cottages, the entire circle trail has now been marked as well…this is where the path comes out at Leighton Lake…that is my dog, not some exotic animal down there in the corner…

Great Gray Owlet

We’ll skip back to the owls for a moment…this is the best I managed of one of the babies…they area they were in was a steep hillside, thick with brush and fallen trees – and mosquitoes!!!

Interesting trio

There has always been a trio of ‘odd ball’ geese at Tunkwa, although the light coloured one isn’t the one that used to be there…perhaps this is an offspring…this one does have very pale coloration…

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Here is the spillway from Tunkwa lake to Leighton….I told you these pictures would jump around…the problem is there are 4 different cameras being downloaded and they are grouped by ‘camera’ not necessarily in the order they were taken…


I had gone down to the spillway area to try and get pictures of all the Cliff Swallows that were gathering mud for nest building…it was then that I spotted these two Wilson’s Phalaropes…

Field Arnica

back to wildflowers…there were large patches of this Field Arnica in flower…

Wild Rose

the Wild Roses were just coming into bloom…


this was a pretty typical scene…Small flowered Penstemon; Field Chickweed; Mauve Locoweed and clover.

Mallard in the pond

back to that pond beside our campsite…

Song Sparrow on a log a Song Sparrow was there constantly – I think there was a nest in one of the bushes…

a pose

When the Scaups weren’t there, Mallard were…this one being a female…the male that showed up occasionally tended to be rather camera shy…


There was always a Flycatcher around…I thought it was a Least Flycatcher…but it may be a Willow..

Savannah Sparrow fledgling

There were untold numbers of Savannah Sparrows…some fledglings like this guy, but I think most were still in the nest as you couldn’t walk more than a few feet without being scolded by a parent…

Lincoln Sparrow

I was actually surprised to come across several pairs of Lincoln Sparrows – this was one of a pair nesting behind our campsite – unfortunately the off spring they were protecting so vigorously was a cowbird.

Juvenile Cowbird on the road

and speaking of Cowbirds…here is a baby one that was on the road –

Fledgling Brewers Blackbird

Cowbirds and Brewer’s Blackbirds are certainly two of the most prevalent species there….this being a baby Brewer’s    

another look

and just a couple more pictures …Common Loon…this guy was hanging around the base of the spillway…

Wings swept forward

and an Osprey….you can always expect to see these guys…this one was down at Leighton.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Easter 2011

In real time, although it is now the 4th official day of summer, it is another cool, wet day….so seems a good time to finish my catching up by reporting on our first trip of the season, which, as usual, was at Easter.

Traditionally, we like to head to Tunkwa Lake P.P. on this weekend even though it isn’t ‘officially’ open, but given the long colder and wetter than normal winter we suspected that the campground at Tunkwa was probably still snow bound.  So, we decided to head over the Hope Princeton Hwy. towards the Okanagan….as we went through Manning Park…3 feet of snow still covered the campgrounds there..

 April 26'11 001

So continued on, decided to check out the provincial park campground on Vaseux Lake and were very lucky to get the last unoccupied spot on the lake….

Campsite at Vaseux Lake

Not only that, but it was actually sunny and warm enough to sit outside!! What a treat!!!

White crowned Sparrow

Just spent the afternoon sitting in the sun and soaking up the vitamin D!  and of course taking pictures of any birds that wandered by….like this White Crowned Sparrow – one of several…

Male California Quail

or this male California Quail…

Black Cap Chickadee

the pair of Black-capped Chickadees that were busy inspecting nesting cavities…

Red-breasted Nuthatch after a bath

or one of a number of Red-breasted Nuthatch…this one all fluffed up and air drying after a bath…

Coots taking off

there was a large raft of American Coots out on the lake…

lazy way to get a drink

and this pair of Mallards which hung about just off shore – talk about the height of laziness as this female stretched her neck for a drink…they must have been enjoying the warmth as much as we were!

Evening on the lake

here is a peaceful evening scene of the lake, looking south.

looking south

Next morning we set off up the McIntyre Creek road, just opposite the campground…this is a view from part way up the hillside – another sunny warm day.

Female Mountain Bluebird

a female Mountain Bluebird was spotted…

Sagebrush Buttercup

there were a few of the very early wildflowers, like this Sagebrush Buttercup

Shooting Star

and these Shooting Stars….both of these pictures taken by Ernie.

