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..

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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!! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tunkwa Lake Trip – June 11, 2011 – Part 2

Ok, so when the rain was over I set out by myself to see if I could find the Great Gray Owl.  The evening before, while I had been watching the one in the campground, Ernie had been walking Shantz and had seen one in a forested area behind the park caretakers compound…whether we’d both seen the same owl, or if there was a pair…we’re really not sure…

Campground in the afternoon

anyway, with clear skies once again, I set off in the direction of the forested area…


on the way, passed a Chipmunk having a snack…

Yellow-bellied Marmot

and one of the many resident Yellow-bellied Marmots..

Owl in a tree straight ahead

Finally swinging up to the forested area (you’ll note that this ‘forest’ consists mainly of dead trees – that is because this area was ravished by the pine beetle)….there, though, right ahead and in the middle, I immediately spotted the Great Gray Owl…

Looking at me






He/she watched me arrive, but wasn’t terribly alarmed by my presence.  I could hear it’s very low call on occasion and also another, unfamiliar sound which leads me to believe there was a nest somewhere in the immediate area.







after spending a fair bit of time here, just watching, and of course, snapping pictures…I decided I had disturbed the bird enough and headed over towards a little pond up at the back of the campground…

Singing Savannah Sparrow

Passed some Savannah Sparrows on the way, including this singing one…

low down viewofthepond up back

and there is the little pond…there were a number of Canada Geese on it and a few Warblers…

Yellow Rump Warbler

like this male Yellow Rumped…. 

Owl in the campground

was just heading back towards the camper when I spotted – right in the middle of the picture – a Great Gray Owl!  The same one I’d seen up back? or a different one?  I don’t know….

intent on something!

but there it was…intently studying the ground….


more views of it…

as good as they come!

and another…

taking off

and in flight…

on the ground

I do know, that when it caught something, like it had here…it didn’t stop and eat it, but headed back in the direction of the forested area….leading me to believe there were some hungry little mouths to feed somewhere back there.

In the evening, the hunting continued…

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Posing nicely in the evening sunshine, while thunder rumbled in the distance! 

landing on little tree

At this point, landing on a pitiful little twig of a pine tree….you can see how the bird was right in the campground, yet one of the most amazing and kind of upsetting things, was that I don’t think anyone but myself and my husband even noticed it.  Several people walked within a few feet of it as it went about it’s business…totally oblivious to it’s presence.  Kind of sad.

up close and personal!

But as I mentioned before, the bird was not concerned with people…for this picture, the bird had actually flown towards where I was standing and landed not 8 feet away from me…

Owl, and our camper

here it is perched on a broken tree….the tail light of our camper is just visible on the other side of those trees…

taken from the door of the camper

I was standing in the door of our camper when I took this shot – wide angle, not zoomed at all…

right behind the camper

now it is zoomed from the same spot (that is what a Nikon Coolpix with 36x digital zoom can do for you)…


and then the bird flew even closer….Shantz’ was on her tie out which reached to within about 6 feet of where this bird perched….  Absolutely amazing!  The plan now is to return to Tunkwa on the July 1st long weekend to see if the bird is still there or if there are some youngsters around.

Calling Killdeer

So just a few more pictures to finish up this very successful trip – Killdeer had been running around in the evening, creating a racket which they continue to do, well after dark.

Cut leaf Anemone

Before we left on the Sunday morning, we walked over to Bluff Lake…..notice the Cut-leaf Anemone’s in flower….they were just really starting to bloom.  There is the Aspen Grove or ‘bird nursery’ way off in the distance, never did get there…

Canada Geese

Wouldn’t be a trip to Tunkwa if I didn’t throw in a picture of the many Canada Geese….we saw goslings as well from freshly hatched to much older…all in all, counted over 50 species of birds this trip….the Great Gray Owl, by far the most exciting.