Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pelicans ~ Kamloops Lake ~ Kamloops, BC

I used to understand pelicans to be a coastal bird so it should be a rare one for our area of Kamloops, BC but that just isn’t so.  The Brown Pelican is the one who lives along the coastal waters, some of whom we have seen before but that was during visits in the Southern US.  The American White Pelican visits Kamloops so we’re going to visit them.

Pelican coming in for landing on Kamloops Lake, BC
The American White Pelican has been making Kamloops a stopover on their migration travels from their homes farther north.  There are several places they spend the summer months in before making their way south for the winter.  They’ve been seen in other places on their stopovers in our area but our visit with them was at Cooney Bay on Kamloops Lake this year.
Pelicans group fishing
In the summer months, they nest in colonies from NE California to as far north as the Northwest Territories then migrate south in September or October.  They spend the winter months near the Pacific Coast and Gulf of Mexico as far south as Panama, preferring estuaries and lakes.  
Pelican having a drink
The American White Pelican will avoid open ocean on their migrations and favor desert and mountain areas for their travels.  I recently heard about the Australian pelican that gather by the thousands at an inland lake only to have to abandon many of their young who are too young to fly hundreds of kilometers to survive as the lake dries up in the summer heat.  Thankfully this isn't a problem in this country.
Pelicans follow the leader
 The Brown Pelican will dive into the water for their fish, or wait for fisherman’s scraps on the pier as we watched in Texas, but the White catches their fish while swimming.  Their head only will be below water when they catch the fish in their big bill taking in up to 20 litres then straining out the water.
Pelican sees a fish
We saw a flock of pelicans on a visit to the Salton Sea in Southern California last spring.  There are lots of fish in this sea which makes for a great feeding area for them.  Tilapia in abundance would make fishing easy for these large birds.  Click here to see those, some of whom just may be in Kamloops first, and learn more about their size and wing span. 
Fish sighting causes some excitement
The pelican is a very large bird and adults will eat 4 pounds of fish every day.  The pelicans are usually in a group of 12 or more and will corral the fish for one another. There are times they fight over the catch but I guess that would depend on the supply; there did not appear to be any fighting here.  
Fish sighting 
These pelicans were near where the Tranquille Creek comes into the lake, bringing a supply of fish to them including the rainbow trout.  They’d float back and forth near the mouth of the creek and occasionally we’d see one reach down for a fish, this often brought a flurry of others to that spot, too. 
Pelican scatter across Kamloops Lake, BC
We counted about 30 pelicans on Kamloops Lake this day, many more than the 3 or 4 we’d seen on a visit here a week earlier. They were spread over a large area of the lake and we likely did not see all of them, we’d heard there were a lot more on this visit.
Pelican came up empty
Pelicans were removed from the national endangered species list in 1987 but they’re still considered endangered in Alberta and protected in all of Canada. The numbers have increased but not to the point they’ve been in the past, but hopefully that will change.
Pelicans coming in for a landing
The pelicans don’t stay for long so it was a great treat to be able to see them during their brief stay here. They’re making their way south for the winter months then return to their nesting grounds in March and April. It was entertaining to watch them come in for their landings, which is skipping along the water until they slow down enough to land. 
Kamloops Lake, BC
The access to Cooney Bay is easy when the lake is at the low level of the season.  It was very windy on our first visit but the second time was better making it easy to walk to the mouth of Tranquille Creek and sit on the sand or driftwood to watch the pelicans.  

What a great way to spend some time and just another reason why there is no place like home.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Walhachin ~ Wooden Irrigation Flume ~ Kamloops, BC

We love Kamloops, BC for many reasons, some of which is the scenery that surrounds us and the incredible treasures that can be found out there in that scenery.  We took an autumn days drive west of Kamloops on Hwy 1 to find one of those treasures and then found even more.