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heading back down towards the campground…

Big Horn Sheep beside the road

we were amazed to spot these Big Horn Sheep – this area is a preserve for Big Horn Sheep but we’ve never actually seen any here before…

on the side of the cliff

it was astounding how they moved up the cliff face…

On top

and onto the top….

Ernie looking at sheep

this small herd remained up on the hillside all afternoon…here Ernie is looking at them with the spotting scope…

Digital Zoom at the top

using a tripod for support I zoomed in from the same location using both the digital as well as the optical zoom on my Canon Power shot camera to get this shot….

Okanagan River at the campground

The next day, being Easter Sunday, we moved on to the campground at Okanagan Falls Provincial Park as we were invited for Easter dinner at nearby relatives….this is the Okanagan River as it runs behind the campground. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lac la Jeune – May long weekend, 2011

Since in real time it is another cool, gray, showery day, decided I should do some more ‘catch up’ so back we go to our trip to Lac la Jeune Provincial Park, on the May long weekend.

We hadn’t been to Lac la Jeune for probably at least 12 years.  Last time we’d camped there it had still been a forested campground…but that was before the pine beetle and the subsequent ‘clear cutting’ of the park…

Campground when we arrived

We arrived there about 8:30 in the evening and this is what it now looks like.  The Aspens are taking over and when they leaf out it would look a lot greener than it did that day.  It was barely spring up there at this elevation – at least this year of never ending winter!

The lake from the boat launch

Fishing is the primary reason people go to this lake.  This picture was taken from the boat launch area..

The pier

for those without a boat, this long float has been built so people can get out into the lake to fish, or take pictures or just look for wildlife..

The lake

there is a path that runs along the lakeshore, this picture is taken from that path, looking back…these pictures were taken at different times, with different cameras…which is why the weather is better in some than in others!

View from the float

This one should probably have gone before the above…this is the view from the end of the float…there is a grassy picnic area, and then the lakeshore path starts…(no dogs in the picnic area)

the other end of the lake

this is pretty much where the path ends…there are private cabins from this area onward. 

aanother look

Several pairs of Barrow’s Goldeneye were along the shoreline….and a number of Common Loons out on the lake..

Pair of Barrow's Goldeneye

Some more of those Barrow’s Goldeneye.

Mule Deer

The Saturday afternoon was quite pleasant…as I recall a Canuck’s hockey game was on and cheers could be heard throughout the campground whenever a goal was scored….our campsite was up on the back row…this Mule Deer ventured out on the hillside on the opposite side of the road…I put the 36 x optical zoom on my new Nikon Coolpix camera, to good use…

Slightly closer

other critters seen from the campsite were Yellow rump Warbler….this one being a female..

Chipping Sparrow in the grass

Chipping Sparrow – you can see the vegetation is just beginning….my bets were that the snow hadn’t melted that long ago..

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee…

Male Western Tanager

and, every afternoon a flock of a dozen or so Western Tanagers would move through the area.

Gathering nesting material

I watched this American Crow gathering nesting material…


and the day ended with an impressive, although not very scenic, sunset (you can see the road right there behind the campground).

Lac la Jeune from a distance

Next day we ventured up the trails to ‘Stake Lake’ – that isn’t Stake Lake, that is Lac la Jeune as seen from the access road…

The road to Stake Lake

this is the road that breaks into all sorts of cross country ski trails so you can walk as far as you care to go up in this area…

Dark Eyed Junco

More birds up here…this Dark Eyed Junco…those bare Aspen trees had been full of Tree Sparrows – looked for Mountain Bluebirds but didn’t see any which seemed strange…

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker and lot’s of Flickers, Townsend’s Solitaire, Robin, Swainson’s Thrush, etc. that we didn’t get pictures of.

Stake Lake

and here is Stake Lake….could see a pair of loons in the distance, as well as a number of unidentified ducks..

a closer view

down closer to the lake there were all sorts of Marsh Wren and various Warblers, especially Common Yellowthroat – none of which were going to co-operate for pictures…

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on the return trip, took pictures of the only ‘wildflower’ that was actually in flower…

Colts Foot closeup

this Coltsfoot.

Lac la Jeune

and one last look at the lake itself from a hill over looking the road…the dots on the lake, closest to the shore, are a pair of loons, those further out are boats full of patient fishermen.

In the afternoon I took another walk along the lake shore and have to show this serious of photos…

Warbler and bug

This Yellow rump warbler was on the ground…at first I thought it was sick or injured…but no, look closely and there is a pretty big bug there as well…

wing in the mouth

here it has one of the bugs wings in it’s mouth…


and finally, the whole darn thing!!