Friday, August 20, 2010

The Gregson Butterfly Garden ~ McArthur Island ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada

We recently visited the Gregson Butterfly Garden in McArthur Park and found it to be bright with color after a short summer rain. There are benches set among the flower beds that you can sit and enjoy the sights from as you relax among the butterflies.

The Gregson Butterfly Garden
This sign leads you to the pathway that meanders through the Butterfly Garden. With August here we are seeing more of the autumn colors coming into full bloom and many show their sunshine yellow.

Flowers of Butterfly Garden
There is a large variety of flowers in this Butterfly Garden, all of which are known to attract the butterflies with their color and aroma.  Our visit did follow a shower so we didn't see any butterflies.  Butterflies hide when it rains. They usually go to the same places they do for the night. Some butterflies hide under large leaves, some crawl down into dense leaves or under rocks, and some just sit head down on grass stems or bushes with wings held tightly.

Rainbow after the showers
This rainbow was the making a complete arch over McArthur Island and made a nice frame for the flowers in Butterfly Garden.

The Duck family

The Gregson Butterfly Garden is part of the McArthur Island Lagoon Enhancement Project. The lagoon is home to many ducks and other water families that you might see swimming and enjoying their country home in the city.

Lagoon of McArthur Island
If you could see between the branches of these large trees that line the lagoon, you may even see the visiting Great Blue Heron we spotted on this visit. He must have been looking for the flock that was at Tranquille Wildlide Management Area, clik here to see more.

Dedication Plaque to Mr. Jack Gregson
The Butterfly Garden is a reality due to the visions of Jack and Barbara Gregson and we and the butterflies can thank them every time we drive by or visit this small but beautiful garden.  Take time to enjoy this garden on your next visit to McArthur Island.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tranquille Wildlife Management Area ~ Herons ~ Pelicans ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada

We love Kamloops for all that it has to offer and that includes the visitors that we get. We were enjoying a nearby park recently and I was surprised to find one of those visitors, who flew up into a tree while I was looking at the flowers ! I did not know what he was, but was taking lots of pictures and now I was on a mission to find out. The first thing I had to do was get my pictures onto my computer to get a better look at him. The next thing I would do is put the binoculars in the car for future surprise visitors !

Visiting heron on McArthur Island
What I had taken a picture of was a visiting heron. He wasn’t exactly the color that I was familiar with but then, I hadn’t seen herons in Kamloops before. There are more than one kind and this one appears to be a different color from the Great Blue Heron (clik here to read more) that we had seen on our RV adventures.

Tranquille Wildlife Management area in July
We had visited the Tranquille Wildlife Management area in July and the water covered a much larger area then. In 1989 there were 245 hectares of land designated as the Tranquille Wildlife Management Area in order to manage valuable wetland habitat for waterfowl and other species that were dependent on the wetlands. 

Tranquille WMA with high water
This area 18 km (10 mi) west of Kamloops where the Thompson River enters Kamloops Lake, is typically flooded from mid May to mid July due to the spring runoff into the Thompson River and is part of the Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected area.

Canada Geese sit on fencepost
The Canada Geese were using fence posts to perch on due to the high water in July.  They are regular visitors, if not residents at many places in Kamloops. Typical fowl found in the wetlands aside from the Canada Geese are swans, mallards, Goldeneye and Wood Ducks.

Canada Geese and goslings in July
With the water so high, it came close to the roadside. I was able to see the Canada Geese and their young as they swam over the fence ! The best birdwatching time at the Tranquille WMA is March, April, May, Sept, Oct., and November but it looks like we have visitors during summer months, too.
Tranquille WMA with low water in August
Now that we knew the park visitor was a heron, we were on our way out to see the Tranquille Wildlife Management area again as my search for answers had said that there were visiting herons out there. Now we know where the visiting heron was likely headed to, he had just missed his target by 18 km (10 mi) !

A flock of heron at Tranquille WMA
We found the rest of his flock, hopefully he did, too. The article (clik to read that article) I found said that there were Great Blue Herons out there, and this was written by Rob Butler, so I will believe they were gray herons. The same article said there were other visitors out there, too and this I had to see with my own
eyes !

