Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spring into Summer ~ Little Farmer Petting Zoo ~ McArthur Park

We are slowly seeing the signs and reaping rewards of warmer weather.  The typical trials and tribulations of rising water from winter run-off is still reminding us that summer has not arrived yet but our May long weekend was a great one for weather.

Canada Geese couple and their new chicks
We’d made an early May visit to McArthur Park and were able to see some very young and fuzzy chicks with their vigilante mother and father watching over them on the beach by the boat launch.  I doubt these chicks were very old.  I stayed a great distance away so as not to disturb them, I use my favorite lenses that allows me to get photos like this.

McArthur Park Marmots
These little fellows are fun to watch.  They are yellow-bellied marmots which are one of 14 recognized species of marmots.  The others include woodchucks and groundhogs, which are the same.  They are all a rodent related to ground squirrels and prairie dogs….. do I have you confused yet??  and the yellow-bellied are considered the king of these rodents, if I haven’t confused myself too much.  On our next visit with higher waters, we saw none of them, their river bank caves must have been flooded and chased them away, but they will return.

Little Farmer Petting Zoo in Westsyde
An early May visit to Little Farmers Petting Zoo at Westsyde Centennial Park with our grandson was a fun one.  I love to see the faces of these two.  The Emu is very interested in having a close-up look, although I am on the other side of the fence with the long lenses again.  There are two of them and they are quite tall with a lot of oily feeling feathers.  The Llama, which I believe this one to be fairly new to the park was interested for only a moment, I had to be quick with the camera.  I would have liked to brush that straw out of his ‘hair’ but thought better not to try, he was more interested in grazing for lunch.

Pigs, Goats and Kids
The little ‘kids' are definitely a big draw here at the Little Farmers.  We are able to buy some food for them at a vending machine there and feed them through the fence.  Our little grandson loves to feed them all, young and old, they are excited but amazingly gentle when they take the food.  One very pregnant goat was happy to just rest while a friendly Vietnamese potbellied pig (I believe) gave her snuggles.

Three Little Pigs
I just had to take a picture of these “3 little pigs” as they slept side by side in their house made of wood.  An old nursery rhyme comes to mind! How they managed to get in there in this position would be quite a sight to see, I am sure it could take awhile.  Afternoon naps are always a good thing.  See more at the new webpage that the Little Farmer Petting Zoo is developing, it is a work in progress but tells you more:  click here.


Golden Pheasant

The feathers of these two birds are absolutely beautiful.  They are so perfectly marked, they move so quickly it is hard to get a full photo but they both have very long tails.  The breed of the one in the top photo may be a quail and I took a guess that the bottom was a pheasant and by doing some research was able to learn it is a Golden Pheasant from New Zealand.  He’s been here quite a long while now if it is the same one we’ve seen over the years.

Turkey displays his beauty
This turkey just could not be outdone after seeing our reaction to the beautiful birds in the nearby pen.  He was showing off his feathers, too.  We’d seen the white turkeys on an earlier visit but remember a Bronze Turkey from our visits over the years.  One of those was quite a friendly fella and made the attempt to be sociable with me.  To see him, click here.

Soccer at McArthur Park
We are back at McArthur Park on the Victoria Day weekend in May and what wonderful weather it is for all the sport tournaments that are filling the park with all these athletes and their fans.  There were several baseball games going on at the same time.  The park was full and enjoyed by many.

Boating on the Thompson River
I am not sure a boat ride on the Thompson River is the best thing to do during high water times due to all the debris in there, but this boat was heading upriver at a good speed and seemed to be oblivious to anything but having fun.  I am guessing it was too hard to resist the temptation on such a great sunny day.

The signs of summer are happening and after what seemed like a long and very chilly wet springtime, we hope to get a summer full of great weather and enjoy the many treasures of our home town of Kamloops, B.C.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Many Birds of Peter Hope Lake ~ Eagles

Springtime means new life in this wonderful nature that surrounds us.  I wanted to get some photos of that once the weather permitted so when I read an article in the paper about the “frogs, turtles and ducks” at Peter Hope Lake, we made a plan to go there for a first time visit. 

Peter Hope Lake
Peter Hope Lake sits up at 1082 m (3549’) but in spite of the cooler weather we’ve had, the ice is gone and the lake has several fishermen out there trying their luck for the Rainbow Trout.  There is a resort across the lake and the BCFS campground on the side we visit, which is surprisingly full of campers on this cool spring day.  Now I take a closer look at this marshy area.

Mr & Mrs Canada Geese
Across the marsh and all alone are two Canada Geese quietly watching the sights.  I do wonder if they have a nest on their little plot of land.  I am surprised not to see more of them but perhaps the rest are down in the warmer areas.

Redwinged Blackbird
They say that the Redwinged black bird is the most abundant living land bird in North America, yet I’ve rarely seen them.  The males are the only ones with the color so they do stand out and the female are a nondescript dark brown.  They do seem to favor the marshy areas.

