During a recent family camping trip in Banff we rented a canoe and paddled into the first Vermillion lake. It was one of those beautiful blue sky days that we haven’t seen nearly enough of this summer. We were lucky to see a large adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree near the edge of the lake. We were able to paddle all along the shore past the tree and then loop back through a channel to get to the sunny side. The eagle calmly watched us the entire time.
I spotted another Eagle high up in a tree on the far side of the lake so we gradually made our way across to get a better look. We came upon a Belted Kingfisher perched on a log. We didn’t get very close before it launched… We also saw a deer resting under a large evergreen tree, but it was mostly obscured by the long grasses surrounding the lake.
I’m always amazed by how many more birds and animals you can get close to while in a canoe than while hiking. I’m going to have to get one of my own!
I’m visiting with my family in Kelowna for a week and while I’m here I want to get in a few photography outings with my Dad. The weather here is at least 3 weeks further into the spring that it is at home in Calgary, and the migrating birds are much more plentiful. I read several reports on bc.birding.ca that lots of waterfowl have been seen at Robert Lake recently, including sightings of over 600 Northern Pintails.
We made plans to be at the lake shortly after sunrise in order to be there in time to make some nice images in the soft morning light. Unfortunately when we arrived we found that the lake was practically deserted. Other than a few geese the only birds we saw were a few Red-winged Blackbirds near the parking lot. We watched them for a few minutes before moving on.
We decided to make our way over to the Kelowna Airport which is a known hotspot for Hawks, Eagles, and Owls. Instead of driving directly there we took a meandering route through the scenic countryside. The Kelowna area is littered with Orchards and other beautiful agricultural property which is home to many species of birds and animals. Without really even looking for them we managed to find plenty of California Quail, Blackbirds, and Northern Flickers. While we were stopped to watch a large covey of Quail, we could hear the very distinctive call of a Pheasant down the road and it was being repeatedly answered by another bird in the woods behind us. We slowly made our way towards the sound and quickly found it near the side of the road. It launched and flew off to the edge of the adjacent orchard, and I only managed to make a few images from the truck. Dad was driving and didn’t get out in time before it wandered into the trees…
We continued on towards the airport and had a very cool visit with a Yellow-bellied Marmot. While we were driving I looked over into a farmyard and saw several large furry critters scurrying off of a woodpile beside the road. Although most of them disappeared, we found this animal sunning itself on the woodpile.
The Marmot was actually very close to a tall wooden fence beside the road and I was able to shoot through a crack in the fence to make some close-up portraits.
There are Hawks all over the place near the Kelowna Airport. We were actually watching a Red-tailed Hawk that landed on a power pole beside this Rough-legged Hawk. I have always found Red-tails to be very skittish and this one was no exception. It launched as soon as we got close. The Roughie didn’t seem to mind us very much and it sat on the pole until we got quite close. It eventually launched as well, but it just did a slow fly-by past us before landing on the next power pole up the road.
We continued on our way looking for Hawks. Although there were lots of them, none were really close enough to make good images of. I was quite surprised to find a pair of Great Blue Herons in a farm field. I’ve never seen them in that sort of environment and in my experience they are more likely to be in a swamp or a slough than in a wide open field. Dad tells me that he sees them in a nearby field all the time so I’m sure it must be quite common. One of the birds flew off almost immediately after we stopped but the other one ignored us and continued to hunt in the field. I’m not sure what it was hunting but I saw it stab its beak into the ground several times.
Huge thanks to my Dad for being a great companion, and especially for driving the truck while I got all the great shots!
While driving home the other day I noticed a very large bird perched on a power pole ahead of me. It was clearly larger than the hawks, falcons, and owls that I commonly see. As I got closer I realized that it was an adult Bald Eagle.
While Eagles are definitely not rare in the Calgary area, they also aren’t very common on the open prairie to the east of the city. In fact this is the first adult bird I’ve ever seen far away from the river. It was very impressive and of course I had to stop to get a few pictures.
The bird did not immediately launch when I approached and I was hoping to be able to watch it for awhile. Unfortunately it had other plans and took off after only a couple of minutes. I was lucky to get an interesting sequence of the bird showing its power while taking off.