Pelicans at Tranquille WMA
These wetlands are resting areas for spring and fall migration but nothing would have made me expect these visitors in the middle of our summer months, let alone these ones. There were four large white pelicans swimming around the pond.

Visiting Pelicans in Kamloops, BC, Canada
It isn’t possible to get close to the pond so it was difficult to get pictures of the pelicans. They were busy diving for food and were swimming very quickly but I did manage to get some proof that they were really visiting Kamloops on this August afternoon. The only other time we’d seen white pelicans was on our visit to Texas during our RV adventure.
We know that Kamloops is the chosen destination for many visitors but these ones are here without many people knowing it, and I am glad to be one that does.

This tells another reason why we love Kamloops ~ there is just no place like home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tranquille River ~ Criss Creek ~ Savona, BC, Canada

We love Kamloops and any opportunity we have to show it off to others is our pleasure to do. We had visiting family that were keen to see anything we wanted to show them, so on July 1 we said we’d take them for a drive to see some of the hills that are hidden up behind Kamloops. We’d hoped for sunshine and had clouds instead, but packed a picnic and headed out for the day.
CN Rail follows along Kamloops Lake
We followed Tranquille Road past the Kamloops airport out to the old Tranquille farm where we took the Red Lake road up the hill. There are some great views here, including the tunnel for the CN rail before you are out of sight of Kamloops Lake.  We followed this road which meanders through the hills and mountains that show some very deep valleys down below that road. Some of the views were surprising, well hidden behind the trees at times but showing some of those pretty valleys. We saw cattle wandering around, willing to share the road with us as long as we weren’t in a hurry.

                                                               Bridge over Tranquill River                                                                                        
We stopped just after crossing an old bridge, which appears to be a Bailey bridge from the view we had from down at the water. This is the Tranquille River on the maps but more generally called a creek, likely due to its size, we expect rivers to be much wider.
Cedar Waxwing Bird
We stopped at a Forest Service recreational park right beside the creek to have a ‘tailgate picnic’. There were lots of mosquitoes to share our picnic with but we’d gone prepared for that. We did enjoy the birds there, and were able to get several pictures of the pretty Cedar Waxwing as we quietly watched them.

Ranching down in the valley
There are many roads which one might want to follow, but not a bad idea to have a map or someone who knows their way through this area. We thought that because it was a national holiday we would not see any working trucks, but we were passed by several fast moving trucks with pup trailers transporting clay. Be aware and prepared to move over.

Round bales of hay dot the valley

There are many ranches up in this area and we stopped to watch the rancher doing his job, this Canada Day. No holidays for the rancher when there is work to be done.

Flowers color the hillside leading to Kamloops Lake

We then followed Criss Creek Road for awhile before we reached our destination for the day. We never did get sunshine but it wasn’t a cold day so we were able to celebrate Canada Day on Kamloops Lake with more family.

Baby's Breath grows wild
And this was where we got the biggest wildlife surprise of the day with the sightings of the California Bighorn Sheep. Be sure to see those pictures on the other blog page by clicking here.

Copper Creek on Kamloops Lake
After a traditional Canada Day barbeque dinner, we left to finish our day trip and followed the road to Savona, (clik to see more) then onto Hwy 1.  We found the one ray of sunshine of the day and it made for such a pretty scene over at the Copper Creek settlement across Kamloops Lake, another photo opp. 
It was a great day to share with our family from the UK. It also gives us the opportunity to see Kamloops from a visitor’s point of view to remind us of what a great place we live in, there is just no place like home !

Saturday, August 7, 2010

California Bighorn Sheep ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada

We love Kamloops and all it has to offer but there are times that we are amazed by a wonderful sight and today was one of those days ! We’d been on a drive through the Tranquille Valley on July 1 and had only seen one deer, and he was not into posing for pictures.

hillside is covered with California Bighorn sheep

When we least expected to see anything, our young grandson spotted something! The hillside was covered with California Bighorn Sheep (now called Sierra Nevada Bighorn sheep) ! It looked like the hill was moving as their color allows them to blend in so well with the groundcover. We quietly watched them climb the hill, stop to graze and wander about, oblivious to us at the bottom of the hill, with me madly taking pictures.

