Monday, November 28, 2011

Santa Claus Parade 2011 ~ Kamloops, BC

The Santa Claus Parade 2011 entertained the crowds downtown Kamloops on Saturday and delivered the star of the parade with enthusiasm.  The parade bravely walked right into the cold winds and put on a great parade with lots of Christmas spirit and fun for all to see.  The 31st annual Santa Claus Parade took an hour to pass by as the kids eagerly awaited for Santa to arrive.  The theme for the parade this year was 'Celebrating Kamloops' and that they all did well.  Sports, lifestyle and more were well represented with 76 entries.
Kamloops Pipe Band Society
The Santa Claus Parade opens with the very impressive Kamloops Pipe Band Society who will be competing in Glasgow in 2012 for the World Pipe Band Championship. There are members who will teach the pipes or drums for those who may be interested in joining the band. What a wonderful way to represent and 'Celebrate Kamloops' in many events.

Kamloops Fire Department
The Kamloops Fire Department was well represented with several of their big red trucks full of firemen and their families celebrating in the Santa Claus parade.With the theme being 'Celebrating Kamloops' it also allows the spectators a chance to applaud the great job our Fire Departments do all through the year, as they pass us by in the parade.

Kamloops Indian Band
Team TK'emlups shows support for hockey in a big way while they ride the Kamloops Indian Band float along the parade route.  They are not a hockey team but found a great way to 'Celebrate Kamloops', which is a great hockey town.

Peter and friends
The winners of first place for the Elves Award went to the 12 Stones group for their colorful float with muppet-like characters singing from their cottage along with their friends showing how to 'Celebrate Kamloops', too.

Aberdeen Elementary School Band
A large group of junior and senior students from the Aberdeen Elementary Band were putting on a great show of enthusiasm along with their teachers as they walked past our vantage point.  With cheers and applaud on the parade route for them, we also give thanks to all the teachers who give their extra time to the kids and their activities, 'Celebrating Kamloops' and the teachers.

British Columbia Ambassadors
Representing BC Ambassadors in the parade are Paris Sanesh, Miss Kamloops 2010 and Sarah Simon of Merritt.  The British Columbia Ambassador Program is an annual event for 17-23 yr old men and women who have previously held a Royal or Ambassador title in BC. Candidates are awarded scholarships and burseries each year. The three winners are chosen to travel in BC promoting motivation, education and self-esteem.

Jo Berry and the Run Club
The Run Club is led by the always highly energized founder, Jo Berry as they Celebrate Kamloops today.  The Run Club participates in the Daily News Boogie giving everyone a chance to 'Celebrate Kamloops' with the great spirit that shows up on that day, too!
Santa and his helpers
Santa's helpers were gathering up letters to Santa as he and his reindeer pass by all the families with the kids standing by waiting to see that special wave from Santa meant just for them.

Santa and his reindeer end the parade
Santa and his helpers have lots of work to get done before the big day arrives so they wave goodbye to everyone after taking time out of their busy schedule to help 'Celebrate Kamloops'.

Now that Santa has been here, we can get serious about the Christmas season and the excitement, shopping, planning, concerts and entertainment begins. I think it makes a believer in all of us when we see Santa riding his sleigh to ring in the Christmas season in Kamloops.

Another job well done by Gay Pooler and the DBA showing how they Celebrate Kamloops and giving us another reason why we love Kamloops .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bald Headed Eagles ~ South Thompson River ~ Chase, BC

We had recently driven the highway near Chase, BC, about 30 minutes east of Kamloops and were so surprised at the number of bald headed eagles that we could see in the trees near the South Thompson River.  We made the plan to come back out soon to get some pictures.

