Monday, September 20, 2010

Canada Update

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
As hoped we managed to fit in an excellent 2 hour visit to Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Calgary before picking up our RV later in the afternoon (Saturday). Our walk around produced a couple of Canada firsts for me, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Wilson's Warbler, a stunning and distinctive bird with unmarked wings and amazing yellow plumage. Dee took some good shots of Mule Deer and went chasing a Black Squirrel and Dave, who's also travelling with us in his RV went nuts with his new camera!

Also seen of interest were Wood Duck, Northern Flicker, Belted Kingfisher, Osprey, Californian Gull, Greater Yellowlegs, Downy Woodpecker, White-crowned and White-throated Sparrow and Swainson's Thrush.

After picking up our unit and supplies we spent out first night at Ghost Dam, around 64km from Calgary on route to Banff. Here the RV site overlooks the dam and sits alongside highway 1A. A short walk before dinner in drizzle surprisingly produced 2 more Wilson's Warbler, plus Red Squirrel and a good number of Herring Gull, but the weather was not kind!

Setting off on the Sunday morning for Banff the weather had worsened with low cloud and persistent rain, so the drive up, entering Banff National Park about 10am, produced nothing of interest on the birding front, the surrounding Rockies totally obscured by low cloud.  However, it was lovely to be here once more, the town where we were married last year. Arriving back at the RV, which we'd parked next to the Bow River, I did manage a Spotted Sandpiper feeding on the river's edge, more Red Squirrel and a good number of Raven which are prolific here.

We set off, using the quieter back road from Banff towards our next destination of Radium Hot Springs, picking up 5 Barrow's Goldeneye at Mule Lake, but once again the weather was appalling with low cloud and persistent rain, ruling out any chance of soaring Raptors.

Having said that we did discover an Osprey nesting on a bridge near the Canadian Pacific Railway at Castle junction which provided some excellent views. Our journey on this stage took us on the Banff-Windermere Highway (93S). Completed in 1922, this scenic 94km drive was the first motor road to cross the Canadian Rockies. At one stage we pass from Banff National Park into Kootenay National Park and also cross the Atlantic/Pacific Continental Divide, we are also now in British Columbia having crossed from Alberta.

We arrived at Radium Hot Springs at around 5.30pm and parked up for the night at The Canyon RV Park, a lovely riverside park set in a valley. The park has a good population of American Robin which seemed to be stripping a nearby tree of berries, and as we reported in to reception there were many signs warning of a roaming Black Bear with two cubs, your in Bear Country now we were reminded.

 Dee and I had a pre-dinner walk around the site and managed Red-naped Sapsucker, Black-capped Chickadee and Cassin's Vario. As I write this post while having breakfast from the RV dinette Dave has just spotted an American Dipper feeding in the creek which runs alongside us!!

Today Monday, and the plan is to have a dip in the famous Radium Hot Springs and then head off to Golden on route to Lake Louise and eventually passing into Yoho National Park. The weather, not kind to us thus far is an improving picture.