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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Jan-July 2017, Mallard/Pintail Hybrid, Bittern, Otter Encounter, Red-breasted Sapsucker

This blog focuses mainly on an encounter Dian and I had July 17 2017 with an Otter.  The first few pictures are an eclectic collection of birds we have seen this year but have not yet found a theme for a blog to suit them.  So I will insert them here.
Mallard/pintail hybrid Jan 2017 Beacon Hill Park Victoria, BC.  We have probably observed a half dozen Mallard/Pintail hybrids in the last 20 years.  This was the first opportunity to obtain a reasonable photograph.

Buffleheads although plentiful are difficult to photograph because of the stark white plumage.  I captured some of the detail here.  Taken in March in Abbotsford.
I just like to see them landing.
Hooded Merganser Feb 2017.  Wilband Ponds, Abbotsford.
Splashdown!!
American Bittern Mar. 2017 Wilband Ponds, Abbotsford, BC.  
Northern Shrike Feb 28 2017 Wilband.  Shrikes are difficult to approach but this young one let me get a few shots before it flew.  It was snowing that day.
Red-breasted Sapsucker June 25 2017.  This bird was gathering insects among a throng of beach goers at Rolley Lake.  The young ones must have been nearby.
The star of this blog is a River Otter.
On July 17 Dian and I were hiking at our local Wilband Ponds here in Abbotsford.
This Otter was running down the trail towards us.  I told Dian not to move and I started snapping pictures.  I had no idea what the settings were on the camera as everything was happening pretty fast.
It knew we were there but kept coming-mouth wide open all the time.
It was getting more difficult for us to hold our position as it kept coming.
When it got to within 3-4 meters it stopped and retreated into the grass on the side of the trail.  We watched the tall grass move as it circled around us and we wondered if it would come back.  I can't say what was on the Otter's mind as it definitely saw us walking the trail.  Our other encounters with Otters have them fleeing as they engage us but this one seemed intent on intimidation.  There have been a few reports of Otter attacks but these have been in water where people were swimming.  Otters are territorial so we may have been infringing on its territory-it may have had young nearby but I doubt this, as we would have expected young to be in, or near water and it didn't return to where it had come from. I think it may have merely been intent on travelling to another area and we were in its way.  The grass on either side was 2 meters high and very thick so it was probably looking for a spot where it could enter and get off the trail.   One thing for sure, it didn't look friendly.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Electric Bikes, Alter ego Bikes, eBike

In an effort to exercise and preserve our youth (without too much exertion), Dian and I purchased 2 electric bikes this spring.  They are Alter Ego brand, distributed by a fellow here in Abbotsford.  I have the 500 watt Velovillan and Dian has the smaller 350 watt Sidekick Ultralight.  For prices and specs go to their website: http://alteregobikes.com/home-shift#welcome
They can be folded and put into the trunk of a car and easily stored in a condo etc..  Our Swagman RV bike carrier can be attached to our trailer.  This allows us to explore areas that otherwise would be unaccessible to us.  These bikes are a lot of fun and I predict their popularity will increase over the next few years.  Here are a few pictures taken on the Matsqui dyke along the Fraser River.









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Thursday, June 22, 2017

May 25 - May 29 2017 ESCAPE TRAILER RALLY, RUFFED GROUSE, OSOYOOS, SQUIRREL, WINE TOUR, YELLOW WARBLER, MACGILLIVARYS WARBLER, RED-NECKED GREBE

Our trailer manufacturer, Escape Trailers, was hosting a rally in Osoyoos, BC May 25-28, 2017.  We decided to take the opportunity to attend and extend the vacation up to Jasper and Banff national parks and back home through southern BC.  Following are some pictures taken at the rally and some fauna encountered in the area.
Dian standing off to the side at rally registration.
CPAHarley aka Jim and wife with Prairie Schooner.
Fellow Escape owner, Dave Whiting, told me about a Red-necked Grebe nest.  Thanks Dave.
Our spot at Nk'mik campground.
Eastern Kingbirds were common here.
Escape trailers everywhere you looked.
A McGillivarys Warbler sang at the campsite.
Dian is picking up our door prize.
We found a first year American Redstart on one of our side trips.
Wine tours were a popular attraction.  Here we are lining up for our transportation.
A Yellow Warbler was at one of the wineries. 
This the shuttle we hopped on.

Ruffed grouse in display
Our first wine stop and we look happy already.
A Squirrel posed nicely.
A view from Burrowing Owl winery.
We came across this brown phase Black Bear after we left Osoyoos,
Our group had lunch at the Tinhorn Winery and the food was great.
The temperature at the rally was around 30 degrees celsius.  Two weeks later it was snowing in Banff.
On our way home we stopped at Okanagan Falls for a few days.  This was our campsite.

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June 1-16 Clearwater, Wells Grey Park, Valemount, Jasper, Banff, Okanagan,

After we left the Escape Rally in Osoyoos we headed north and camped a few days at Bear Creek Park near Kelowna.  Then it was up to Wells Gray Park.  
This brown phase bear was in a spot where we were hiking the day before, at Wells Gray.  It was the second brown bear we had seen in just a few days.
This is a view taken on a great trail in Valemount called Cranberry Bog.
Northern Waterthrushes were common on the Cranberry Bog trail.
Jasper was our next stop.  A Bull Moose's antlers were starting to sprout.  Taken on the Maligne Lake Road in Jasper.
A closeup of the Moose reveals its ears grow hair for the winter and sheds it for the warmer months.
We camped at Whistlers Campground in Jasper.  This elk had a new born just a few campsites away from us.  We also encountered fellow Escape owner "Red Dog" from Texas here.  We had met Fred at the Escape rally in Osoyoos a few days earlier.
Athabasca Falls and Mt. Kerkeslin in the background.
We took a trip up the Whistler Gondola in Jasper.  There were many Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels at the summit. 
A good place to find Mountain Goats in Jasper is the Mt. Kerkeslin pullout.
A Tennessee Warbler was a nice find on the Icefield Parkway.
Back on the top of Whistler Mountain, Dian alerted me to a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan.
These birds are moulting into their summer plumage. 
We left Jasper to spend a few days at Tunnel Mountain Campsite in Banff.  Park staff kept tourists at bay while yet another brown bear patrolled the Minewanka parking lot.
This cow moose crossed the road on a trip we took through the Spray Valley and Kananaskis highway.
We first discovered the moose after they swam across a lake.
This young bull must have been the cow's last year calf.  It won't be long before she chases it away so she can breed in the fall.
This scraggy Rocky Mountain Bighorn was the only sheep we saw on the trip.  
Grizzlys seem to be a fairly common sight on the Kananaskis highway.  Most of the females in this area are tagged and collared.
Kananaskis has some great scenery.
Another Kananaskis scene.  Fresh snow on the ground.
We left Banff to travel through Cranbrook where a chirping Killdeer led us to her chicks.
Our last stop before heading home was Okanagan Falls Provincial Park Campground.  Young Flickers begged in the campsite next to us.
We alway try to bird White Lake Road when we visit the Okanagan.  A Clay-colored Sparrow popped up.
Red-breasted Nuthatches are common in the Okanagan.
A bird of the sage brush country is the Sage Thrasher.
A Pacific Forest Tree Frog (brown phase) joined us at our OK Falls campsite the morning we left.

We spent about 3 1/2 weeks travelling on this trip. It was great to revisit sites we had explored in years past and capture the things we appreciate, on pixels.

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