Well, not the whole thistle, just its flower. At the same rest stop where we watched chipmunks eating berries, there were Columbia Ground Squirrels (Urocitellus columbines) scurrying about on an embankment.
They stood up to watch us, creating a short staring contest with my son, before resuming their runs from rock to rock and other spots around the hillside. I was in a good position when one of them approached a thistle because it was a few feet away and the squirrel ran towards me with little regard for me or my camera.
The dexterity of its fingers and the delicate nibbling were really cool to watch up close. And provided a nice distraction from the drive.
Not me, the Stellar Jays on the deck of my aunt and uncle’s house in Nelson.
There are a pair of these beautiful birds that live near the house and they call for peanuts a few times throughout the day. These cries are rewarded and the opportunity to photograph them was not one I passed on. At my home we have several blue jays that favour our backyard so it was fun to look at these birds closely and compare and contrast with “ours”.
I grew up in the Kootenays but moved away almost twenty years ago. Luckily Marnie and John have kept their house there and we try to get out to visit them at least once every summer. I missed last year and sadly this year was only a one night stay. However, it was great to see them, to meet their resident jays and to enjoy one of my favourite places in the world.
Driving through the Kootenays last week we stopped for a break at a park east of Christina Lake. I found a couple of Chipmunk’s eating berries in the boughs of a small tree.
This fellow was not shy and scurried around a few metres from me from bunch to bunch.
I found this Great Horned Owl near a nest that I watched earlier this year. The adult pair successfully fledged two owlets by early June and haven’t seen any of the owls in the area over the past few visits. On the weekend, I spied this beautiful bird deep in a stand of trees. It seemed to be relaxing on this branch – probably just winding down from a busy night and early morning hunting before going for a sleep. It was great to see one member of this family again.
This young Grizzly bear cub was beautiful and proved to be curious, with a measure of caution, every time that we came across him and his mother when we were in the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park in June.
A Grizzly bear male watches from the tall grass of the Khutzeymateen Estuary. He looked to have been on the wrong side of a couple of fights judging by his beaten up coat.
We were on a zodiac inflatable and he was on the edge of the river. We looked at each other, us six in our boat and him now on a log. He growled and huffed while swiping his claws across the tree bark.
Then, having made his point, he turned his back on us, indicating that we were no longer worthy of concern and continued feasting on the sedge.
We watched him as we retreated and he wandered to the edge of the forest and then disappeared from view.
To start the long weekend, I went looking for the Great Gray Owl pair who have been very active over a field of tall, green grass for much of the summer. I had a relatively short visit with one of the owls on this encounter. The bird stayed across the field for most of the hour I watched him. He did fly across, land nearby and stay for a few minutes at one point. However I got there a little bit later than usual so the morning hunt was winding down.
There was one particularly good dive that I pulled a nice sequence from. I love the wing positions in these shots and the intention in the focused stare.
It was good to see the owl again after being away for a couple of weeks. When he headed back towards the forest edge and their nest, I headed back to my home too.
(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version in a new window)
When the Grizzly Bears wake up from their hibernation in the mountains above the Khutzeymateen Inlet, the sedge grass is waiting for them. When Bobbi and I were there in June breakfast, lunch and dinner for them finds sedge on the menu. On this cold, wet morning this boar was one of several bears spaced out along the banks of the estuary at low tide mowing away. The volume, of grass eaten and sound created, were both very impressive.
I have been trying to capture this image for a long time. With the familiarity I’ve been lucky to establish with the Great Gray Owl pair in West Bragg Creek this year, they will often hunt near to where I am set up. On the weekend, one of the owls flew towards me and made a couple of dives from the post he landed on a few yards away. The stars aligned on one of these attacks and I froze him just before he disappeared into the knee-high grass.