Explored a small local treasure today near Cochrane, AB. This gem of once privately owned land was set aside by the owner in the early 80’s in the interest of wildlife conservation. Being off the beaten path it sees very few visitors and under a warm chinook sky it was a nice quiet getaway for a few hours this afternoon. Late in the afternoon we came across a group of Ruffed Grouse including this male that was strutting his goods and letting the others know who’s the boss in his area of the woods.
Fall is in full swing in the Yukon Territory. These 2 Trumpeter Swans along the Klondike Highway between Whitehorse and Dawson City are of the last to leave the Canada’s north and make their way south.
Until recently, the Barred Owl was just another critter in the forest that was more often heard than seen due to it’s nocturnal nature. After succesfully reproducing it’s way across north America over the last century, the Barred Owl waded into controversy as it now shares habitat with the endangered Spotted Owl. The overlap has created a turf-war and being a bit larger and more aggressive, the Barred Owl has started to push the smaller/more timid Spotted Owl out of the remaining old growth forest in Oregon, Washington and southwest British Columbia. After a large campaign to protect Spotted Owls in the 1990’s, the Spotted Owl has a healthier population on the south side of the border but only 10-20 Spotted Owls remain in southwest British Columbia. Although a captive breeding program was put in place in British Columbia, this new threat to the Spotted Owl has caught the attention of wildlife managers and brought forth some controversial management practices in both Canada and the USA. Although the Barred Owl has a detrimental effect on the Spotted Owl, seeing a family of Barred Owls in Abbotsford BC this past week was still a rewarding experience that won’t be soon forgotten. Although one encounter was sans camera, the following morning the curiousity of this juvenile kept it around long enough to obtain a photo.
Managed to capture a few signs of spring today. This male Mountain Bluebird sat on a rusty fence wire which made its striking blue color stand out even more than usual. The day also included some Great Horned Owl chicks and one very nervous Canadian Goose hunkered down on a nest. A brief sighting of a Red Fox today will hopefully become the subject of a future post, fingers crossed on obtaining good pics in the near future.
Harrison Bay in the lower mainland of British Columbia is home to one of the largest, if not the largest annual gathering of Bald Eagles in north America. Travelling to the area to visit family every year over Christmas almost always involves a few hours of watching these magnificent birds as they gorge on salmon in the Harrison and Chehalis Rivers. While there this past Christmas I snapped this shot of one of the maturing birds.