A closer look at the Bighorn sheep
When you look closely at the hill, as shown in this picture, you will see all those white legs and back sides that identify the sheep there, otherwise they are hard to see.  There are some juveniles in the group as the lambs are born in May but it is very hard to tell from this distance. They grow very quickly and usually weigh about 29 lbs(13 kg) by the end of the summer and are completely weened by 6-8 months.

Curious sheep watching us
The sheep made their way over to a rocky ravine, which had some gorgous colored stones to brighten up the pictures and I was able to zoom in for better pictures.  We didn’t count sheep, they were spread all over the hill and constantly moving but apparently there are 3100 sheep in our area and we think we may have seen about 100 of them. This was a large herd of healthy looking sheep.
The view was great
The rams (males) have horns that can weigh up to 14 kg (30 lbs) and the ram can weigh up to 90 kg (200 lbs). The large curl of their horn, which they never shed, allows biologists to tell the age of a ram.

These Bighorn sheep are not used to seeing spectators
The females, called ewes can weigh up to 60 kg (140 lbs). They have a small curve to their short horn, which also makes it easy to tell the difference between males and females when we see them. Juveniles start growing their horns early.
They're starting to lose interest in us
Because of the healthy large herds in our area, some sheep have been captured and relocated to other areas such as Nevada, Washington, North Dakota and Utah. The most recent capture was done in Kamloops in January 2009 and 15 sheep were transported 200 km (120 mi) to the Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park.
One last look at us
In the early 1900's the US government declared the unique subspecies of California Bighorn Sheep to be endangered. Thanks to a big campaign mounted in 1936 by the Arizona Boy Scouts there is a population estimated to be 25,000 Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep.  The US still has the California Bighorn Sheep listed as a 'federally endangered species' due to population declines but many steps towards recovery are being taken.
Thanks to the Wild Sheep Society these captures and moves were done successfully and without injury to any of the sheep. They have detailed their capture and you are able to read how they do it by clicking on ‘Wild Sheep Society’.

We love seeing the Kamloops wildlife and we are so lucky to have them in our neighborhood, there is no place like home !

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BC Wildlife Park ~ Sheba the Grizzly ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada

BC Wildlife Park will never be the same again. The beautiful grizzly bear, Sheba, the one I consider the reigning matriarch of the park for many years, has passed away. She lived a long 35 years, which is more than most grizzlies live to be, but the aches and pains of arthritis that she’s had to endure the past while has not been easy to watch.
Sheba the Grizzly Bear
Sheba and her brother Shardik were adopted by the park many years ago after they became orphans. They had become troublesome in their natural home and were going to be killed but were saved by a bear biologist in UBC and studied for their diet. When the research was done, they were sent to the BC Wildlife Park and have been here ever since.

Sheba comes out to enjoy the sun
 It took a lot of time and effort for Sheba to be able to come out of her den to soak up some of the sun with her brother Shardik.  They have open access to the nearby pool to lay in for cooling off on hot days or the large yard with shade that they can wander about, but they seem to be just fine in this area.

Sheba and Shardik
They’ve been together all their lives and there is no doubt that Shardik, who also suffers some aches and pains, will miss her terribly. They have outlived any expectations and so we were able to enjoy them for many years.

Sheba and Shardik napping in the sunshine
On a recent visit to the park, we watched both bears as they tried to move about and it was done with very slow movements. They would take a long time to move at all, and so never got too far before they would lie down and have a nap in the sunshine.

Sheba enjoys the cool water
It was a hot day and although it took her awhile, Sheba was able to get into the pond to cool down for awhile.  She is aware of things around her but is really not too interested in anything she sees at this moment.

 It was recently announced that Sheba will be put to rest in a quiet spot at the park to be remembered for her many years of being a star in the BC Wildlife Park. She will be missed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Miss Wende's Adventure Golf ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada


Mini-golf ~ things to do ~  on a Rocky Mountaineer stopover in Kamloops, B.C. ~ on weekends or holidays

We love Kamloops for so many things it has to offer.  Summer is one of our favorite times as it is for many school kids and holiday visitors.  We usually have more time to have fun and we are looking for places that offer just that !  So.......
Where can you take your family for a fun time ?
You can go to Miss Wende's Adventure Golf !