Water tower from days of old
The day was dull and foggy but we had hopes that this would not interfere with our treasure hunt.  The fog, or low lying clouds just might add some drama to the photos so I am excited to test that out.  It worked here but for the most part, was not an issue once the morning fog lifted. 
Western town trading post
This small western town, looking like a movie set is near the Deadman Creek Rodeo Grounds and has caught my interest before. There was no one to talk with, though and I’ve not been able to find any information on it yet but I will keep searching and pass it on when I do find it. 
Thompson River at Juniper Beach Campground
There is a government campground, Juniper Beach situated between Savona and Cache Creek down on the Thompson River in a very scenic spot.  We drove down but stopped to get some photos that show the river meandering past the clay banks.  The campground is open this time of year but without services after mid October.  It is a busy place with those services during the summer months and looks like a pretty spot to stay on the river. 
Walhachin Bridge over Thompson River
The Walhachin Bridge, a one way crossing the Thompson River, was built in 1911.  The traffic today would be far less than in the day when Walhachin was making history and the population was 300, much more than the 100 who populate Walhachin today. 
Osprey nest on Walhachin Bridge
The bridge turned out to be home to a couple of nests, which I believe to be osprey nests.  They tend to build them atop high poles but this one huge nest, which will get added to yearly when the osprey returns, is one of two on the bridge.  The other one is smaller but they can get as big as 180 kg (400 lbs)! 
Autumn view from Walhachin, BC
The drive into the sleepy little historic hamlet of Walhachin offers some great autumn views of the Thompson River down below.  The location was once home to a thriving community which began in 1909 consisting mainly of affluent English who were lured here to become landowners of orchards and other crops.  
Walhachin across the Thompson River
The average rainfall for Walhachin, which means ‘land of the round rocks’, is only about 20 cm (8”) a year; not enough to grow crops.  Some of these orchards were on the south side of the river with access to water for irrigation but most were on the north side, which did not have that access.  The river was too far down to pump water from so they had to find a solution.  
Wooden irrigation flume
The solution was a wooden flume that took about 6 months to build and would irrigate the land that was being developed.  There is not a lot of the wooden flume left but we were able to find a section that we had access to so we climbed that hillside, much steeper than it looks, and had some great views from this vantage point.  If only the sun was shining…………. sigh.
Ruins of the old Walhachin irrigation flume
The wooden flume was considered to be a temporary solution until the area was established and better access to water would be found.  This one was used for irrigation until 1914 when a storm destroyed over a kilometer (1 mile) of the structure and the estimates to repair were far too costly to consider. 
100 year old Walhachin irrigation flume
I was surprised to see the actual size of the flume and excited to be able to get these close up photos to share.  It is amazing to think that these were used 100 years ago and still some of it remains but it is a disappearing piece of history and in my opinion, surely an interesting treasure of our past.   
Historical wooden irrigation flume
 I could not find a lot of information about these wooden flumes but what was available was included with the very interesting history of Walhachin, perhaps another treasure to be enjoyed one day.

Our treasure hunt was over for the day. We’d gone out to see the wooden flume but we saw much more.  Although these ‘treasures’ might not have a monetary value, to some they are that and more. Just another reason why we love Kamloops. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Remembrance Day ~ 419 Squadron ~ Kamloops, BC

It is Remembrance Day, November 11, 2013.  The day is overcast and with the significance of this solemn holiday, it seems only right that the sun does not shine on us today.  There are personal memories for some and stories for others but we all know how important it is to recognize those who gave their lives for our county and to remember all who fought for our freedom.

