A BIRDING BLOG -
hong kong AND
hong kong AND
On 26 July, we drove west into the Rocky Mountains. Before we reached Banff National Park, we spotted a Black Bear walking on the flower-covered verge beside the road. We quickly pulled up but I was unprepared and managed only a few inadequate shots with my camera before the bear walked up an incline into the forest and disappeared from view.
Our base for the next four nights was Banff town, a busy and expensive tourist centre that caters for skiing enthusiasts in winter and for sightseers from all over the world in summer. In spite of the number of visitors, the town makes a great base for exploring the nearby mountains, and there are woods, marshes and lakes of interest to the naturalist a short walk from the bustling town centre.
On 27 July, from our hotel we walked along the Bow River and explored the forested Fenland Trail and the Vermilion Lakes area to the west of the town. The lakes held two Common Loons, a few Canada Geese and Mallards, and a number of Ring-billed Gulls and a juvenile Franklin’s Gull. A pair of Bald Eagles were perched in a distant tree. The best bird along the Fenland Trail was probably an American Three-toed Woodpecker. Red Squirrels and Colombian Ground Squirrels were also present alongside the lake. Back in town along the railway track we came across a couple of Mule Deer.
The following day we drove to Lake Louise a major scenic attraction 55 kilometres north of Banff. The quickest way is along the Trans-Canada Highway which lies just north of the town, but we chose the slower Bow Valley Parkway route. This rural road runs parallel to the highway; the speed limit is restricted to 60km/h (sometimes less) and it is known as a possible area for bears. We were fortunate. We came across a Black Bear feeding on berries at the side of the road. The bear was oblivious to us and the couple of other parked cars and we were able to observe it for about twenty minutes.
Lake Louise itself was very busy. We walked along the lakeside where the crowds were thinner than around the over-grandiose hotel known as Chateau Lake Louise. There were a few birds, including Violet Green Swallows and Cliff Swallows flying over the water; some of the latter were breeding high on the walls of the hotel and several of them kept coming down to an oily puddle in the hotel grounds to collect mud for their nests. Golden-mantled Squirrels were also present at one section of the lakeside trail.
Back at Banff in the afternoon, I walked out to another nature reserve known as the Cave & Basin Marsh Loop. It was difficult to find an adequate viewpoint over the wet pools, but I did manage to see a couple of Hooded Mergansers and an American Coot. In the vegetation around the lake, birds I saw included three Gray Jays, a couple of singing Common Yellowthroats, a Warbling Vireo and an unidentified Empidonax flycatcher. I also saw a Whitetail Deer here.