Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Long Day!

Western Tanager @ Brookside Campground
Today was going to be a reasonably long day as far as the driving goes. Having given up on the original Okanagan plan we took a direct route for an initial stop of Merritt 105kms, taking the main highway 97C west. From here our final destination for tonight’s stop-over would be the Brookside Campsite at Cache Creek a further 106kms.

Once we’d come off the main highway at Merritt we took the smaller and less busy highway 8 up towards Spences Bridge and it wasn’t long before normal service was resumed. Stopping off on several occasions to take in the stunning scenery our first Anise Swallowtail Butterfly, which I very nearly stepped on before it took flight, you can guess where my camera was! As we were enjoying a coffee a large hawk, very pale in colour dropped in to a nearby pine. I managed a few shots of the bird before it took flight and I’m hopeful it could be a Krider’s. A scarce pale Red-tailed Hawk variant, but further investigation is required.

American Kestrel
Other raptors before stopping off for lunch at Spence’s Bridge included American Kestrel, Turkey Vulture and at one point a Sharp-shinned Hawk darted past in pursuit of what looked like a Brewer’s Blackbird. Dee also managed Yellow-headed Blackbird as we passed by a small reed area.

Spence’s Bridge is where the Nicola River, which has followed us since leaving Merritt, meets the fast flowing Thompson River and is where we join highway 1 the Trans-Canada Highway through to Cache Creek. Here we had lunch overlooking the Canadian Pacific Railway which runs alongside the Thompson.

Over lunch we watch quite a number of Swallows, mostly Bank and Northern Rough-winged following the river downstream and my first ever Swifts in Canada, when at least 3 Black Swift flew through. A few Butterflies were also enjoying the gorgeous weather and Mourning Cloak, Clouded Sulphur and Comma were all recorded.

Wilson's Warbler
Highway 1 had several stops of interest, including ‘The Last Spike’ a plaque and display which commemorates the driving of the ‘last spike’ to complete Canada’s transcontinental railroad. The plaque overlooks Eagle River and here Dee spotted a Western Meadowlark singing away from a nearby post.

We eventually arrived at tonight’s stop-over at Brookside Campground, Cache Creek at around 4pm and while Dee was checking us in I managed several shots of American Kestrel, when one was perched nicely atop a power pylon. After setting up the electric and services, and quite handily parking next to the Wifi booster point, I went for a little exploration of the grounds.

Lenticular Cloud
This particular area is extremely parched and dusty with small forestry oasis, mainly Paper Birch mixed in. With the temperatures currently at 30C it feels more like 40! Sticking with the weather theme we were also treated to some unusual cloud formations this evening and pictured is the beginning of a rare Lenticular cloud. During my brief walk it wasn't long before what seems like the ever present Rufous Hummingbirds were whizzing around. An American Goldfinch was singing away and a stunning male Western Tanager was in a tree directly over the RV. Lots of smaller birds could be heard but were very elusive, however I did manage to pick out Spotted Towhee and Wilson’s Warbler.