The Red poppy for Remembrance Day in Canada
I had the idea that we should go out to the airport to get some photos of the airplanes that would be doing a flypast for the Remembrance Day ceremony at Riverside Park at 11am. I expected that these jets would be arriving from out of town in time for the ceremony so was very surprised to see that they were sitting at Fulton Field to begin the flight from here.  That should guarantee some more photos so I am thrilled.
419 Squadron take off from Fulton Field, Kamloops, BC
The Hawk aircraft of 419 Squadron are from Cold Lake, Alberta.  That is the busiest fighter base in Canada and is considered world class.  The fighter pilot training for the Canadian forces is conducted there so we are seeing some of the world’s finest pilots participate in our Remembrance Day ceremony. 
The Hawk aircraft is airborne
The engines roar and takeoff begins but that was over so quickly that I barely had time to get the camera focused on the airplane!  The good thing is that there were three Hawk aircraft taking off and I would have another chance to get a photo of a jet as it went overhead. 
Leaving Fulton Field, Kamloops, BC
The reality of getting a good overhead photo of an airplane leaving the airstrip I am standing at as they fly over at an incredible speed, soon appears to be a figment of my imagination.  I have a beautiful camera with a great lense but there is only so much one should expect of the camera!  
Making formation for Remembrance Day ceremony in Kamloops, BC
The formation soon happens and I manage to get a photo with them off in the distance before they’re out of sight. It is shortly before it is time for their appearance at the ceremony and we can hear them but cannot see them for awhile.  
The flypast for Remembrance Day in Kamloops, BC
A ‘flypast’ is a ceremonial flight by a single or a group of aircraft and the flypast today will honor those who fought for the freedom of our country. The sound and power is amazing when they fly low and that makes for an emotional moment when it is part of the Remembrance Day ceremony. 
'Missing Man Formation' is performed
The ‘missing man formation’ is often used in these ceremonies.  It can be displayed in several different formations, depending on the number of aircraft or significance of the event.  It displays an empty place in the formation and is a tribute showing love, respect and camaraderie for a brother pilot, so very significant for our Remembrance Day ceremonies.
419 Squadron returns to Fulton Field, Kamloops, BC
We waited to watch the squadron return to Fulton Field before we left.  I may not have gotten that special overhead photo I hoped for but the purpose for the visit was to pay respect to those who fight for our country.  From our vantage point, I quietly thanked the pilots of the 419 Squadron for their participation in the Remembrance Day ceremony in Kamloops as well as all of the others who so bravely fought the wars that allow us to live in a free country with all that we have.

Lest We Forget 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

California Bighorn Sheep ~ Visiting Sun Rivers ~ Kamloops, BC

Sunny autumn days offer some beautiful sights to see in our city of  Kamloops and the California Bighorn (also called Sierra Nevada) sheep are no exception.  They’ve made their way to Sun Rivers Golf Resort community for their annual pilgrimage to their Fall grazing ground once again and are making themselves right at home.

California Bighorn sheep going for their sunny afternoon stroll
On a recent visit to the area, we found them wandering up the street and quite oblivious to the traffic and noises of the residents.  When I did park and get out of the car, some watched where I was going and appeared to be curious but not enough to come over to my side of the road.

This California Bighorn is seen running across the golf course to join the others
The green grass of the golf course as well as the planted flowers and shrubs seem to be the perfect diet so is of great interest and are what they come for as winter nears.  They prefer to be near rocky cliffs seen nearby at the west end of the area, to avoid predators and can be seen from the highway where the area is quite rocky.  Their color blends in so well that it is easy to miss them there.

Bighorn sheep navigating the road to get to greener pastures
They do have extremely good eyesight and seem to like what they see here. Their sense of smell is not so good but they manage to find all the good plants they like. Their hearing isn’t good either, so heed them when you drive past, they’re not too road savvy.  The wildlife fence built from the Sun Rivers entrance to the Halston intersection has done a lot to prevent them from getting to the highway and being hit by the traffic.

These Bighorn sheep were watching me from across the street
Rutting season happens in November so their attitude will likely change and it may not be wise to get too close, it may make the ram feel aggressively protective about his ewes.  I prefer to use a big lense on my camera when taking wildlife photos anyway but I especially wouldn’t want to get too close at mating time.  They can run a lot faster than I can.

 Bighorn sheep stop to munch on some tasty plants
 I was interested to learn about the way the sheep segregate for most of the year until mating season in November.  The rams and ewes live in separate herds.  The old ewes take care of the related females and watch over the younger and their lambs plus both sexes of the yearlings.

Curious onlooker from behind the plants
When the rams reach the age of 2 or 3 years, they join the bachelor group.  They all learn survival by watching the older and more experience sheep.  There is an obvious hierarchy among the rams and the young respect the elders in this animal world.  The ram with the biggest horns will be the boss until he is challenged and defeated.

Young one rubs horns against the Bighorn ram's face
We must remember that even if these beautiful sheep are wandering around the front and back yards of our residential homes and they become fairly tame when not being hunted, they are still a wild animal and need to be respected as that. 

The Bighorn sheep stops to enjoy the view of the South Thompson River

During a visit out to Kamloops Lake one summer, we were able to see a large flock of the California Bighorn and got some great photos of that visit.  Click here to see more.

