Sunday, October 28, 2018

October 2018-Lardeau River, Western Painted Turtle, Ruffed Grouse, Rusty Blackbird, White-winged Crossbill, Wilson's Snipe

 Dian and I spent a few days in the West Kootney area this October.  The first few days we camped in our trailer.  The goal was to find bears to photograph but we only got a glimpse of a black bear.  Kokanee Salmon returning to spawn up the Lardeau River historically were a magnet for bears but this year there were very few.  We thought perhaps we were early so we went home to return 2 weeks later.  The weather was turning cold and this time we decided to get a motel in Kaslo.
The leaves were changing, forming some beautiful scenes.

The Lardeau River.  

A few years ago 300,000 Kokanee Salmon swam up the Lardeau River.  We talked to a grader operator who was maintaining the road and he said the expected run was 30,000 this year.  No-one knows what the reason for the decline is.  But it was the reason we didn't see any bears.
The lack of bears detoured our attention to birds.  Ruffed grouse are quite plentiful here.

We usually see American Kestrels in open grassland areas so we were surprised to see this one sitting on a stump in the middle of the river.  Probably a rest stop on its migration south.
Bald Eagles were also finding the Kokanee difficult to locate.

One afternoon we went for a walk on the Kaslo waterfront.  Birds were not plentiful but this migrating female Rusty Blackbird made up for the lack of quantity.

The Rusty was gleaning the debris washed up on Kootenay Lake.

Rusty Blackbirds are rapidly declining.  The population has dropped 85-99% over the last 40 years.  Every time we see one we wonder if it will be the last time.
This is a shot of a female White-winged Crossbill. I could barely see the bird deep in the darkness of a tree.  I turned up the ISO on the camera and hoped for the best.  I was quite happy with the results.

The Crossbill flew down to the road and was joined by a male.  There were seeds falling to the ground from the trees above and they were taking advantage.

This Western Painted Turtle was photographed at the Great Blue Heron Reserve in Chilliwack. There are about 250 adults in Western Canada according to "Wildlife Preservation Canada".  I am not sure how they would determine that. 
Trumpetor Swans have returned from the north to spend the winter in the lower mainland.  This one was at Wilband retention ponds in Abbotsford.
Wilband also had this Wilson's Snipe lurking in a ditch.  They usually flush when one approaches but this one held its ground.
I was snapping shots of Chum Salmon spawning in a local stream when the impressionistic brush stroke patterns on the water caught my eye.

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