South Thompson River at Chase, BC
Eagles are not rare in this area but we hadn’t seen them in these numbers before so this was quite amazing.  We weren’t seeing their large stick nests, which are usually very visible high in barren trees so we don’t know where they’d been nesting.
Three bald headed eagles watch for fish in the river below
Eagles mate for life and can live up to 30 years old. Both male and female look after the 2-3 eggs for the 35 days of incubation and both hunt for food for the young until they’re ready to fly at 10 -13 weeks of age. Fish is the biggest part of their diet so they build their nests near water, either rivers or the ocean. Eaglets are able to fly for thousands of kilometers and late summer and fall is when they’re learning to hunt for themselves.

Bald headed eagle family
Bald headed eagles are not bald, so the name is misleading but derives from a Middle English word “balled” that means “shining white”.  The young are a mix of brown and white feathers, and we’re seeing that in the majority of eagles on this visit. Even the immature are large and when full grown will have a wing span from 72” TO 90”.
Young bald headed eagles are not yet bald
They reach maturity by the time they are 5 or 6 years old and it is then that both the male and the female have their ‘shining white’ head.  Eagles from the north tend to be a bit larger than those from more southern areas but no matter where they’re from, the females are a bit larger than the males at 35 to 37” tall.  Eagles weigh 10-14 lbs. and can lift up to 4 lbs. 

Four bald headed eagles watch the Trumpeter Swans and Canada Geese fly by
The bald headed eagle has 7000 feathers and those are often part of religious and spiritual customs for First Nations.  They consider it a powerful symbol of courage as well as other significant meanings and use them in traditional ceremonies, including them as part of the decorations on their costumes.  The eagle feather is treated with great honor and is the highest honor that can be given to a person.

The gnarled trees that eagles habitate
We’ve never seen a large number of eagles in flight but that would be called a “kettle of eagles”. Perhaps we haven’t seen this because they’re able to fly at an altitude of 10,000 ft., and during level flight can reach 30-35 mph. We’d have difficulty seeing that far away but with their keen eyesight, they’d be seeing us!

Young bald headed eagles learn to fish in the fall sun
Canada does not recognize the bald headed eagle with any offical label but they are considered a magnificent bird of prey. It is a different story in the US since they became the US National Emblem in 1782. They neared extinction in the U.S. in the 1970’s but that was withdrawn in June 2007 as their numbers having increased enough to say they’re no longer endangered. They are protected by law on both sides of the border.
Trumpeter Swans on the South Thompson River
We drove by the same place a week after our visit for photos and there was only one bald headed eagle to be found. I believe we were ‘honored’ to have seen so many of them as they enjoyed the view from their perches high in the trees in our neighborhood.  Perhaps they were migrating and found this to be a great stopover location, and that means we could look forward to their visit again next year.   In the meantime we can enjoy watching the trumpeter swans as they winter on the South Thompson River.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

McArthur Island Park ~ Autumn ~ Kamloops, BC

The frost was definitely on the pumpkin this morning but with that came the crisp autumn air and bright sunshine in a beautiful blue sky!  What a perfect morning for a walk and photos, can't leave home without my camera.  So we headed down to McArthur Island Park, a great place to do some walking and enjoy Mother Nature's autumn treasures.
The Great Blue Heron stands quietly at the waters' edge
On this fall morning, there is not much activity in the park like there is in the summer months, but there are plenty of our feathered friends there on our visit today. We saw some ducks down by the boat launch with one lonely great blue heron sharing the water.

A lone runner on McArthur Island path
There is a 3.1km paved walkway around the perimeter of the park and we followed that with many stops and diversions.  We passed a lone runner and several walkers who find this a great place for their morning exercise routine. Summertime there are a lot more walkers and lots of roller bladers enjoying the park walkway, too.
The gulls on the Thompson River
The gulls congregate along the edges of the sandy beach, barely visible here.  The morning sun casts some great shadows and shapes on the hillside on the south side of the Thompson River.  The clear blue sky and hills are reflected in the water, which doesn't appear to be moving too quickly until we watched a duck floating in the middle of the river at a pretty fast pace.