It is amazing that we can share our city with these beautiful animals and just enjoy the view with them, another great reason why we love Kamloops; there is no place like home.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Goats ~ Weed Control ~ Kamloops, BC

We love Kamloops and these very hot days of summer can often lead to finding something cool to keep ourselves from overheating.  We have beautiful parks and a cool refreshing river to spend time at or go boating but instead we would do some hiking today in Kenna Cartright Park, we’re on a mission. 

The goats have begun their climb up the hill in Kenna Cartright Park
Blue skies over Kenna Cartright Park, Kamloops, BC
Donna and Conrad Lindblom of Grande Praire, AB own Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control.  This weed control is a job actually done by goats with a lot of guidance from Donna and Conrad!  They have been hired by the city to bring 200 goats to eat these noxious weeds as an alternative to using pesticides on the hills of Kenna Cartright Park.  What a great idea!
We're getting closer to the herd of goats
Goats move across the hill
We stopped at their camp and had a visit with Donna but Conrad and the goats were already on their way to their job site and although we could see them, it looked like a long hot hike from where we stood.  Their destination was up and over that hill and I didn’t think that would happen for me so we quickened our step and hit the trails to see them before they disappeared over the hill.
The herd of goats moving across the hillside
Goats eat making the way to their destination
Lucky for us, Donna had called Conrad telling him we were on our way so he slowed the herd down a bit so we’d be able to catch up.  Conrad explained that the goats were eating knapweed and the toadflax which is going to seed by now, but goats digest what they eat so will not distribute the seeds in their droppings, unlike some other animals.  
These goats were only a few feet from the herd
Working the outside of the herd
The goats are quite intent on eating these weeds and waste little time doing that.  They stay together as a herd with very few stragglers, although some might wander a few feet away but not for long.  
Owner sits on his horse and watches the herd
Conrad Lindblom and Maverick watch the herd
Conrad rides a horse for herding the goats; today it is Maverick.  They zigzag their way across the hillside while the goats eat on the move.  We were surprised at how quickly they did move but they were on their way to ‘greener’ pastures to spend their morning.  
Their heads are down and the goats are busy eating
Goats eat their way across the hill
While Conrad took a moment to explain some of their job to us, the goats continued to move until he called out, “get back” and the herd of 200 goats really did all turn around and head back the other way across the hillside.  Once he caught up to them to carry on their way, Conrad says, “come on, let’s go” and that they did.  Well behaved goats! 
These goats are standing up in order to reach the best leaves at the top
They'll reach if they need to
Goats can eat between 4 to 5 lbs of weeds a day and that would be a lot of weeds!  Their small feet cause very little damage to the sensitive grasslands they’re grazing on so this is a win win situation. They can climb, too, so nothing will interfere in getting that tasty morsel on the higher branches.  The kids (baby goats) are with their mothers and are learning what their duty as part of this herd will be.  They’re never too young to learn.
The dogs watch the herd constantly, safeguarding and keeping them together.
Two of the watchful dogs
The Lindbloms also have dogs that work with the goat herd.  They paced around the herd and quietly do their job helping to keep the goats all together.  Their presence keeps the bears away so that protects the goats, as well.  
The Great Pyrenees at work keeping the herd together
The dog patrols the herd
The goats and dogs are not bothered by visitors nor are they concerned with anything other than their own job.  Hikers need not be worried about the dogs or goats while out on their walks.  There is a sign posted at the bottom of the hill asking that hikers keep their dogs on a leash while out on the hills. 
They've reached the crest of the hill and disappear behind the trees
They're on their way 
We stood and watched as they disappeared over the hill onto their next pasture.  Once the goats have had their morning fill, they will return to camp and spend their rest time chewing their cud.  Once they have taken care of that business, they will head back out for more munchies.
Three horses alternate riding with the goat herd.
Babe and Skipper wait their turn
Meanwhile back at camp, Babe and Skipper patiently wait for the herd and crew to return so they can have their turn working their shift later in the day.  

I was eager to see the goats while they were doing their job in Kenna Cartright Park this year and was lucky to have had a brief visit with both Donna and Conrad to learn more. They are on their way to Logan Lake when they leave Kamloops and will be busy working over there for a spell but hopefully we’ll be seeing them again next year with their goats taking care of business in the park. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pulling Together Canoe Journey ~ Tk'emlups ~ Kamloops, BC

We felt the excitement as we watched the Pulling Together Canoe Journey arrive Friday afternoon, August 3, 2013.  The flotilla of 19 canoes and the many who had worked very hard to make their way here today was definitely something to celebrate as they arrived at their destination in Kamloops, BC.