A refreshing waterfalls
You can take everyone to play at Miss Wende's Adventure Golf, it is fun for all ages.  It offers an exciting place to visit, not everyone can say they have a castle to play at !

Miss Wende's Adventure Golf

Where can you take your grandkids for fun?
Miss Wende's Adventure Golf !

You can visit Miss Wende’s Adventure Golf right here in Kamloops at #3-555 Notre Dame Drive. A place that is right in town and easy to find ! lots of parking ! cold drinks available !

Adventure golf for the whole family to enjoy !

Where can you take your girlfriend on a date?

Miss Wende's Adventure Golf !
This fun is for all levels of mini-golfers, you need not be a pro to have fun with it!

The paddlewheel

Where can you go with your buddies to play?

                             Miss Wende's Adventure Golf !
If you haven’t been here for awhile you will be happy with all the work that has been done which makes this a great place to visit.

There's a castle & a moat, there are bridges to pass over & water to walk under.
The crows like to keep a watchful eye on the castle and disappear at opening time at 
Miss Wende's Adventure Golf
 the flowers are bursting with color.
The greens have all been replaced with new ones over the past seasons and makes for easier golfing, and a hole in one at the 18th hole gives you a free game on your next visit !

Miss Wende

Miss Wende's Adventure Golf

April 2011 ~ opening for weekends only beginning April 9th, 2011.

May and June hours are Saturdays and Sundays 11am - 8pm then will be open 7 days a week.

Open 7 days a week in July and August from 11a.m. to 8p.m., except Sunday, when it closes at 5p.m.  It usually takes about 45 min. for a round so you want to get there early enough to finish before closing time !
And it only costs $6.00 each with kids 3 and under for free. Cash only, due to the short season.
Come on out, bring the family and have a great time at Miss Wende's Adventure Golf !

View Larger Map

This is just another reason why we love Kamloops, there is just no place like home !

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

B.C. Wildlife Park ~ Kamloops, BC

Wildlife & Falconry ~ Eagles ~ Hawks ~ Owls

The Kamloops Zoological Society was first formed on March 31, 1965 with John Moelaert, whose motto became “Conservation through Education” as founder. On February 11, 1966 the Molson’s Brewery, who owned a hop farm east of Kamloops, donated 106 acres to be used as a wildlife park. The first exhibition opened to the public in August 1966 and the rest, as they say, is history.

BC Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is a facility dedicated to mammals, birds of prey, amphibians, reptiles and endangered species. They care for the injured and orphaned and when they are healed or grown, they will be released back into their natural habitats, and when possible it will be the one they came from. When that isn’t possible, some have become permanent residents at the Wildlife Park.

B.C. Wildlife Park Amphitheatre

We recently visited the park now known as the B.C. Wildlife Park to see the Summer Falconry Show, as we had a great eagle fan in our midst. We hadn’t been to the park in awhile so were pleasantly surprised to see the new additions, one being the Amphitheater. Birds are beautiful, as long as they’re not flying too near me, but I sat in the theater, ready to dive, thanks to a Hitchcock movie of years ago, enjoying the show and the excellent information given by the falconry expert.

Echo ~ the Ferruginous hawk
Echo is a Ferruginous Hawk who came to live at the park from the Pacific Northwest Raptors in Duncan, BC when she was 4 months old. She is now 3 years old and this is her first season as a performer in the Falconry Show. The Ferruginous Hawk is the largest one in North American with a wing span of 1.4 meters (53”). They are not typically in BC but are found in the US.

Tyto the Barn Owl
Born in Ontario, Tyto (pronounced Tee-Toe) came here when he was very young, he’s a very chatty little guy. His unique heart-shaped face allows him to hear and see better at night, giving him the advantage of hunting after dark. These barn owls cannot tolerate real cold weather and do not migrate so they live in the coastal areas. They’re an asset to have on the farm as one family will consume up to 1000 mice a year. A great solution to a mouse problem !
Gontron the Turkey Vulture
The Turkey Vulture is not a pretty bird with his bald head but when he first comes out into the sunlight from inside, he proudly stretches out his massive wings to absorb the sunshine like he is charging his batteries! The Turkey Vulture is the fourth largest bird in North America and is a very social bird, they live in groups and roost together. They are not hunters but survive on road kill and other found carcasses.