The last of the  cottonwood leaves
The last of the leaves are still hanging onto a few of the cottonwoods and brighten up from the sunshine on this gorgeous morning. This view is across the Thompson River to the sandbar that isn't visible in the early springtime when the river is high. This location offers beaches when the river is at its' summer levels but not as much as it shows now.

Canada Geese on the soccer field at McArthur Island Park
There was a time that Canada Geese were expected to fly south for the winter but it seems that in recent years, some have decided that Kamloops is far enough south and many of them stay here for the winter.  There is no one using any of the soccer fields at this time of year so I guess the geese feel they can.  I do believe some of them will decide to leave once winter gets in full swing... or will they?

McArthur Island Park pathway
The path is visible from the parking areas for most of the perimeter of the park but there is a portion that is behind the McArthur Island golf course and today we are out on a nature walk away from the bustle of the city.  The park has much to offer including the Gregson Butterfly Garden and a xeriscape garden at other locations in the park.  More info on them by clicking on their names.

Squirrel stands to get a better view
The squirrels are busy collecting their winter food supply and seem to think that we may have something for them.  They may find treats from the many people who do use the park whether it is for golf, soccer, football or baseball, there are thousands of people who frequent this beautiful park every year.
Squirrel hoping for some treats
These little guys are quite brave and one came within an arms length from me while I was taking some pictures, he didn't appear to fear me being so close. This photo was taken at the seating area near the footbridge over the Slough where there is usually much going on for us and the little critters in the area.

McArthur Park has much to offer with the Sports and Events Centre for year round use and the McArthur Island Youth Centre for youth activities and is home for the Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops. The Kamloops Skatepark is a great place for the kids and their skateboards which sees lots of activity during the summer months. The Norbrock Stadium and the Lawn Bowling are quiet at this time of year but offer lots during the summer months, too. We are very fortunate to have such a great center for all to use and enjoy... and so are the Canada Geese.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn colors ~ South Thompson River ~ Kamloops, BC

We were driving home to Kamloops from the east on a late autumn afternoon.  The sun was hiding behind some clouds and made such a pretty scene that we had to find a spot to pull over and get that photo.  As often happens within moments, the clouds had moved and the photo opp was gone but never is there not another pretty picture to see on our drives around Kamloops.
Sun setting on the South Thompson River
The South Thompson River was as calm as a placid lake would be, the river is at its' seasonal low levels without the run-off waters coming from the Shuswap Lakes. The reflections on the river were the autumn colors from the poplar, cottonwood and birch trees along the riverbank scattered among the evergreens.  The combinations of nature at work this time of year make a very pretty picture.
Ducks swimming on the South Thompson River
Autumn, as defined in the dictionary for the northern hemisphere, is 'the third season of the year' and includes September, October and November. They also use the term 'fall' in the definition, which originates from the fact the leaves fall from the trees which became the term used since the 1500's.  Fall is the term that we use often in our world so it was a surprise to learn from my English nephew, that it is not necessarily a familiar term in the British English language, they use 'autumn' almost exclusively.

Autumn color reflections on the South Thompson River
There are several reasons why the leaves turn color in autumn and some of those are shorter days of sunlight as well as cooler temperatures, which explains why the leaves in the higher levels will be showing their colors sooner than those in the valley. The timeframe for the change of color varies regionally, as well, within those autumn months.

Fallen leaves cover the banks of the South Thompson River
Without long warm days of summer needed to produce enough sugar, chlorophyll dwindles and these factors allow the other colors in leaves to come through.  When the supply lessons and the veins in the leaves eventually become clogged, they then fall off the tree.  The sun feels warm as it sinks in the west but the temperature quickly drops once the sun is out of sight, even when just behind the clouds. 

Sun setting scenery on the South Thompson River
The sun casts long shadows and a pretty warm color on all that we see on our stop at the rivers' edge.  We'd enjoyed another beautiful fall day on the North Thompson River with great views, too. Our days of autumn will soon be over and we'll be into our next Kamloops season, and that will be winter.  The beauty of our winter season is also one to enjoy, but hopefully we still have a little while before that happens.