Several canoes can be seen making their way down the river
Pullling Together flotilla on S. Thompson River
Vision Quest, originated by RCMP Staff Sergeant Ed Hill, was the first journey in 1997 with the intent of forming a good relationship between the First Nations and police forces.  2001 saw the next event which was renamed Pulling Together as it involved several First Nations communities and police forces.  Today the celebration and success continues as the first Pulling Together arrives in Kamloops, BC.
The journey is almost over as the canoes approach Kamloops.
Canoes eagerly pass by
Over the years that the Pulling Together Canoe Journey has been occuring, there have been many different police departments involved from several parts of the province and all pulling together with First Nations communities.  Up to the event this year, these events happened either on the coastal waters or down the Fraser Canyon involving many First Nations from those areas.  2013 is the first one to happen in the Interior and I believe this is a very special occasion and feel fortunate to have seen it.
Waiting the arrival of Chief Gottfriedson of Tk'emlups and others
Welcoming crowd for the canoes and the RCMP boats 
The drummers and a small crowd were waiting for their arrival, which we could see from our vantage point. The police have a power boat to escort the paddlers and offer their help if necessary and made the complete journey with the canoes.  It was good to see that all of the 16 paddlers in each canoe all wore lifejackets.  . 
Several canoes can now be seen as they come around the corner in the river
The canoes are arriving in Kamloops, BC
We’d driven up the South Thompson to get an early look at the flotilla as it came down river and it was great to hear their excitement as they whooped and waved to us standing on the road above.  Their 9 day journey was about to come to an end and they seemed pretty excited to be arriving.   
They ate almost home after days of paddling.
Tk'emlups' canoe leads the way home
The Tk’emlups canoe would go ashore so that Chief Shane Gottfriedson would be able to welcome all the visitors as they each circled past.  Senator Nancy Greene-Raines was also paddling in this same canoe that represents the Tk’emlups First Nations.  
The canoe passes by the Chief with their oars raised
Visitors are welcomed to Tk'emlups
Tk’emlups Chief Shane Gottfriedson stood on the rivers’ edge as all other canoes receive a traditional welcome as they floated by with oars upright.  There were 19 canoes arriving and all would circle in the bay until everyone had been welcomed then they were on their way downriver to Riverside Park for the welcome by the City of Kamloops mayor. 
All canoes will be welcomed before they carry on the journey.
Canoes circle as they wait for all to be welcomed
We were not part of the journey so do not have first hand knowledge of the experience but a chance meeting with Councillor Rod Crowe of Chase, BC did share his experience while waiting for the flotilla to arrive.  Mr. Crowe had spent time paddling in one of the canoes and explained how their day went. 
The canoes are leaving this point for their final lap
They begin the final lap of this Pulling Together Journey
This journey began on Mara Lake and made their way through the Sicamous Narrows to the Shuswap Lakes before getting onto the South Thompson River, visiting several First Nations communities on their way.  They would canoe by day and then be bussed to their camp at night which was relocated to different parks along the route.  Several brief daytime stops were also made including at Chase and on Banana Island.
They make their way to Riverside Park in Kamloops, BC
Several of the participating canoes
There are hundreds of volunteers involved in this whole endeavor.  Many who would look after the camp they set up for the participants as well as preparing food required for all.  There are others who will stay with the canoes to make sure they stay safe overnight while the paddlers get back to camp. A day of celebration was held part way through the journey, a much needed rest, no doubt.  There were sightings of eagles each day of the journey which held special meanings for those involved. 
The final destination of 2013 is just around the corner
The Pulling Together Journey 2013 soon ends
Today marked the arrival to their destination in Kamloops. This Pulling Together event was planned to coincide with the Kamloopa PowWow 2013 weekend.  Chief Shane Gottfriedson invited all paddlers to join the Grand March at the Kamloopa PowWow to welcome all to the celebration of this 34th annual event.

To all those who were involved in the "Pulling Together Canoe Journey", WELL DONE!  I hope we are to see many more of these in years to come and that the welcoming crowd grows bigger to match your enthusiasm.

One more special reason why we call Kamloops home.