Monday, May 14, 2012

Gem Of A Day!

Chipping Sparrow
Before leaving the Brookside Campground, Cache Creek for our next stop of Horse Lake in the wonderful sounding town of Lone Butte I took an amazing 90 minute hike around the locality.

The Bonaparte River runs through Cache Creek and above the deep valley of the river lies rolling grasslands which give way to surrounding hills covered in sagebrush and cactus. Above the rolling desert hills lies a beautiful mountainous terrain. During the gold rush of the mid 1800's, Cache Creek served as a halfway point for many hopeful prospectors en route to the Cariboo Gold Fields.

Yellow Warbler
A gorgeous looking Meadowlark was my first bird of the day, closely followed by 2 Rufous Hummingbirds and a flock of around 20 or so Chipping Sparrows. I took a track which runs along a small creek and the close by Paper Birch held a good selection of birds which included of note: American Kestrel, Wilson’s Warbler, Say’s Phoebe, Savannah Sparrow, Black-caped Chickadee, Orange-crowned Warbler and a pair of Western Tanager. Ravens were constantly soaring overhead and a Mule Deer give me a bit of a shock when I spooked one just prior to locating a couple of small pools, he was probably enjoying a quiet drink.

The pools had the usual Red-winged Blackbirds forever ducking into the reeds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and a huge burp alerted me to several frogs in the vicinity! Dee also encountered a Coyote when she decided to come looking for me, but he’d vanished by the time we joined up.

Pair of Barrow's Goldeneye
The drive today took us to our most northerly stop of 100 Mile House along the very picturesque highway 97, stopping off at several points on route. The highlights being: Osprey’s mating , Bald Eagle and Western Kingbird. As we reached 70 Mile House we took a smaller road which runs through Green Lake Provincial Park. Incidentally if your wondering what the names of ‘Mile House’ relates to, it relates to a selection of ramshackle houses used to serve the traffic of the gold rush as a resting place for travelers moving between Kamloops and Fort Alexandria. Prior to reaching the main lake we investigated some smaller lagoons which produced Pied-billed Grebe, Greater Scaup, Common Yellowthroat, Mountain Bluebird, Yellow Warbler and Bufflehead. A Coyote also crossed in front at one stage before disappearing from view.

Surf Scoter @ Green Lake
Green Lake, one of the larger bodies of water in this area is made up of 11 parcels of land, the open rangeland and mixed forests of Aspen and Lodgepole Pine found here are typical of the Cariboo’s landscape. The lake has a low flushing rate and together with the chemical composition of the warm shallow waters, creates a greenish hue giving the lake its name.

We stopped of at a number of areas to scan this large expense of water which turned out to be a real gem for birds. Several large flocks of Scoter could be seen which incorporated Black, Surf and White-winged, a pair of Long-tailed Duck, numerous Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Merganser and Common Loon were all recorded. Also on view were Red-necked Grebe, Gadwall, Bonaparte’s Gull, plus Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer.

We arrived at Horse Lake, a place we’ve stayed before and one of our favourite stopovers with an excellent days birding in the bag. We managed to secure a lovely spot overlooking the lake and shortly after setting up we ended the day with a trio of Otters swimming past our window!