Aquila ~ the Golden Eagle

Aquila, the Golden Eagle arrived with a broken wing that never healed properly so she could not be released back into the wild. She is beautiful and has become a special feature of the park. The Golden Eagle is mostly found in Western Canada & U.S. and prefer trees and rocky areas for their hunting. Females, who grow to be 4.5 to 6 kg, (10-14 lbs) are larger than the males 3.5 to 4 kg. (8-9 lbs).

The history of the BC Wildlife Park is very impressive and credit goes to many whose hard work and dedication kept it going through some difficult early years. Zillions of volunteer hours have been and still are a big part of that success. I recommend a visit to this wonderful park in Kamloops with its many beautiful animals, it makes a great family outing, be sure to include the Falconry show. Check the show times and learn more about the activities and animals by clicking on their site.

This is just one more reason why we love Kamloops, “there is no place like home”.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kamloopa PowWow ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada

We love Kamloops for all it has to offer and the Kamloopa PowWow is one of the most beautiful events to see.  Friends joined us and we all enjoyed our first PowWow experience and making it even better was that we are considered 'elders' and were admitted free of charge !

Quiet times at the Kamloopa PowWow grounds
This was the 31st annual PowWow in Kamloops and is held at the Special Events Facility, most commonly referred to as the powwow grounds. The open air facility is a grand one and makes a wonderful presentation for the PowWow, one of the largest celebrations of the First Nations culture and heritage in Western Canada.

Kamloopa PowWow visitors fill the grounds with tents and RV's

The grounds are filled with teepees, tents and RV’s as many come from far and wide either to participate or enjoy the celebrations. The grounds are kept clean with a clean up crew that never stops and with all the challenges that it brings with so many people living on these grounds for several days, it is very impressive how clean it is kept.
The Canadian, American & BC flags followed by First Nations flags
Excitement is in the air as the Grand Entry begins. The crowd stands to their feet, the drums roll and the music thunders as the participants enter the grassy arena. I posted some video of this so check out Youtube to watch the first moments of the Grand Entry and feel that excitement with me.
The arena is filled with dancers
The beautiful costumes are never ending as hundreds of participants dance into the arena and gather here. The noise makes it difficult to hear some of the introductions by the MC and without programs available, I don’t know which bands are being represented as they enter, but I understand that many of them come great distances to join the Secwepemc band to celebrate together.
The history behind the Secwepemc people tell us that song, dance and ceremonies were part of their daily life and considered vital in maintaining their beliefs and values. These teachings from their ancestors showed them how to care for their land and their people so they would sing and dance before harvesting anything from the land. Song, dance and ceremonies remind the Secwepemc of these beliefs. “The Secwepemc believe that all living things have spirits and must be shown utmost respect.” and you can feel the pride in the air as they dance and sing tonight

One of hundreds of beautiful costumes
Competition begins and native dress varies from one band to another. The colors, design, style, beadwork and fringes make a wonderful show as they dance.

Feathers adorn a dancer's costume
Feathers play a large part in the outfits and many of them have this beautiful display on their back. I know that everything has a significant meaning but I haven’t been able to determine what the feathers on these costumes would mean, maybe someone will pass on this information to me. Many also have what appears to be horsehair in their headgear.

One of the many drumming groups
Drumming plays a major part in the show and the competition. Each group sits around and sings in their native tongue as they pound their one drum to compete for large cash prizes. Their music and emotions roar through the arena and after listening to the different bands and their chanting, choosing the winner may be a difficult job for the judges but this group was definitely in the running to win.

One of many arts and craft booths to see
Arts and crafts are also a big part of the PowWow. There are many booths set up under the outer edge of the facility and many beautiful crafts are on display and for sale from leather moccasins to silver jewelry, and beadwork to blankets

Setting sun over the teepee
There were few teepees set up but those that were are personal ones used for their weekend home away from home. The setting sun said the day was ending but the dancing and celebrations would continue into the night.

The Kamloopa PowWow is a wonderful way to celebrate the First Nations and to share their history. There are no drugs or alcohol allowed on the grounds and that makes for a great place to take the family and learn something of a different culture, right in our own back yard. The PowWow is just another reason why we love Kamloops.