Ruddy duck
This was definitely the first sighting for us of the Ruddy ducks.  They also favor the marshy lakes and ponds.  As the Redwinged Blackbirds, the females are “brownish” and so are the young males.  During summer months, the males have a bright blue bill that is paler in winter.  This male appears to be in transition from winter to summer colors.  Their typical brood is 5 to 15 ducklings.

the Coot
I am familiar with the American coot.  We most often see them down south during winter months where they enjoy the ponds on the golf courses.  They are mistaken to be a duck but are not, their feet are built more for walking on dry land.  The male and female look very similar other than a larger plumage on his head when he is being aggressive.

Blue Jays
Another bird not often seen in our neighborhood is the Blue Jay.  By their main food, they almost sound like a squirrel, and they are known to hide nuts for eating later, as are the squirrels, too.  This photo was taken quite a ways away so I didn’t even realize they were blue jays until I got these downloaded. A very nice surprise.  

Bald headed eagle family meet for dinner
The biggest thrill of the day was seeing these eagles across the field from the road as we headed back  home.  I only wish I had a video of the excitement we watched.  There were only one adult and one young one but that soon changed and another adult and two young ones came to enjoy the feast.

A late arrival
I did get a photo of one lifting the ‘catch’ (not shown and not a fish) and they did seem to be fighting over that.  Wings spread and big jumps offered several photo opportunities.  The young ones have a very large wing span so they mustn't be yearlings.

A convocation of Bald headed eagles
Then there were more!  Bald headed eagles mature at the age of 5 years and then will have their white head which means that the majority of these eagles are under 5 years.  Eagles are more often spotted in trees but sat in this area for so long.  I guess with the water running from the lake down through the fields, there may be some fish passing by, much easier fishing this way.

We didn’t see any frogs on our travels today, disappointing but we did see some beautiful birds out there so it was well worth the trip.  We do see lots of Canada Geese in our parks in the city and in our neighborhood the crows are the main resident and we have plenty of them.  At least they are fairly quiet, nothing like our local doves, who love to sit atop the poles on the street and call.  

To reach Peter Hope Lake, follow Princeton-Kamloops Hwy/BC-5A from Kamloops towards Merritt for 54 km to Peter Hope Rd. Turn left onto Peter Hope Rd and follow for 8 km to the lake.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Springtime ~ Lakes and Creeks

Spring has been a cool wet one this year, more so than usual and we are all impatiently waiting for our warm days of semi-arid weather to arrive.  We planned to take a drive out to see some of our countryside sights when our next nice sunny day arrived, and it did.  We headed south on the Princeton-Kamloops Highway, more often called the old Merritt highway.

The green hills of  Kamloops
We were commenting on the nice green hills we still have, which is usually turning brown by the time May rolls around, and we can be thankful to the rain for that.  As well, we can hope that the rain might make a difference in our usual summer forest fire season and prevent it from being a bad one.

Old ranch buildings
We can often see the remnants of old buildings on many of the fields in this ranching country.  Kamloops has been cattle ranching country forever and the signs can remind us of that on these country road travels.  I seem to have a penchant for these derelict old buildings for their history and stories so have quite a collection of photos.

Runaway creeks

Following Hwy 5A there are several lakes along this stretch of highway between Kamloops and our planned turnoff at Peter Hope Rd.  We pass Shumway Lake, Trapp Lake, Ritchie, Napier and Stump Lakes.  With all the rain we’ve been having, these lakes have all grown in size and we are seeing a lot of very wet fields as we go, too.

Stump Lake
There is a small area beside Stump Lake with picnic tables to sit at and enjoy the view……… usually.  Today they are under water with just the tops of those tables showing.   Spring is runoff time but I think this may be more than the normal water level expected on Stump Lake.

Longhorn cattle
My limited knowledge of cattle may be a problem at times, so please correct me if I am wrong, but I think this might be a Texas Longhorn.  These are not commonly seen in our area, but they do fit the description I found on my usual trusty computer for longhorn cattle. 

Roadside creek
We drove up Peter Hope Rd to see the lake, and this was one of the sights of a creek rushing down the side of the roads.  Markers were there to show the minor roadside washout, which was nothing to worry about yet but that turned out to be one of the mildest creeks we saw.

Rushing creek
This was taken further down the road from the previous photo.  The creek is a bit larger but no damage to speak of.  More interesting was the tiny log opening that was built into the banks of this creek.  I didn’t get any closer so could not see how deep it went but it was small so I believe it was not meant to be a home, perhaps a temporary shelter for trappers of the old days.  I am very curious so if anyone has the answer, I’d appreciate hearing it.

Springtime water
We turned onto Campbell Creek Rd from the highway to follow that route over to Barnhartvale.  These fields showed how the creek overflows and creates several small ponds and more routes to carry the water, and had washed out a private bridge on its way.

Water damage to road
This was as far as we got.  The road was not closed but it sure did not look safe enough to drive over.  We turned around, as this car was doing on the other side, and headed back out the way we had come. 

This has been a very wet year for Kamloops area and the flooding has caused problems.  We enjoyed our drive but can only hope that the rainy season has passed and Mother Nature prevents the normal runoff from our snowy mountains that could cause more flooding.